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Putting On Virtue: The Legacy of the Splendid Vices [Paperback]

Jennifer A. Herdt

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Book Description

May 9 2012
Augustine famously claimed that the virtues of pagan Rome were nothing more than splendid vices. This critique reinvented itself as a suspicion of acquired virtue as such, and true Christian virtue has, ever since, been set against a false, hypocritical virtue alleged merely to conceal pride. Putting On Virtue reveals how a distrust of learned and habituated virtue shaped both early modern Christian moral reflection and secular forms of ethical thought. 
Jennifer Herdt develops her claims through an argument of broad historical sweep, which brings together the Aristotelian tradition as taken up by Thomas Aquinas with the early modern thinkers who shaped modern liberalism. In chapters on Luther, Bunyan, the Jansenists, Mandeville, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant, she argues that efforts to make a radical distinction between true Christian virtue and its tainted imitations actually created an autonomous natural ethics separate from Christianity. This secular value system valorized pride and authenticity, while rendering graced human agency less meaningful. Ultimately, Putting On Virtue traces a path from suspicion of virtue to its secular inversion, from confession of dependence to assertion of independence.

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"This first-rate work deserves wide reading.... By demonstrating a keen command of theological and philosophical issues, it easily finds a place among the finest works on theological ethics. Essential." (Choice)"

About the Author

Jennifer A. Herdt is the Stark Professor of Christian Ethics at Yale University.


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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible! April 1 2014
By Clay Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Herdt manages to cover an amazing amount of ground. Just as important, novice virtues readers will find her work accessible.
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