Reason, Feeling, and Happiness: Bridging an Ancient/Modern Divide in The Plague

Philosophy and Literature 43 (2):350-368 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Camus is defined by many as an absurdist philosopher of revolt. The Plague, however, shows him working rigorously through a well-known division between ancient and modern ethics concerning the relation of reason, feeling and happiness. For Aristotle, the virtues are stable dispositions including affective and intellectual elements. For Kant, one’s particular feelings are either that from which we must abstract to judge moral worth, or are a constant hindrance to proper moral activity. Further, Kant claims “habit belongs to the physical nature of the determination of the will,” which seems to imply habit cannot be a moral determination at all. A related disagreement regards virtue and happiness. Aristotle’s happiness is “an activity of the soul in accord with virtue.” For Kant and other moderns, happiness is an ideal of imagination, “a maximum of well-being in my present, and in every future, state,” all the elements of which “are without exception empirical.” Thus happiness seems more the constant counterweight to moral action than its fulfillment. Kant and Aristotle agree, however, in their judgment of many characters and actions, as is illustrated in The Plague. The novel provides realistic insights into a philosophical agreement between these supposed oppositions. In particular, I show how both philosophers would agree in their judgements concerning both the relative goodness and relative happiness of Joseph Grand and Raymond Rambert. The illustration of this agreement proves Camus is valorizing a traditional ethic.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,400

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Kant on Happiness in the Moral Life.Gary Watson - 1983 - Philosophy Research Archives 9:79-108.
Kant on Happiness in the Moral Life.Gary Watson - 1983 - Philosophy Research Archives 9:79-108.
What is This Thing Called Happiness?Fred Feldman - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
Two conceptions of happiness.Richard Kraut - 1979 - Philosophical Review 88 (2):167-197.
Virtue and Eudaimonism.Julia Annas - 1998 - Social Philosophy and Policy 15 (1):37.
Intrinsically Valued Parts of Happiness.Nicholas White - 1999 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 2:149.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-10-29

Downloads
51 (#232,654)

6 months
7 (#117,875)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Gene Fendt
University of Nebraska at Kearney

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references