Aristotle Virtue Ethics Essay
Aristotle Virtue Ethics
One basic notion in Aristotelian ethics that occupies a central significance is Aristotle’s belief in the role of man’s activities in order for one to acquire ethical knowledge. That is, for one to become virtuous or to obtain virtues one should not merely confine himself to mere studying of these virtues but rather one should, more importantly, actualize this knowledge of the virtues. Thus, for one to become good, one should do good. Aristotle further stretches his ideas by proposing the doctrine of the mean.
The essence of this doctrine dwells on the basic precept that one ought to avoid the extremes and, instead, settle for the “mean”. The actions of men, more specifically, ought to be framed upon the “mean” which is the virtue. For example, the virtue of courage rests on the mean between two extremes: cowardice or the “lack” of courage, and rashness or the “excess” in courage. It can easily be observed that Aristotle suggests that one should live a life that does not border on the things that are on the “most” and the “least” levels.
For example, if I were to follow Aristotle’s ethics I should always see to it that I should consistently draw myself towards the middle value and avoid slanting towards cowardice and excess. All this could have been very well except for one small thing that I cannot seem to fully comprehend. How is it possible for one to ascertain that one is actually taking the middle path? Or how is it possible for one to know that this or that is the middle value or is the virtuous action? Perhaps the key in having an understanding to the notion of the “mean” is that one should act.
That is, as I continually have these ideas as to what I must do when faced with an ethical situation or, at the least, an ordinary situation, I should nonetheless take the course of action so that I will be able to obtain a qualitative understanding that what I am doing is the “excess”. On the other hand, I will be having quite a rough time in acquiring the understanding as to whether the action that I am doing is virtuous if all that I do is to theorize and never let my theory be put into practice. Aristotle’s virtue ethics reminds me of Plato’s conception of ethics.
For the most part of the Republic, Plato attempts to arrive at a conception of a just life by centering on the notion that the just life or that which is good is better than living a life molded on an evil framework and one which prompts individuals to act in an evil manner. At the onset of the Republic’s Book II, a conception of the idea of “justice” is advanced as the working of an individual in accordance to the role in which one is best suited as well as the belief for non-interference in the activities of others.
In essence, this principle is closely related to Plato’s perspective on acting in accordance to one’s nature or intrinsic being which results to the state or condition of being “just” or acting justly once the individual acts in line to his very nature. Otherwise, if one begins to act beyond what his nature prescribes, then the individual begins to act in an unjust manner thereby resulting to “evil” actions (Plato and Kamtekar).
While Aristotle insists that one should put into action the thought that one may have so as to have an understanding of the middle value that should be taken, Plato, on the other hand, suggests that one should simply go by with one’s nature so as not to be “evil”. If I were to choose which ethical precept would be better or would fit me best, I would rather be inclined to adopt Aristotle’s virtue ethics over the other because it offers me a chance to actualize myself through my actions and be guided accordingly. Whereas for Plato, what I am seeing is that I should get to know my self first before I act so that I can be good.
But this cannot be met easily essentially because I find it quite difficult to know myself if I would not act first. In the light, if all the students in a certain class would build up a virtue like that of Aristotle’s point of view, the achievement of an environment which is formidably that built on the concept of philosophical and tremendously beneficial notions in life, the attainment of the virtue of goodness is towering in the highest hopes—although it eventually does not also undermine the concept of realism.
Apparently, many may not stick on this kind of perception and ought to think that it is certainly not possible to achieve a life which is way beyond the bounds of a “not-so-good” life for that instance, but with the maximum height of human rationality, such may be given enough credit for the philosophers who believed in a life where “goodness comes in deeds” (Lannstrom).
Lannstrom, Anna. Loving the Fine: Virtue and Happiness in Aristotle’s Ethics. Indiana USA: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006. Plato, and R. Kamtekar. “The Conventional View of Justice Developed. ” Trans. D. Lee. The Republic. 2 ed: Penguin Classics, 2003. 8-14.
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