Heythrop College Publications

Lacewing, Michael (2008) What Reason Can’t Do. In: Athanassoulis, Nafsika, Vice, Samantha, (eds.) The Moral Life: Essays in Honour of John Cottingham. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 139-165. [Book section]

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    The aim of this paper to analyse the central argument of Cottingham’s (1998) Philosophy and the Good Life, and to strengthen and develop it against misinterpretation and objection. Cottingham’s argument is an objection to ‘ratiocentrism’, the view that the good life can be understood in terms of and attained by reason and strength of will. The objection begins from a proper understanding of akrasia, or weakness of will, but its focus, and the focus of this paper, is the relation between reason and the passions in the good life. Akrasia serves to illustrate ratiocentrism’s misunderstanding of this relation and of the nature of the passions themselves. I present and elaborate on Cottingham’s diagnosis of what a corrected understanding of the passions makes necessary for the good life, viz. the rediscovery and reclamation of the source of our passions, our childhood past. I argue that Cottingham’s diagnosis is not quite right, and I seek to emphasise aspects of self-discovery that I believe Cottingham overlooks or underplays. What is needed is a set of interrelated dispositions, viz. acceptance, vulnerability, courage, and compassion.

    Item Type: Book section
    Department: Philosophy
    Depositing User: Dr Michael Lacewing
    Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2010 14:57
    Last Modified: 07 Mar 2012 13:37
    URI: http://publications.heythrop.ac.uk/id/eprint/490

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