By Lawrence C. Becker, Charlotte B. Becker

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

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In Stoicism fame, wealth, and noble birth count as “preferable” but as completely nonessential to human flourishing. Thus Stoic ethics could serve as a means of justifying part of the prephilosophical values, while also providing reasons for rejecting their dependence on external success and approval. In addition, the Stoics had developed a doctrine of “proper functions” (kathekonta), which served as moral rules for determining how people should act in specific circumstances. These were grounded in a “reasonable” understanding of human nature, from self-regarding and from other-regarding perspectives.

From perfected humility, the monk progresses to perfect charity and the spiritual power to confront the powers of evil in mortal combat. Humility and charity, from the monastic perspective, constitute primary virtues potentially in conflict with the virtues of classical culture. Benedict’s Rule served to organize the monastic life of the early Middle Ages, but it also served to establish a general ideal. This ideal found elaborate expression in the writings of Gregory the Great (Pope Gregory I [c.

Youth” here signifies young men, since the central concept of Roman ethics was virtus, literally “manliness,” a term derived from the word for man, vir. 43). Virtus was the decisive mark of an individual man’s merit, earned by the capacity and desire to perform great deeds on behalf of country and family. It was the spur to achieve “glory” and glory was its reward. ” A “good man” was also expected to be “wise” or “intelligent,” “just,” “dutiful,” “temperate,” etc. These attributes, though not formal “parts” of virtus, were assumed to go along with it.

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