World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Magnanimity

Article Id: WHEBN0005516737
Reproduction Date:

Title: Magnanimity  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Aristotelianism, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle, Magnanimous, Magnificence (history of ideas)
Collection: Aristotle, Rhetoric
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Magnanimity

The magnanimity of Alexander towards the captive Porus.

Magnanimity (derived from the Latin roots magna great, and animus, mind, literally means greatly generous) is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Its antithesis is pusillanimity. Magnanimity is a latinization of the Greek word megalopsuchia which means greatness of soul and was identified by Aristotle as "the crowning virtue". Although the word magnanimity has a traditional connection to Aristotelian philosophy, it also has its own tradition in English which now causes some confusion.[1]

Noah Webster of the American Language defines Magnanimity as such:

MAGNANIMITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, mind.] Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquility and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.[2]

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle considered it the suitable virtue for a great man, arising from his other virtues.[3]

Edmund Spenser, in The Faerie Queene, had each knight allegorically represent a virtue; Prince Arthur represented "magnificence", which is generally taken to mean Aristotelian magnificence.[4][5] The uncompleted work does not include Prince Arthur's book, and the significance is not clear.

Democritus states that "magnanimity consists in enduring tactlessness with mildness".

As an adjective, the concept is expressed as "magnanimous", e.g. "He is a magnanimous man." An example of referring to one as magnanimous can be seen in Hrólfs saga kraka where King Hrólfr Kraki changes the name of a court servant from Hott to Hjalti for his new-found strength and courage, after which Hjalti refuses to taunt or kill those who previously mocked him. Because of his noble actions, the king then bestows the title Magnanimous upon Hjalti.

One form of magnanimity is the generosity of the victor to the defeated. For example, magnanimity has been codified between societies by the Geneva Conventions.

Magnanimous relief efforts can serve to offset the collateral damage of war.

C. S. Lewis, in his book The Abolition of Man, refers to the chest of man as the seat of magnanimity, or sentiment, with this magnanimity working as the liaison between visceral and cerebral man.[6] Lewis asserts that in his time, the denial of the emotions that are found in the eternal, the sublime, that which is humbling as an objective reality, had led to "men without chests".

Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying "In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Goodwill."

References

  1. ^ See for example the footnote in the Rackham edition. In the Sachs translation it is remarked that two possible translations "pride" and "high mindedness" both only get half of the meaning, while magnanimity only "shifts the problem into Latin".
  2. ^ Webster, N., Dictionary of the American Language, 1828.
  3. ^ Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
  4. ^ IV 2Nichomachaen Ethics
  5. ^ Spenser, E., The Faerie Queene
  6. ^ Lewis, C. S., The Abolition of Man.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.