Archive | January 25, 2010

Rand Unbound, Part 5

Neera Badhwar’s response to Doug Rasmussen’s Cato Unbound essay is online. Doug will post a response to all three of us later this week, and then there’ll be some back-and-forth discussion.

Alexander of Aphrodisias and Aristotle

Alexander of Aphrodisias and Aristotle

I’ll save detailed comments on Neera’s piece for the discussion – and I agree with most of it anyway – but just one quick point: if by the unity of virtue Neera means the thesis that one can’t have any one virtue to a significant degree without having them all, then I agree with her that that’s false (and I also agree that Rand seems, at least sometimes, to have held it). But if she means the thesis that one can’t have any one virtue completely without having them all, then I’d be willing to defend that thesis. In the words of Alexander of Aphrodisias (the leading Aristotelean of the 2nd century CE):

That the virtues are implied by one another might also be shown in the following way, in that it is impossible to have some one of them in its entirety if one does not have the others too. For it is not possible to have justice in isolation, if it belongs to the just person to act justly in all things that require virtue, but the licentious person will not act justly when something from the class of pleasant things leads him astray, nor the coward when something frightening is threatened against him if he does what is just, nor the lover of money where there is hope of gain; and in general every vice by the activity associated with it harms some aspect of justice. (“That the Virtues Are Implied By One Another,” On the Soul II. 18; trans. R. W. Sharples)

(See also section 9 of this piece.)

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes