Aristotle: An Analysis Of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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Within Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he considers humanity and its relationship with moral virtue. By the end of this essay, I will have summarized how Aristotle sees virtue as something that can be improved through repetition and what sort of ideology is required for an action to be considered fully virtuous. Also, I will address how one may disagree with Aristotle’s views on how a person learns to become virtuous, in thinking that the concept of virtue must be precisely defined rather than free-formed, as Aristotle understands it to be. Following that counterargument, I shall refute it by explaining how a satisfactory childhood impresses society’s code of conduct upon a youth and how a youth learns how to apply that code of conduct through…show more content…
Expanding on that, Aristotle claims that while nature may instill the first notion of virtue in a person, that person can develop or degrade that virtue to the extent of which they put it into practice. In this sense, I can compare the concept of moral virtue to a muscle because, like a muscle, virtue can only become more realized through repetition. In Book II, chapter 4, Aristotle explains that a person cannot passively interact with moral virtue, but must actively involve themselves with it, and a failure to do so would be “like sick men who listen attentively to what the doctor says, but fail to do any of the things the doctor prescribes” (1105b15-20). Meaning that while Aristotle thinks that people have the ability to be virtuous, they cannot become virtuous people through mere observation…show more content…
While Aristotle believes it is important for an individual to choose the correct virtuous action in any given situation, that action is not virtuous in itself. In Book II, chapter 4, Aristotle asserts that in choosing an action, people ought to ultimately “choose it for [virtue’s] sake” (1105a30-34). For instance, if someone spills milk in the supermarket the correct action for that person to take would be to clean up that spill to the best of their ability. If the person who spilled the milk cleans up the spill because they want to erase any evidence of their mistake, that would not make the cleaning of the spill (or the person cleaning) virtuous, according to Aristotle. However, if the person cleans up the spilled milk because they think it is their responsibility— and the overall right action to make— then Aristotle would consider the action of cleaning to be virtuous. Aristotle makes this distinction because human beings— unlike other animals— are capable of reasoning through their actions. Although an animal might be capable of making the correct and virtuous choice in a situation, the animal cannot truly distinguish between right and wrong, making it so that the animal is not virtuous. A human, capable of reason, has in their inborn nature the ability to think critically about their choice and reason whether it is right or wrong. Because of this
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