1st Edition

Ethics and Self-Cultivation Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Edited By Matthew Dennis, Sander Werkhoven Copyright 2018
    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    The aim of Ethics and Self-Cultivation is to establish and explore a new ‘cultivation of the self’ strand within contemporary moral philosophy. Although the revival of virtue ethics has helped reintroduce the eudaimonic tradition into mainstream philosophical debates, it has by and large been a revival of Aristotelian ethics combined with a modern preoccupation with standards for the moral rightness of actions. The essays comprising this volume offer a fresh approach to the eudaimonic tradition: instead of conditions for rightness of actions, it focuses on conceptions of human life that are best for the one living it. The first section of essays looks at the Hellenistic schools and the way they influenced modern thinkers like Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche, Hadot, and Foucault in their thinking about self-cultivation. The second section offers contemporary perspectives on ethical self-cultivation by drawing on work in moral psychology, epistemology of self-knowledge, philosophy of mind, and meta-ethics.

    Preface Michael Slote

    Introduction Matthew Dennis and Sander Werkhoven

    Part I: Historical Perspectives

    1. Roman Stoic Mindfulness: An Ancient Technology of the Self John Sellars

    2. Affective Therapy: Spinoza’s Approach to Self-Cultivation Aurelia Armstrong

    3. Was I just Lucky?: Kant on Self-Opacity and Self-Cultivation Irina Schumski

    4. Nietzsche and Kant on Epicurus and Self-Cultivation Keith Ansell-Pearson

    5. Nietzsche’s Ethics of Self-Cultivation and Eternity Michael Ure

    6. Ilsetraut Hadot’s Seneca: Spiritual Direction and the Transformation of the Other Matthew Sharpe

    7. Foucault, Stoicism and Self-Mastery Katrina Mitcheson

    Part II: Contemporary Perspectives

    8. Neo-Aristotelianism: Virtue, Habituation, and Self-Cultivation Dawa Ometto and Annemarie Kalis

    9. Formal Excellences and Familiar Excellences Edward Harcourt

    10. Cultivating an Integrated Self Luke Brunning

    11. Moral Perception and Relational Self-Cultivation: Reassessing Attunement as a Virtue Anna Bergqvist

    Epilogue: Reflections on the Value of Self-Knowledge for Self-Cultivation Quassim Cassam, Matthew Dennis, Sander Werkhoven


    Matthew Dennis is a doctoral researcher on the joint-PhD programme of the universities of Warwick (UK) and Monash (Australia), specialising in philosophical accounts of character-development and self-cultivation. His current work draws on French and German philosophy, exploring how these traditions have the resources to contribute to debates in Anglophone ethics. He has published on Nietzsche, Kant, and virtue theory, and is currently writing on the philosophy of technology.

    Sander Werkhoven is an Assistant Professor of Ethics at the Department of Philosophy at Utrecht University and a member of the Ethics Institute. His main research areas are the philosophy of medicine and psychiatry, normative ethics, and meta-ethics. He has published on theories of health and well-being in international journals, and has papers forthcoming on Nietzsche, Canguilhem, and Foucault.

    "This book makes an important contribution to the growing body of literature on the cultivation of virtue. It focuses on the influence of Hellenistic tradition, with its emphasis on the continued development of the self, on modern philosophy, and also includes a number of contemporary perspectives on moral self-cultivation. The volume will be of interest to scholars and graduate students in moral philosophy, moral psychology, philosophy of mind and epistemology." Liezl van Zyl, University of Waikato, New Zealand