Jun 15, 2011

Summer Ice

Gearing up for five weeks of extended summer travel and catching up with family and friends, I've decided to simply continue the example of this last week, and put Orexis Dianoētikē "on ice" for that month and some change -- at least as far as publishing new blog entries is concerned.  I'll continue writing and reflecting, and resume publishing posts when I arrive back at my new home in New York at the end of July.

The last two weeks have been very intense, productive, filled with exchanges of ideas, networking, settling happily into my new career, in which writing, speaking, and educational consulting take front and center, college teaching takes a back seat, and my lingering semi-administrative activities from FSU are one by one wrapped up with each report I finish and file.

Jun 5, 2011

Anselm's Mountain of Humility

So far, in the Sunday series I've been writing, addressing monastic authors' interpretations of the virtue of humility and its developmental levels, I have discussed -- and in some of the entries, translated (here and here) -- the thought of a later monastic author, St. Anselm. His own reflections and chosen metaphors bearing upon the capital vice of pride and its remedy, the virtue of humility, were no doubt formed through reading, and long meditation placing him in conversation not only with the authors of Scripture but also earlier Christian authors, particularly St. Benedict, St. Gregory, St. Augustine, and John Cassian.

One key thing we know about Anselm (in The Life of St. Anselm) noted by his biographer, Eadmer, a fellow Benedictine monk of Canterbury and a close friend of Anselm's, is that -- although he was certainly not lukewarm about this early on in his monastic profession -- at one point he decisively "gave himself up entirely to being a true monk and to understanding the rational basis of monastic life, and expounding it to others." Before going back to touch base with the last three posts on Anselm and humility, as well as addressing a reader's question whose brevity belies its great usefulness, there are three things I'd like to quickly point out about the perhaps not-so-aptly-named Scholastic Doctor and his works -- some of which are worthy of their own blog posts later, when I have more time.

Jun 1, 2011

Whose Flourishing Ought We Be Concerned With? (part 1)

A very interesting question was raised recently in one of the LinkedIn groups to which I belong: "Whose flourishing ought we be concerned with?"  Given the nature of group forums -- both that they invite collaboration and dialogue between multiple interlocutors, and that any notions I might work out in detail there would have their readership confined to that group -- I decided the question would provide an excellent blog topic.  I've been working recently on a paper for an upcoming ISME conference on MacIntyre's virtue ethics and prison teaching, so the notion of "flourishing" -- a moral term and goal in virtue ethics -- has been on my mind even more than usual of late.

For those not (yet, or explicitly. . .  one can always hope!) virtue ethicists, here's in a nutshell the significance of what is being talked about in the discussion.  "Flourishing" is one of those somewhat quaint-sounding but actually quite apt terms by which we render a family of teloscertain not-so-easily- translated Greek and Latin terms -- Western virtue ethics goes back to those cultures -- like eu zein / bene vivere (literally "living well") or eudaimonia / beatitudo ("happiness").  Now, why bring up these terminological transformations?  They represent a continuity in a conception of the good for human beings.  In short, for virtue ethics, the Good is not a specific or generic good thing or a possession or enjoyment of such goods.  It consists in a certain way, a kind of pattern and shape, of one's life, one's relationships, one's actions and activities -- put another way, a progressive, ongoing, appropriate, and as full as possible realization of one's potentials as a human being.