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The Riddle of the Great-souled eiron. Virtue, Deception and Democracy in the Nicomachean Ethics

The Riddle of the Great-souled eiron. Virtue, Deception and Democracy in the Nicomachean Ethics AbstractAristotle’s use of the term ‘eironeia’ in the Nicomachean Ethics (NE) appears to be inconsistent: first, he attributes the attitude termed ‘eironeia’ to the great-souled man (megalopsychos), who is defined by his virtuousness, then he classifies ‘eironeia’ as one of the two vices which are central to his account of the virtue of truthfulness. Modern attempts to explain and to solve the “riddle of the great-souled eiron” have not been satisfying. This paper argues that the riddle results from Aristotle trying to reconcile aristocratic values with democratic reality. In the process, some insight will be gained on the concept of the megalopsychos in general, on Aristotle’s notion of the virtue of truthfulness and on his depiction of Socrates. Finally, it is argued that Aristotle’s use of the notion of ‘eironeia’ in the NE bears some resemblance to the use of the notion of ‘irony’ in modern political theory. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Elenchos de Gruyter

The Riddle of the Great-souled eiron. Virtue, Deception and Democracy in the Nicomachean Ethics

Elenchos , Volume 44 (2): 18 – Dec 1, 2023

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
ISSN
0392-7342
eISSN
2037-7177
DOI
10.1515/elen-2023-0011
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractAristotle’s use of the term ‘eironeia’ in the Nicomachean Ethics (NE) appears to be inconsistent: first, he attributes the attitude termed ‘eironeia’ to the great-souled man (megalopsychos), who is defined by his virtuousness, then he classifies ‘eironeia’ as one of the two vices which are central to his account of the virtue of truthfulness. Modern attempts to explain and to solve the “riddle of the great-souled eiron” have not been satisfying. This paper argues that the riddle results from Aristotle trying to reconcile aristocratic values with democratic reality. In the process, some insight will be gained on the concept of the megalopsychos in general, on Aristotle’s notion of the virtue of truthfulness and on his depiction of Socrates. Finally, it is argued that Aristotle’s use of the notion of ‘eironeia’ in the NE bears some resemblance to the use of the notion of ‘irony’ in modern political theory.

Journal

Elenchosde Gruyter

Published: Dec 1, 2023

Keywords: ancient political thought; Aristotle; irony; democratic theory; virtue

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