Aristotle On Virtue Essay, Research Paper
Aristotle’s Views on Virtue
Aristotle explains virtue by first explaining what things are found in the soul. He says that the soul has three things-passions, faculties, and states of character, and virtue must be one of these. Passions are things such as anger, fear, longing, and joy. Faculties are the act of becoming angry, frightened, etc. Finally, state of character is how we cope with those passions. An example of this can be made with the passion anger. A person can either have excess or deficiency. This means that he can be a tyrant or passive.
Aristotle then concludes that passion cannot be virtue. He says this because we are not called good or bad based on our passions. We cannot be blamed or praised for our passions, but we are blamed or praised for our vices. This is explained simply by saying that passions are not reached by choice. Virtue has something to do with choice, or what is chosen. This leads into Aristotle explaining that faculties cannot be virtue as well. “For we are neither called good nor bad, nor praised nor blamed, for the simple capacity of feeling passions ”
This leaves only states of character. Aristotle concludes that this must be what virtue is. He says that to be virtuous, one needs to have excellence, and the ability to do whatever he/she is doing well. He explains this through the example of the eye and a horse. The excellence of both makes the horse and the eye good, as well as its work good. He then says that if this is true in every case it must hold true for man as well. Aristotle explains that man and art are analogous. You cannot add any excess or deficiency. Humans and art already have excellence. Whether or not they are in excess or deficiency from the start determines their virtue. In conclusion, Aristotle says that in order to be virtuous, one must be in the middle of excess or deficiency.
Aristotle says that the excellence of something makes it good, and able to function well. This can be applied to his four causes. The four causes are material, formal, efficient, and final. These four things are what go into making something good. The material is the actual contents, formal is what form it will take, efficient is the means in how you do it, and lastly, the final is the purpose of creating it in the first place. If all of this goes well, then the outcome will be excellence.