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?


      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.

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