An examination and explanation of function and virtue in life according to aristotle

Preliminaries Aristotle wrote two ethical treatises: In any case, these two works cover more or less the same ground: Both treatises examine the conditions in which praise or blame are appropriate, and the nature of pleasure and friendship; near the end of each work, we find a brief discussion of the proper relationship between human beings and the divine. Though the general point of view expressed in each work is the same, there are many subtle differences in organization and content as well.

An examination and explanation of function and virtue in life according to aristotle

Preliminaries If ethics is widely regarded as the most accessible branch of philosophy, it is so because many of its presuppositions are self-evident or trivial truths: At least for secularists, the attainment of these overall aims is thought to be a condition or prerequisite for a good life.

What we regard as a life worth living depends on the notion we have of our own nature and of the conditions of its fulfillment.

An examination and explanation of function and virtue in life according to aristotle

This, in turn, is determined, at least in part, by the values and standards of the society we live in. The attainment of these ends can also depend at least in part on external factors, such as health, material prosperity, social status, and even on good looks or sheer luck.

Although these presuppositions may appear to be self-evident, most of the time, human beings are aware of them only implicitly, because many individuals simply lead their lives in accordance with pre-established standards and values that are, under normal circumstances, not objects of reflection.

The historical Socrates was, of course, not the first to question the Greek way of life. Nevertheless, Plato continued to present his investigations as dialogues between Socrates and some partner or partners. And Plato preserved the dialogical form even in those of his late works where Socrates is replaced by a stand-in and where the didactic nature of the presentations is hard to reconcile with the pretense of live discussion.

But these didactic discourses continue to combine questions of ethical, political, social, or psychological importance with metaphysical, methodological and epistemological considerations, and it can be just as hard to assess the extent to which Plato agrees with the pronouncements of his speakers, as it is when the speaker is Socrates.

Furthermore, the fact that a certain problem or its solution is not mentioned in a dialogue does not mean that Plato was unaware of it. There is, therefore, no certainty concerning the question: It stands to reason, however, that he started with the short dialogues that question traditional virtues — courage, justice, moderation, piety.

It also stands to reason that Plato gradually widened the scope of his investigations, by reflecting not only on the social and political conditions of morality, but also on the logical, epistemological, and metaphysical presuppositions of a successful moral theory.

These theoretical reflections often take on a life of their own. The Parmenides, the Theaetetus, and the Sophist deal primarily or exclusively with epistemological and metaphysical problems of a quite general nature.

Nevertheless, as witnessed by the Philebus, the Statesman, the Timaeus, and the Laws, Plato never lost interest in the question of what conditions are necessary for a good human life. Socrates explores the individual virtues through a discussion with persons who are either representatives of, or claim to be experts on, that virtue.

Xenophon Memorabilia I, 10; In the Laches, he discusses courage with two renowned generals of the Peloponnesian war, Laches and Nicias. Similarly, in the Charmides Socrates addresses—somewhat ironically—the nature of moderation with the two of the Thirty Tyrants, namely the then very young Charmides, an alleged model of modesty, and his guardian and intellectual mentor, Critias.

And in the Gorgias Socrates discusses the nature of rhetoric and its relation to virtue with the most prominent teacher of rhetoric among the sophists.

Finally, in the Meno the question how virtue is acquired is raised by Meno, a disciple of Gorgias, and an ambitious seeker of power, wealth, and fame.

Nor is such confidence unreasonable. These flaws vary greatly in kind and gravity: Socrates shows that enumerations of examples are not sufficient to capture the nature of the thing in question.

Definitions that consist in the replacement of a given concept with a synonym are open to the same objections as the original definition. Definitions may be hopelessly vague or miss the mark entirely, which is to say that they may be either too wide, and include unwanted characteristics or subsets, or too narrow, and exclude essential characteristics.

Moreover, definitions may be incomplete because the object in question does not constitute a unitary phenomenon. Given that the focus in the early dialogues is almost entirely on the exposure of flaws and inconsistencies, one cannot help wondering whether Plato himself knew the answers to his queries, and had some cards up his sleeve that he chose not to play for the time being.

This would presuppose that Plato had not only a clear notion of the nature of the different virtues, but also a positive conception of the good life as such.

Since Plato was neither a moral nihilist nor a sceptic, he cannot have regarded moral perplexity aporia as the ultimate end, nor regarded continued mutual examination, Socratico more, as a way of life for everyone.

Perplexity, as is argued in the Meno, is just a wholesome intermediary stage on the way to knowledge Me.

But if Plato assumes that the convictions that survive Socratic questioning will eventually coalesce into an account of the good life, then he keeps this expectation to himself. There is no guarantee that only false convictions are discarded in a Socratic investigation, while true ones are retained.

For, promising suggestions are often as mercilessly discarded as their less promising brethren. It is therefore a matter of conjecture whether Plato himself held any positive views while he composed one aporetic dialogue after the other.

He may have regarded his investigations as experimental stages, or have seen each dialogue as an element in a network of approaches that he hoped to eventually integrate.Socratic Ignorance.

He among you is the wisest who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is really worth nothing at all. (Apology 23b, tr.

Church, rev. Cumming) - That the wisest of you men is he who like Socrates has learned that with respect to wisdom, he is truly worthless.(tr. Tredennick) - He, O men, is the wisest who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. Aristotle was the world's foremost multidisciplinary professor, an inspiration to those of us in the twenty-first century who seek to cross disciplines to improve cognitive performance and seek greater understanding of the world.

Education for Plato was one of the great things of life. Education was an attempt to touch the evil at its source, and reform the wrong ways of living as well as one’s outlook towards life.

According to Barker, education is an attempt to cure a me. A History of Muslim Philosophy Part 4. The Middle-Roaders Chapter XXX AL-GHAZ ĀLĪTable of Contents: Metaphysics. Life. Method.

Attack on the Philosophers. Aristotle: Politics. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle ( B.C.E.) describes the happy life intended for man by nature as one lived in accordance with virtue, and, in his Politics, he describes the role that politics and the political community must play in bringing about the virtuous life in the citizenry.

The Politics also provides analysis of the kinds of political community that.

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An Examination of Aristotle's Ethics by Michael Huemer. On to Aristotle's definition of virtue, for it does seem as if his doctrine of the mean purports to define virtue. for man, therefore, the life according to reason is best and pleasantest, since reason more than anything else is man.

This life therefore is also the happiest.

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