Aoife – Icelandic Sagas and moral philosophy

Episode 6 · August 30th, 2019 · 1 hr 2 mins

About this Episode

I didn't know much about Icelandic Sagas before I heard about Aoife's project, I just knew that they were long and complicated and involved feuds and fate. But Aoife, a philosophy student at Queen's University Belfast, knew a lot more and wanted to try to make sense of all the heavyweight moral decisions and decisive actions that go on in them. Her project is partly an investigation of a moral framework, and partly a research project into historical and anthropological reconstruction, but along the way she tries out a number of philosophical different approaches to understanding character traits.

Here are some things that Aoife's suggested for you to read:

  • The saga that Aoife is talking about is called Hrafnkel Saga Freygoda. There's a wikipedia article about it here which has links to several translations, and Aoife was working from Gwyn Jones' edition.
  • Óskar Halldórsson (1989) “The Origin and Themes of Hrafnkels Saga”, Sagas of the Icelanders, edited by John Tucker, Garland Publishing: New York.
  • Tomasson, Richard F. (1980) Iceland : The First New Society, University of Minnesota Press.
  • Kristán Kristánsson (1998), "Liberating Moral Traditions: Saga Morality and Aristotle’s “Megalopsychia”", Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol.1, No.4, pp397-422. (Appears on the publisher's page here, paywalled but consider using twitter and the hashtag #icanhazpdf).
  • Vilhjálmur Árnason (1991), "Morality and Social Structure in the Icelandic Sagas", The Journal of English and Germanic Philosophy, Vol. 90, No.2. (Appears on JStor here, paywalled, consider #icanhazpdf).

As ever, please get in touch to send any thoughts, responses, ideas, reactions, feedback or ideas about this episode or any of the others, it's always great to hear from you, particularly if you want to say encouraging things. To drop me a line you can just head over to the contact page, or tweet at me on twitter (@drjoemorrison)

The theme music is from li_serios05 by TVO on Broken20 records under Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA.