of the ēthikē aretē, the customary habitual excellence, which is
the precondition of what he calls orthos logos, or right and
righted reason that, in turn, governs the choices one makes in
reasonable deliberation concerning a given situation.
1. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty ( Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1978),
pp. 55-56. 2.
At IGPAP 110, Gadamer points out that by itself choosing
presupposes commitment to the life of reason rather than to the life of
pleasure. Hence, strictly speaking, one cannot be said to "choose"
the life of pleasure over the life of reason, as the character of Philebus
in the dialogue of the same name makes evident. Philebus, committed
as he is to following his desires for satisfaction, is incapable of engaging
in deliberation about whether a life of pleasure would be the best
choice or not and turns the whole thing over to Protarchus. He has
foresworn deliberation, but not deliberately, not logēi, but ergēi, not
in reasoning or by choice, but in deed alone. Much the same thing
happens, as we noted, when Callicles backs out of the discussion with
Socrates leaving him to finish the deliberations about the best choice
of life, rhetoric or philosophy, by himself.
3. Michael Oakeshott speaks of a conservative disposition that
inclines thought away from possibility and toward actuality, or, as
Musil puts it (see Chapter 1, note 6, above), away from thinking in the
counter-factual subjunctive, "if only it were the case that . . .," and
toward acceptance of a familiar present expressible in the indicative.
A man of this temperament, Oakeshott submits, "will not be an ardent
innovator." "For, innovating is an activity which generates not only
the 'improvement' sought, but a new and complex situation of which
this is only one of the components. The total change is always more
extensive than the change designed; and the whole of what is entailed
can neither be foreseen nor circumscribed" ("On Being Conservative," in The Portable Conservative Reader, ed.
Russell Kirk [ New
York: Viking, 1982], pp. 571-72). 4.
Gadamer views the Republic's exposition of the "perfect" state
as a satirical inversion or a caricature that exposes e contrario the
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Hermeneutics and Human Finitude:Toward a Theory of Ethical Understanding.
Contributors: P. Christopher Smith - Author.
Publisher: Fordham University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1991.
Page number: 257.
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