Κατηγορίες αρχείου: Ethics

What ethical character is

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That ethical virtue, then, has to do with pleasures and pains is evident. And since ethical character, as its name implies, has its growth from habit, and what is conducted by a conduct not innate is habituated by moving many times in a certain way — this is how it stands what can operate, a case we do not see in inanimate things (for not even if you throw a stone upwards a thousand times will it ever rise upward unless by constraint) — let ethical character be  a quality of soul in accordance with governing reason, a quality belonging to the irrational part of the soul that is capable of following the reason.

What favour is

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Favour seems to be friendship, but is not the same as friendship; for favour occurs both towards strangers and without their knowing it, but not friendship — these have been discussed earlier.  But it is not love either, since it has no intensity or desire, elements that are both present in love. Besides, love involves intimacy, whereas favour may occur all of a sudden, as it is for instance with athletes; for we come to be favourable to them and to share the same wishes, but we would not do anything for helping them; for, as we have said, we come to be favourable suddenly and love them only superficially.

What is the difference between understanding and practical wisdom?

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Understanding or lack of understanding in virtue of which we call men “men of understanding” or “men void of understanding”, are neither entirely the same as scientific knowledge or opinion (for in this case all men would have been men of understanding), nor are they one of the particular sciences, such as medicine concerning the objects of health, or geometry concerning magnitudes; for understanding is concerned neither with what is eternal and unchangeable nor with whatever comes to be, but with things about which one may be puzzled and deliberate. For this reason understanding deals with the same things as practical wisdom but are not the same; for practical wisdom dictates what we ought to do or not to do, which is its end, whereas understanding only judges. For understanding is identical with good understanding (the former implies the later), and men of understanding with men of good understanding.

What courage is and how it stands between cowardice and rashness

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Fear is not the same for all men, but we put down as fearful even something which is beyond human strength. This, then, is fearful to every sensible man; but whatever is within human strength differs both in magnitude and in degree. And similarly with things that are fearless. But the courageous man is undaunted in so far as he is a man. However, he as well will fear things that are terrible and within human strength, but he will endure them for the sake of what is noble, as reason prescribes and in the right way — for this is the end at which virtue aims. And it is possible for one to be afraid of these things in a more or less degree, and even things that are not terrible as if they were. Mistakes happen some because we are afraid of what we ought not, others because not as we ought to, others because not at the time we ought to, or the like. And similarly with what is fearless. Hence he who fears and endures the things he ought to, for the right purpose, as he ought to and at the time he ought to, as well as the one who dares accordingly, is a courageous man; for the courageous man feels and acts in as much as merit requires and reason prescribes. Moreover, the end of every activity is in correspondence with the analogous state. And for such a man courage is noble. Therefore the end is noble too; for it is because of the end that each thing is defined. Hence the courageous man endures and acts deeds concerned with courage for the sake of what is noble.

What choice is and how it stands with respect to the voluntary

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Choice, then, seems to be identical with the voluntary, though it is not the same, since the latter is wider; for both children and the other animals partake in it, but not in choice, and things done suddenly are thought to be voluntary, but not chosen. Again, those who say it is desire or temper or wish or a kind of opinion do not seem to speak rightly. For choice is not common to irrational creatures as well — desire and temper are. And the incontinent man acts with desire, not with choice; on the contrary, the continent man acts reversely, with choice not with desire. Again, desire is opposed to choice, but not to another desire. Also, desire has to do with pleasant and painful, whereas choice neither with painful nor with pleasant.

Still less has to do with temper; for things done through temper are least connected with choice. Nor yet is choice wish, though it seems much close to; for choice is not present in the sphere of the impossible, and if anyone were to say he chose one he would be thought silly. However, we do wish for things that are impossible, e.g. for immortality. And choice is also present in things that are in no way capable of being brought about by us, e.g. to win a particular actor or athlete; but no one chooses such things, but those that he thinks could be done through him. Furthermore, wish is related to the final end, whereas choice to those that contribute to the end, e.g. we wish to be healthy, buy we choose whatever will make us healthy; and we wish to be happy and we say we do, but it is not proper to say we choose to be happy; for, in general, choice has to do with the things that are in our own power.

