The Development of a Moral Character
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Published: Tue, 09 Jan 2018
A Virtuous Moral Character
The development of a moral character is an intellectual topic that has been argued for many years. Many philosophers have argued the point of their existence with the perplexity of this subject. This has allowed the philosophers to approach this topic in various ways. These philosophers are Aristotle (in the Nicomachean Ethics), Confucius (in Analects) and Plato (in Apology, Phaedo). To analyze these philosophers critically, it is important to evaluate their perspective arguments and what they are trying to say. After initializing compare and contrast of these philosophers, we will be in the position of establishing up to what they agree or disagree regarding the development of a moral character.
A moral character is defined as an idea in which one is unique and can be distinguished from others. Perhaps it can assemble qualities and traits that are different from various individuals. It implies to how individuals act, or how they express themselves. In another words, it is “human excellence,” or unique thoughts of a character. When the concept of virtue is spoken, this would emphasize the distinctiveness or specialty, but it all involves the combination of qualities that make an individual the way he or she is. Based on this definition, the insight of a moral character can be viewed differently. Although these philosophers diverge with their arguments, they in some sense have similarities. These similarities will show how the matter of a character is important and crucial to the human nature.
Nicomachean Ethnics is a remarkable work written in 350 B.C by Aristotle. His work was focused on the importance of development and behavior among virtuous characters. Aristotle clarified the importance of ethnical behavior, and how actions play a role in which an individual performs. “Eudaimonia,” is relative to the how a moral character develops. It is an end in itself. Aristotle argued that it was known as a goal of a healthy life.
Aristotle is among the philosophers whom gave a great insight of a virtuous character. He states, “Excellence [of character], then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, which depends on excess and that which depend on defect.” A character is a state, whereas, the actions determine the way the person acts. A virtuous character is not a feeling or mere tendency to behave in a certain way. Aristotle makes an argument about different virtues. Virtues relate to the feelings and actions from each individual. For example, the virtue of a relaxed person may be clarified with bad temper. Furthermore, Aristotle argued that people get angry at certain things and redundantly stepping up to what he or she thinks is right. On the other hand, as Aristotle states, the deficient of this character is harsh and unacceptable. Regardless of any situation, it is inappropriate to become angry when it is not worth it. If doing so, the again indicates a deficient non-virtuous moral character. Aristotle also refers to any non-virtuous person by inner doubt and predicaments. Even though the person may be single-minded or thoughtless, he or she must be able to look out for companions to forgive their actions. Aristotle argues that these vicious people are not able to believe in themselves. On the other hand, virtuous individuals, gain pleasure in their actions. “For in speaking about a man’s character we do not say that he is wise or has understanding but that he is good-tempered or temperate yet we praise the wise man also with respect to his fate of mind; and of states of mind we call those which merit praise virtues.” (Nicomachean Ethics 13).
Aristotle’s positions seems to conflict with Plato’s philosophy. Plato will later argued that incontinence occurs when a person’s desires move him to progress or act in the way that he or she wants to perform. However, we will discuss this later on.
Confucius is another prominent figure that has been relative to the modern development of a moral character. Confucius spends many years thinking about the concepts of human kindness and the development of a character. His teachings were basically full of ethnics on human behaviors. He spoke more on the kindness of human rather than spiritual concepts. While concentrating on his ethics, Confucius was famous for insisting things with a name. In another words, Confucius argued that things must be clear to one’s mind in order to function properly in an environment. The Analects written by Confucius notes the notions of virtue and the righteous of human kindness and the way to successful humanity. In XV.8 of the Analects, Confucius states, “The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of humanity. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their humanity. “Confucius argues that the life of an indiviudal is to protect one’s virtue. The acts of that individual must be preserved to act to the good. Another saying that substantiate Confucius argument is IV.25 (Eastern), it states, “Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors.” However, in the western philosophical view, Aristotle argues that the view of virtuous activity reveals how the person contributes to a great life. Actions are important when one live peacefully with another. For example, patriotism comes into mind when it comes to America. Over the years, soldiers have been remembered for their heroism. Therefore, the soldiers are fighting for what they believe to be their honor, yet they are putting his or her life in danger.
