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Virtue As An End In Itself: The Medieval Unease With A Stoic Idea

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Chapter Summary

In the tenth and last book of the Nicomachean Ethics, even Aristotle embraces this ideal, thus actually taking distance from the moral philosophy developed in the nine preceding books, in which the virtues, as Thomas Aquinas observes, are discussed in as much as they order us toward the civil life. In this chapter two related topics are dealt with: first, the ambiguous medieval attitude toward the Stoic idea of virtue as an end in itself; second, the medieval debate on the end and reward of naturally acquired virtues. The chapter chiefly consists of quotations of ancient authorities who reject temporal goods like money and honour as proper rewards of virtue. Commentators of the Nicomachean Ethics and other masters using this work approved of Aristotle's idea that happiness resides in acting in accordance with virtue.

Keywords: Aristotle; medieval unease; Nicomachean Ethics; virtue



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