Charles L. Griswold


Charles L. Griswold is an American philosopher and Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Boston University.


  • We repeatedly find that in his discussions about knowledge Plato just assumes or asserts that the Ideas exist, and then explains what "knowledge" is (for example, Rep. 476a ff., 507a-b ff., 596a and context, Pho. 100b ff.). We do not seem to get an account of how we know these ontological assumptions to be true. Indeed, one is justified in wondering whether Plato has a "theory" of Ideas at all.
    • Platonic Writings/Platonic Readings (1988), Chap. 9 : Plato's Metaphilosophy: Why Plato Wrote Dialogues
  • Forgiveness does not attempt to get rid of warranted resentment. Rather, it follows from the recognition that the resentment is no longer warranted. And what would provide the warrant can be nothing other than the right reasons.
    • Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration (2007)
  • Why forgive? What makes it the commendable thing to do at the appropriate time? It’s not simply a matter of lifting the burden of toxic resentment or of immobilizing guilt, however beneficial that may be ethically and psychologically. It is not a merely therapeutic matter, as though this were just about you. Rather, when the requisite conditions are met, forgiveness is what a good person would seek because it expresses fundamental moral ideals. These include ideals of spiritual growth and renewal; truth-telling; mutual respectful address; responsibility and respect; reconciliation and peace.
    • "On Forgiveness", The New York Times (December 26, 2010)
  • Make sure the person whom you think wronged you is the person who wronged you.
    • quoted in Malia Wollan, "How to Forgive", The New York Times (Feb. 16, 2018)

Quotes about Griswold

  • A third example [of unfortunate failure to check whether a passage was written for 1759 or 1790] is a lapse in a perceptive interpretation of the Moral Sentiments by Professor Charles L. Griswold, bringing out the influence of drama in Smith’s book [Charles L. Griswold, Jr., Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment (1999)]. He claims that, when Smith writes of the spectator’s moral judgement, he envisages the spectator of a dramatic performance seeing the agent as an ‘actor’ on the stage. The evidence that Griswold adduces is one instance of the word ‘actor’ in place of ‘agent’ in the Moral Sentiments and one instance in the Lectures on Rhetoric. The Moral Sentiments instance occurs in part VI of the book, which was added to the sixth edition of 1790; so Griswold’s evidence cannot apply to Smith’s general conception of the spectator. There was in fact an instance of the word ‘actor’ in the first edition which was replaced by ‘agent’ in subsequent editions, showing that there was clearly no association with actors on the stage. This flaw in Griswold, however, does not lessen the value of his interpretation as a whole.
    • D. D. Raphael, The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy (2007), Ch. 1: Two Versions
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