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By Stephen Everson (ed.)

This number of essays presents a cosmopolitan and available advent to the ethical theories of the traditional global. It covers the moral theories of all of the significant philosophers and colleges from the earliest occasions to the Hellenistic philosophers. a considerable advent considers the query of what's particular approximately historic ethics.

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What we shall be surveying, then, is the historical background for these two central works of Greek moral philosophy. 1 Happiness or the good life The Greek term for 'happy', eudaimon, means that someone is favoured by the gods (daimones), 'blessed with a good genius' (as the lexicon puts it) and hence 'fortunate'. What underlies the choice of this term for happiness is a view of the gods as dispensers of good and evil for mankind. This is the view expressed by Achilles in the final episode of the Iliad, when he shares his grief over Patroclus' death with Priam, who has come to ransom his son's body: Such is the destiny which the gods have spun for wretched mortals, to live our lives in sorrow while they are carefree.

What is characteristic of Democritus is to make the soul causally responsible for the condition of the body. This causal role is underscored in another text, which speaks of a hypothetical lawsuit in which the body takes the soul to court and accuses it of mistreatment, for 'ruining the body with neglect and dissolving it with drunkenness, corrupting and distracting it with sensuality', like the user of a tool who will be held responsible for its misuse (B159). We know of no one before Democritus who so clearly enunciated the conception of the soul as ruling or controlling the body, the conception which Plato can assume without argument (for example at Phaedo 94b).

113 on Tue Oct 14 07:58:56 BST 2014. 002 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press, 2014 Pre-Platonic ethics 33 (sophrosune) has been reconstrued as an intellectual insight that anticipates the Socratic-Platonic connection between virtue and knowledge. 5 Except for the general notion of reincarnation, the doctrine seems to vary from text to text, and different seers or sects may have tried to keep the details of their own teaching secret. What we know least imperfectly is the version of Empedocles, who depicts the human condition as the fall of a divine spirit (daimon) into this world of mortal misery from a primeval state of bliss, with the possibility of some kind of release for those who live a life of appropriate purity.

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