Chapter

Introduction

Michael Moriarty

in Disguised Vices

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199589371
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191728808 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199589371.003.0001
Introduction

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The introduction clarifies the focus of the book: its concern is with moral virtue, rather than the political or civic virtue described by ancient and Renaissance writers. It sets out a series of questions about the nature of virtue that are explored in the book as a whole. In what conditions does a praiseworthy deed imply virtue in the doer? What considerations might give rise to the suspicion that it does not? The need for Christianity to sort out its relationship to paganism generated a new approach to these questions. To maintain the claim that without God we are condemned to sin, the apparent virtue of pagan heroes and philosophers had to be redescribed as sinful or faulty. The introduction concludes by examining seventeenth-century French dictionaries’ definitions of vertu, and discussing issues of historical terminology (‘Augustinian’, ‘Jansenist’).

Keywords: virtue; Christianity; paganism; Augustine; Jansenism

Chapter.  11308 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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