Good Temper and Forgiveness (NE IV.5)

Howard J. Curzer

in Aristotle and the Virtues

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693726
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738890 | DOI:
Good Temper and Forgiveness (NE IV.5)

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According to Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean, each virtue is bracketed by two vices. A competing theory considers each virtue to be opposed by only one vice. The farther one gets from that vice, the better. In particular, Aristotelian good temper demands medial anger and retaliation for injuries and insults, while the competing theory urges wronged people to eschew anger and retaliation even for unapologetic wrongdoers. This chapter strikes a blow for the doctrine of the mean by arguing that good temper, rather than unconditional forgiveness, is the virtue governing situations of injury and insult. Aristotle provides a “right rule” for general justice, and general justice consists of all of the virtues insofar as they apply to interpersonal issues. Thus, Aristotle actually provides rules for almost all of his virtues. In particular, good temper’s rule is Aristotle’s principle of rectificatory justice applied to honor.

Keywords: good temper; forgiveness; insult; injury; anger; honor; right rule

Chapter.  11716 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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