The moral virtue and the mean by aristotle

In Book I of the Nicomachean Ethics he goes on to identify eudaimonia as the excellent exercise of the intellect, leaving it open[ citation needed ] whether he means practical activity or intellectual activity. Such, then, is the proud man; the man who falls short of him is unduly humble, and the man who goes beyond him is vain.

How do we become virtuous, according to aristotle?

Aristotle is always alert to the natural way that important words have more than one meaning. All of these people, he says, can utter the very words used by those who have knowledge; but their talk does not prove that they really have knowledge, strictly speaking. Authentic knowledge does engage the soul in its depths, and with this sort of knowing Aristotle links virtue. Such people are not virtuous, although they generally do what a virtuous person does. He is vindicating his conception of happiness as virtuous activity by showing how satisfying are the relationships that a virtuous person can normally expect to have. The argument is unconvincing because it does not explain why the perception of virtuous activity in fellow citizens would not be an adequate substitute for the perception of virtue in one's friends. His desires for pleasure, power or some other external goal have become so strong that they make him care too little or not at all about acting ethically. He needs to discuss honor, wealth, pleasure, and friendship in order to show how these goods, properly understood, can be seen as resources that serve the higher goal of virtuous activity.

Aristotle defines the supreme good as an activity of the rational soul in accordance with virtue. Friendships based on advantage alone or pleasure alone deserve to be called friendships because in full-fledged friendships these two properties, advantage and pleasure, are present.

When he first introduces the topic of akrasia, and surveys some of the problems involved in understanding this phenomenon, he says b25—8 that Socrates held that there is no akrasia, and he describes this as a thesis that clearly conflicts with the appearances phainomena.

intellectual virtue

Later Avicennaand later still Averroeswere Islamic philosophers who commented on Aristotle as well as writing their own philosophy in Arabic. In addition, B there is a type of agent who refuses even to try to do what an ethically virtuous agent would do, because he has become convinced that justice, temperance, generosity and the like are of little or no value.

aristotle intellectual virtues

Again, we feel anger and fear without choice, but the virtues are modes of choice or involve choice. It follows from this conception of pleasure that every instance of pleasure must be good to some extent.

The description of the role of the beautiful in moral virtue is most explicit in the discussion of courage, where the emphasis is on the great variety of things that resemble courage but fail to achieve it because they are not solely for the sake of the beautiful.

What is moral virtue in philosophy

Vices of courage must also be identified which are cowardice and recklessness. Admittedly, close friends are often in a better position to benefit each other than are fellow citizens, who generally have little knowledge of one's individual circumstances. And he clearly indicates that it is possible for an akratic person to be defeated by a weak pathos—the kind that most people would easily be able to control a9—b Aristotle holds that a happy life must include pleasure, and he therefore opposes those who argue that pleasure is by its nature bad. Book VII makes the point that pleasures interfere with each other, and so even if all kinds of pleasures are good, it does not follow that all of them are worth choosing. If they are equally virtuous, their friendship is perfect. The goods sought for their own sake are said to be of only two kinds, the pleasant and the beautiful. Habits can be strong but they never go deep. Of the former, people say that it is not possible add anything to it or take anything from it, and Aristotle says that virtue differs from art in that respect only in being more precise and better. Is this passion something that must be felt by every human being at appropriate times and to the right degree? But what of the remaining three: science, intuitive understanding, and the virtue that combines them, theoretical wisdom? For when we know how to benefit a friend for his sake, we exercise the ethical virtues, and this is precisely what our happiness consists in. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect; and again it is a mean because the vices respectively fall short of or exceed what is right in both passions and actions, while virtue both finds and chooses that which is intermediate. They will strive for self-improvement and will live their lives to the fullest. Virtue is a mean, first because it can only emerge out of the stand-off between opposite habits, but second because it chooses to take its stand not in either of those habits but between them.

Like Plato and Socrates he emphasized the importance of reason for human happiness, and that there were logical and natural reasons for humans to behave virtuously, and try to become virtuous.

Desert is relative to external goods; and the greatest of these, we should say, is that which we render to the gods, and which people of position most aim at, and which is the prize appointed for the noblest deeds; and this is honor; that is surely the greatest of external goods.

aristotle ethics summary

But Aristotle considers moral virtue the only practical road to effective action.

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Aristotelian ethics