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The Moral Ideal of the Complete Life

 

B.Contestabile      admin@socrethics.com      First version 2008   Last Version 2018

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Abstract

 

1.      Introduction

2.      Aristotle (384–322 BC)

2.1  Overview

2.2  Complete Virtue

2.3  The Complete Life

3.      Hellenism

3.1  Definition

3.2  The Hellenistic Age (322 BC–400 AD)

4.      Nussbaum’s Critique

4.1  Critique of Hellenistic Schools

4.2  Critique of Hellenistic Virtues

5.      Review

5.1  Questioning the Complete Life

5.2  Questioning Universalism

6.      Conclusion

 

References

Appendix: Indian Sources of Hellenistic Ethics

 

 

 

 

Abstract

 

 

Starting point

The passion of anger (outrage) is one of the central factors causing harm. Whereas the Hellenist philosophers promoted the extirpation of this passion, Aristotle created the ethical ideal of a complete life, which includes a controlled model of all passions.

In her 1994 book The Therapy of Desire, Martha Nussbaum adopts the Aristotelian ideal and questions the value of Hellenistic virtues [Nussbaum]. Essential traits of the human character have to be suppressed in order to extirpate the passion of anger.

 

 

Type of Problem

What is the moral value of non-violence, ethical skepticism and (emotional) retreat?

Is it desirable to extirpate the passion of anger/outrage? Or is the complete life morally superior?

Is it reasonable to promote a universal ideal of the human character?

 

 

Result

Martha Nussbaum suggests that the price for giving up emotional social commitments is too high.

There are indeed good reasons for an emotional engagement in family life and politics (Aristotelian ethics), but there are also good reasons for denying it (Hellenistic ethics) depending on the individual constitution and the environment. Virtue ethics is derived ethics; it cannot propagate intrinsic values.

Since Hellenistic ethics is as defensible as Aristotelian ethics, it makes no sense to promote a universal ideal of the human character.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Introduction

 

 

Starting point

The passion of anger (outrage) is one of the central factors causing harm. Whereas the Hellenist philosophers promoted the extirpation of this passion, Aristotle created the ethical ideal of a complete life, which includes a controlled model of all passions.

In her 1994 book The Therapy of Desire, Martha Nussbaum adopts the Aristotelian ideal and questions the value of Hellenistic virtues [Nussbaum]. Essential traits of the human character have to be suppressed in order to extirpate the passion of anger.

 

 

Type of Problem

What is the moral value of non-violence, ethical skepticism and (emotional) retreat?

Is it desirable to extirpate the passion of anger/outrage? Or is the complete life morally superior?

Is it reasonable to promote a universal ideal of the human character?

 

 

 

 

2. Aristotle (384–322 BC)

 

 

2.1 Overview

 

 

Science

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist (…). At eighteen, he joined Plato's Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven (c. 347 BCE). His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government – and constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy. Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request of Philip of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great starting from 343 BCE (…). The fact that Aristotle was a pupil of Plato contributed to his former views of Platonism, but, following Plato's death, Aristotle immersed himself in empirical studies and shifted from Platonism to empiricism (Aristotle, Wikipedia)

 

 

Politics

Aristotle considered the city to be a natural community. Moreover, he considered the city to be prior in importance to the family which in turn is prior to the individual, "for the whole must of necessity be prior to the part". He also famously stated that "man is by nature a political animal". Aristotle conceived of politics as being like an organism rather than like a machine, and as a collection of parts none of which can exist without the others. Aristotle's conception of the city is organic, and he is considered one of the first to conceive of the city in this manner.

The common modern understanding of a political community as a modern state is quite different from Aristotle's understanding. Although he was aware of the existence and potential of larger empires, the natural community according to Aristotle was the city (polis) which functions as a political "community" or "partnership”. The aim of the city is not just to avoid injustice or for economic stability, but rather to allow at least some citizens the possibility to live a good life, and to perform beautiful acts: "The political partnership must be regarded, therefore, as being for the sake of noble actions, not for the sake of living together." This is distinguished from modern approaches, beginning with social contract theory, according to which individuals leave the state of nature because of "fear of violent death" or its "inconveniences." (Aristotle, Wikipedia)

 

 

Ethics

Aristotle considered ethics to be a practical rather than theoretical study, i.e., one aimed at becoming good and doing good rather than knowing for its own sake (…).  Aristotle taught that virtue has to do with the proper function of a thing. An eye is only a good eye in so much as it can see, because the proper function of an eye is sight. Aristotle reasoned that humans must have a function specific to humans, and that this function must be an activity of the psuchē (normally translated as soul) in accordance with reason (logos). Aristotle identified such an optimum activity of the soul as the aim of all human deliberate action, eudaimonia, generally translated as "happiness". To have the potential of ever being happy in this way necessarily requires a good character (ēthikē aretē), often translated as moral (or ethical) virtue (or excellence).

