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.