Putting on Virtue

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-11-15
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr

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Augustine famously claimed that the virtues of pagan Rome were nothing more than splendid vices. This critique has reinvented itself as a suspicion of acquired virtue as such, and true Christian virtue has, ever since, been set against a false, hypocritical virtue alleged merely to conceal pride.Putting On Virtuereveals how a distrust of learned and habituated virtue shaped both early modern Christian moral reflection and secular forms of ethical thought. Jennifer Herdt develops her claims through an argument of broad historical sweep, which brings together the Aristotelian tradition as taken up by Thomas Aquinas with the early modern thinkers who shaped modern liberalism. In chapters on Luther, Bunyan, the Jansenists, Mandeville, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant, she argues that efforts to guard a radical distinction between true Christian virtue and its tainted imitations ironically fostered the emergence of an autonomous natural ethics that valorized pride and authenticity, while rendering graced human agency increasingly unintelligible. Ultimately,Putting On Virtuetraces a path from suspicion of virtue to its secular inversion, from confession of dependence to assertion of independence.

Author Biography

Jennifer A. Herdt is associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Splendid Vices and Imperfect Virtues
Aristotle and the Puzzles of Habituationp. 23
Augustine: Disordered Loves and the Problem of Pridep. 45
Aquinas: Making Space for Pagan Virtuep. 72
Mimetic Virtue
Erasmus: Putting On Christp. 101
The Jesuit Theatrical Tradition: Acting Virtuousp. 128
The Exodus from Virtue
Luther: Saved Hypocritesp. 173
Bunyan and Puritan Life-Writing: The Virtue of Self-Examinationp. 197
The Anatomy of Virtue
Jesuits and Jansenists: Gracian and Pascalp. 221
Emancipating Worldly Virtue: Nicole, La Rochefoucauld, and Mandevillep. 248
Pagan Virtue and Modern Moral Philosophy
Rousseau and the Virtue of Authenticityp. 283
Hume and the Bourgeois Rehabilitation of Pridep. 306
Kant and the Pursuit of Noumenal Purityp. 322
Conclusionp. 341
Notesp. 355
Indexp. 433
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