Aristotelian Essay, Research Paper
Can a Child be Virtuous?
In this paper I will argue against Aristotle and his
idea that children cannot be virtuous, as we discussed in
class. I will do this by giving concrete examples that a
certain widespread religion believes in this virtuosity of a
child. I will also use a more common example that occurs all
the time in America.
Aristotle says that children cannot be virtuous because
virtues are something that, to be acquired must be practiced
over and over again. A child has not had enough practice,
time or understanding of what he is doing to be considered
virtuous. However, I think that there are virtuous children,
and that not only Athenian gentlemen are virtuous, but
some other people also, these including children.
For my first example let us consider the religion of
Tibet. These people elect a child, in fact a newborn to be
in charge of their entire religion, this child is the Dali
Lama. They think that this child is holy, and pure.
Obviously they think that he is good, and virtuous. He has
the most power in their entire religious system of beliefs.
There are many many people who believe in this religion, and
have done so for centuries. This child is trained from a
very young age on and is selected to lead a virtuous life.
He practices things that Aristotle would view as virtuous,
for example, courage, pride, justice, and temperance. This
child could easily get in more practice time of virtuous
activity than the average person, even more than a person
who is on their way to being virtuous who is an adult.
According to Aristotle s own beliefs, there is a certain
amount of virtuous activity that must be done to become a
virtuous person. This child could easily do as many virtuous
activities by the age of 10 as say someone who is 20 in
another situation. That is one problem with Aristotle s
theory, when does the virtuous activity start adding up so
that one may become a virtuous person? How long is someone
considered a child? Do his activities not count until he
reaches a certain age, and then suddenly there is a
breakthrough and they start to count? I think not. A good
act is a good act no matter what the age, if the intent is
Those who wish to support Aristotle could in a certain
context use the Christian religion to counter the Dali Lama
example. Christians believe that all men are born sinful
and not good. There is no way that a child is any better
than anyone else. The Dali Lama would be considered just
like any other child, not virtuous. They also believe that
there is no way to become, by Aristotle s definition totally
virtuous. It is an impossibility. This is where there view
would stop counteracting the Dali Lama, and start to
contradict Aristotle himself. They think that all men are
born sinful and die sinful, whereas Aristotle thinks that it
is possible to achieve perfect virtuosity and then be happy
and never lose this state of being. He thinks it is possible
to achieve perfection.
Another example that is a little more common here in
America is the child that dials 911 to save their parents
life. This child may only be 4 or 5 years old, yet we see
the shows on TV about this little heroes all the time. Their
parents may have practiced dialing 911 over and over again
with them so that when an emergency occurred they would know
what to do. They know what is right, and display an amazing
amount of courage. They are proving that they have actually
learned what they have been taught, and took action in a
An Aristotelian supporter would say that this child did
not fully understand what they were doing, this one act does
not make them virtuous! The child is still going to be
scared sometimes (non courageous) They are going to show a
lot of non-temperance, also a non virtuous activity, and
they were just acting out of a certain repetitive task that
they have been taught. (kind of like a pet learning a trick)
Ask their parents though if this is they way that they view
the child, ask society if they think that this child is
virtuous. They will will yes he is, not all 4 year olds dial
911 in a crisis, some just sit down and cry when the time
comes, not all children, even if they know what to do,
actually do it.
In conclusion I would like to say that I think that
there are virtuous people, and virtuous children who grow
into virtuous adults or not so virtuous adults or vice
versa. I would also like to say that although these people
may exhibit a certain amount of good, that they would not
achieve Aristotle s view of becoming virtuous because this
is impossible. These people may once be good and then turn
bad, it happens all the time, or they may have a lapse.
Humans are not perfect, and therefore cannot become perfect
at anything. Sure there are people out there who will
achieve happiness, but no one is happy in the sense that
Aristotle means it, at least not 100% of the time.