In defence of Aristotle on character: toward a synthesis of recent psychology, neuroscience and the thought of Michael Polanyi
In the United States, various forms of character education have become popular in both elementary and professional education. They are often criticised, however, for their reliance on Aristotle, who is said to be problematic at several points. In response to these criticisms, I argue that Aristotle’s ancient account of character and its formation remains viable in light of work over the last decade in psychology and the neurosciences. However, some lacunae remain that can at least be partially filled with insights drawn from the work of Michael Polanyi, a scientist-turned-philosopher whose larger philosophical project was launched by a desire to see Western society flourish. Insights from these varied sources can provide the building blocks with which to construct an account of character and its development that preserves Aristotle’s best insights in ways that answer the concerns voiced by the critics.
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