Aristotle and Menander on the Ethics of Understanding

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Open Research Exeter (ORE)

Aristotle and Menander on the Ethics of Understanding

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:


Title: Aristotle and Menander on the Ethics of Understanding
Author: Cinaglia, Valeria
Advisor: Gill, ChristopherWilkins, John
Publisher: University of Exeter
Date Issued: 2011-01-21
Abstract: This doctoral thesis explores a subject falling in the interface between ancient Greek philosophy and literature. Specifically, I am concerned with common ground between the New Comedy of Menander and aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy. The thesis does not argue that the resemblance identified between the two writers shows the direct influence of Aristotle on Menander but rather thay they share a common thought-world. The thesis is structured around a series of parallel readings of Menander and Aristotle; key relevant texts are Menander’s "Epitrepontes", "Samia", "Aspis", "Perikeiromene" and "Dyscolos" and Aristotle’s "Posterior Analytics", "Nicomachean and Eudemian Ethics", "De Anima" and "Poetics". My claim is that Menander’s construction of characters and plots and Aristotle’s philosophical analyses express analogous approaches on the subject of the relationship between knowledge and ethics. Central for my argument is the consideration that in Aristotle’s writings on ethics, logic, and psychology, we can identify a specific set of ideas about the interconnection between knowledge-formation and character or emotion, which shows, for instance, how ethical failings typically depend on a combination of cognitive mistakes and emotional lapses. A few years later than the composition of Aristotle’s school-texts, Menander’s comedies, as expressed in the extant texts, present to a wider audience a type of drama which, as I argue, reflects an analogously complex and sophisticated understanding of the interplay between cognitive or rational understanding and character or emotion. More broadly, Aristotle and Menander offer analogous views of the way that perceptions and emotional responses to situations are linked with the presence or absence of ethical and cognitive understanding, or the state of ethical character-development in any given person. Thus, I suggest, the interpersonal crises and the progress towards recognition of the identity of the crucial figures in Menandrian comedies embody a pattern of thinking about perception, knowledge and the role of emotion that shows substantial linkage with Aristotle’s thinking on comparable topics.
Type: Thesis or dissertation
Keywords: AristotleMenanderGreek PhilosophyGreek DramaNew ComedyAestheticsComedyPhilosophy
Funders/Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research CouncilUniversity of Exeter, Department of Classics and Ancient HistoryHellenic Society (research visits bursaries)

Please note: Before reusing this item please check the rights under which it has been made available. Some items are restricted to non-commercial use. Please cite the published version where applicable.

Files in this item

Files Size Format View Description
CinagliaV_fm.pdf 97.53Kb PDF View/Open Front Matter
CinagliaV.pdf 1.661Mb PDF View/Open PhD Thesis

This item appears in the following Collection(s)


My Account

Local Links