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Plato Vs Aristotle

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Chaoying Zhuang                                                                                                     ZHUANG 1


Phil 120W

Mar 1st 2017

What is the nature of “virtue” according to Plato and Aristotle? Do their views agree or disagree? Defend your interpretation on the basis of textual evidence.


                The definition of virtue has been a topic discussed thoroughly since the beginning of humanity. Questions such as: “What is virtue? Or can virtue be taught” have long been discussed and debated by philosophers around the world. During the ancient Greek period, the meaning of “virtue” means differently in terms of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle

In Aristotle’s opinion, the pursuit of happiness should be one’s ultimate life purpose, and happiness is one of the results of being virtuous. Happiness, or eudemonism is part of Aristotle’s definition of virtue. A virtuous person will always be happy and have a fulfilled life because he is able to do the right thing at the right time. Being virtuous means to accomplish tasks elegantly and behave appropriately, and this will help an individual win respect from others. After receiving compliments from others, this individual will be forever happy spiritually. According to Aristotle, there are two types of virtue: moral and intellectual. A perfect virtuous man will need to balance between moral virtue and intellectual virtue impeccably. Moral virtue gives one a correct aim, and intellectual virtue helps one to come up with an appropriate method to approach his aim.

People always behave in a way that can make them happy, and a man who has moral virtue will know what is correct and what is wrong. With a correct judgment, he therefore can

demonstrate a perfect balance of emotion and attitude. With this being said, it is imperative for an individual to practice using his correct judgment, and this links towards the next essential part of Aristotle’s understanding of virtue, habit. It is difficult for a man to pretend


himself to be virtuous because virtue requires one to have a proper demeanor consistently all the time. Moral virtue only ensures a correct starting point; however, a correct approach requires intellectual virtue. It is difficult to have two types of virtue every single time; therefore, to become virtuous requires practice; a person can only be called virtuous when it becomes a habit. To be noticed, a happy person is not always virtuous, yet a virtuous person is always happy. This is because some forms of happiness come from immoral behaviors. Real happiness comes from compliments.

Aristotle also comments that virtue is coming from the demand of society and city. A person cannot be born with virtue, and virtue is something that a person will acquire after tedious practice. Different societies have different understandings of virtue. Without regulation from society, it is no longer necessary for a person to be virtuous. An individual can only be considered as virtuous if his behaviors are approved by his society. Aristotle recommends that standards of virtuous behaviors should be a part of the law. Aristotle comments that justice is the source of virtue. Justice ensures that the idea of virtue can be fairly applied to every citizen.

Plato is one of Socrates’s students, and his philosophical opinion is heavily impacted by Socrates. His moral theory is based on man achieving his highest good. One of his most famous theories of virtue is that virtue is knowledge. In Plato’s opinion, when a person is

facing many options, he will always choose the one that he thinks is most beneficial to him. If a person has the knowledge of the good, then he will certainly make a good decision. Plato believes that a certain behavior can only be considered “good” if it brings benefits to every person in society. A person will be virtuous if he understands the knowledge of the good. Plato also comments that virtue can be taught because it is a form of knowledge. Moreover, the knowledge of virtue will not change no matter what happens. It teaches people how to



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