The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy

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This book is a study of ancient views about "moral luck." It examines the fundamental ethical problem that many of the valued constituents of a well-lived life are vulnerable to factors outside a person's control, and asks how this affects our appraisal of persons and their lives. The Greeks made a profound contribution to these questions, yet neither the problems nor the Greek views of them have received the attention they deserve. This updated edition contains a new preface.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (January 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521794722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521794725
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds

Customer Reviews

an excellent book!

One person found this helpful.
 on May 11, 2014
By Maria
This book is a must have for every student of Greek philosophy and history. It can be a source for many new ideas.

Martha’s vineyard

2 people found this helpful.
 on February 18, 2013
By L. Carrier
Martha Craven renounced her Puritan background to marry Mr.Nussbaum and become an observant Jew.I thinks this lends character to her work. I was fortunate enough to have attended some lectures of hers, first in Miami and then in Asheville, NC, and I can attest to the fact that she’s a great speaker–very attractive, too..

A Scholarly Masterpiece

12 people found this helpful.
 on February 9, 2015
By Lev
This book changed the course of my intellectual life.

Interesting exploration of contingency in human happiness

25 people found this helpful.
 on January 19, 2008
By Greg
I am not a classics scholar, so I am not fit to judge the opinions of others stated here that Nussbaum ‘misreads’ the works of ancient philosophers. Nevertheless, in my reading of Nussbaum’s works I do not see any evidence to suggest Nussbaum is being careless in her exegesis and interpretation of the works of ancient philosophy.

What were they reading?

80 people found this helpful.
 on March 26, 2001
In this book, Ms. Nussbaum takes on one of the most challenging and heart-rending questions raised by the ancient poets and philosophers: what is the relationship between goodness (good character, right action) and having a good life (happiness, human flourishing)?

A different read

67 people found this helpful.
 on January 30, 2001
By Glen Pettigrove
There are two ways one might approach the Fragility of Goodness. One might approach the text in search of careful exegesis of classical texts. If this is one’s aim, one will probably be disappointed with what Nussbaum provides in this book. On the other hand, one might approach the text in search of a thought-provoking discussion of important issues in moral and political philosophy. If the latter is one’s concern, then Nussbaum’s work is rich, exciting and well worth reading.

Brilliant, searching, essential.

22 people found this helpful.
 on January 10, 1999
Anyone interested in Greek philosophy and literature should read this wonderful book. Nussbaum is the only scholar-philosopher working today with an understanding of the complex and challenging ideas of these texts as well as their literary forms and historical contexts. This book, along with Bruno Snell’s “The Discovery of the Mind,” is required reading for any student of Plato, Aristotle, and the Greek tragedians (whether they’re in a formal academic institution or not).

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