In recent years, the scholastic, originally Aristotelian, idea that the will is as such directed at the good, has been revived and discussed under the guise of the “guise of the good thesis”. Our reading and discussion of a number of texts is to throw light, primarily, on the question what it is for the good to be the formal object (FO) of desiring / wanting / intending / acting etc. – Suggested questions: How do we determine, for any given F, whether F-ing is oriented towards an FO, and if it is, what is its FO? Why not say, e.g.: “The FO of desiring / wanting / … is not the good but implementation”? Or: “The FO of judging is not truth but rather knowledge”? (Is there an analogous alternative to the good as FO of desiring etc.?) What is the FO (if any) of animal belief / animal desire? How informative is it really to be told that the (apparent) good is the FO of wanting etc. “just” as colour is the FO of vision, or truth the FO of judging? What is the good in question – acting well / the agent’s well-being / a state of affairs good sub specie aeternitatis / …? Is acratic / encratic desire directed at two formal objects? Is (pace Velleman) all wanting directed (implicitly?) at the good? Is the bad the merely apparently good? If so, does the badness really reside in the will rather than the intellect? How does the notion of goodness as FO contribute to the determination of what is materially good?
I suggest that we discuss some of these questions on the basis of the following texts:
Anthony J. P. Kenny:
Action, Emotion, and Will.
(Chapters 9 and 10.)
London: Routledge 1963.
Matthew Boyle & Douglas Lavin:
“Goodness and Desire” in
Sergio Tenenbaum (ed.):
Desire, Practical Reason, and the Good.
Oxfore: OUP 2010.
“On the Guise of the Good”:
From Normativity to Responsibility.
Oxford: OUP 2013.
The Nature and Purpose of Relative Terms in Plato
Candace and I shall suggest and send to participants some further texts, esp. from Aquinas and from a Neoscholastic textbook, as we go along. But not all of the discussion needs to be based on published texts, and your own introductions of topics will be welcome.