Aristotle’s virtue ethics

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Philosopher king
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Aristotle’s virtue ethics

Post by Philosopher king » March 21st, 2018, 7:56 pm

Hello,
I studied philosophy quite a bit as an undergraduate almost twenty years ago. I recently decided to resume studying and practicing philosophy. Currently, I have been reading the Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle. His central argument seems to be that we need to be taught how to be a good person first. After this, good works will follow naturally. How do you interpret Aristotle and do you agree with him?

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Re: Aristotle’s virtue ethics

Post by Fooloso4 » March 22nd, 2018, 4:52 pm

Philosopher king:
His central argument seems to be that we need to be taught how to be a good person first. After this, good works will follow naturally. How do you interpret Aristotle and do you agree with him?
The development of character is of central importance, but Aristotle’s ethics is not a one size fits all solution. The guiding question is the question of the good life and eudaimonia, often translated as happiness, but flourishing is in some ways closer. The question of the good life cannot be adequately addressed without asking: what is good? We all seek what is good but not everything we seek is good.

Aristotle situates the good life within the life of the city. And so, it would be a mistake to assume that by seeking what is good for me I ignore what is good for you. Although we are different there is still commonality. We desire good health, food, shelter, and peace, for example.

Another important term for Aristotle is phronesis, often translated as practical wisdom as well as prudence:
… it is thought to be the mark of a prudent man to be able to deliberate rightly about what is good and advantageous… it is a true state, reasoned, and capable of action with regard to things that are good or bad for man. We consider that this quality belongs to those who understand the management of households or states”. [N.E. 1140a24-1140b12].

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Mosesquine
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Re: Aristotle’s virtue ethics

Post by Mosesquine » March 27th, 2018, 6:00 am

Aristotle's virtue ethics is well discussed in 'After Virtue' by Alasdaire McIntire.

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Re: Aristotle’s virtue ethics

Post by Philosopher king » April 9th, 2018, 2:45 am

Thank you for the replies. I am still studying his ethics. I think his take on morality is very interesting. I am used to thinking of ethics as a legal based system as opposed to character development. It seems to be in line with common sense to say that a good man will produce good acts. The idea of virtue being a mean between two extremes is interesting as well.

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Re: Aristotle’s virtue ethics

Post by Wesgtr » April 9th, 2018, 7:09 pm

Reading Atistotle’s Nichomachean Ethics was part of a master’s class I took just recently. I did a master’s in theology and philosophy. I am well versed in Aquinas over Aristotle. I took an entire class on Aquinas. Aquinasbuses Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics to develop a Christian Virtue. Aquinas subscribes to Aristotle’s views and modifies them. The cardinal virtues are from Aristotle. Prudence and others are discussed to give an idea of what Every man has within them. Yet, Aquinas adds to Aristotle’s ethics Christian virtue of faith, hope, love. These transform a mans courage, justice, and prudence, for example. I like Aquinas better, but Aristotle is a great read. I was reading on the soul for a while and find it fascinating. If you ask me, Aristotle was the first philosopher of the mind in that text. It’s immaculate. I think Aristotle’s ethics requires a transformation y Aquinas. So, I encourage reading the latter. But the Phronimos becomes an idea that is later combated by Kierkegaard and others, but most notably Kierkegaard. The idea in Kierkegaard seems to be present in Fear and Trembling when he argues through a pseudonym that faith is higher than ethics. It’s similar to Aquinas, except Aquinas synthesizes Christian and Nichomachean Ethics.

Hopefully my phone did not kill to much of my spelling and hopefully the spelling from me is good.

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Re: Aristotle’s virtue ethics

Post by Philosopher king » April 10th, 2018, 2:26 am

I’m glad you mentioned Aquinas! I plan to read him next. Maybe I’ll pick up a copy of Fear and Trembling too. Aristotle has been a challenge but it’s very interesting. This is the first text on virtue ethics I’ve read and he seems to make a lot of valid points.

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