Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy: Inferno examine ideals of morality, friendship, and happiness in ways that still ring true. Aristotle’s model is centered around the concept of kosmos (order) and telos (end or purpose), with nothing in excess. Human passions and desires are to be tempered by reason; likewise, human rationality is made complete by proper desires and sentiments. Dante follows Aristotle’s ideas and brings them further, demonstrating that passion— or as he terms it, love—is a good thing so long as it is directed toward its appropriate object and in proper measure. In both the Ethics and the Divine Comedy, true fellowship is found among the virtuous, who order their passions and sentiments according to what is good. In order to develop a wise and gracious character—from which springs wise and gracious discourse—one must learn to love and value the good in its appropriate measure, and to approach every subject with a humble understanding of one’s own limitation. Continue reading Sense, Sentiment, and Civilization
“Follow your passion!” This aphorism of self-actualization is often given to college students searching for what work vocations they will do after graduation. This saying can be a well-intentioned antidote to the dull and dubious pragmatism that says, “Wealth (and the job that gains it) makes the man.” But this aphorism can also be misleading and damaging. Its passion-propelled portrait of work can set people up for failure and disappointment instead of helping them find meaning and contentment in their labors. Continue reading Follow Your Passion!