By Sandrine Berges (auth.)
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Additional resources for A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics
Certainly, this picture of ancient virtue ethics does not in any case exclude women’s experience, and Aristotle – who does think it should be excluded – appears to be in the minority. We come back to the problematic nature of Aristotle’s ethics from the point of view of feminist ethics in the second part of the book. In the chapters that follow, we continue to develop this richer and more inclusive picture of virtue ethics, starting with the works of Heloise in the twelfth century. 1 The (very) few women who participated in the ethical debates of the time found that certain aspects of the philosophical views inherited from antiquity fitted their needs better.
First, there is the dating: the texts attributed to women are dated between the fourth century BC at the earliest (in the case of Perictione I) to the first century BC. But previous to a careful study of the Greek, the texts had been dated between the first century BC and the first AD. This was not the result of careful philological studies but of a readiness to accept the word of famous male authors. 31 Equally, our confidence that there were no Pythagorean philosophers until Nigidius is due to our trusting another eminent man, Aristoxenus.
Abelard’s second reply is less patient than the first. He reminds her that it was he who was castrated, not her, and that he has dealt with it by renewing his faith and that that ought to be good enough for her; he also wishes she would stop complaining about the past. He responds to her belittling of her own virtue by telling her that the darker she is on the outside, the more beautiful she will be inside, ignoring her claims that it is her inside that leaves much to be desired. At the same time, Abelard, trying to convince Heloise that her true lover is not him but Christ, draws an almost erotic picture of a nun’s relationship with Christ, a nun as a soft-fleshed lover secluded in Jesus’s bedroom, a woman who wears unattractive clothes whenever she is in anybody else’s company.
A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics by Sandrine Berges (auth.)
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