Aristotle and Kant on the noble and the good.

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In this dissertation, I examine and compare the moral and political thought of Aristotle and Kant using the ancient Greek concepts of the noble (to kalon) and the good (to agathon). Kant has been accused of being a rationalist who neglects the importance of emotions and prudence. I argue that Kant recognizes that moral and political progress depends on prudence and a commitment of the emotions, which is achieved in part through a recognition of the moral as beautiful. Kant describes himself as breaking with all previous moral philosophy, arguing that so-called eudaimonism reduces morality to self-interest. I contend that Aristotle uses the noble and the good to describe the virtuous person as someone who pursues his own good in an elevated sense by aiming at the noble. Aristotle depicts moral virtue as both an end in itself and constitutive of happiness, understood as flourishing rather than an emotive state. Moreover, he connects noble action to prudential judgment, which involves an assessment of the good achieved in a particular circumstance. Examining the moral and political thought of Aristotle and Kant in terms of the noble and the good reveals a surprising point of concord between two figures who are often portrayed as opposite one another.

Aristotle. Kant. Moral. Noble. Good. Virtue. Political.