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Introduction

What
signifies a noble, valuable and satisfying life? Aristotle agrees that the best
life comes with the implementation of ideas of “virtue”.  By definition, Aristotle states that virtue
entails the act of attaining excellence and having the ability to know good and
righteousness and act on them (Foot, 2002). That virtue is a
state of character that is helpful in achieving a satisfactory and happy life,
which according to Aristotle is a life with reason.

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Doctrine
of the mean

The
mean between two extremes could be explained as a balance between two opposing thoughts.
Is virtue a mean that is intended to end up with an intermediate decision
between good and bad?   For example of courage which is a balance
between being a coward and becoming reckless. Some could consider a coward to
be a warrior who runs away from the battlefield while a reckless warrior being
on one who attacks alone 100 enemy soldiers. On the aspect traits like courage
are considered a moral virtue that leads to a good life, but on the extreme
side, there are vices that are considered unrighteous for example being greedy,
insensitive or murder.

            Aristotle
explains the concept further by pointing out that there is no universal measure
of the mean. Aristotle says that “mean between two extremes “does not signify
arithmetic mean but it is all dependant on the circumstances (Barnes,
2014).
Giving an example of being angry at the right time for the right reason and
with the right intensity should be brilliant. Does this show that
“mean” only applies to virtues and not the vices? There have been
some cases of murder where one could be justified to say it was self-defense
depending on the ethical system. Aristotle view of the mean involves having the
ability to act in an intermediate way without too much or too little but just as
the situation demands.

Example
of virtues

Aristotle
categorizes virtue as a habit that is intended to act in a certain way.  Virtue can be learned through a repeated
action of these habits in order to acquire relative intermediate
state.Aristotle gives examples of virtuous habits that are the in-between
action that could be considered in excess or deficiency (Foot,
2002).
The examples courage is associated with the response to fear, danger or pain. It
involves the lack of cowardice and excess of rashness. The second example is
temperance which is associated with inadequacy of insensibility and having too
much intemperance.

The
third example of virtue is Justice which according to Aristotle, it is an
important social virtue that entirely discusses the interest of an individual
and the society at large. It encompasses fairness and obedience to the law. Distributive
justice involves the equal distribution of resources which in some case it can
be unfair while moral justice explains the aspect of committing injustice and
facing the consequences (Pomerleau, 1997). Unlike the
other examples, Justice is related to two identical extreme ends that can be
referred to as injustice. The final example is practical wisdom. This helps
human being know what is right or wrong. Apart from moral virtue, a person
requires both emotional and intellectual intelligence. It is intended to
question individual passion or action. Aristotle writes that virtue is a skill
aimed at making a balanced choice between extreme mean relative to an
individual.

Conclusion

Virtues
are acquired habits through repeated practice and not a natural born talent. Aristotle
concludes that virtue is only learned through habituation. Human being becomes
what they repeatedly do. In order to achieve the ultimate goal of life, a human
being must employ rational reasoning originating from individual soul and character.  The ability to control one’s thoughts depend
on the individual moral virtues which are intermediates between deficiency and
excess. According to Aristotle, one must also have the intellectual capacity to
make balanced choices between right and wrong in order to have a virtuous
living.

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