Virtue in Political Life

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Yves R. Simon (1903-1961), one of the greatest contemporary philosophers, gives a modern formulation for many classical philosophical concepts such as authority, the common good, and natural law. These topics have received extensive attention from scholars. Simon also discusses the nature of human virtue, moral and intellectual, but this topic has been less studied until now. The idea of virtue, and in our case virtue in political life, runs through Simon�s works. Through a close study of Simon�s works and the relevant secondary literature, this book explores Simon�s definition of virtue in order to highlight its originality, and show how he weaves the need for it into the fabric of three facets of political life, namely, the common good, the virtue of the ruler and the ruled, and the law. These ideas are important for the ruler-ship of any country and especially of developing nations which are populated by sit-tight dictators. Philosophy can be dry and abstract, yet in this case we deal with one of its more practical manifestations.

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Published 26 September 2017
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EAN13 9789956763597
Language English
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VIRTUE IN POLITICAL LIFE
Patrick Lafon
VIRTUE IN POLITICAL LIFE Yves Simon’s Political Philosophy for Our Times Patrick Lafon L a ng a a R esea rch & P u blishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher:LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.comwww.langaa-rpcig.net Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookscollective.com
ISBN-10: 9956-762-83-0
ISBN-13: 978-9956-762-83-5 ©Patrick Lafon2017 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or be stored in any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher
To the memory of my father, Joseph Noni Lafon (1920-2004), who did politics the right way.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments……….……………….…………….…… ix Preface………………………………..………...….………… xi Chapter 1: The Definition of Virtue……………….………... 1 I: Modern Substitutes for Virtue and their Inadequacy……………………………………………..1The Recourse to Natural Goodness…………………….……... 3 Social Engineering………………………………………….…. 13 Psycho-Technology……………………………………………21 II: Towards a Definition of Virtue………….……..……...… 31 Problems of Translation RegardingHexis…………...………… 32 Virtue is not Habit……………………………………….….…32 Virtue is not Grounded in Opinion…………………………… 40 Virtue is not Science……………………………….………..… 43 III: Understanding Aristotle’s Definition of Virtue…….…. 49 Distinguishing Virtue from a False Intention and from Vice………………………………………………… 49 The Intellectual and Moral Virtues in Practice………………… 51 The Interdependence of the Virtues: The Aristotelian and Stoic Positions………………..…….…… 55 The Definition of Moral Virtue……………………….…….… 58 Knowledge of Moral Axioms through Instinct………..….…… 59 Chapter 2: Virtue in Public Life: Simon’s Concept of the Common Good……………………63 I: Brief Historical Overview…………………………………63 Introduction……………………………………..…….……… 63 The Birth and Evolution of the Concept: Ancient Greek Philosophy to Medieval Times……………………...……….…64 The State of the Concept in Modern and Contemporary Thought……………………………………… 69 II: The Threefold Classificatory Scheme of Virginia Held as Outlined in the Public Interest and Individual Interests and her
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Concept of the Public Interest………………………………79 Preliminary Considerations……………………………….……79 The “Preponderance Theories” of Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and Jeremy Bentham…………………..…..…… 83 The “Public Interest as Common Interest” Theory…………… 90 The “Unitary Conception” …………………………………… 94 Virginia Held’s Proposed Constituent Elements of the Common Good……………………………...……….…101 III: Simon’s Concept of the Common Good…………….… 107 Two Misconceptions of the Common Good. …………………109 Simon’s Concept of the Common Good………………………118 Drawing the Threads Together…………………………...……129 Chapter 3: Virtue in Public Life: The Virtue of Theoretical Truth and the Virtue of the Ruler and the Ruled………………….…..……133 Introduction……………………………….…….……….…… 133 I: The Virtue of Theoretical Truth…………………….…… 135 The Truth Value of Witness…………………...……………… 135 The Truth Value of Science……………………………………137 The Truth Value of Creative Freedom…………………...….…139 Freedom of the Intellect: The Trouble with the Position of the Liberals……………….……….…………….…141 Truth and the Market Place of Ideas…………………..……….148 The Role of Authority in Teaching Transcendent Truth……….150 II: The Virtue of the Ruler and the Ruled……………….… 153 Rule by the Virtuous…………………………….…………..…153 Rule by the Experts or by an Elite…………….…………….… 165 Freedom from Self: Obedience as Perfective……….…….…… 171 Chapter 4: Virtue In Public Life: Virtue and Law…….……183 Introduction………………………………………...………… 183 I: Virtue and the Idea of Natural Law and Philosophical Challeng es to the Idea……………………… 185 The Idea of Natural Law……………………………………… 185 Philosophical Challenges to the Idea of Natural Law……….…. 189 II: Virtue and Facets of Positive Law
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and Natural Law………………………………….…….…… 202 On the Existence of the Just by Nature…………….…….…… 202 On Knowledge of Natural Moral Law…………………………206 On Law as Premise and Conclusion: The Role of Virtue………213 On God as the Author of Natural Law and Natural Moral Law……………………………………….…… 217 Conclusion……………………………………………...….…223 Bibliography…………..………….…………………..……… 229
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Acknowledgments If a good number of human undertakings would be impossible without the help of others, this is even more so in the case of writing a book. This work would have been impossible without the invaluable help of a many people at different levels. Father Paul Verdzekov, the pioneer Archbishop of Bamenda, who first sent me to do philosophical studies in Rome, remains for all who knew him a beacon that lights up and enlightens. A universally acclaimed intellectual and moral giant, unstinting with his talents, he remains an epitome of the kind of virtue and knowledge with which this book deals. My debt to him is incalculable. I am very appreciative of the warm welcome to the Catholic University of America (CUA) that I received from Fr. Kurt Pritzl, Dean of the School of Philosophy, when I arrived to do a doctorate in philosophy some decades after earning a licentiate in 1982 at Urbaniana University Rome. While he mentioned what such an enterprise would entail in terms of toil and sweat, he encouraged me at every step. This book is partly the result of his encouragement and support. I continue to pray for the happy repose of his gentle soul. This work would never have been written without Monsignor Robert Sokolowski who introduced me to the thought of Yves Simon, in a course on Virtue and Human Action in the Spring of 2009 at the Catholic University of America. It examined the thought of Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Mill, and Simon on the philosophy of virtue. My debt to Monsignor Sokolowski is immense. I would also like to thank Monsignor John F. Wippel, perhaps the foremost Aquinas scholar alive, Dr. V. Bradley Lewis, and Dr. Angela Mckay Knobel, all faculty of the Catholic University, with whom I shared philosophical ideas on the above question. It remains to mention Dr. James A. Oti, and my sisters, Dr. Felicia L. Oti, and Gladys Lafon, whose technical, moral, and material support have been invaluable. The constant discussions I had with Father William Neba, of the ideas in this book, were a source of intellectual ferment.
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