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Virtues and Vices

Virtues and Vices

(p.68) 3 Virtues and Vices
Aristotle's Dialogue with Socrates
University of Chicago Press

According to the ergon argument of Book I of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, the distinctive human function is “some practice (praktikē) of that which has logos”, hence the virtue that enables one to perform it well should be phronēsis. In Book II, the original conception of virtue—as a disposition aiming at a mean determined by logos as the phronimos would determine it—was replaced by a plurality of virtues, each understood to constitute, in regard to some particular passion, a mean state between two extreme states, which count as vices. The manifold of passions, which together make up the desiring part of the soul, is the source of that manifold of virtues and vices that now furnishes the subject matter of Books III and IV. The seemingly casual selection of virtuous dispositions, which covers such a broad range in Ethics III and IV, stands out by contrast with the standard set of four virtues that typically appear in the Platonic dialogues: liberality, magnificence, courage, and moderation.

Keywords:   Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, virtue, vices, soul, passion, liberality, magnificence, courage, moderation

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