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ARISTOTLE ON AMBITION

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Abstract:

The Nicomachean Ethics is the only ethical work by Aristotle that recognizes ambition as a distinct virtue. Because of its connection with the Politics, it is tempting to conjecture that there might be a specifically 'political' reason for including ambition in the Nicomachean Ethics. However, what he has to say about it is disappointing. It is not clear how we are to conceive of the virtue and its relation to other virtues of character, notably the other honour-related virtue of magnanimity. The aim of this article is to give an account of ambition and its relationship to magnanimity, while taking into account (1) Aristotle's commitment to the doctrine of the reciprocity of the virtues in Nicomachean Ethics 6 and (2) its link with the Politics.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Leiden University, Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, PO Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands., Email: pnieuwenburg@fsw.leidenuniv.nl

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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