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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with a seeming rivalry between two answers to the question ‘what are the aims of psychoanalysis?’, which seem to situate psychoanalysis differently in relation to ideals of human excellence: ‘we are trying to make people good’; and ‘goodness is none of our business—we are just trying to make people healthy’. But are these alternatives? If, as Aristotle said, human excellence is psychic health, one aim cannot be achieved without the other. That still leaves a space between human excellence and ‘the moral virtues’, until it is shown that one cannot be excellent of our human kind without possessing the moral virtues—as modern philosophers assume, though as Nietzsche denied. Attempting to resist these various assimilations, this chapter aims to untangle the complex relations between psychic health as it is conceived in psychoanalysis, the possession of the ‘moral virtues’, and excellence of our human kind.

Keywords: Freud, psychoanalysis, Aristotle, virtue ethics, psychic health, morality, Hartmann, teleology, character, human development

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