Aristotle taught that to achieve a virtuous and potentially happy character requires a first stage of having the fortune to be habituated not deliberately, but by teachers, and experience, leading to a later stage in which one consciously chooses to do the best things. When the best people come to live life this way their practical wisdom (phronesis) and their intellect (nous) can develop with each other towards the highest possible human virtue, the wisdom of an accomplished theoretical or speculative thinker, or in other words, a philosopher (Aristotle, Wikipedia)

 

 

 

2.2 Complete Virtue

 

Virtue ethics is based on the thesis, that even in a variable environment (in the long run) some character traits can be detected, which are desirable for everybody. In Greek philosophy the concept of an ideal character and universal virtues was introduced by Plato (424-348 B.C.), the teacher of Aristoteles (384-322 B.C.)

 

In his analysis of the human soul Aristotle maintained that emotions should be controlled, but understood and respected at the same time. The structure of the Aristotelian soul is a predecessor of Freuds structure of mind.

 

 

 

rational

Calculative

Intellectual Virtue

(Ego)

 

mixed

Appetitive

Moral Virtue

(Super-Ego)

 

irrational

Vegetative

Nutritional Virtue

(Id)

 

 

The human soul has an irrational element which is shared with the animals, and a rational element which is distinctly human.

1.      The most primitive irrational element is the vegetative faculty which is responsible for nutrition and growth. An organism which does this well may be said to have a nutritional virtue.

2.      The second tier of the soul is the appetitive faculty which is responsible for our emotions and desires (such as joy, grief, hope and fear). This faculty is both rational and irrational. It is irrational since even animals experience desires. However, it is also rational since humans have the distinct ability to control these desires with the help of reason. The human ability to properly control these desires is called moral virtue, and is the focus of morality.

3.      Aristotle notes that there is a purely rational part of the soul, the calculative, which is responsible for the human ability to contemplate, reason logically, and formulate scientific principles. The mastery of these abilities is called intellectual virtue

(Aristotle, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, chapter 7).

 

For a detailed list of Nicomachean virtues see Aristotle Ethics.

 

 

 

2.3 The Complete Life

 

In the Nicomachean ethics Aristotle tells us that happiness not only requires complete virtue, but also a complete life:

 

Human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete. But we must add 'in a complete life.' For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy (Nicomachean ethics, The Internet Classics Archive)

This sentence makes the distinction between temporary well-being and eudaimonia.

 

A boy is not happy; for he is not yet capable of such acts, owing to his age; and boys who are called happy are being congratulated by reason of the hopes we have for them. For there is required, as we said, not only complete virtue but also a complete life, since many changes occur in life (…)

(Nicomachean ethics, The Internet Classics Archive)

The notion a boy is not happy means that he does not know life satisfaction, because he has not yet developed the corresponding cognitive component. The sentence clarifies that a complete life is associated with the development of one’s potential (capabilities) under various requirements. The non-existence of passions (in a boy) as well as the extirpation of passions (by a corresponding doctrine) makes a life incomplete.

 

The complete life also has a social dimension:

         Happiness in life includes the virtues, and Aristotle adds that it would include self-sufficiency (autarkeia), not the self-sufficiency of a hermit (personal autonomy), but of someone with a family, friends and community (collective autonomy). By itself this would make life choiceworthy and lacking nothing.

(Nicomachean Ethics, Wikipedia)

         The ideal of completeness is associated with the political goal of the community [Nussbaum, chapter 3]:

Political science spends most of its pains on making the citizens to be of a certain character, viz. good and capable of noble acts (Nicomachean ethics, The Internet Classics Archive)

 

 

 

3. Hellenism

 

 

3.1 Definition

 

The word "Hellenism" is used in several distinct ways:

1.      The principal meaning is the emanation outward of culture and ideas from classical Greece to the rest of the world, with classical Greek culture and ideas either replacing local culture and ideas, or amending local customs.

