Aristotle on the Apparent Good: Perception, Phantasia, Thought, and Desire

Paperback | September 14, 2014

byJessica Moss

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Aristotle holds that we desire things because they appear good to us - a view still dominant in philosophy now. But what is it for something to appear good? Why does pleasure in particular tend to appear good, as Aristotle holds? And how do appearances of goodness motivate desire and action?No sustained study of Aristotle has addressed these questions, or even recognized them as worth asking. Jessica Moss argues that the notion of the apparent good is crucial to understanding both Aristotle's psychological theory and his ethics, and the relation between them. Beginning from the parallels Aristotle draws between appearances of things as good and ordinary perceptual appearances such as those involved in optical illusion, Moss argues that on Aristotle's view things appear good to us, just as things appear round or small, in virtue of a psychologicalcapacity responsible for quasi-perceptual phenomena like dreams and visualization: phantasia ('imagination'). Once we realize that the appearances of goodness which play so major a role in Aristotle's ethics are literal quasi-perceptual appearances, Moss suggests we can use his detailed accounts ofphantasia and its relation to perception and thought to gain new insight into some of the most debated areas of Aristotle's philosophy: his accounts of emotions, akrasia, ethical habituation, character, deliberation, and desire. In Aristotle on the Apparent Good, Moss presents a new - andcontroversial - interpretation of Aristotle's moral psychology: one which greatly restricts the role of reason in ethical matters, and gives an absolutely central role to pleasure.

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Aristotle holds that we desire things because they appear good to us - a view still dominant in philosophy now. But what is it for something to appear good? Why does pleasure in particular tend to appear good, as Aristotle holds? And how do appearances of goodness motivate desire and action?No sustained study of Aristotle has addressed...

Jessica Moss studied for her PhD in philosophy at Princeton University and taught at the University of Pittsburgh, before coming to Oxford as a tutorial fellow in Ancient Philosophy at Balliol College. She specializes in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, with a particular focus on the relation between their ethical and psychologi...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:September 14, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198707940

ISBN - 13:9780198707943

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPART I: THE APPARENT GOOD1. Evaluative cognition2. Perceiving the good3. Phantasia and the Apparent GoodPART II: THE APPARENT GOOD AND NON-RATIONAL MOTIVATION4. Passions and the Apparent Good5. Akrasia and the Apparent GoodPART III: THE APPARENT GOOD AND RATIONAL MOTIVATION6. Phantasia and Deliberation7. Happiness, Virtue, and the Apparent Good8. Practical InductionConclusion: Aristotle's Practical EmpiricismBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"[an] excellent book" --Stephen Makin, Times Literary Supplement