Aristotle’s Losers: The Vicious, the Brutish, Natural Slaves, and Tragic Heroes

Howard J. Curzer

in Aristotle and the Virtues

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693726
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738890 | DOI:
Aristotle’s Losers: The Vicious, the Brutish, Natural Slaves, and Tragic Heroes

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Aristotle says, “We are inquiring not in order to know what virtue is but in order to become good.” Yet he thinks that some people cannot become good. Who are these people and why are they incorrigible? Aristotle presents a clear and credible picture of the types and causes of moral incorrigibility. His taxonomy of character flaws, moral vices, and personality disorders is reasonable and humane. His view of obstacles to moral improvement is simple, yet plausible. We can learn from Aristotle’s account.Aristotle notoriously endorses natural slavery. But this is not an endorsement of slavery. By limiting slavery to natural slaves and stipulating that natural slaves must be better off enslaved than free, Aristotle severely criticizes the exploitive slavery of his day, and proposes to replace it with a new, benign institution of involuntary commitment and care for people with certain mental illnesses.

Keywords: vicious; brutish; natural slave; tragic hero; moral development; shame; slavery

Chapter.  10934 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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