Philosophy Colloquium: Christopher Shields


Fri, 10/19/2018 - 15:00 to 17:00

The Fall 2018 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Christopher Shields (University of Notre Dame). 

Title: "Good, Bad, Better, Worse"


Aristotle criticizes Plato’s Form of the Good by insisting that goodness is not ‘something common, universal, and one’ (κοινόν τι καθόλου καὶ ἕν; EN 1096a28). In so speaking, he means to assail Plato’s univocity assumption to the effect that goodness admits of a single, non-disjunctive essence-specifying account. Instead, counters Aristotle, ‘goodness is meant in as many ways as being’ (τἀγαθὸν ἰσαχῶς λέγεται τῷ ὄντι; EN 1096a23-24)—where being is predicated variously across ten distinct categories. In proceeding this way, Aristotle yokes his account of the multiplicity of goodness to his doctrine of categories, and especially to his contention that one category, substance (οὐσία), is prior to the remaining, non-substantial categories. His primary argument for this form of categorial priority in connection with goodness in Nicomachean Ethics i 6 is, however, truncated and obscure; to some extent, it can be explicated and amplified by a parallel argument in Eudemian Ethics i 8. Once reconstructed and evaluated, however, Aristotle’s primary argument against univocity leaves ample room for a Platonic rejoinder.

Location: Maloney Seminar Room, Social Sciences 224.

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