Aristotle Essay, Research Paper
One would like to believe that there are many factors that distinguish humans from animals. On the contrary, many philosophers believe that there is just one difference between man and animal: reason.
According to Aristotle, reason gives man a foundation for wisdom and knowledge that can be used with one?s desire. Reason allows man to make choices that determine the character of the individual. He believes the choices made by man will define whether that person has a character of good or bad nature. This character will ultimately influence the end result of the individual?s life.
Aristotle believes that virtue is a state of mind, from which actions emanate and character, is cultivated. Virtue deals with the pleasure and pain of man and how to find an actual mean. Aristotle thought that two kinds of virtue existed. The first kind of virtue is intellectual virtue, which encompasses scientific knowledge, practical wisdom, philosophical wisdom, and good judgment. The other type of virtue is the virtue of character, also known as moral virtue. This type of virtue obeys reason and the control of impulses. Humans have always struggled with the control of impulses throughout time. It is quite apparent that control, over impulses and pleasure, takes practice and the good habits. Aristotle believed that virtue was like a type of craft that needed to be perfected through practice unlike knowledge, which can be obtained by reading books.
A person of weak character, according to Aristotle, is a result of a parent who did not push their child enough. People who do not have correct reactions to pain and pleasure are weak, and weak people will make bad judgments as a result. The best indicator of virtue is a feeling that lets one know they are of good character and not one of a bad nature. To have virtue one needs the right amount of pleasure and pain, known as a mean, which is accomplished through trial and error and also practice.
Aristotle states that choices one makes determines the type of character one possesses. There are six basic types of character determined by the type of choices one would decide to make. The first character is the heroic type, who is always the perfect individual. Jesus would represent the heroic type because his choices and actions are considered perfect in every situation he was faced with. A person who does the right thing, and enjoys doing the proper actions, is considered to be of ordinary excellence. Mother Theresa is an excellent example of someone with ordinary excellence because she dedicated her life to the needy and was happy with her life. Another type of character is a self-controlled person, whose actions appear good, but they do not receive pleasure from doing the right thing. A person who knows right, but gives in to bad habits is considered to have a lack of self-control. A bad character makes bad choices and actually enjoys his decisions. The sixth type of character is one of a brute, which suffers form a mental defect. Aristotle believes that wrong is voluntary and one should be held responsible because one is a consequence of the choices made. One is always held accountable for their character according to Aristotle.
To conclude, a person of bad character is dominated by their animal soul. The choices they make and the actions in which they decide to follow through with ultimately determine someone?s character. One can only reach good character by getting away from pleasure and going to the mean which takes work and one?s whole lifetime.