When Vice Is Not the Opposite of Virtue: Aristotle on Ingratitude and Shamelessness

In Christelle Veillard, Olivier Renaut & Dimitri El Murr (eds.), Les philosophes face au vice, de Socrate à Augustin. Brill. pp. 175–188 (2020)
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Aristotle’s conception of vice is notoriously problematic. On the one hand, it appears as the antithesis of virtue; as such, it may seem, like virtue, to rest on principles, except that in the case of vice the principles are bad ones. On the other hand, vice may be something more like the privation or absence of virtue: not the negative pole or opposite of virtue but the condition of not being at all guided by rational principles or logos. As a way of approaching Aristotle’s notion of vice, I propose to examine two disapproved qualities that Aristotle mentions briefly in his Rhetoric, and which are adduced as the opposites of emotions. The two qualities are ingratitude, which is represented as the opposite of feeling grateful, and shamelessness, the opposite of the emotion shame. Both ingratitude and shamelessness have the appearance of vices, even though they are contrasted here not with virtues but with passions or pathê. Examining the logic of these pairings will, I hope, shed light not only on ingratitude and shamelessness but also on the complex and unstable nature of vice itself.



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Aristotle on Vice.Jozef Müller - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (3):459-477.

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