The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (英語) ペーパーバック – 2001/4/19
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This book is a study of ancient views about 'moral luck'. It examines the fundamental ethical problem that many of the valued constituents of a well-lived life are vulnerable to factors outside a person's control, and asks how this affects our appraisal of persons and their lives. The Greeks made a profound contribution to these questions, yet neither the problems nor the Greek views of them have received the attention they deserve. This book thus recovers a central dimension of Greek thought and addresses major issues in contemporary ethical theory. One of its most original aspects is its interrelated treatment of both literary and philosophical texts. The Fragility of Goodness has proven to be important reading for philosophers and classicists, and its non-technical style makes it accessible to any educated person interested in the difficult problems it tackles. This edition, first published in 2001, features a preface by Martha Nussbaum.
"[Nussbaum's] book still has much to offer." BMCR
"This is an immensely rich and stimulating book. This is partly because the author combines to a rare degree qualities not often found together: a scholar's understanding of the text with rigour of argument, and these together with an imaginative grasp of moral questions. But it is also because she has chosen to write a very ambitious book, to grapple with some fundamental, perennial issues....It should change the tenor of debate in more than one field." Charles Taylor, Canadian Journal of Philosophy
"Over fifteen years since its first appearance, this work is still of interest to literary critics, philosophers and intellectual historians alike." Patrick O'Sullivan, University of Cantebury, Christchurch, NZ
This book is the one that made her famous, and rightfully so. Being a top-notch classical scholar, Nussbaum rode the rising tide in discussing what is now known as "moral luck,." something that is the topic du jour in philosophy. Nussbaum discusses luck in the Greek tragedies, whereas Stephen Greenblatt does the same for the Roman philosopher Lucretius in his "The Swerve." Read both of these books together, and you'll have a good idea of what is going on in contemporary physics, ethics, and the human condition.
Its argument about the essential nature of human goodness and its relationship to its intrinsic vulnerability is simple, beautiful, and breathtakingly well traced through classical Greek texts. Encountering Nussbaum's reading of the Antigone was, and remains, one of the high points of my evolution as a human cognizant of the gravitas of moral choice-making under the sign of fragility. In 30 years of reading, I've never encountered a more articulate, erudite, and accessible explanation of our most basic ethical paradox: creatures are vulnerable and need protection if they are to flourish. Fortune holds out all manner of circumstances and contexts in which the fragility that makes life ethically unique also makes their wellbeing contingent on humans' moral choices, e.g., taking measures to protect, nourish, cultivate, and shelter. In so doing, the risk of disaster is reduced; the odds of human life surviving and flourishing in an essentially hostile world go up. But moral choice is seldom clear. Nussbaum is especially effective in describing the world as a messy and complex place in which it is damnably difficult to know what constitutes good human action. As Nussbaum has said, good human choice requires subtlety of perception and refinement of feeling. It is via a process of refining feeling and continuously working to make one's perception of the world's complexities more subtle that sound moral choice-making is most likely to occur.