The Measure of Greatness: Philosophers on Magnanimity

ISBN : 9780198840688

Sophia Vasalou
336 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2019
Send mail

Magnanimity is a virtue that has led many lives. Foregrounded early on by Plato as a philosophical virtue par excellence, it became one of the crown jewels in Aristotle's account of human excellence and was accorded equally salient place by other ancient thinkers. It is one of the most distinctive elements of the ancient tradition to filter into the medieval Islamic and Christian worlds. It sparked important intellectual engagements and went on to carve deep tracks through several of the later philosophies to inherit from this tradition. Under changing names and reworked forms, it would continue to breathe in the thought of Descartes and Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche. Its many lives have been joined by important continuities, yet they have also been fragmented by discontinuities - discontinuities reflecting larger shifts in ethical perspectives and competing answers to questions about the nature of the good life, the moral nature of human beings, and their relationship to the social and natural world they inhabit. They have also been punctuated by moments of intense controversy in which the vision of human greatness has itself been called into doubt. The aim of this volume is to provide an insight into the complex trajectory of a virtue whose glitter has at times been as dazzling as it has been divisive. By exploring the many lives it has lived, we will be in a better position to evaluate whether this is a virtue we still want to make central to our own ethical lives, and why.


Sophia Vasalou: Introduction
1 Terence Irwin: Magnanimity as Generosity
2 Christopher Gill: Stoic Magnanimity
3 Jennifer A. Herdt: Strengthening Hope for the Greatest Things: Aquinas s Redemption of Magnanimity
4 John Marenbon: Magnanimity, Christian Ethics and Paganism in The Latin Middle Ages
5 Sophia Vasalou: Greatness of Spirit in the Arabic Tradition
6 Michael Moriarty: Cartesian Generosite and its Antecedents
7 Ryan P. Hanley: Magnanimity and Modernity: Greatness of Soul and Greatness of Mind in the Enlightenment
8 Emily Brady: The Kantian Sublime and Greatness of Mind
9 Andrew Huddleston: Nietzsche on Magnanimity, Greatness and Greatness of Soul
10 Andrew J. Corsa and Eric Schliesser: A Composite Portrait of a True American Philosophy on Magnanimity
11 Kristjan Kristjansson: 21st Century Magnanimity: The Relevance of Aristotle s Ideal of Megalopsychia for Current Debates in Moral Psychology, Moral Education and Moral Philosophy
12 Robert C. Roberts: Greatness of Soul Across the Ages

About the author: 

Sophia Vasalou is currently a Senior Lecturer and Birmingham Fellow in Philosophical Theology at the University of Birmingham. She studied at SOAS University of London and the University of Cambridge, and has published widely on Islamic ethics and other philosophical subjects. Her books include Moral Agents and their Deserts: The Character of Mu'tazilite Ethics (Princeton 2008), Schopenhauer and the Aesthetic Standpoint: Philosophy as a Practice of the Sublime (Cambridge 2013), Wonder: A Grammar (SUNY 2015), Ibn Taymiyya's Theological Ethics (Oxford 2015), and Virtues of Greatness in the Arabic Tradition (Oxford 2019).

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.