"Ironically the pragmatic meaning of prudence is exactly the opposite of its traditional meaning. Traditionally prudence was not considered contrary to virtue; it was the highest virtue: It meant the wisdom to practice all the virtues in the right time and circumstance."
Greek Ethics and Moral Theory
"Greek ethics has had a kind of renaissance in the last few years. A number of authors, tired, perhaps, of debates about forms of utilitarianism or technicalities of metaethics, have pointed to the classical Greek theories as offering a wider perspective. Three points in particular have been singled out for praise. First, Greek authors were usually concerned to provide an account of the good life for man—what they called eudaimonia, happiness — as opposed to focusing narrowly on right or good action. Second, this wider scope led them to treat seriously and without philistine prejudices the question of motives for morality, or reasons for wanting to be good — a question that has been an embarrassment to both Kantians and utilitarians. Finally, the Greek philosophers tended to be concerned with virtues of character, the traits that underlie or explain a disposition to act in the right way, more than with principles of right action....
I propose to take a closer look at the development of Greek ethical theories in the hope of finding out how ancient and modern questions might hang together. It seems to me that an examination of ancient theories that goes beyond the two great classics Plato and Aristotle (usually, and wrongly, thought to represent all of Greek ethics) might help us to see a little more clearly what if anything we could learn from them. Obviously, I cannot do this in detail here. My remarks will be limited to a few fairly general points of strategy."
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