2.      The second meaning of the word refers to the intensification of this process during the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) and its continuation as a cultural force up until about 400 A.D: the Hellenistic age or Hellenistic period of Ancient Greek.

3.      The third meaning is the general field of study of ancient Greek, which could include both processes just mentioned, plus scholarship since the time of the Greeks. It is also sometimes used as another word for Hellenic polytheism.

(Hellenism, Wikipedia)

 

The great centers of Hellenistic culture were Alexandria and Antioch, capitals of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria respectively.

Hellenistic simply means Greek and Asian Culture together (Hellenistic Greece, Wikipedia).

 

The Western world and the Western civilization must be considered the product of both Greek and Indian thought, both Western philosophy and Eastern philosophies. Trade, imperialism and currents of migration allowed cultural philosophies to intermingle freely throughout India, Egypt, Greece and the ancient Near East (Thomas McEvilley, Wikipedia) [McEvilley]

 

 

3.2 The Hellenistic Age (322 BC–400 AD)

 

1.      The period following Aristotle until the fall of the Western Roman Empire (about 400 AD) is called the Hellenistic Age, a term signifying the lasting influence of the Greeks, also known as the Hellenes. During the Hellenistic Age, people, both Greek and Roman, wanted ways to live a virtuous life in the face of rapidly changing social conditions (Greek and Hellenistic Philosophy, T.O’Connor).

 

2.      The Hellenistic period of Ancient Greek history was the period between the death of Alexander the Great (Alexander III of Macedon) in 323 BC and the annexation of the Greek peninsula and islands by Rome in 146 BC. Although the establishment of Roman rule did not break the continuity of Hellenistic society and culture, which remained essentially unchanged until the advent of Christianity (in the 5th century), it did mark the end of Greek political independence (Hellenistic Greece, Wikipedia).

 

3.      The Hellenistic Age is also characterized by a lasting influence of Indian philosophy on the Greek culture. Nussbaum’s critique is characterized by (indirectly) disapproving this influence. Our critique of Nussbaum’s view in turn aims at upgrading Indian philosophy and questioning the universal validity of the Aristotelian approach to ethics.

 

For a list of the most important Hellenistic schools and philosophers see Hellenistic Philosophy.

 

 

 

4. Nussbaum’s Critique

 

Nussbaum’s ethical ideal is based on Aristotle’s concept of a “complete life” (see chapter 2.3).

Her critique of Hellenistic ethics is (indirectly) a critique of the Buddhist influence on Greek philosophy.

For information on the latter see Indian Sources of Hellenistic Ethics.

 

 

 

4.1 Critique of Hellenistic Schools

 

A life without a family or a partnership without passionate love can be seen as a lack of commitment. The relevant questions according to Martha Nussbaum are the following:

         How far does the attachment of Hellenistic schools to various versions of freedom from pain and disturbance allow their pupils to form commitments to anything outside their own virtue?

         And how complete is the life that results?

[Nussbaum, 499]

 

 

Skepticism

The Skeptics divest their pupil of all commitments, including cognitive ones, on the grounds that any commitment to the world, even a commitment to the fact that it is this way or that, puts the pupil at risk. Far less does the pupil have any commitment to loved ones or country or even to his/her own past, character or taste. These things are there, and they exert their causal force – but if they happen not to, the pupil does not go after them. This gives him/her a life of remarkable safety; but it impoverishes the self and makes the self untrustworthy for others [Nussbaum, 500]

 

Martha Nussbaum notes that “Skeptical practice has a great deal in common (and may be influenced by) Eastern therapeutic philosophies which provide us with many empirical examples of a detached mode of existence like the one Sextus Empiricus recommends”. But precisely those practices seem to be the problem. The complete extirpation of belief can be achieved only at a steep price: “Even those of us who might accept a life without emotion are likely to be disturbed at the degree to which this life lacks commitment to others and to society.” [Kuzminski, 23]

 

 

Epicureanism

The Epicurean seems to understand ataraxia itself in a more active way than the Skeptic – not just as the absence of disturbance, but, in positive terms, as the healthy and unimpeded functioning of all our faculties, including the corresponding risks:

         the cognitive risk of seeing the world in a definite way, a way that might be falsified by experience.

         the risk of virtuous actions even when it is not advantageous

         the risk of friendship

[Nussbaum, 500]

