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Modernizing Aristotle's Ethics: Toward a New Art and Science of Self-Actualization

Title: Modernizing Aristotle's Ethics
Subtitle: Toward a New Art and Science of Self-Actualization
Subject Classification: Philosophy, Psychology, Society and Culture
BIC Classification: HP, JM, JF
BISAC Classification: PHI005000, PSY003000, PHI046000
Binding: Hardback, pp.320
Publication date: 9th October 2023
ISBN (printed book): 978-1-80441-162-9
ISBN (web pdf): 978-1-80441-163-6

Price: £79.99

e-books available for libraries from Proquest and EBSCO with non-institutional availability from GooglePlay

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Over 2,300 years ago, the Ancient Greeks gave us philosophy—the love of wisdom. From Socrates and Epicurus to Plato and Aristotle, they grappled with the big questions—who are we? Why are we here? What is a good life? How should we lead our life?

Later, the natural sciences split away from philosophy, and then the humanities did as well, and fragmented into separate disciplines, all of which tell us something about human nature—the universal, the culture-specific, and the individuated. This ongoing process was also forwarded by supporters of Aristotle’s worldview, most notably, Thomas Aquinas and Ayn Rand, and we see much value in their neo-Aristotelian philosophies, too. 

In the light of all that that the new sciences and more recent philosophers tell us about human nature and ethics, is there a case for modernizing Aristotle (and thinkers like Aquinas and Rand, as well), as against starting afresh? We think so.

The theme of this book is to arrive at a highly practical, “neo-Aristotelian” framework to facilitate creating a meaningful life and self-actualization (and thereby flourishing and happiness) by linking ethics (as an “ought”) with the empirical sciences (that provide the “is”). A modernized ethic can be created using current scientific knowledge, and is also made easier in application, by specifying the psychological nature of the human (the internal, or the ontology of the modern human), and delineating that which is universal, from that which can be individualized.


Authors: Roger E. Bissell is a professional musician, writer, and editor. He is a research associate with the Molinari Institute and Associate Editor of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. He is based in Dickson, Tennessee, United States. 

Vinay Kolhatkar is a freelance journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and a former finance professional. He is the founder and Chief Editor of The Savvy Street, a public intellectual e-zine. He is based in Sans Souci, New South Wales, Australia.


" 'Modernizing' the thoughts of someone who lived 23 centuries ago is always fraught with peril. But in this accessible, well-argued, and insightful work, Bissell and Kolhatkar are up to the challenge. This book’s bold and ambitious treatment of how to cultivate a purposeful life is a useful antidote to the alienation, disaffection, and cynicism haunting modern humankind. Bissell and Kolhatkar’s analysis and application of Aristotle, a giant of the Western tradition, engages with developments in the social sciences and philosophy to make their arguments."

- Brian McVeigh, PhD, LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counsellor)


"Modernizing Aristotle’s Ethics takes applied eudaimonism along roads less travelled, by way of Ayn Rand, David Norton, Chris Sciabarra, and Den Uyl and Rasmussen. With extended visits to Abraham Maslow’s humanistic psychology, Nathaniel Branden’s clinical philosophy, some varieties of evolutionary psychology, and Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory. Bissell and Kolhatkar develop an accessible account of a humane, meaningful life that is significantly different both from Positive Psychology and from previous Randian treatments. Their model of four orders of humaneness is worthy of further examination."

- Robert L. Campbell, Professor Emeritus in Psychology, Clemson University


"This book is an accessible and well-written contribution to the neo-Aristotelian tradition, upholding the twin values of human freedom and personal flourishing. The authors present a provocative distillation of ideas drawn from a mighty array of interdisciplinary studies. Even those who disagree with any aspect of this work will find themselves challenged by the high quality of its arguments. A must read especially for fans of Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand!"

- Chris Matthew Sciabarra, author, Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism


"In this ambitious and well-argued book, Bissell and Kolhatkar provide a clear and coherent framework within which they have adapted and expanded upon ideas from Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Ayn Rand, and several contemporary neo-Aristotelian thinkers. The authors have accomplished this while also marvelously and systematically integrating insights from philosophy, biology, psychology, and other social sciences and humanities."

- Edward W Younkins, Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Capitalism and Morality, Wheeling University, and author, Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society


“The thoughtfully constructed philosophical/psychological/practical guidebook to achieving Aristotle’s action-oriented Eudaimonia—human flourishingby Roger Bissell and Vinay Kolhatkar is intellectually akin to (in their own words) a physical “skyscraper” in its development.  Aristotle becomes the foundation supporting all the rest, Thomas Aquinas and Ayn Rand (the latter deeply emphasized) become the scaffolding, and a myriad of past and present ancillary thinkers become the corridors into different but related areas of their thesis."

- Alexandra York is an internationally published author, Newsmax columnist, and founding president of American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART), a New-York-City-based non-profit educational arts foundation.


"Roger Bissell and Vinay Kolhatkar have a great appreciation for Aristotle, which comes across clearly even as they also seek to modernize those elements of Aristotle’s work where later developments in physical or social science call for it.  The book is well-researched but easily accessible to the general reader.  The result gives them a plausible way to construct a theory of how to live a meaningful and humane life."

- Aeon J. Skoble, Professor of Philosophy, Bridgewater State University


"Bissell and Kolhatkar have brought Aristotle alive to us once again, covering new ground. Hats off to these authors."

- Walter E. Block, Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics, Loyola University, New Orleans


"Any person seeking advice about how to live his or her life has a huge number of books to choose from, but Modernizing Aristotle’s Ethics is one of a small number that can credibly claim to build upon Aristotle’s wisdom. Roger Bissell and Vinay Kolhatkar offer a distinctly Neo-Aristotelian view of what it means to live well in the 21st century."

- Winton Bates, author, Freedom, Progress, and Human Flourishing


"This book is the culmination of an ambitious project examining Aristotle’s philosophy, reviewing what other great philosophers saw in or took from Aristotle’s philosophy, and updating ideas to make them relevant to the current time when humanity is under particular strain. For example, democratic governments are often acting against the interests of their own people. How to live well and realise self-actualization under these conditions? The authors are highly qualified to write on this subject, and I can see that their collaboration was a success."

- John Christmas, novelist and whistle-blower.

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