The virtue of character according to aristotle

References and Further Reading 1. A faculty seminar I attended a few years ago was mired in the opinion that Aristotle thinks the good life is one of mindless routine. More recently, I heard a lecture in which some very good things were said about Aristotle's discussion of choice, yet the speaker still criticized him for praising habit when so much that is important in life depends on openness and spontaneity. Can it really be that Aristotle thought life is lived best when thinking and choosing are eliminated?

The virtue of character according to aristotle

Here he discussed the conditions under which moral responsibility may be ascribed to individual agents, the nature of the virtues and vices involved in moral evaluation, and the methods of achieving happiness in human life. Every activity has a final cause, the good at which it aims, and Aristotle argued The virtue of character according to aristotle since there cannot be an infinite regress of merely extrinsic goods, there must be a highest good at which all human activity ultimately aims.

Ethics I 2 This end of human life could be called happiness or living wellof course, but what is it really?

Neither the ordinary notions of pleasure, wealth, and honor nor the philosophical theory of forms provide an adequate account of this ultimate goal, since even individuals who acquire the material goods or achieve intellectual knowledge may not be happy. According to Aristotle, things of any variety have a characteristic function that they are properly used to perform.

The good for human beings, then, must essentially involve the entire proper function of human life as a whole, and this must be an activity of the soul that expresses genuine virtue or excellence. Ethics I 7 Thus, human beings should aim at a life in full conformity with their rational natures; for this, the satisfaction of desires and the acquisition of material goods are less important than the achievement of virtue.

A happy person will exhibit a personality appropriately balanced between reasons and desires, with moderation characterizing all.

The virtue of character according to aristotle

In this sense, at least, "virtue is its own reward. The Nature of Virtue Ethics is not merely a theoretical study for Aristotle. Unlike any intellectual capacity, virtues of character are dispositions to act in certain ways in response to similar situations, the habits of behaving in a certain way.

Thus, good conduct arises from habits that in turn can only be acquired by repeated action and correction, making ethics an intensely practical discipline. According to Aristotle, the virtuous habit of action is always an intermediate state between the opposed vices of excess and deficiency: Ethics II 6 Thus, for example: Notice that the application of this theory of virtue requires a great deal of flexibility: Although the analysis may be complicated or awkward in some instances, the general plan of Aristotle's ethical doctrine is clear: Not bad advice, surely.

Some version of this general approach dominated Western culture for many centuries.

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Voluntary Action Because ethics is a practical rather than a theoretical science, Aristotle also gave careful consideration to the aspects of human nature involved in acting and accepting moral responsibility.

Moral evaluation of an action presupposes the attribution of responsibility to a human agent. But in certain circumstances, this attribution would not be appropriate. Responsible action must be undertaken voluntarilyon Aristotle's view, and human actions are involuntary under two distinct conditions: Ethics III 1 First, actions that are produced by some external force or, perhaps, under an extreme duress from outside the agent are taken involuntarily, and the agent is not responsible for them.

Thus, if someone grabs my arm and uses it to strike a third person, I cannot reasonably be blamed or praised morally for what my arm has done. Second, actions performed out of ignorance are also involuntary. Thus, if I swing my arm for exercise and strike the third party who unbeknownst to me is standing nearby, then again I cannot be held responsible for having struck that person.

Notice that the sort of ignorance Aristotle is willing to regard as exculpatory is always of lack of awareness of relevant particulars. Striking other people while claiming to be ignorant of the moral rule under which it is wrong to do so would not provide any excuse on his view.

As we'll soon see, decisions to act voluntarily rely upon deliberation about the choice among alternative actions that the individual could perform. During the deliberative process, individual actions are evaluated in light of the good, and the best among them is then chosen for implementation.

Under these conditions, Aristotle supposed, moral actions are within our power to perform or avoid; hence, we can reasonably be held responsible for them and their consequences. Just as with health of the body, virtue of the soul is a habit that can be acquired at least in part as the result of our own choices.

Deliberate Choice Although the virtues are habits of acting or dispositions to act in certain ways, Aristotle maintained that these habits are acquired by engaging in proper conduct on specific occasions and that doing so requires thinking about what one does in a specific way. Neither demonstrative knowledge of the sort employed in science nor aesthetic judgment of the sort applied in crafts are relevant to morality.

SparkNotes: Aristotle (– B.C.): Nicomachean Ethics: Books I to IV

But there is a distinctive mode of thinking that does provide adequately for morality, according to Aristotle: This faculty alone comprehends the true character of individual and community welfare and applies its results to the guidance of human action.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. According to Aristotle, the most prominent exponent of eudaimonia in the Western philosophical tradition, "eudaimonia" is the proper goal of human life.

It consists of exercising the characteristic human quality any character trait defined as a virtue must reasonably be universally regarded as a virtue for all sentient beings.

The Human Good and the Function Argument

Aristotle: Ethics. Standard We are finally back to Aristotle's claim that character, does not, according to Aristotle, have the virtue of temperance, but is at best selfrestrained or continent.

In that case, the reasoning part of the soul is keeping the impulses reined in. But those impulses can slip the reins and go their own way, as.

The community is the context for the moral life, not character - Aristotle focussed on character, MacIntyre on community=virtue MacIntyre's 3 types of people 1. bureaucratic manager - focus on a return. Aristotle: Ethics. Standard interpretations of Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics usually maintain that Aristotle ( B.C.E.) emphasizes the role of habit in conduct.

It is commonly thought that virtues, according to Aristotle, are habits and that the good life is a life of mindless routine. Aristotle defines the supreme good as an activity of the rational soul in accordance with virtue.

Virtue for the Greeks is equivalent to excellence. A man has virtue as a flautist, for instance, if he plays the flute well, since playing the flute is the distinctive activity of a flautist.

Virtue ethics - Wikipedia