Confucius continues to seek for knowledge. He seems to be very petty, clannish, and small-minded. Furthermore, he can be worldly, studious and humane. This can be consistent with Plato’s views. Most societies and culture strives for goodness, and leaders have his or her basic commonalities for personal behavior, which can be seen in VI. 28. This saying compares to Socrates. Confucius, too, wants to spread the wisdom to everyone. He wants everyone to be well, not just himself.
Lastly, another prominent figure in the world of philosophy is Plato. Plato’s writings such as Apology demonstrate dramatic accounts of the events leading to his death, as well as illustrating matters of concerns, ethical living, and clarity of thought and expression.
“Apology” means “legal defense of trial.” Plato offers to discuss about the defense of philosophy as a way of life. A soul is part of a life, whereas, the soul determines the things we do everyday. Phaedo illustrates important arguments for personal immortality. In Phaedo, Plato argued that the soul is “something”, rather than a sense of “harmony.” Unlike harmony, the soul exists, which is more active than others. Souls are more virtuous, which harmony does not pertain to. Soul pre-exists which harmony does not. On the other hand, if soul is in a group of harmony, all souls would be too, which is not possible. Therefore, soul is a sort of material, which is much enhanced than harmony. Another argument that Plato makes can be seen in the “Republic.” He argued that the soul is divided in three parts, and each part is a kind of desire. Respectively, these desires are rational, appetitive, or spirited. To be virtuous one must understand what is the beneficial. He or she must have the spirited desires to be educated properly, which will eventually lead to the protection from the soul. Plato illustrates the education of the soul in Books II and III. Importantly, a virtuous individual learns to live by a better environment when he is young, and moves on to create virtuous behaviors. His actions are developed while he is growing and learns why the thing he is doing is good. Once he has learned the good, then he would understand why his actions were virtuous. Looking back at Plato’s arguments, he argues that virtue simply indicates one to act in different ways.
These philosophers disagree about having the correct motives. They are different in which the virtuous traits of a character differ from their desires and emotions. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle argued that the cognitive and affective states were important. .
These philosophers agree that happiness links to virtue. They suggested everyone who is happy is one who is brave, restraint, and understanding. However, it is difficult to understand.
Plato and Aristotle both agree that a positive moral character involves more than a Socrates’ understanding of the superior. Both agree that it is important to have harmony between the cognitive and the affective materials from a person.
These philosophers have several comparisons. They agree that the good life of a human involves nature. Human beings look to the development of individual powers. Furthermore, they agree that human good involves corrective actions, and a person can guide his actions by the right decision, no matter of any obstacles ahead.
After analyzing these philosophers and their arguments, I have concluded that Aristotle has the more compelling description for developing a moral character. Aristotle develops a greater in-depth argument for his points. He substantiates his points with passion and beauty. However, it requires strong concentration and a deeper understanding of what he is trying to say. In my opinion, I find Aristotle to be clearer, and more challenging. I also find that the more modern teachings of Aristotle to be more understanding than those of the Eastern teachings. Perhaps, these involve various concepts when Western teachings are involved. Aristotle contribute greatly to the many topics of philosophy, hence, his arguments are reliable which can be related to our daily lives.
In summary, these philosophers provided intellectual arguments against the various ways of developing a virtuous character. Aristotle took his stand to argue that the actions contribute greatly to the way a character is. Prior to that, he clarifies how individuals act the way they speak or behave. Confucius in Analects exemplified the concept of how the environment acts upon the way the person interacts. Lastly, Plato illustrated the soul as a lead to the characters desires and wants. As part of examining our lives within these philosophies, I have come to the conclusion that Aristotle developed a greater and more apprehensive prescription of developing a virtuous moral character.
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