Essay: Nicomachean Ethics – Aristotle

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  • Subject area(s): Philosophy essays
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  • Published on: January 16, 2020
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  • Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle
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Nicomachean Ethics is a book that was written by Aristotle where he explained his definition and standards of ethics. Moral virtue is something that Aristotle believed you learned through practices. He defines it as “a state of character concerned with choice, and choice is deliberate desire,” and “it is this that is concerned with passions and actions.” Aristotle is saying that moral virtue is the pressure to act in the right way, and he also explains that there are three kinds of conditions present in ones soul: emotions, capacities and characteristics. These three kinds of conditions explain why people react to certain situations in different ways. Moral virtue consists of virtues and vices, vices being bad or inappropriate reactions to a situation. Aristotle believes that every action creates a virtue or a vice, depending on if its a good action or a bad action. Continuing to practice the acts of moral virtue will improve your reactions and eventually form the virtue.
Aristotle discusses many moral virtues in Nicomachean Ethics, all with corresponding vices. One of the virtues that he discusses is courage, which is a topic that applies to most people. Many people are very courageous and do not think twice about the things they do while others are the complete opposite. The vices that align with this are rashness in excess and cowardice on the other end. Another moral virtue he discusses is friendliness. This is a very important moral virtue because many people have a hard time with friendliness. The vices for this moral virtue are flattery with too much friendliness and grouchiness when there is a lack of. Lastly, a moral virtue that also is very important in our society is patience. Many people have short tempers and are not patient enough which causes them to have a lack of spirit. The other vice for patience would be too much patience which would cause irascibility. Moral virtues and the specific vices that align with them are a huge part in Nicomachean Ethics and are very applicable to people in the real world when they are dealing with something.
Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean is all about finding a middle ground between the two vices on the opposite ends of moral virtues. There is no need to try and achieve the extremes. Aristotle emphasizes that we should aim for moderation, if you can find a middle ground that is specific to you. He explains how it can be hard to find the middle ground in most cases because it is different for everyone and his moral virtues tend to lean toward one of the vices. For example, with the moral virtue of courage, it is hard to discover exactly what is the middle between rashness and cowardice when everyone has different views on courage. Courage is a moral virtue because people can change their cowardice or rashness by facing their fears. Also, with friendliness, the vices are flattery and grouchiness but these will vary from person to person. Friendliness is a virtue because it regards the definition in itself; the pressure to act in the right way. Lastly, patience is a moral virtue because it is a way to control and manage our frustrations when something is not right immediately, which is so important because this is a common occurrence.


“Nicomachean Ethics.” Aristotle.

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