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Oxford Studies in Ancient PhilosophyVolume 42$
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Brad Inwood

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644384

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644384.001.0001

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Aristotle on Law and Moral Education

Aristotle on Law and Moral Education

(p.263) Aristotle on Law and Moral Education
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy

Zena Hitz

Oxford University Press

It is widely agreed that Aristotle holds that the best moral education involves habituation in the proper pleasures of virtuous action. But it is rarely acknowledged that Aristotle repeatedly emphasizes the social and political sources of good habits, and strongly suggests that the correct law‐ordained education in proper pleasures is very rare or non‐existent. A careful look at the Nicomachean Ethics along with parallel discussions in the Eudemian Ethics and Politics suggests that Aristotle divided public moral education or law‐ordained habituation into two types. One type is a defective form practiced by the Spartans, producing civic courage and similar defective virtue‐like states motivated by external incentives. By contrast Aristotle endorses the law‐ordained musical education described in Politics 8. The chapter argues that Aristotle considers the well‐habituated state of proper pleasures in virtue to be best cultivated by this kind of musical education; and that this explains both his emphasis on good laws and on their scarcity.

Keywords:   Aristotle, education, moral education, public education, music, law, Sparta, civic courage, habituation, defective virtue

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