September 5, 2012

Aristotle on Virtue

Men want to look virtuous, therefore they do what they believe is honorable and has merit to those that they respect enough to be judged by. Yet even if a person is considered to be virtuous it is not an end. For virtue is not a greater good, but a virtuous persons actions can lead to and end that is.

Aristotle says that virtue is concerned with emotions and actions, but more importantly we see that, depending on the circumstances, it is ultimately peoples choices that determine their virtue. The actions that people do are usually voluntary, even those done in ignorance, such as when one is drunk, has to be considered to some extent voluntary because they chose to drink even though they may act in a bad way. Thus we must determine that choices are a big part of virtue. It is a persons choices that determine the virtue of a person, not just the actions, for we understand what motivated them to work towards this good or bad. 

Virtue is a complex idea, yet it can be broken down into these circumstantial parts that Aristotle listed: 1)the agent, 2)the act, 3)the thing affected, 4)the instrument, 5)the effect, and 6) the manner in which it is was done. The most important of these is the agent though, for "a man must know who he is himself" before he can do something that is virtuous. 

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