Aristotle on “Steering the Young by Pleasure and Pain”

Journal of Speculative Philosophy 29 (2):137-164 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


At least since Burnyeat’s “Aristotle on Learning to Be Good,” one of the most popular ways of explaining moral development in Aristotle is by appealing to mechanisms of pleasure and pain. Aristotle himself suggests this kind of explanation when he says that “in educating the young we steer them by the rudders of pleasure and pain” (Nicomachean Ethics X.1, 1172a21). However, I argue that, contrary to the dominant view, Aristotle’s view on moral development in the Nicomachean Ethics is not mainly about learning to feel pleasures and pains in relation to the right kinds of objects and activities. I show that given Aristotle’s account of the relationships between pleasure and virtuous actions, on the one hand, and between pleasure and virtuous dispositions, on the other, pleasure can only have a supporting role in our learning to be good, and not a guiding one.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,439

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

Aristotle on the Heterogeneity of Pleasure.Matthew Strohl - 2018 - In Lisa Shapiro (ed.), Pleasure: A History. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Usa.
Pleasure and pain in Aristotle's ethics.Dorothea Frede - 2006 - In Richard Kraut (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 255--275.
Pleasure, pain, and moral character and development.Erik J. Wielenberg - 2002 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 83 (3):282-299.
Pleasure and Friendship in Aristotle’s Ethics.Andreas Vakirtzis - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 2 (2):331-335.
Pleasure as Perfection: Nicomachean Ethics X.4-5.Strohl Matthew - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 41:257-287.
Why Is Virtue Naturally Pleasing?Jonathan Jacobs - 1995 - Review of Metaphysics 49 (1):21-48.


Added to PP

120 (#150,054)

6 months
15 (#236,862)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Marta Jimenez
Emory University

References found in this work

Ethics with Aristotle.Sarah Broadie - 1991 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Aristotle on learning to be good.Myles F. Burnyeat - 1980 - In Amélie Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics. University of California Press. pp. 69--92.
5. Aristotle on Learning to Be Good.M. F. Burnyeat - 1980 - In Amélie Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics. University of California Press. pp. 69-92.
Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics.Christopher Rowe & Sarah Broadie - 2004 - Philosophical Quarterly 54 (215):309-314.

View all 11 references / Add more references