NE II - Nicomachean Ethics II Virtue and the Golden Mean...

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Nicomachean Ethics II: Virtue and the Golden Mean formal definition of “virtue.” Aristotle first attempts to determine its genus (the general type to which it belongs). There are, he says, three kinds of condition present in the soul: 1. emotions ( pathe , lit. “passions”) – states of soul accompanied by pleasure or pain, such as anger, fear, envy, pity, etc. 2. capacities ( dunameis ) – states of soul by which one is capable of experiencing an emotion, e.g., the capacity for anger. 3. characteristics ( hexeis ) – states of soul which determine when one feels an emotion, e.g., the tendency a person has to grow angry under certain conditions and not others. Of these three, which type of state of soul is a virtue? It is not an emotion or a capacity, for emotions and capacities are not subject to moral evaluation and are not formed by choice. The remaining possibility is that it is a kind of “characteristic” (in the sense defined above). What is its differentia? Here Aristotle returns to the analogy with crafts or skills. A good
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 100 taught by Professor Briancross during the Spring '09 term at Saint Louis.

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