But the Epicurean life remains incomplete insofar as it excludes marriage, sexual love, children and the political community

 

 

Stoicism

Stoicism was the way in which some of the noblest figures in later antiquity have answered the problem of existence and conquered the anxieties of fate and death (Transtheism, Wikipedia)

 

The Stoics’ dilemma on this point is that apatheia and its cognitive basis would seem to be at odds with the sort of risk-taking loyalty and courage a Stoic hero is said to possess. Stoic friends and spouses must live in such a way that the death or departure of the other will not cause grief. Though pietas may produce much loyal and quasi-committed action, the Stoic goes through the motions like one playing a role. He entrusts no part of his good to any other. This lack of deep love and openness may seem to render that life impoverished and incomplete [Nussbaum, 500].

.

 

Hellenism and Buddhism

Reviewing the development of Greek philosophy from the Pre- Socratics to the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics, one is struck by the overwhelming concern in the later schools with peace of mind. There is, as a consequence, one quality that preclassical and classical Greeks possessed preeminently and that Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics preeminently lacked: enthusiasm (Hellenistic Thought, Forrest Baird).

Similarly in Buddhism, there is an overwhelming concern for calm:

The “core value” that one finds in the Pali Canon is neither insight nor compassion – though both are corollaries of it. The key is calm [Webster, 205].

 

 

 

4.2 Critique of Hellenistic Virtues

 

The arguments in this chapter are essentially the same as in chapter 4.1, but the emphasis is on virtues instead of schools.

 

Aristotle claimed that detachment does not lead to true human happiness and a genuinely fulfilled human existence. A happy life is rich in possibilities for emotions such as love, grief, fear and even anger [Burton, 212].

 

 

Extirpate anger

Seneca (a late Stoic philosopher) and Lucretius (an Epicurean poet) have complex and ambivalent positions, in both the public and the private sphere:

         Lucretius’ attempt to describe the bases of community shows and retains the basis for anger on behalf of oneself and one’s own. This legitimate anger is not free of potentially disturbing consequences. It is a difficult balancing act, to create a community in which individuals both protect themselves and cherish their friends.

         Seneca, too, has great difficulty describing a community that is both self-respecting and free from anger. His analysis makes a powerful case against anger and in favor of a medical attitude toward injury and wrongdoing. But in cases where a tyrant damages someone whom one loves, detachment gives way to cursing.

[Nussbaum, 509]

There is a consensus that – given a commitment in the community – the complete extirpation of anger is mistaken, but the difficult problem Lucretius and Seneca are dealing with is to decide between legitimated and undesirable anger.

 

A different problem springs from the link between passionate love and anger:

Nussbaum suggests that – if one accepts the Hellenistic arguments for the elimination of anger – one must also accept the elimination of passionate love [Nussbaum, 509].

 

 

Besiege the fear of death

It is the job of Epicurean argument to remove false beliefs and the desires that causally depend on them [Nussbaum, 195].

One has to distinguish between the fear of being dead oneself and the fear of losing members of the family.

1.      The fear of being dead:

It should be possible to remove false beliefs (e.g. punishment in the afterlife) for both passionate and passionless people.

2.      The fear of losing friends or members of the family:

Stoic friends and spouses must live in such a way that the death or departure of the other will not cause grief (…). The Stoic goes through the motions like one playing a role (…). This lack of deep love may seem to render that life impoverished [Nussbaum, 500].

Deep love and fear are closely tied.

 

 

Extirpate Compassion

Where pity and compassion are concerned there are good reasons to approve the Lucretian tendency to leave it in human life as a basic source of communal affiliation, rather than to banish it in the name of self-sufficiency, as the Stoics do [Nussbaum, 508].

Compassion – as described by Nussbaum – is tied to the emotional commitment to friends or members of the family. The arguments against the extirpation of compassion are the same as the ones for the extirpation of fear.

