Traits of Character

in Stoicism & Emotion

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780226305578
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226305202 | DOI:
Traits of Character

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This chapter reports evidence that the Stoics, despite the absolutist tendencies of their thought on virtue and vice, also put forward a more nuanced account of personalities, identifying and describing long-term behavioral dispositions in both the wise and the nonwise condition. It then elaborates how the distinction between scalar and nonscalar conditions is used in ethics. “Sicknesses” and related conditions are emotional dispositions whose potency varies in accordance with their perceived saliency in practical reasoning. The proclivities bear an obvious resemblance to the sicknesses, since both types of condition predispose an individual to experience some emotions rather than others. A habitude is a road or method, in that it guides a person toward actions in accordance with virtue. The personal characteristics of the wise present an instructive contrast to those of ordinary flawed human beings.

Keywords: behavioral dispositions; sicknesses; Stoics; emotional dispositions; proclivities; habitude; virtue; wise; human beings

Chapter.  6311 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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