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Goodness and Justice: Plato, Aristotle and the Moderns

ISBN: 978-0-631-17259-8
320 pages
October 2001, Wiley-Blackwell
Goodness and Justice: Plato, Aristotle and the Moderns (0631172599) cover image
This volume explores Plato and Aristotle's theories about good things, goodness, and the best life for human beings, and draws comparisons between ancient and modern theories of good and justice.
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Part I: Introduction:.

Part II. The Socratic Good of Knowledge:.

Part III: The Good of Platonic Social Justice:.

Part IV: The Good of Justice in Our Souls:.

Part V: Plato's Metaphysical Theory of the Form of the Good:.

Part VI: Aristotle's Criticism of Plato's Form of the Good: The Breakup of Goodness:.

Part VII: The Good of Desire, the Good of Function, and the Good of Pleasure:.

Part VIII: The Good of Character and the Good of Justice:.


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Gerasimos Santas is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Irvine. He is author of Socrates: Philosophy in Plato's Early Dialogues (1979), and Plato and Freud: Two Theories of Love (Blackwell 1988).
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  • Discusses three major theories of good: perfectionist formal or functional good, hedonic good, and good as desire satisfaction.

  • Draws comparisons between Plato's and Aristotle's theories of good and justice and the theories of the moderns.

  • Devotes considerable attention to hedonic theories of the good.
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"Santas's book is a major contribution to the study of ancient Greek ethics. His discussion of the theoretical structure of Platonic and Aristotelian ethics and the comparisons he draws between the ethical views of the ancient Greek philosophers and those of the moderns, especially of John Rawls, have no equal in the existing literature. This is essential reading for anyone interested in Greek ethics or ethical theory in general."
Georgios Anagnostopoulos, University of California at San Diego <!--end-->

"One of the very greatest Socrates scholars of the twentieth century – here in finer form than ever – now brings us the fruits of decades of reading and teaching the ethics and social philosophy of Plato and Aristotle viewed in the light of John Rawls's theory of justice. The two chapters on Justice in the Republic are not only refreshing but also as illuminating as anything ever written on that topic. For everyone, from the greatest scholar to the beginning student, this book is a lesson both in how to do philosophy and how to read texts." Terry Penner, University of Wisconsin

"This wonderful book on the fundamental concept of goodness is the harvest of a lifetime's reflection on ancient and modern ethics. Its bounty includes the isolation of two theories of good in Plato's Republic – a functional theory and a metaphysical theory – an account of the Form of the Good that rescues the pinnacle of Plato's philosophy from the charge of vacuity, and a discussion of Aristotle's rejection of the metaphysical theory and his embrace of the functional. It is a virtual commentary on both the Republic and the Nicomachean Ethics. Truly a masterwork." David Keyt, University of Washington

"This is the most insightful overarching analysis of the good in Plato and Aristotle of recent decades. Santas offers a comprehensive framework for the classification, and detailed discussion, of Plato's and Aristotle's theories of good, with valuable comparisons to positions in the history of philosophy and contemporary debates. A very wise investment for moral and ancient philosophers." Theodore Scaltsas, University of Edinburgh

"Acute, close analysis characterizes Santas's book throughout...beautifully clear, a joy to read." MF Burnyeat, TLS, 14th June 2002

"... This book offers a capacious, clear and careful exploration of the centrality of concepts of the good to these two ancient philosophers (Plato, Aristotle), showing how ethics and politics drive epistemology and metaphysics and ... comparing the resulting structures with those of John Rawls and other modern theorists. The result is an impressive achievement..." Polis, Vol. 20, 2003

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