 

 

Abstain from wealth, power and luxury

All of the above mentioned schools recommended living in accordance with nature and dropping the frenzied pursuit of wealth, power and luxury. These pseudo-goals are at best highly limited tools of human functioning, mere instruments without intrinsic value. Epicureans and Stoics, by their analysis of connections between these false ends and socially divisive desires, provide a further consequentialist argument in favor of their reform of preferences. If the Hellenistic thinkers are correct, then the behavior of individuals who seek to maximize wealth and other satisfactions – far from being either natural or rational - is the product of a diseased form of social teaching. For Lucretius it is still worse – the consequence of a false and self-deceptive belief that one can defeat one’s own death by accumulation. Such behavior will not be chosen by fully informed human beings, when they have duly scrutinized the alternatives through a process of critical argument [Nussbaum, 500]

Martha Nussbaum – who criticizes Hellenistic virtues in many respects – agrees with Hellenistic thinkers at this point (in line with Aristoteles denial of chrematistics). We will therefore undertake the role of the critic:

         Why should wealth, power and luxury not be a component of emotional richness [Nussbaum, 500]? For most individuals these attributes evoke strong emotions because they are tied to the social status.

         The accumulation of wealth, power and luxury is irrational as a means to defeat aging and death. It is however (in many instances) a means to moderate the power of contingency [Hampe] in the same way as an insurance does.

         Deferred consumption and savings are the basis for investments.

In Hinduism artha is one of the four aims in life.

Artha is the acquisition of arts, land, gold, cattle, wealth, equipages and friends. It is, further, the protection of what is acquired, and the increase of what is protected. Artha should be learnt from the king's officers, and from merchants who may be versed in the ways of commerce (Kama Sutra)

In the context of the Dharma, a part of wealth is spent for religious and social purposes. This leads to a different argument. It is questionable to devaluate wealth and power at all without a context. The usage decides about the morality. A person in a powerful position can do more for the worst-off than a retreat-oriented Hellenist.

 

 

Summary

Is it possible to accept the Hellenistic arguments about the elimination of anger, while still rejecting their more general attack on passions such as love, fear and grief? [Nussbaum, 509]

Nussbaum’s answer is no. Passionate (deep) love, anger, fear and compassion (for family members and friends) are closely tied. One has to make a choice between:

         denying commitments and giving up an (emotionally) complete life

         affirming commitments and take emotional risks

Hellenistic schools essentially decide for low commitments. In Roman Stoicism commitment is high, but driven by pietas, not passion.

 

Obviously the Hellenistic schools propagate ideals which are far from Aristotle’s complete life. But before dismissing these ideals we have to question the normative claim which asks for a complete life.

 

 

 

5. Review

 

 

5.1 Questioning the Complete Life

 

The Aristotelian ideal of completeness (see chapter 2.3) is associated with the commitment to the family, friends and the community. However, increasing levels of commitment (at some point) allow or even require the use of violence. Passionate attachments also turn accidents, illnesses and death into tremendous emotional risks. Increasing commitments therefore go with increasing risks:

 

How can the ideal of a complete life (a life with high commitment) justify the corresponding risk?

On what grounds can the Aristotelian ideal be called morally superior?

 

The criteria used by Martha Nussbaum to claim the moral superiority of a complete life are emotional richness, openness and trustability [Nussbaum, 500]. These criteria cannot be found in Aristotle’s list of virtues (see Aristotle Ethics), but they represent something like “derived” Aristotelian virtues. In the following we question Nussbaum’s criteria and her devaluation of Hellenistic ethics:

 

 

Emotional richness

         Contemplative happiness is less intense than biological happiness but normally more durable. If a person is capable to reach a meditative state of ecstasy, then the valuation becomes even more difficult (because of the incomparable nature of this kind of happiness).

         With regards to anger it is far from evident that its loss leads to an impoverished life. Anger may be tied to passionate love but not to all kinds of love. On what grounds should passionate love be morally superior to charitable love or the Buddhist kind of compassion (compassion which is not driven by biological altruism)?  In addition anger is not only linked to passionate love but also to the risk of violence.

 

 

Openness

         Contemplative happiness is difficult to communicate but that does not make it morally inferior to unveiled happiness.

         Open and direct communication not only solves problems but also creates conflicts. The moral value of openness depends on the context. [Sick, 263-268]

         As far as openness is associated with spontaneity, it is in conflict with control and sublimation. Many professions require a high degree of emotional distance and devaluate spontaneity.

 

 

Trustability

         To deny a commitment is not morally suspicious per se. A person can be perfectly trustable, although he/she denies the commitment to a family.

         Conversely the commitment to a family is not morally superior per se. A family is not necessarily a moral institution.

         The combination of lacking passion and high commitment is characteristic for Roman Stoicism. But there the predominant role of pietas guarantees trustability.

.

