Aristotle and Virtue

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Aristotle believes that we need virtue, both of thought and of character, to achieve that completeness leading to happiness. This is the function: activity in the soul in accord with virtue, where soul is defined as what is in us that carries out our characteristic activity. Aristotle is right in believing we need virtue.

The end of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Book I introduces the idea that since happiness is “a certain sort of activity of the soul in accord with complete virtue, we must examine virtue,” because doing so will allow us to closer analyze and understand how to study happiness. He goes on to identify two areas: virtues of thought and virtues of character. I believe the philosopher is right when he thinks that a good life requires harnessing both kinds of virtues.

Virtues of thought are simpler to identify, as they include excellence in problem solving skills, abstract and rational thought, mathematics and the like. Virtues of character, which are also called ‘moral virtues’, seem to be more complex and are also an integral part of the completeness that Aristotle said was necessary for a good life. Some examples of these virtues are generosity and patience. Virtues of character are definitely good for the possessor as Aristotle states in chapter 6, “having these feelings at the right times, about the right things, toward the right people, for the right end, and in the right way, is the intermediate and best condition, and this is the proper virtue.” Finding that mean or middle ground, that balance or yin and yang, is essential to establishing a completeness which ultimately lead to happiness.

One problem may be actually the path to virtue. The idea of pleasure without pain is not realistic in the mortal world. Everything on this plane is relative. Take, for example, two dogs: Dog A lives on the street and has all of his life. He has to find himself food everyday in alleys and has to deal with the weather. This life is...
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