Aristotle on moral virtue

Aristotle's Ethics

First, there is the thesis that every virtue is a state that lies between two vices, one of excess and the other of deficiency. And that leads him to ask for an account of how the proper starting points of reasoning are to be determined. He does not mean that the way to lead our lives is to search for a good man and continually rely on him to tell us what is pleasurable.

The moral life can be confused with the habits approved by some society and imposed on its young. Voluntary Action Because ethics is a practical rather than a theoretical science, Aristotle also gave careful consideration to the aspects Aristotle on moral virtue human nature involved in acting and accepting moral responsibility.

If the pleasures of the body master you, or if you have broken their power only by rooting them out, you have missed out on the natural role that such pleasures can play in life. For example, we go grocery shopping to buy food, but buying food is itself a means toward the end of eating well and thriftily.

Aristotle: Ethics

Aristotle holds that a happy life must include pleasure, and he therefore opposes those who argue that pleasure is by its nature bad. But Aristotle considers moral virtue the only practical road to effective action.

Egoism, in other words, can be treated as a purely formal thesis: Thus the just man in this sense deals properly and fairly with others, and expresses his virtue in his dealings with them—not lying or cheating or taking from others what is owed to them.

Although Aristotle characterizes akrasia and enkrateia in terms of a conflict between reason and feeling, his detailed analysis of these states of mind shows that what takes place is best described in a more complicated way.

On another note, one becomes virtuous by first imitating another who exemplifies such virtuous characteristics, practicing such ways in their Aristotle on moral virtue lives, turning those ways into customs and habits by performing them each and every day, and finally, connecting or uniting the four of them together.

These are qualities one learns to love when one is a child, and having been properly habituated, one no longer looks for or needs a reason to exercise them. War is simply a stage for soldiers to display courage, and is the only way courage can be exemplified.

When the dog is too close, the sheep panic and run off in all directions; when he is too far back, the sheep ignore him, and turn in all directions to graze.

Pleasure is not a good in itself, he argued, since it is by its nature incomplete. The Nature of Virtue Ethics is not merely a theoretical study for Aristotle. This is the way in which, according to Aristotle, despite the contributions of parents, society, and nature, we are the co-authors of the active states of our own souls b, Is it to ask appropriate questions but never state an opinion?

The theory of the mean is open to several objections, but before considering them, we should recognize that in fact there are two distinct theses each of which might be called a doctrine of the mean.

Neither theoretical nor practical inquiry starts from scratch. Noble Aristotle says plainly and repeatedly what it is that moral virtue is for the sake of, but the translators are afraid to give it to you straight.

It is the condition in which all the powers of the soul are at work together, making it possible for action to engage the whole human being. Aristotle argued that the vice of intemperance is incurable because it destroys the principle of the related virtue, while incontinence is curable because respect for virtue remains.

The akratic says, at the time of action, that he ought not to indulge in this particular pleasure at this time. According to Aristotle, what remains and what is distinctively human is reason. Those who are defective in character may have the rational skill needed to achieve their ends—the skill Aristotle calls cleverness a23—8 —but often the ends they seek are worthless.

Aristotelian ethics

This is arguably the best way to understand the active state of the soul that constitutes moral virtue and forms character. Every activity has a final cause, the good at which it aims, and Aristotle argued that since there cannot be an infinite regress of merely extrinsic goods, there must be a highest good at which all human activity ultimately aims.

Aristotle lists the principle virtues along with their corresponding vices, as represented in the following table. But the intermediate point that is chosen by an expert in any of the crafts will vary from one situation to another.

That is why he stresses that in this sort of study one must be satisfied with conclusions that hold only for the most part b11— The Mean Now this discussion has shown that habit does make all the difference to our lives without being the only thing shaping those lives and without being the final form they take.

We often succumb to temptation with calm and even with finesse. Textual oddities suggest that they may not have been put in their current form by Aristotle himself. Therefore pleasure is not the good b23— When a parent makes a child repeatedly refrain from some desired thing, or remain in some frightening situation, the child is beginning to act as a moderate or brave person would act, but what is really going on within the child?

Aristotle defines moral virtue as a disposition to behave in the right manner and as a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which are vices.

Responsible human action depends upon the combining of all the powers of the soul: In neither account is it possible for anyone to train us, as Gorgias has habituated Meno into the mannerisms of a knower.Thus, Aristotle held that contemplation is the highest form of moral activity because it is continuous, pleasant, self-sufficient, and complete.

(Nic. Ethics X 8) In intellectual activity, human beings most nearly approach divine blessedness, while realizing all of the genuine human virtues as well.

For Aristotle, moral virtue is the only practical road to effective action. What the person of good character loves with right desire and thinks of as an end with right reason must first be perceived as beautiful.

Aristotle on virtue According to Aristotle, a virtue (arête) is a trait of mind or character that helps us achieve a good life, which Aristotle argues is a life in accordance with reason. There are two types of virtue – intellectual virtues and moral virtues. In Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 2, Aristotle concentrates on moral virtues, traits of character.

Aristotle defines moral virtue as a disposition to behave in the right manner and as a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which are vices. We learn moral virtue primarily through habit and practice rather than through reasoning and instruction.

Aristotle on moral virtue
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