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On Patience

Reclaiming a Foundational Virtue

Matthew Pianalto

Many of us are so busy that we might be tempted to think we don’t have time to be patient. However, that idea involves a serious underestimation of what patience is and why it matters. In On Patience, Matthew Pianalto revives a richer understanding of what patience is and why it is centrally important in both virtue theory and everyday life.

Drawing from a wide range of philosophical and religious sources, Pianalto shows that our contemporary tendency to equate patience with waiting fails to do justice to other aspects of patience such as tolerance, perseverance, and the opposition of patience to anger. With this broader understanding of patience, Pianalto further shows how patience supports the development of other moral strengths, such as courage, justice, love, and hope. In these ways,
On Patience sheds light on Franz Kafka’s remark that, “Patience is the master key to every situation,” and Gregory the Great’s perhaps surprising claim that, “Patience is the root and guardian of all the virtues.”

This first book-length contemporary philosophical examination of patience will be of interest to students and scholars not just of virtue ethics, but also of moral philosophy more broadly.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 160Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
978-1-4985-2820-7 • Hardback • May 2016 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
978-1-4985-2822-1 • Paperback • July 2017 • $42.99 • (£29.95)
978-1-4985-2821-4 • eBook • May 2016 • $76.00 • (£49.95)
Matthew Pianalto is associate professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University.
Chapter 1 – Introduction: The Need for Patience
Chapter 2 – Aspects of Patience
Chapter 3 – True Patience
Chapter 4 – Patience and Character
Chapter 5 – Patience and Anger: Two Perspectives
Chapter 6 – The Limits of Patience
Chapter 7 – How Much Patience?
Pianalto's On Patience has filled a large gap in contemporary discussion of virtue ethics, lifted the notion of patience from its philosophical obscurity, and called attention to the importance of patience as a foundational virtue. For a long time, the concept of patience has been given a short shrift in philosophical discussions, so it is delightful and refreshing to see the first book-length philosophical examination of the topic.... By taking the road less traveled, Pianalto has done a great service to virtue ethics by reclaiming the long-neglected virtue of patience. His excellent book has thrust the virtue of patience to the foreground of the contemporary revival of virtue ethics, and will spark widespread philosophical interest in examining the nature of patience and its intricate relationship with other virtues that have long enjoyed the spotlight.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews