Free «Aristotle’s Theory of Virtue» Essay Sample

Aristotle’s Theory of Virtue

Aristotle’s theory of the virtue states that ethical virtues are special traits of character that lie at the mean between deficiency and extreme righteousness. Besides, he considered that moral virtues must be distinguished from the intellectual ones. While moral virtue stands for choosing, acting, and feeling well, intellectual virtue is represented by Aristotle as a kind of wisdom that is obtained by teaching. However, not all traits of personal character can be viewed as virtues, since many of them are vices. Aristotle's belief that virtues are positioned at the mean flanked by two extremes, which is better known as 'the doctrine of the mean', is aimed to help to recognize which states of personal character are the moral ones. Therefore, the aim of the paper is to reveal an opinion of Aristotle about what virtuous life entails, to explain his doctrine of the mean, and to describe the life that follows that doctrine.

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According to Aristotle’s point of view, the virtuous life must unavoidably entail “the activity of soul exhibiting excellence” (Grenz 71). This means that happiness is a result of a human virtuousness, which is the efficient exercise of reason. Besides, the virtuous life entails the knowledge of eternal realities, which is commonly known as the theoretical wisdom. In addition, the philosopher stated that the virtuous life is the product of cooperation of will and reason. Of course, moral virtues are a specific domain of the will. However, they are to be governed by intellect or reason. To sum up, one can see that the virtuous life requires both moral and intellectual excellence.

Aristotle's doctrine of the mean does not reveal just what conditions demand what degree of passion with reverence to sexual virtue or any other virtues. Nevertheless, as the philosopher mentions near the beginning of his argument of the good life and virtue, the discussion can be sufficient if it has as much comprehensibility as the subject matter acknowledges (Yu 64). A more closely focused analysis of the nature of particular virtues would engage a more in-depth argument of what action or degree of passion is suitable for what circumstances. Excellence is the core point in Aristotle’s ethics. Therefore, he believed that if a person possesses excellence, he or she will function in accordance with moral ethics and will live a virtuous life. The concept of the mean and that of the execution of the mean were at the intangible core of the most sophisticated and advanced science of the times - medicine. Aristotle introduces this way of thinking in his explanation of excellence of personal character or moral excellence. According to the philosopher, health and bodily strength are destroyed by deficiency and righteousness. This means that too much or too little exercise and food is harmful for human health. Therefore, the golden middle should be achieved by everyone.

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The life that follows the doctrine of the mean is rather strict in its principles. To be more precise, it is full of particular duties, which cannot be overlooked. Living such a life means doing everything that is natural for one’s status in the world. However, Aristotle claimed that this very life is a happy one in contrast to the life that has no moral principles. Surely, the modern way of living is not as strict as it was at ancient times. Nonetheless, I believe that people must have moral principles that are based on virtue. Without moral principles and particular values in life, a person is dead inside. Only inner world of a person is what clearly characterizes him or her.

In his doctrines, Aristotle argues that society and governments exist to further the virtuous life, since they are created in order to rule the society and establish particular canons, which should be followed. I agree with Aristotle, because initially the society and governments were created for these purposes. In my opinion, a government that promotes Aristotle's virtuous life might be virtuous itself. It might be just and have very strict rules, and follow them itself, first and foremost. However, it is not a plausible type of society. The reason is that governments are not as virtuous as they propagate the society should be. Unfortunately, the modern world cannot be proud of its virtuousness, though there still are a lot of people who have particular values and moral principles.

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Regarding the quote “Our desire to conform is greater than our desire for objective facts” and its relevance to Aristotle’s work, one can say that the philosopher showed that, in fact, it must be vice versa. The above mentioned quote depicts the modern society where the desire to be like others is greater than the desire to act in accordance with the moral standards and values.

To conclude, one can state that Aristotle was undoubtedly a great philosopher during his time. He explained the world in the way that it should exist. However, Aristotle’s theories and doctrines are very idealistic, which makes them rather difficult to implement in the human life. This can be explained by Freud’s works where he talks about Id, Ego and Superego. Of course, if the world could be as virtuous as Aristotle believed it should be, there would be no murders and many other serious sins. However, the world is not ideal. Everything that people can do for a better life is improving their own inner worlds, and maybe something will change for better.