Chapter

Shame and Moral Development: The Incontinent, the Continent, the Naturally Virtuous, and the Properly Virtuous

Howard J. Curzer

in Aristotle and the Virtues

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693726
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738890 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693726.003.0016
Shame and Moral Development: The Incontinent, the Continent, the Naturally Virtuous, and the Properly Virtuous

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Aristotle’s moral development path has six stages. At each stage the learner gains a different component of virtue at the prompting of a different catalyst, but those who lack the relevant catalyst remain fixated or regress. The many become generous-minded; the generous-minded become incontinent; and the incontinent become continent by performing virtuous acts prompted by (1) threat of punishment, (2) shame, and (3) remorse, respectively. The continent become naturally virtuous by (4) listening to the right music. The naturally virtuous become properly virtuous by (5) being taught which character traits are conducive to happiness. Thus the properly virtuous gain the knowledge of why virtuous acts are virtuous. An important Aristotelian observation is that people progress at different rates with respect to different spheres. A person can be simultaneously incontinent with respect to sensual pleasure and virtuous with respect to physical risk, for example.

Keywords: shame; moral development; incontinent; continent; naturally virtuous; properly virtuous

Chapter.  11699 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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