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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Greek, Not Meek

During recent flights to and from Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y., for FEE seminars, I spent the time well by listening to podcasts of Roderick Long's excellent Mises Institute seminar on the praxeological foundations of libertarian ethics, availble as audio and video files here. I highly recommend it. As Professor Long, one of my favorite contemporary philosophers, discussed the Aristotelian, and more generally, Greek, approach to ethics, it occurred to me that contrary to the frequent claim that we Americans live in a Christian culture, in fact we live in a Greek culture. I'd be willing to bet that if a random sample of people was asked to read a brief description of the Greek [revision: Aristotelian] approach to ethics (virtue conceived in terms of golden means and one's own flourishing and happiness, a notion that incorporates the intellectual, emotional, and physical aspects of life, along with a concern for the legitimate interests of others), most would endorse the approach as common sense. That description would lack any reference to meekness, self-sacrifice, or renunciation of this world. Of course, people don't hold this ethical orientation explicitly or apply it consistently, but it does seem to provide the tacit moral compass that guides most people's conduct in their day-to-day living.

All of which gives more meaning to the "A" pendant my wife, Cheryl, gave me as a gift last year. I take it to stand for Atheism, Anarchism, and Logic (A is A). But now I see that it stands, more generally, for Aristotle.

By the way, this is the best place for me to acknowledge that it was Cheryl who came up with the title "The Goal Is Freedom" for my Friday column at the FEE website. I had racked my brain trying to find an appropriate title using the letters T G I F, where F would stand for Freedom. When I asked her, she came up with the perfect title in about one second. Thanks, darling!


Anonymous said...

Thanks sweetheart. It was easy to come up with your TGIF name...when I think of you, I think of your dedication to the fight for freedom.

Asyraf said...

Wow.. The video and audio are great.. i have learnt more thing about the greek.. Thanks.. :)

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