 

Conclusion

Obviously – even if we adopt Nussbaum’s criteria for moral superiority – Hellenistic ethics cannot easily be degraded. Hellenistic and Aristotelian ethics serves different interests. If we associate Aristotelian ethics with “survival and procreation” and Hellenistic ethics with the “reduction of suffering”, then both views have their justification.

 

 

 

5.2 Questioning Universality

 

 

Types of ethics

There are reasons for affirming social commitments and reasons for denying them. The reasons for denying commitments can (but do not have to) be therapeutic ones as in Buddhism.

         Affirming social commitments requires a concept for cooperation

         Denying social commitments requires a concept for retreat

In-between these two poles there are countless intermediate forms of ethics, which deny specific commitments in order to avoid risks. Buddhist and Hellenistic schools (early Stoics, Cynics, Epicureans, Skeptics etc.) developed a strategy to reduce risk by reducing social commitments. Buddha and Pyrrho of Elis, for example, lived as celibate, wandering ascetics [Beckwith, 46, 93].  The Roman Stoics are a special case insofar, as they affirm social commitments (by pietas) and reduce risk by emotional distance.

 

The reduction of risk has to be paid by the loss of “natural” happiness. In the context of Apatheia [Höffe, 101] Aristotle used the argument that insensitiveness is far from human nature. But Buddhists and Hellenists are not insensitive, they are differently sensitive. Buddhists replace passion by meditative happiness and compassion, and even Stoics are not unemotional. If they manage to avoid excessive self-control (and corresponding mental illness) then the Aristotelian (complete) life looks like a questionable risk.

 

 

Arguments against universality

Possibly the differences between above types of ethics can be explained by different environments. The change from Aristotelian to Hellenistic ethics may have to do with the therapeutic function of philosophy in a situation of political and ideological uncertainty, see Philosophy as Therapy - Introduction. And the change from the early, retreat-oriented (Greek) Stoicism to the late, socially engaged (Roman) Stoicism may have to do with the success of the Roman Empire.

 

Following some arguments against the proclamation of universal virtues:

         In a changing environment evolutionary adaptations emanate quickly. New character traits appear or old ones are revitalized. In the 17th century La Bruyère already documented more than thousand types of characters. A rigid character ideal doesn’t fit into a variable environment.

         A culture with its virtues is a successful adaptation to a certain environment and world view, but there is not only one possible successful adaptation.

         Cultures are in competition. The victorious culture declares their pattern of behavior to be virtuous.

         There is also a competition within the same culture. For some people a moral norm is easy to comply, for others extremely difficult, depending on their constitution, environment and biography. The majority declares their preferences to be sound.

         Within a culture there are specializations with corresponding virtues. A family of artists doesn’t propagate the same virtues as a family of sportsmen or intellectuals.

         In the context of a complex culture virtues can rarely be translated into concrete arguments for decision-making.

 

 

 

6. Conclusion

 

Martha Nussbaum suggests that the price for giving up emotional social commitments is too high. There are indeed good reasons for an emotional engagement in family life and politics (Aristotelian ethics), but there are also good reasons for denying it (Hellenistic ethics) depending on the individual constitution and the environment. Virtue ethics is derived ethics; it cannot propagate intrinsic values.

Since Hellenistic ethics is as defensible as Aristotelian ethics, it makes no sense to promote a universal ideal of the human character.

 

 

 

References

 

1.      Beckwith Christopher I. (2015), Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia, Princeton University Press, Princeton

2.      Burton David (2010), Curing Diseases of Belief and Desire, Buddhist Philosophical Therapy, in Philosophy as Therapeia, Royal Institute of Philosophy, Supplement 66, Cambridge University Press, UK

3.      Nussbaum Martha (1994), The Therapy of Desire, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1994

4.      Hampe Michael (2006), Die Macht des Zufalls, Wolf Jobst Siedler Verlag, Berlin

5.      Höffe Otfried, Hrsg.(2006), Nikomachische Ethik, Akademie Verlag

6.      Kuzminski Adrian (2008), Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism, Lexington Books, Lanham, 2008.

7.      McEvilley Thomas (2001), The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, New York, Allworth Press

8.      Sick David H. (2007), When Socrates met the Buddha: Greek and Indian dialectic in Hellenistic Bactria and India. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 17:253-278.

9.      Webster David (2005), The Philosophy of Desire in the Buddhist Pali Canon, Routledge, London

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

Indian Sources of Hellenistic Ethics