people often asking "What have to I do?" when confronted with an honest problem. Aristotle urges us to asking "What sort of human being should i be?"

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Plato, left, and Aristotle, right, as portrayed by Raphael.
While most of us ask “What need to I do?” when we think around ethics, numerous philosophers have approached that by asking, “What kind of human being should i be?” these thinkers regularly turn to virtue ethics for answers. Aristotle, among the most significant philosophers of all time, developed a an extensive system the virtue values that we can learn from even today. 

Why be virtuous?

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle suggest that humans are social, rational animals that seek to “live well.” To that end, he proposed a system of values designed to aid us with eudaimonia, a civilization that means living fine or flourishing. 

Eudaimonia is reached by living virtuously and building up her character traits till you don’t also have come think about your choices before making the appropriate one. 

Such a human will be happy, however not in the same method as a hedonistic person. They will certainly strive for self-improvement and also will live their stays to the fullest. They will be the type of person that others want to it is in like. Above all else, they will certainly flourish.

You are watching: The virtue of courage should enable one to face danger.

What room virtues?

Aristotle watch virtues together character traits and tendencies come act in a certain way. We obtain them through practice and also by copy ‘moral exemplars’ until we regulate to internalize the virtue. We come to be temperate by practicing temperance, courageous through practicing courage, and also so on. Eventually, the virtue i do not care a habit.

He further describes that every virtue is the “golden mean” between a angry of excess and also deficiency. Taking the instance of temperance, if we have the vice of deficiency we will be intemperate yet if us the vice of excess we will never drink at all. Aristotle look at both traits as vicious. The virtuous human will know exactly how much they can drink without having actually too much or teetotaling.


What space Aristotle’s virtues?

The virtues the lists in his Nicomachean principles are:

Courage: The midpoint between cowardice and also recklessness. The courageous human is conscious of the danger however goes in any kind of way.

Temperance: The virtue in between overindulgence and insensitivity. Aristotle would watch the human who never drinks just as harshly together the one that drinks as well much.

Liberality: The virtue that charity, this is the golden mean between miserliness and also giving more than you deserve to afford. 

Magnificence: The virtue of living extravagantly. It rests in between stinginess and vulgarity. Aristotle look at no reason to it is in ascetic but also warns against being flashy.

Magnanimity: The virtue relating to pride, that is the midpoint between not offering yourself enough credit and also having delusions the grandeur. That is a provided that you also have to act on this sense of self-worth and also strive for greatness. 

Patience: This is the virtue that controls your temper. The patient human being must neither acquire too angry nor fail to gain angry once they should.

Truthfulness: The virtue the honesty. Aristotle places it between the vices of habitual lying and being tactless or boastful.

Wittiness: At the midpoint between buffoonery and also boorishness, this is the virtue the a good sense the humor.

Friendliness: While gift friendly can not seem like a ethical virtue, Aristotle claims friendship is a an essential part the a life well lived. This virtue lies between not being friendly in ~ all and being as well friendly in the direction of too many people.

Shame: The midpoint in between being as well shy and being shameless. The person who has actually the right amount of dead will recognize when they have committed a society or moral error however won’t be also fearful not to danger them.

Justice: The virtue of dealing reasonably with others. That lies in between selfishness and selflessness. This virtue can additionally be applied in various situations and also has a entirety chapter dedicated to the various develops it have the right to take. 



Each virtue is the midpoint between a angry of deficiency (red) and also excess (blue). The virtuous human will tend to the center.

Aristotle sees ethics as more of one art than a science, and also his explanations purposely absence specifics. We have to learn what the right method to a situation is as part of our ethical development.

He additionally doesn’t mean to to speak that us can’t break the rules. Just due to the fact that a human is honest, for example, doesn’t mean they can’t lie as soon as they need to. This renders virtue ethics an ext flexible 보다 deontological solution of ethics but likewise harder come use due to the fact that we need to determine as soon as we deserve to lie, gain angry, or be prideful on our own.

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This list seems a little strange

Keep in mind that this perform was designed for upper class, Greek males who had actually a kind education and also a fair amount that luck. The virtue that magnificence,for example, would certainly be difficult for a person of limited means to practice. 

Most of the virtues on the list always have relationship to united state though. As thinker Martha Nusbaum explains, “What does, in every case, is to isolation a round of human experience that figures in more or less any human life, and in which more or less any human being will need to make some selections rather 보다 others.”

We should all face danger at part point, therefore we should ask exactly how to it is in courageous. We must all deal with other people, so we should ask just how to it is in friendly. Us all get angry, therefore we must ask just how to it is in patient. The virtues Aristotle lists continue to be relevant even if the world they were produced for has long vanished.

While the precise nature that what the an excellent life is and how to with it is subject to never-ending debate, the principles of great minds are constantly relevant. While some of Aristotle’s views might not be together relevant currently as they to be 2,000 years ago, they can still inform our efforts to live better lives. While no every human being that tries to live up to the virtues will certainly succeed in every case, wouldn’t we be much better for trying?