Aristotle’s Conception of Virtue




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Aristotle’s Conception of Virtue

The modern life of person today has got so many demands. There is a career to work on and succeed, family to build and good education dreams to pursue. Aristotle has some very thoughts about what makes a life successful and what one needs to consider in order to lead such a life. He outlines some non-negotiable things that must be considered to live a successful life.

According to Ross (2009) some of the things that Aristotle talks about is money and success and it role in leading a successful though he contends that it can only be a means to an end but should not be viewed as main good. Aristotle says that material comfort for a good life but what determines our lives is not the circumstances that one finds themselves in but what he makes of such circumustances.He uses the metaphor of the shoe in talking about life, by saying that a shoemaker makes the most of the leather that he has been given to make shoes.

Aristotle also talks about the role of pleasure in living a successful life but putting much emphasis or living for pleasure only is to lead the life of a cattle. However, he says that moderate bodily life pleasure is good but the much indulgence can lead distraction us from more important pursuits. He also says that good pleasure is one that is about worthwhile activities. In a nutshell to have a successful life one needs to strike a balance as to how they indulge in these pleasures.

Aristotle also says that a one can’t be said to having a good life without having good relationship with others. Friendships is a good ingredient and prerequisite to having a good life though loneliness may also be Important to having a good life because it allows one to pursue some other interests (Ross, 2009)

A perfect mix of these ingredients makes a good life but ultimately what plays the greatest role in having a good life is to develop virtue because this is what makes us different from other animals.

There are two kinds of virtues that govern a human life and they are as follows: moral virtues and intellectual virtues .Moral virtues are developed by habits and not by nature because nature by itself cannot change or make someone to develop a given desirable or undesirable habit. We get habit by exercising them and for instance a builder becomes one by building. It is the moral virtues that are form the basis of our character (Sorabji, 1980)

Aristotle holds that intellectual virtues are important prerequisites for having a good life because this enables us to reason as human beings. Being virtuous is getting the skills needed to handle some of the situations that poses a great danger of being bungled. To get it right one must be able to hit a mean in both our feelings and actions. Excess and deficiency is what we can have if we don’t handle situations with good mean.

To get a good mean we must be able to develop good ideals, learn how to select the appropriate course of action and train ourselves to live in such a way that is appropriate. Aristotle says that the ability to reason that human beings are endowed with makes them special from other creatures and thus we need to develop good virtues that will enable us to make the right decisions.


Sorabji, R. (1980). Necessity, cause, and blame: Perspectives on Aristotle’s theory. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Ross,W.(2009). The Nichomachean ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press

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