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Robert Solomon’s Rejection of Aristotelian Virtue: Is the Passion of Erotic Love a Virtue that is Independent of Rationality?

11 January 2011

Abstract

A recurring theme within Robert Solomon’s writings concerns the central importance of the passions. His high regard for the passions even motivates him to challenge the traditional understanding of virtue. Solomon rejects the Aristotelian view that virtues are dispositions of character developed according to rational principles rather than passions. He offers the counter-example of erotic love as a passion that is not based upon rationality, which he argues ought to be viewed as a virtue. This paper argues that while Solomon’s account of love can accommodate the traditional Aristotelian motivations for rejecting passions as virtues, there are compelling reasons for preferring the Aristotelian account of virtue. Ultimately, Solomon’s argument relies upon an implausible view of the passions and offers inferior resources for examining love in terms of virtue.


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