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At the beginning of Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle tells us that there are two different kinds of human excellences, excellences of thought and excellences of character.
When we speak of a moral virtue or an excellence of character, the emphasis is not on mere distinctiveness or individuality, but on the combination of qualities that make an individual the sort of ethically admirable person he is. If someone lacks virtue, she may have any of several moral vices, or she may be characterized by a condition somewhere in between virtue and vice, such as continence or incontinence.
Although these ancient moralists differed on some issues about virtue, it makes sense to begin with some points of similarity.
These points of similarity will show why the Greek moralists thought it was important to discuss character. They often begin by having Socrates ask his interlocutors to explain what a particular virtue is.
In reply, the interlocutors usually offer behavioral accounts of the virtues. In the Charmides, Charmides suggests that temperance consists in acting quietly. In the Republic, Cephalus suggests that justice consists in giving back what one has borrowed.
In each of these cases, Plato has Socrates reply in the same way. In the Republic Socrates explains that giving back what one has borrowed cannot be what justice is, for there are cases where giving back what one has borrowed would be foolish, and the just person recognizes that it is foolish.
If the person from whom you have borrowed a sword goes mad, it would be foolish for you to return the sword, for you are then putting yourself and others in danger.
The implication is that the just person can recognize when it is reasonable to return what he has borrowed. Similarly, as Socrates explains in the Laches, standing firm in battle cannot be courage, for sometimes standing firm in battle is Moral virtue aquired essay a foolish endurance that puts oneself and others at needless risk.
The trouble one encounters in trying to give a purely behavioral account Moral virtue aquired essay virtue explains why the Greek moralists turn to character to explain what virtue is. It may be true that most of us can recognize that it would be foolish to risk our lives and the lives of others to secure a trivial benefit, and that most of us can see that it is unjust to harm others to secure power and wealth for our own comfort.
But the Greek moralists think it takes someone of good moral character to determine with regularity and reliability what actions are appropriate and reasonable in fearful situations and that it takes someone of good moral character to determine with regularity and reliability how and when to secure goods and resources for himself and others.
Living well or happiness is our ultimate end in that a conception of happiness serves to organize our various subordinate ends, by indicating the relative importance of our ends and by indicating how they should fit together into some rational overall scheme.
When we are living well, our life is worthy of imitation and admiration. For, according to the Greek moralists, that we are happy says something about us and about what we have achieved, not simply about the fortunate circumstances in which we find ourselves. Whatever happiness is, it must take account of the fact that a happy life is one lived by rational agents who act and who are not simply victims of their circumstances.
The Greek moralists conclude that a happy life must give a prominent place to the exercise of virtue, for virtuous traits of character are stable and enduring and are not products of fortune, but of learning or cultivation. Moreover, virtuous traits of character are excellences of the human being in that they are the best exercise of reason, which is the activity characteristic of human beings.
In this way, the Greek philosophers claim, virtuous activity completes or perfects human life. As explained in Section 2. Bravery requires more than standing up against threats to oneself and others. This led the Greek moralists to conclude that virtuous traits of character have two aspects: The Greek philosophers disagree mostly about what b involves.
In particular, they differ about the role played in virtuous traits of character by cognitive states e. Socrates and the Stoics argued that only cognitive states were necessary for virtue, whereas Plato and Aristotle argued that both cognitive and affective states were necessary.
On this view later revived by Epicurus, — BCEhaving a virtuous character is purely a matter of being knowledgeable of what brings us more pleasure rather than less.
In the Protagoras, Socrates recognizes that most people object to this view. Someone may be overcome by anger, fear, lust, and other desires, and act against what he believes will bring him more pleasure rather than less.
He can, in other words, be incontinent or weak-willed. Socrates replies that such cases should be understood differently. When, for example, a cowardly person flees from battle rather than endanger his life, even though he may seem to be pursuing the more pleasant action, he is really just ignorant of the greater pleasure to be achieved by entering battle and acting bravely.
In other words, incontinence is not possible, according to Socrates.
Both Plato and Aristotle argue that virtuous character requires a distinctive combination of cognitive and affective elements. In the Republic, Plato divides the soul into three parts and gives to each a different kind of desire rational, appetitive, or spirited.
As types of non-rational desire, appetitive and spirited desires can conflict with our rational desires about what contributes to our overall good, and they will sometimes move us to act in ways we recognize to be against our greater good.
When that happens, we are incontinent. To be virtuous, then, we must both understand what contributes to our overall good and have our spirited and appetitive desires educated properly, so that they agree with the guidance provided by the rational part of the soul.
A potentially virtuous person learns when young to love and take pleasure in virtuous actions, but must wait until late in life to develop the understanding that explains why what he loves is good.
Once he has learned what the good is, his informed love of the good explains why he acts as he does and why his actions are virtuous.Thus, Aristotle held that contemplation is the highest form of moral activity because it is continuous, pleasant, self-sufficient, and complete. (Nic. Ethics X 8) In intellectual activity, human beings most nearly approach divine blessedness, while realizing all of the genuine human virtues as well.
Aristotle sees virtue as, “being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit” (Aristotle ).
Moral virtue comes about as a result of habits of human excellence. So in that case nothing that exists by nature can form a habit. We will write a custom essay sample on Moral Virtue Aquired specifically for you.
Article 1. Whether every virtue is a moral virtue? Objection 1. It would seem that every virtue is a moral virtue. Because moral virtue is so called from the Latin "mos," i.e. custom. Now, we can accustom ourselves to the acts of all the virtues.
Therefore every virtue is a moral virtue. Objection 2. According to Aristotle, if there is hope, what means can such a person employ to cultivate the virtue of consideration or friendliness?
A: Yes, there is, all those characteristics are considered moral/lack of . Moral Virtue Essay Sample. Another distinction is between acquired and infused virtues. Seen from the point of view of its source and rootedness, a virtue is “infused” by God.
A third distinction is between theological (faith, hope and charity) and moral or cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude).