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Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics

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1 Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics
BC Virtue=Happiness The purpose for which man was created.

2 Virtue Ethics Strength of character (habit) promotes human happiness
Defined as the ability to choose long term happiness over short term pleasure. The habit of being in control and seeking balance. Aristotle

3 Teleology Aristotle maintained that all things in nature have a goal or purpose for which they strive. Acorns are meant to be trees-Eyes are meant for seeing. He called this goal the “final cause” or “Telos”

4 The Goal of Human Beings
Happiness is the goal of human life (telos). It is always the ultimate reason why any person does what he/she does. It is the only thing we seek for its own sake. Happiness has subjective and objective elements:

5 Subjective and Objective Happiness
Subjective Happiness: varies from person to person: fishing may relax some and bore others. Objective: Living a virtuous life leads all humans to happiness because of the way humans are built. Those with no virtue may believe for a time that they are happy because they are ignorant of true happiness.

6 Arguments for objective element of human nature
Believing that one is happy is not sufficient proof of ones happiness. Some who are immature or diseased lack the proper perspective on happiness and crave what will ultimately lead to misery: Like an addict craves drugs. People crave things because they think it will bring happiness (money, power, perfect mate)

7 Aristotle’s theory is the opposite of relative truth
All human’s share the same basic nature and fundamentally require the same things for true happiness. It would be dishonest not to acknowledge the extent to which most human cultures share the same basic codes of moral conduct.

8 Aristotle on Character
People have a set character: “A fairly stable sets of attitudes, opinions and dispositions that result in fairly stable patterns or ways of acting and reacting.” Leads us to ask: How is character formed? How can we improve character?

9 The Parts of a Human Being:
Rational and Non-rational Non-rational includes both Appetitive and Vegetative. Appetitive: Desires and emotions Vegetative: controls involuntary functions like breathing and digestion

10 Rational: Rational: thinks and deliberates. Knows right from wrong. Distinguishes humans from animals. A person’s character is determined by the relationship between the rational and appetitive parts. The rational brings the appetitive under control with discipline and the formation of good habits.

11 We can form our character:
Practice makes permanent! When we are controlled by our appetites: anger, sexual desire, self indulgence, vanity, cowardice, laziness-we lack reason and virtue. We become virtuous by practice and repetition of virtue-by controlling our appetite with reason and self-control.

12 Freedom from sin Being in control of our appetites allows us to seek long term happiness over short term pleasure. This freedom from our passions leads to a happy life because we are in control. This is what Jesus call freedom from sin and leads to freedom from the law or need for the law.

13 Four Major Characters Virtuous-Has created habits of doing what is right. Being virtuous comes naturally because of habit. Continent-Knows right from wrong, but struggles against bad habits to be virtuous. Incontinent-Knows right from wrong, but is too weak to do what is right. Vicious-So corrupted that the rational part is no longer able to tell right from wrong. Hopeless case.

14 Wicked people Are probably friendless but forced to seek friends because they cannot stand to be alone. They cannot enjoy themselves and live in aguish and turmoil. Their soul wishes for them to abstain from vice, but their appetites are out of proportion and they experience the emotional and psychological pain of withdrawal if they do not practice their vice!

15 Virtuous People Are in control of their passions.
They have learned the pleasure of helping others and not being controlled by their passions. They have balance in their life: Cowardice—Courage—Foolhardy Pride—Proper humility—Self-hatred Seek the opposite to find a balance!

16 The bent stick remedy People who are out of proportion need to bend all the way back in the opposite direction before they straighten out. -People who are vain should try for extreme humility to find a balance. -People who spend extravagantly should try to be miserly. Why: People out of balance are usually unable to judge balance.

17 Psychology of Virtue Ethics
Becoming virtuous=doing virtuous things Doing virtuous things=liking one’s self Liking one’s self=happiness

18 Catholic Virtue Ethics
Life is a journey towards perfect love. Focus should be on increasing virtues and decreasing vice. Plant an act…reap a habit. Plant a habit…reap a virtue or vice. Plant a virtue or vice…reap a character. Plant a character…reap a destiny

19 Seven Deadly Sins and Contrasting Virtues
Pride Humility Anger Kindness Greed Generosity Envy Love Gluttony Temperance Lust Self-Control Sloth Zeal

20 Advice from Aristotle Know Yourself: Which of the seven deadly sins cause you the most trouble? What situations will cause you to fail? Beware of instant pleasure—seek long-term happiness. Remember the bent stick remedy!

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