Aristotle Virtue Theory Essay, Research Paper
Aristotle, another great Greek philosopher, established many theories in the field of ethics and psychology. As a student of Plato at the academy, Aristotle also theorized many inquiries about virtue. In this question we want to some how connect his ideas of psychology to his ideas of ethics. In doing this we must set out his main points than mesh them in some common bond.
Aristotle s Notion of Virtue According to Aristotle, virtue primarily involves rationality and the use of a person’s rationality. Rationality and happiness are activities of the soul, and virtue is the excellence of these activities. Humans are the only life forms that have a soul, the source of rationality. Thus, humans have a duty to always use their intellect. Three things are found in the soul: emotions, capacities, and characteristics. Emotions are things humans feel, like anguish or happiness, that are followed by pain or pleasure. Capacities are a person s ability or capacity to experience or express something. Since people are not considered good or bad based on their emotions, virtue cannot be an emotion. Virtue is not a capacity either, because virtue involves choice, not abilities. Therefore, virtue is a characteristic of a person that “renders good the thing itself of which it is the excellence and causes it to perform its function well.” In other words, a person with a good character has virtue. The aim of all human action is for good, and any virtuous act is good. A virtuous act must be based on rationality and only acted on after careful deliberation by the individual. Therefore, a virtuous individual must be knowledgeable about what is good, must only make choices after careful deliberation, and must be a good judge of proper action. These virtuous characteristics come from experience, training, an environment conducive to learning, a love of rationality, and good habits developed from constant practice. Aristotle reasoned that because humans base most of their decisions on the amount of happiness they bring, a moral principle must address the way pain and pleasure fits into our decision making process. Pleasure causes humans to do base actions. Pain keeps us from doing noble actions. Virtue involves maintaining a balance between pain and pleasure.
Discovering the psychology of Aristotle was a bit more challenging, as for the fact that he is much better known for his ethics. Association was the primary psychological belief in which Aristotle took stock. He believed that the plant that felt the heat of the sun stretched its limbs to absorb more heat. The plant did not know whether it was light or dark it reacted as it would in the direction of heat. In the same manner of speaking the plant that catches the fly does not know the fly is there, but merely reacts to its sensation influence on the tips of the cilia of their leaves. Aristotle distinguishes us from animals in our ability to reason, which has been disputed in current times. He also dabbles in our human makeup and separates the body as a tool for the spirit. Our ethics come from the spirit as our bodies may be considered animalistic.
The relationship between Aristotle s ethics and his psychology are not as obvious as the differences. Aristotle has been criticized for thinking up theories that conflict his basic theories, but one who thinks constantly cannot be held back by one s own thoughts. As we know by this point we are all trying to gain happiness through being a good person. A person of virtue. As for the connection, another difficulty arises, I believe that the plants and animals without reason do certain activities to better themselves and make themselves happier. If they are without reason then their activities are not thought out and there fore instinctual or might I say subconsciously done. So how can be if he specifically demands that being aware of your actions is the true path to virtue? This is my only connection an anti-connection.
In current news we find that the previous issues have been greatly adopted throughout society. In the most common ethical issues we find this same dilemma. Abortion, a common problem, deals with ethics vs. psychology at a never ending pace and is usually the dividing line between many people who would never be in conflict with each other. The ethics of it is obvious; the killing of a baby is not virtuous and not right. The destruction of a young woman is not virtuous or right either. The psychology of humans and our primal tendencies make us propagate and want to engage in sex. That is right and virtuous yet not moral at all time. This leads to the possibility of pregnancy which leads to our conscious choice of whether to abort a pregnancy or not. The twist are unending and although I feel I have a good grasp on this it slips away as I make my descent.