The Interdependence of Virtues
WE CANNOT CONCLUDE this examination of the nature of moral virtues without saying something about their connection, interconnection, interdependence. Which of these three expressions sounds best? Connection is the simplest, but interdependence is the most graphic. So let us take a look at the interdependence of virtues, by comparing two traditional positions, the Stoic and the Aristotelian.
When I say Aristotelian, I have in mind primarily Aristotle's teaching in the Nicomachean Ethics, but I definitely include also later contributions and developments. I remember Etienne Gilson telling me once that there are no Aristotelians except for Aristotle himself, all others being neo-Platonists, except Thomas Aquinas, who is neither a neo-Platonist nor an Aristotelian but just Aquinas. I listened respectfully, but I did not agree then, and I do not accept that now. It is true that on some subjects, in which Gilson seems particularly interested, Aristotle's views may be unique, but there is also quite a number of philosophical issues on which Aristotle really has a school. I understand Gilson's position. It is the reaction of a serious and competent historian of ideas against the all too common mistake of reading later developments into an earlier source. In the preceding chapter, I mentioned the case of Rodier, who with the best intentions of correcting the prevailing views of psychology tried to turn Aristotle into a nineteenth-century Idealist. This happens all the time, and we must be grateful to men with a real sense for the history of ideas, like Gilson, for warning us against such confusion. Yet his reaction to it, as most reactions are, is in my opinion somewhat overdone. To say, for instance, that Thomas Aquinas is not an Aristotelian obscures rather than clarifies our understanding of historical developments in philosophy. 1 And among the many important issues