Is courage teachable or natural?

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Again, Socrates being asked whether courage is something teachable or natural, “I think,” said he, “just as a body is by nature more resistant to pain than another body, so, too, one soul to another soul comes by nature stronger with regard to misfortune; for I see that there is too much difference among those who are brought up by the same law and under the same customs. On the other hand, however, I do believe that every nature gets much improvement in daring by learning and studying. For clearly the Scythians and Thracians do not wish to fight against Lacedaemonians with shields and spears, nor do the Lacedaemonians wish to conflict with the Thracians using small shields and javelins, neither with the Scythians using bows. Whence it follows that clearly in matters one wishes to become notable, these one should both learn and study”.

The various kinds of courage

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There are five kinds of courage that are called by a resemblance; for those who are well-known for their courage endure the same things but not for the same reasons. One of course is political courage; this exists on account of shame. Second is military courage; this is due to experience and knowledge, not as Socrates said the knowledge of what is awesome, but as to how they are to protect themselves from what is awesome. Third that which is due to inexperience and ignorance, which make children endure what is rumored and madmen grasp snakes. Another is because of hope, by virtue of which the extremely fortunate endure dangers as well as those who are intoxicated, since wine makes them hopeful. Another is that which comes from an irrational passive emotion, such as love or passion. For a man in love is rather over-bold than coward, and endures many dangers. The same account holds good both for wrath and for passion; for passion provokes confusion. That is why wild boars are thought to be courageous, though they are not; for they become so when misbehaved, otherwise they have changeable temper, like over-bold men. None the less the most courage is that of passion; for passion is undefeatable, and this is the reason why the young fight extremely well. Political courage is due to law. However, none of these is real, but all these are useful for encouragement and strengthening in case of danger.

What happiness is

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All goods, then, are either without or within the soul, and of these those in the soul are preferable, just as we distinguish them in the external courses; for wisdom, virtue, and pleasure are in the soul, and some or all of these are generally admitted to be the end pursued. Now of things exist in the soul, some are states or faculties, others activities and changes.

Let these, then, be assumed in this way; and as to virtue, that it is the best disposition or state or faculty concerned with anything of which there is a using or work. This is clear from induction, since we assume the same in every case. For example, we speak of perfection (virtue) in a cloak; for there is both a certain work and a certain using, and its best state is its perfection (virtue). The same holds good for a ship, a house or other things also. Therefore, for the soul too; for there is some work which belong to it. Let the work, then, be better when the state in which the thing resides is better, and as the states stand in relation to one another so do their works. And each thing’s work is its end. So it is clear from these that the work is better than the state; for the end as being an end is the best, since we took as end that which is best and ultimate, for the sake of which all the others exist.

The difference between chastisement and punishment

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Chastisement occurs for the sake of the person punished (the one that is subjected to it), whereas punishment for that of the punisher (he who imposes it). For chastisement is said of the former because it prevents his irrational impulse, while punishment is said of the latter in that he will be satisfied. It is because he wishes to fulfill his desire to distress reciprocally the person that had formerly enraged him that he punishes, since wrath is a desire with regret for conspicuous punishment on account of a conspicuous and unbecoming contempt towards what concerns oneself or towards what concerns one’s friends. Therefore, the father and teacher mostly chastise while the lord and law punish.

The difference between love and friendship

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If people are asked today “What is more important love or friendship?”, most of them reply “love”, defining it as a selfless feeling and intense interest in someone or something, friendly mood, affection, devotion, passion and erotic desire, or even as aim and the supreme good; whereas friendship as a mutual devotion and understanding without erotic desire that unites two or more unrelated persons.

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