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Integrating the Non-Rational Soul

Aristotelian theory of virtue and of happiness assumes a moral psychology in which parts of the soul, rational and non-rational can communicate well with each other.  But if Aristotle cannot give a robust account of what communicating well consists in he faces the charge that his moral psychology collapses into a moralizing psychology, assuming the very categories it seeks to vindicate.  This paper by Jonathan Lear examines the problem and proposes a way forward: namely, that psychoanalysis provides the resources for characterizing a satisfying Aristotelian moral psychology.

-taken from Lear's paper, 21 pages (link below)

http://aristoteliansociety.org.uk/pdf/lear.pdf

Optional: consider reading the last paragraphs of Aristotle's Ethics, book one, section 13


AUDIO PRESENTATION OF THE PAPER: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2013/11/jonathan-lear-integrating-the-non-rational-soul/

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  • Rose

    Phenomenal atmosphere and incredible discussion! For a first-time attendee, I felt very welcomed and included in the discussion. Can't wait for next weekend!

    1 · January 26, 2014

    • Brian

      Thanks Rose. You are a terrific addition to the group - I loved your questions and note-taking =]

      January 26, 2014

  • Brian

    "when kenny g decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of [louis armstrong,] the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great louis’s tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that i would not have imagined possible. he, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that louis armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician

    January 26, 2014

    • Brian

      . by disrespecting louis, his legacy and by default, everyone who has ever tried to do something positive with improvised music and what it can be, kenny g has created a new low point in modern culture – something that we all should be totally embarrassed about – and afraid of. we ignore this, “let it slide”, at our own peril.
      his callous disregard for the larger issues of what this crass gesture implies is exacerbated by the fact that the only reason he possibly have for doing something this inherently wrong (on both human and musical terms) was for the record sales and the money it would bring."
      -pat metheny

      January 26, 2014

  • Three S.

    I'm sorry - I won't be able to make it tonight

    January 25, 2014

  • Brian

    1 · January 23, 2014

    • Brian

      I recommend this audio too. This little paper has important subtle implications

      January 25, 2014

  • K. Scot S.

    ...lastly, the following may seem a peculiar 'IF-THEN' - one worthy of clarifying discussion, at least: '...if Aristotle cannot give a robust account of what communicating well consists in, he faces Bernard Williams' charge that his moral psychology collapses into a moralizing psychology, assuming the very categories it seeks to vindicate...'

    January 24, 2014

    • Brian

      Hmm Is it enough to say "obey reason" or "be harmonious" sounds too much like a baseless demand unless we see the nature of what's being talked about enough to understand what it means to improve within this nature?

      January 24, 2014

  • Ana C.

    Good night everyone! I'm really sorry, but I won't be able to make it to the meetup tomorrow... I'll be working all weekend, but I hope I'm able to join you soon.

    January 24, 2014

    • Brian

      Ahh ok -Hope to catch you soon, Ana.

      January 24, 2014

  • K. Scot S.

    "...we will come to understand BETTER what reason is as we come BETTER to understand what is involved in rejecting FALSE images of reason. It remains a psycho- political challenge to work out what it is for THOUGHTFUL self-consciousness to inform the human soul WELL. And even if Freud is correct that there is something INHERENTLY DESTRUCTIVE in our NATURES – and we are still at an early stage of reflection about this – the task remains basically the same: how to take this into account in the living of a WORTHWHILE life that is self-consciously [and MANIFESTLY/SELF-EVIDENTIALLY?!] grasped as such..." The conjecture seems resonant, in-but-beyond strangled [reductionist/scientistic] senses of 'reason.' Does such ACTIVE DISCERNING (and that implied in terms CAPITALIZED above) constitute an escape from philosophy proper? Are tacit 'oughts' a matter of some 'natural morality' or innate sense of same? ...or is it all so much 'moralizing,' pretending to be well-deduced 'right'?

    1 · January 24, 2014

    • Brian

      I think listening"well"­ follows from the nature of the non rational soul Freud described. This nature is such that it can function well or encounter break down

      January 24, 2014

  • Brian

    Today's reading is based on Book 1.13. Earlier, Aristotle sets out that virtuous activity is the core of happiness. Moreover, happiness is in principle available through human causation - we are the producers of our own bliss. Book 1.12 complicates things: After being told earlier that virtue is the core of happiness, he now says there is something in happiness which transcends virtue. That is, happiness includes something to be *prized and revered*- not just 'praised' or 'respected' in the way we treat virtuous activity. If happiness is more like blessedness, is it now beyond what can be caused or described?

    1 · January 24, 2014

    • Brian

      My own answer: No. Both Socrates and Aristotle see that all people have access to the blessed spark. This is why Aristotle starts his discussions with the opinions of men ("goodness is said in many ways") and why Socrates midwifes interlocutors by engaging their own beliefs to bring them to their own voice. I think Book 1.13 is designed to further describe what this looks like

      January 24, 2014

    • Brian

      (And the paper elaborates 1.13)

      January 24, 2014

  • K. Scot S.

    ..my point is partially to suggest the 'belief' entailed (that is, necessarily applied) in the active discerning of such discernments. Such 'perception/valuing' is poorly seen, it seems to me, as so much thought-displacing 'moralizing,' for instance.

    January 24, 2014

  • K. Scot S.

    I assume I am not alone in regretting the sense of dichotomy and mutual exclusion (between conscious and pre-conscious reason, let's say) that emerges in response to common senses of 'NON-rational.' There's quite a gymnastic, furthermore, in glimpsing the non-rational as, on one hand, utterly different from the rational and, yet, systematically dovetailed with it -genuinely participatory on the outskirts of reason, so to speak... It seems we speak here of positive and negative sense - or of conscious and preconcious ...rather than of rational and non-rational, in proto-populist too-sensationalized opposition.

    January 23, 2014

  • Derwin

    unfortunately I haven't had the time to do the reading so I don't think I'm going to attend. Have fun!

    January 22, 2014

  • K. Scot S.

    '...But if Aristotle cannot give a robust account of what communicating well consists in, he faces Bernard Williams' charge that his moral psychology collapses into a a moralizing psychology, assuming the very categories it seeks to vindicate...'
    Perhaps other things might account for an absence of 'robust' accounting here. The latter may have been consistent, also, not with 'moralizing' but with a serious and active [intuitive] registry of crucial intuition. Might some analogue to Heidegger's hermeneutic circle be relevant here, in dispelling a perceived [moralizing] vicious cycle?

    1 · December 16, 2013

    • Brian

      Yeah, attempting our own accounts of Aristotle is something I'm interested in. We can draw from anyone, not just Freud.

      1 · December 16, 2013

    • justin s.

      I took a course from Lear a U. Chicago. He's an inspiring teacher, writer and person

      2 · January 20, 2014

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