Aristotle Himself

Aristotle and Virtue Ethics
The Nicomachean Ethics:

  1. Philosophical Background -

    1. Socrates - Virtue is knowledge of good and evil

    2. Plato - Virtue is the harmony between the parts of the soul -

      1. Appetite
      2. Spirit (Will)
      3. Reason

  2. The Cardinal Virtues -

    1. Justice
    2. Temperance
    3. Courage
    4. Wisdom
    5. Piety

  3. Aristotle's Method: Teleology and the Hierarchy of Goods - Every activity or action aims at some end ['telos'] which is its good

    1. Two types of ends -

      1. Intermediate - done for the sake of something else
      2. Final - done for its own sake

    2. The social Sciences/Inquiries/Knowledges ['episteme'] are activities which aim at an end

    3. Politics incorporates all the social sciences - it is the greatest knowledge

  4. What is the goal of Politics? To Secure Happiness ['eudimonia']

    1. What is Happiness?

      1. pleasure - for the sake of happiness?
      2. wealth - for the sake of stuff?
      3. honor - for the sake of power?
      4. virtue - for the sake of happiness?

    2. What is a Man?

      1. Four types of souls -

        1. nutritive life
        2. sensate
        3. political
        4. rational (life of thought)

      2. Man is the Rational Animal - To live according to reason is what it is to be human

    3. What is the Virtue/Excellence of Man?

      1. Intellectual Virtue - discipline of the thought acquired through education
      2. Moral Virtue - discipline of action acquired through habituated moral action

    4. Is acting morally the same as being moral? Is performing moral actions sufficient to be a moral person?

      NO!

      1. One must have knowledge of what is moral - ignorance is amoral
      2. One must Will the moral action - no accidental morality
      3. One must act out of a consistent character - no occasional morality

    5. How do we learn to act morally?

      1. What is human virtue? - the soul-state which enables achievement of the human function - three possible soul-states

        1. excess - vice
        2. deficiency - vice
        3. mean - virtue

      2. How do we achieve the moral skill? We Practice aiming for the Golden Mean.


If you would like to read more of Aristotle's works Aristotle just click here.

Return to Notes Index
Return to Barry's HP