aqs_virtues_of_ackn_dep - 1 AQUINASS VIRTUES OF...

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1 1 A QUINAS S V IRTUES OF A CKNOWLEDGED D EPENDENCE : A N EW M EASURE OF G REATNESS Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung This paper compares Aristotle’s and Aquinas’s accounts of the virtue of magnanimity specifically as a corrective to the vice of pusillanimity. After defining pusillanimity and underscoring key features of Aristotelian magnanimity, I explain how Aquinas’s account of Christian magnanimity, by making human dependence on God fundamental to this virtue, not only clarifies the differences between the vice of pusillanimity and the virtue of humility, but also shows why only Christian magnanimity can free us from improper and damaging forms of dependence on the opinions and standards of others, enabling us to avoid the moral pitfalls of both pusillanimity and presumption. I. Introduction Almost a decade ago, I headed off to graduate school in philosophy. My first year was something approaching sheer misery—due partly to the extremely challenging and high-pressure work. But the worst of my misery was self-inflicted: I battled, for most of that first year, an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. As a result, I spoke in class only when I was forced to give a presentation, plagued by fears that others would think my ideas were silly, or stupid, or both. When I later confessed this to a colleague, he said he felt the same way in grad school. (Why didn’t anyone warn me?) He also told me the official name for my neurosis: ‘Imposter Syndrome’. When afflicted, you are certain that you were accepted (for graduate studies or a new job or whatever) by some terrible mistake. It is therefore only a matter of time before everyone realizes that you are in fact completely unqualified to be there. So you slink around trying to stay unnoticed lest you be unmasked as the imposter that you are and summarily dismissed in disgrace.
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2 2 It might be easy to dismiss this sense of inadequacy as a part of any normal learning experience—or part of the sometimes painful process of ‘growing up’ that we all have to do. Unfortunately, it continues to plague some people well beyond the crucible of self-formation that is our college or grad school experience. And while I have a hunch that this area of struggle may be exacerbated in gender-specific ways and perhaps also by certain theological emphases, it remains a general moral danger. When Imposter Syndrome becomes a chronic condition, rather than a passing episode, it can cripple our ability to use our gifts and fulfill our potential for worthwhile achievements. We become habitual self-underestimators, we believe our self- disparaging comments about our worth and abilities, and as a result, we fail to live up to all we are called to be. Following Aristotle, Aquinas calls this condition the vice of pusillanimity.
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This note was uploaded on 10/01/2011 for the course PHIL 2306 taught by Professor Averyplank during the Summer '10 term at HCCS.

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aqs_virtues_of_ackn_dep - 1 AQUINASS VIRTUES OF...

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