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The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy
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The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  277 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
This book is a study of ancient views about "moral luck." It examines the fundamental ethical problem that many of the valued constituents of a well-lived life are vulnerable to factors outside a person's control, and asks how this affects our appraisal of persons and their lives. The Greeks made a profound contribution to these questions, yet neither the problems nor the ...more
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published April 11th 2008 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1986)
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Oct 28, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh for the days when I still adored and admired Martha Nussbaum. This wonderful book predates the "capabilities approach" for which she is now famous, and which I was recently forced to re-encounter in a context that thoroughly exposed its flaws. I was fuming about this recent Nussbaum run-in on the subway this morning, thinking of the very many blithe assumptions about the content of "the good" upon which the capabilities approach is based, and planning a scathing goodreads review (that'll teac ...more
Jan 02, 2009 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Martha Nussbaum's genius for inductive thinking (starting with the specific and working toward the general) is apparent on virtually every page of this monumental work. It's so monumental I basically read it via the index, following her reasoning and skipping around as a page or passage caught my eye. Her chapter on Plato's *Symposium* is a most brilliant account of that dialogue. The conceptual links she welds together are so substantial that one can "visit" this book almost as a reference text ...more
Dr. A
Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of (a thinkPhilosophy Production).

There is this conundrum in moral philosophy that, even if you cultivate a good character and act always intent on doing the right thing, fate may intervene to throw some bad luck your way so that, what had been a good life begins to look like a terrible life. In short, doing the right thing is no guarantee that one will be rewarded with a good or
Adam Gurri
Jun 23, 2014 Adam Gurri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. Examines the role of luck in our ability to be a good person and lead a good life, through the perspectives of Greek tragedy, Plato, and Aristotle, comparing the three along the way.
Noé Ajo caamaño
Una de esas obras preciosas, de una belleza y calidad que se encuentran pocas veces en una vida.
Lukas op de Beke
Apr 02, 2016 Lukas op de Beke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few lines of thought expressed in this book have stuck with me. First, Nussbaum breathes new life in the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. She makes the compelling case that plays like Antigone, Agamemnon, the Seven against Thebes were not merely pieces of drama, produced for the amusement of the Athenian public, but were in fact also permeated by evaluations and conceptions of the good life. From the predicaments Agamemnon and Creon finds themselves in, there is much to learn a ...more
Jim Robles
Mar 06, 2014 Jim Robles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this one. Professor Nussbaum has an amazing grasp of a phenomenally wide range of aspects of the central challenges of our lives.

The Chapter 11 treatment of Aristotle's view of the dialectic between luck and rationality is very good and also relevant. The eudiamon life does require the resources that come to those with good fortune. At the same time planning and control, driven by rationality, are also required. If you are not experiencing eudaimonia it could be that one or both factor
"if activities are the main thing in life, as we said, nobody who is makarios will ever become basely wretched. For he will never engage in hateful and base actions. We think that the really good and reasonable person will bear his luck with dignity and always do the finest thing possible given the circumstances, just as the good general will make the most warlike use of the army he has and the good shoemaker will make the best shoe he can out of the hide he is given -- and so on for all craftsm ...more
Dec 09, 2014 Annerieke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I loved the content of this book, her arguments are well built and clear. I learned a lot. The only drawback is the writing style, Nussbaum uses many words to make points that could have been summarized.
Jan 14, 2013 Don marked it as only-read-part-of-it  ·  review of another edition
I plan to read the whole thing this year, but for right now I just read the chapter on the Symposium. Her reading is interesting and provocative (for her Alcibiades is the most important speech). I think her argument falls apart because of a detail about Diotima (delaying the plague made it WORSE), but she finds a lot neat stuff I missed when I read the dialogue. Nussbaum is also an exceptional writer and avoids all the annoying tendencies of academic prose. I bet she was a great teacher of Plat ...more
It was a well written book with good analysis, but it seemed to drag at certain points to me. I'm sure this would appeal to someone who is more interested in Greek philosophy than I am though. I can see her logic and follow her arguments well however they simply don't resonate with me as Nussbaum clearly loves Aristotle and I can take him or leave him.
Dec 30, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great text. Nussbaum does an incredible job of explaining the Aristotilean project and methodology. She then ties Aristotle's ethical worldview to tragedy to demonstrate the fundamental understanding in Greek life that the good/the good life is delicate, timebound and as dependent upon luck as right action. An Awesome text.
May 24, 2007 Brandon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've only read Ch. 8 - "Saving Aristotle's appearances,"but the book is worth checking out for that chapter alone. She does an excellent job of describing and justifying Aristotle's "ordinary language" method of philosophizing and distinguishing him from Wittgenstein.
Mu-tien Chiou
a common reaction for readers of philosophy: "[The] natural response is that this is not how it feels to be in that situation. It does not feel like solving a puzzle, where all that is needed is to find the right answer."
i've had this book for forever, and now i'm actually writing about plato and aristotle, and so i dug it out. it's turning out to be an essential and illuminating guide to these texts-- particularly the phaedrus.
Michelle Schwarze
Summer reading group. So far, not so good (poor textual interpretation of Plato, especially, but some of Aristotle as well).
Nussbaum's more Aristotelian than I but the premise and argumentation of this book is fascinating.
Feb 07, 2009 Trudy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Reading only Chapter 2: Aeschylus and practical conflict (pgs 25 to 38).
Jun 13, 2010 Cláudia marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Hehehe, mais uma indicação...da mesma Amiga! :)
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Professor Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, appointed in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School. She is an Associate in the Classics Department and the Political Science Department, a Member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program. She is the founder and ...more
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