By Sandrine Berges (auth.)
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Extra resources for A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics
But this does not mean that she should be absent from a study of the state of philosophy in the twelfth century – indeed, if one focuses on ethical questions, it seems that her letters contribute a distinct and important thread in the historical debate. In particular, her understanding of the classical texts, on the one hand, and her attempts at constructing a life for herself and the women in her charge in the Convent of the Paraclete, on the other, cast a unique and precious light into the way women might have modelled virtue ethics in the middle-ages.
The arguments she presents are interesting and subtle and deserving of careful study by anyone interested in the particularism of virtue ethics. The sixth letter is Abelard’s historical discussion of Christian women, and the seventh is his proposed rule. The rule does little more than answer Heloise’s very specific questions. In fact, it could be argued that she has told him what it was she wished him to write and he complied. , Heloise’s third letter). The first four letters together contain an interesting reflection on love, friendship and charity, understood in the medieval Christian sense: love of God.
21 His ethics are turned inwards and focus on putting one’s soul in line with God rather than with any human community. He does not spend a great deal of time discussing what becoming virtuous involves but is more interested in the conformity of the virtuous soul with the biblical law. Even if we focus on the few Stoic texts that were available to twelfthcentury writers, such as Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius or Cicero’s On Invention, it appears that MacIntyre is wrong and that those texts, as a brief survey shows, although they differ from Aristotle’s thought in many ways, nonetheless reflect what we might call strong Aristotelian concerns about human flourishing being dependent on belonging to a community and developing certain virtues of character.
A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics by Sandrine Berges (auth.)