Aristotle and his Virtues and the Effect on Political Theory What qualities do we consider mandatory in a virtuous person? Most of us would agree that being honest, generous, having temperance, and having an active role in one's community are all traits of a virtuous individual. Another thing we evaluate when determining whether or not one is virtuous is one’s motives they have when they are doing a good deed. For instance, there are many celebrities that do charity work however that does not necessarily make them a virtuous person. We all know that there are quite a few celebrities that just do it for attention. The ones who do it for the pure reason of helping people in need are the ones we view as virtuous. Aristotle believed that having virtues such as these were absolutely essential in living a welllived life. In the following I will describe Aristotle’s theory of human virtue and analyze how his theory of virtue creates the foundation for his political theory and beliefs.
Aristotle believed in teleology , which comes from the Greek word “Telos” meaning for "end", "purpose", or "goal" . Teleology is an extremely complexed matter, it is the idea that natural phenomena are determined not only by physical causes but by
an overall purpose in nature and that everything has it’s nature. He believed that in order to understand why things are the way they are is to understand their role in nature
(Ackrill). In “Metaphysics”Aristotle classifies us as “rational animals,” meaning that our telos is rational. According to Aristotle it is our full responsibility to live up to our nature in order to live the way that we were meant to live.
Aristotle like most teleological philosophers believed in “human flourishing” and human potential. This potential involves the ability to comprehend social and legal structures that were put in place and changes that may occur. According to
Aristotle there are 12 virtues and those virtues are Bravery, Temperance ,
Generosity, Magnificence, Magnanimity, Honorable, Mildness, Truthfulness, Wit,
Friendliness, being prone to shame and Proper Indignation. These virtues are absolutely essential to living a pure life in pursuit of the good. A virtuous person exhibits all of the virtues, as different aspects of a virtuous life.
Happiness consists in a complete life lived according to virtue. According to Aristotle, happiness consists in achieving all the goods, the best health, knowledge, and friends, that lead to the perfection of human nature and towards the betterment of human life. This requires us to make choices, some of which may be very difficult.Every action aims at the good, and the good which is chosen for its own sake rather than as means to an end is the highest good in pursuit of happiness (Aristotle). An act or choice is morally right if one exercises, exhibits or develops a
morally virtuous character. It is morally wrong to make choice if it is not for a virtuous reason
Essentially, Aristotle argues that virtue is achieved by maintaining the
Mean, which is the balance between two excesses. Often the lesser good promises immediate pleasure and is more tempting, while the greater good is painful and requires some sort of sacrifice this is very similar to what Mill would say. Aristotle claims that nearly everyone would agree that happiness is the end which meets all these requirements. It is pretty straightforward that we desire money, pleasure, and honor only because we believe that these things will make us happy. All things are a means towards obtaining happiness, while happiness is always an end in itself.(Nicomachean)
In Aristotle's “Nicomachean Ethics” , especially in book II he advances an understanding of ethics known as “virtue ethics” Aristotle makes it known that we become morally virtuous through practice. This view makes sense