Aristotle Virtue Ethics



"To do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one nor is it easy;wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble."(Aristotle, Ethics II.9))

For a brilliant diagrammatic guide through the whole of Nicomachean Ethics I recommend this site, worth every moment you run with it - Aristotle could change your life!!:


This outstanding article is by Richard Jacobs of Villanova State University.  Click here for his website. 

For a brilliant introductory lecture on the meaning of practical wisdom in virtue ethics by Professor Schwartz of the University of Colorado go to:

If you'd like to become as good a communicator as Professor Schwartz, then try this analysis of his method - and then learn it (for good communication can be learnt, just like the virtues!!):

For Aristotle, the good life does not consist in isolated good actions as much as good character building a flourishing life (eudaimonia = happiness or flourishing).

• The only way human beings can ensure that their acts will be good is for those acts to become habits (in Greek, ethos; in Latin, mores; in English, customs) that guide human conduct. A habit is a disposition of character to act in an appropriate way according to the circumstances.arist_2

• A habit is something human beings acquire (in Latin, habere, "to have") as they use the power of intellect to judge what one ought to do, as human beings act with knowledge to will something (in Latin, con-sciere, "to act with knowledge," "conscience" in English).

• Aristotle's teacher, Plato, believed that knowledge is discovered in virtue (in Greek, aretemeaning skill or excellence; in Latin, virtus) while ignorance is vice. Human beings discover the happy life as they act according to the dictates of knowledge. Hence, the saying "think before you act."

• Building upon this tradition, Aristotle distinguished three intellectual virtues that bring happiness:

Understanding (nous): the habit of first principles, which involves searching out the primary self-evident truths that lie at the root of all knowledge
Science (episteme): the habit of drawing conclusions by demonstration from first principles, of knowing particular scientific findings and establishing the "laws" of science.
Wisdom (sophia): the habit of knowing things in their highest causes, of ordering all principles and conclusions into one vast body of truth (metaphysics).

Aristotle also distinguished two practical virtues human beings use to search for happiness:

Art (techne): the habit of knowing how to make tangible things, how to produce an object; for example, making a car, a table, or a painting or sculpture.
Prudence or practical wisdom(phronesis): the habit of knowing how to do things, how to direct your life, how to live. Phronesis is the skill we need to develop to be moral.

• Because human beings have intellectual powers that animals don't, human beings are obliged by their nature to train their…


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