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Goodness and Justice: Plato, Aristotle and the Moderns 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0631172598
ISBN-10: 0631172599
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Editorial Reviews


"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

From the Back Cover

This volume explores Plato's 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.

Goodness and Justice argues that goodness was the most fundamental normative concept in the ethics of Plato and Aristotle, and illustrates how they used their functional and formal theories of good to build their theories of virtue, justice, and happiness. It also shows that they fought subjective theories of good as desire satisfaction and good as pleasure, in favor of what they thought was a more objective concept of good found in form and function.

The comparisons with the moderns illuminate the merits and limits of ancient and modern ethical theories and place them within a broad philosophical and historical context.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (October 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631172599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631172598
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,183,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Warren Legg on December 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
I thought this book gave a thorough and accessible overview of Socratic, Platonic, and Aristotelian political philosophy and ethics. The analysis was well structured offering a credibly argued interpretive position on each.
However, one expects the book to concentrate more heavily on the structural comparisons with contemporary normative theory regarding justice/goodness. Whilst the opening chapter promises such, this emphasis is quite absent through the majority of the work. There is argument concerning the anti-subjectivism of the ancient moral conceptions, though this seems rather in the peripheral of the author's vision, than at the central focus of the text.
This book is worth buying for the way in which it summarises recent literature within Ancient Greek moral theory. This is highest calibre exegesis and analysis. In my opinion, it would have been more intellectually interesting (and more aligned to the book title) if the ancient/modern comparison had been explored with more vigour.
I gained much from this book, which was an enjoyable and worthwhile read (despite the numerous typographical errors - which should be corrected in further re-prints).
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