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Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 53$
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Victor Caston

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198815655

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198815655.001.0001

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Shame and Virtue in Aristotle

Shame and Virtue in Aristotle

(p.111) Shame and Virtue in Aristotle
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 53

Christopher C. Raymond

Oxford University Press

In Nicomachean Ethics 4. 9 Aristotle gives two arguments for why aidōs, or a sense of shame, is not a virtue. The chapter has puzzled readers: both arguments seem to conflict with things he says elsewhere in the NE, and neither is persuasive in its own right. This paper reconstructs Aristotle’s position on aidōs by drawing on the ancient commentary tradition, relevant passages from the Eudemian Ethics, and the analysis of ‘civic’ courage in NE 3. 8. It is shown that Aristotle has stronger reasons for denying that aidōs is a virtue than at first appears, given his distinction between acting from the fear of disrepute and acting for the sake of the fine. The paper concludes by arguing that his view is nevertheless untenable, since it ignores the fact that even a virtuous person can be subject to disrepute. This criticism stems from Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary in Ethical Problems 21.

Keywords:   Aristotle, shame, aidōs, virtue, ethics, Alexander, pathos, honour, Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics

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