Kristján Kristjánsson, Post-Phronetic Pain

Abstract · The aim of this article is to refute the standard assumption in Aristotelian virtue theory that a fully phronetic decision is characterised by psychological unity and freedom from ambivalent emotions eliciting post-phronetic pain (PPP). After introducing the topic, the second section rehearses the structure of an argument showing that the absence of non-optimal emotions after a phronetic decision creates a mystery for Aristotelian virtue theory. The third section examines four different (but ultimately unsuccessful) attempts to save Aristotle’s face, by defanging the non-PPP assumption from within his virtue theory. The fourth section delineates the nature of the PPP by arguing that it comprises a number of distinguishable emotions of moral sadness. The final section probes a number of resources within neo-Aristotelian theory that would allow us to reconceptualise PPP as beneficial to a certain extent, without fetishising it as a pure blessing in disguise.

Keywords · Phronesis, Aristotle, Ambivalent Emotions, (Dis)unity of Character, Moral Sadness.