Despite a vibrant revival of the ethics of virtue, now spanning several decades, the discourse of virtue in later medieval and early modern thought and the distinctive forms this reflection takes across varying genres and social settings have been insufficiently integrated into narratives of the history of virtue ethics. The aim of this special issue is to remedy this lack by bringing together philosophical, theological, historical, and literary studies of virtue and the virtues in key thinkers, texts, and sociocultural contexts from the thirteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Varied as these essays are, common preoccupations emerge: with the dependent or independent character of virtuous agency, with the problems posed by self-love in both individual and collective manifestations, and with identifying the social conditions for the discernment and cultivation of the virtues. Even if the pagan discourse of virtue had been adopted by Christianity in its earliest centuries, both medieval and early modern European thinkers continued to wrestle with the interface between divine formation and social formation and their implications for the character of human moral agency.
Jennifer A. Herdt; Virtue, Identity, and Agency. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 January 2012; 42 (1): 1–12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-1473073
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