The City‐State in Greek Ethics

Nicholas White

in Individual and Conflict in Greek Ethics

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780198250593
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598661 | DOI:
 The City‐State in Greek Ethics

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One of the main vehicles for the reconciliation of individual and social happiness that has supposedly been characteristic of Greek ethics is the concept of the polis. In the Hegelian tradition it has been thought that the Greeks reduced all norms and values to standards laid down by and for the city‐state, and that this fact made it possible for them to hold that the well‐being of an individual is entirely compatible with the well‐being of his fellow‐citizens and of the city‐state as a whole. However, the Greeks were familiar with and attached substantial weight to non‐polis‐based norms and values, even universalist ones like the Golden Rule, and made ample conceptual room for conflict between the happiness of a citizen and that of his community. Moreover, Greek attitudes on this issue were variegated, not uniform.

Keywords: city‐state; golden rule; individual happiness; justice; kosmos; norm; polis; social happiness; value

Chapter.  15935 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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