A History of Western Ethics by Lawrence C. Becker, Charlotte B. Becker

By Lawrence C. Becker, Charlotte B. Becker

This newly revised and up to date variation of A background of Western Ethics is a coherent and available evaluate of an important figures and influential rules of the historical past of ethics within the Western philosophical culture.

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Failure at any point renders penance defective and its efficaciousness suspect, at very best. The nature and relative gravity of sins at a given period can be discerned from the penitential literature that begins to emerge in the sixth century. Philosophically more interesting is the complex moral psychology presupposed by the penitential system. Peccatum seems to retain its broader sense of “mistake,” suggesting that it is not the desire which is evil, EARLY MEDIEVAL ETHICS 43 properly speaking, but the complex of the desire, the understanding of that desire, and the action taken.

He differs from Cicero in his explanations of this, and in the apolitical nature of his solutions. Whereas Cicero justifies pristine virtus, there never was such a thing, according to Lucretius. He shows no respect for traditional Roman values and their focus on civic service. For Lucretius, there is only one way to salvation—the philosophy of Epicurus. Liberated from fear of death and religion, unencumbered by groundless desires for power and status, Epicureans can live trouble-free lives, content with satisfying their natural desires and enjoying the company of their friends.

LONG tranquillity. Much of his advice may seem banal or homespun—learning how to relax, comparing one’s own situation with that of others, not setting one’s heart on implausible goals, adaptation to circumstances, the cultivation of detachment, and withdrawal into oneself. ” In the example just given Seneca seeks to improve an individual’s view of himself. The assumption is that people can conduct themselves well in the world only if they have their beliefs and desires in good shape, attuned to a proper sense of what they can do and what it is not in their power to change.

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