Aristotle vs. Plato - Essay 2

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In many ways, Aristotle expresses views that are similar to many of my own, most obviously his focus on the value of common sense and the importance of self-control. I personally believe that common sense and just behavior are both traits that we should strive for, much like Aristotle believed. In the pursuit of compassionate and morally just living, we can find a purpose in life, regardless of our religion or upbringing. Plato believed that virtue was “universal and absolute” (Hunt et al., 90), a belief that I disagree with. Moral behavior and virtuous intentions are choices, and not every person makes the effort to see their importance. It is important to note that different cultures have different concepts of what is right and what is wrong, which suggests that ethics are individual to every person. There are certainly common values that are shared almost all across civilization, like the opposition to the murder of innocents. But many ethical “rules” that we believe here in America to be absolute are not shared by some other cultures. We believe that incest is morally wrong and unnatural. Yet in many countries for many years, it was viewed an appropriate behavior, even desired behavior to ensure the purity of royal lineage. The conclusion I draw from this is that virtue may be considered largely subjective. Common sense can be a deciding factor on what is thought of as ethical behavior. Rape causes emotional and often physical pain. We know from experience that pain is extremely undesirable and usually the result of something going wrong with our body. Rape causes pain; therefore rape is wrong. Obviously, this is an extremely simplified example, but it hopefully gets across the general direction of my point. Because we dislike pain, we find the imposition of it onto another person – in any form – unethical. In this week’s lecture, it was mentioned that Plato and Aristotle disagreed on the validity and purpose of art and poetry. Plato felt that they were just...
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