The following pseudo-dialogue is based on my reading of part three of Philippa Foot’s famous essay, “Virtues and Vices”, which can be found here. All of her “dialogue” constitutes direct quotes from the essay. In this essay, she seems to me to be anxious about identifying vice for what it is and has crafted a sophisticated means of diluting the boundaries between virtue and vice, in order to relieve that anxiety.
Kant’s critique of Aristotle is fascinating to me. He uses Aristotle’s own standard against him: to say that virtue consists in achieving excellence in the unique purpose of a human life, and that this unique purpose can be identified by isolating the unique features of the organism as opposed to other organisms, you then have the problem of explaining how it is that the unique feature of reason could be better suited to helping humans achieve excellence at attaining ‘material ends’ (aka ‘happiness’), than the much more efficient and much less costly instinct, which all other animals have as well.
In The Phaedrus, Plato offers up two rapturously beautiful visions of the soul of man. The first, is the Manichaean winged being of pure beauty, trapped against its will in a prison of corporeal form, and able to find relief only in the apprehension and achievement of true love. The second is a famous metaphor who’s hold on the modern mind is as ubiquitous as it is distorted and tragic.