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.

Let us now state what it is in respect of which an ethical character is a quality of soul. It is in respect of the faculties of affections in virtue of which we are said to be affected and in respect of the states in virtue of which this is said of the affections by being affected in a way or being unaffected that it is a quality of the soul.

By affections I mean things like anger, fear, shame, desire, and in general those to which the feeling of pleasure or pain in and by themselves most follows. And by this view it is not a quality, but being the matter approached with regard to the faculties it is. By faculties I mean these in virtue of which one is said to operate by affection such as the bad-tempted, the callous, the erotic, the bashful, and the shameless man. By states I mean those which are the causes of affections’ being in accordance with reason (i.e. moderately) or the reverse (i.e. immoderately) such as bravery, temperance, cowardice, licentiousness.

Bibliography: Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics (1220a.38 to 1220b.20) 
Translation: George Kotsalis

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