Teaching Socrates, Aristotle, and Augustine on Akrasia†
AbstractA long-standing debate among moral philosophers centers on the question of whether ignorance is always at the root of moral wrongdoing, or whether, in certain cases, wrongdoing stems from something else—namely akrasia. This paper is a discussion of how undergraduate core curriculum teachers can incorporate Augustine’s work into this debate. I begin by briefly reconstructing Socrates’ and Aristotle’s accounts of wrongdoing, and then I sketch an Augustinian approach to the issue. Socrates contends that ignorance is the fundamental source of all wrongdoing; hence, akrasia is illusory. Though Aristotle’s view can seem more roundabout than Socrates’, it, too, is plausibly interpreted as entailing that robust, open-eyed akrasia is impossible. For Augustine, prior to receiving the illumination that comes with God’s grace, an individual’s sinfulness can be characterized as being the result of ignorance concerning the proper focus of one’s love. However, after receiving this illuminating grace, sinful action can be characterized as an instance of akrasia. View Full-Text
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Clanton, J.C. Teaching Socrates, Aristotle, and Augustine on Akrasia. Religions 2015, 6, 419-433.
Clanton JC. Teaching Socrates, Aristotle, and Augustine on Akrasia. Religions. 2015; 6(2):419-433.Chicago/Turabian Style
Clanton, J. C. 2015. "Teaching Socrates, Aristotle, and Augustine on Akrasia." Religions 6, no. 2: 419-433.