The Ethical Theories of Aristotle
I believe that some of the basics of his ideas still hold true today. This essay points out some of those ideas. It was Aristotle’s belief that everything, including humans, had a telos or goal in life. The end result or goal was said to be happiness or “eudaimonia”. He explained that eudaimonia was different for each person, and that each had a different idea of what it meant. Further, he said that people must do things in moderation, but at the same time do enough.
He took a more empirical approach than Plato did, looking to study philosophy in relation to the natural world. The topics of his texts vary, and include physics, biology and zoology in this respect; on the other hand, he also disserted on logic, aesthetics and politics. As he took a more particular approach than Plato did, he looked for the correct way for men to lead their practical lives, being the first to write a text about ethics, a discipline that he believed was not theoretical in nature. Happiness was achieved by practical execution, which would optimally, but not necessarily, be optimized by a proper philosophical inquiry.
In Kant’s view, it is meaningless to look at sin in this way. Desire can be excessive, and desire can be inadequate, but the guidelines cannot be so. One cannot possibly overdo it when following its guidelines. From Kant’s point of view, distinguishing virtue from sin is not the degree to which one adheres to a certain criterion, but the nature of the norm that one follows. This can be illustrated by greedy examples. What makes greed a sin is that greedy people set pure wealth possession as the ultimate goal and make it a thing that seems to be a principle. In Kant’s view, the factor that distinguishes virtue from self-control is that virtue is based on the principle of “inner freedom”, that is, based on a moral principle chosen by the actor freely. Therefore, whether it is self-control based on purely tactful considerations or self-control by simple habits that do not require the use of principles, it cannot be regarded as a virtue in the sense of Kant. As Kant said, “Because this habit comes from the principles of deliberation, unwavering and constant purity, this habit will be like any other rational mechanism of mechanical practice, and it is impossible for all situations. There is no loss, and there is no guarantee that we will win the battle when we resist the many changes caused by the new temptation.” (Allison, 2010).
Hence, moderation of actions enables one to achieve moral virtues, though it is hard to determine what are the actions, and the extent of exercising them.
Liang, S. (2014). Zhong guo wen hua yao yi. Wuhu: An hui shi fan da xue chu ban she.
Joachim, H. and Rees, D. (1985). Aristotle, the Nicomachean ethics. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Allison, H. (2010). Kant’s theory of taste. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
MacIntyre, A. (2006). Ethics and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.