Virtues/Aristotle’s Ethics

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Aristotle's Ethics[edit | edit source]

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle's best known work on ethics, he presents the idea that we can describe virtues as things which are destroyed by deficiency or excess. Someone who runs away becomes a coward, while someone who fears nothing is rash. In this way the virtue "courage" can be seen as depending upon a "mean" between two extremes. Aristotle goes on to describe several virtues in this form, beginning with courage:

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
fear (phobos) and confidence (tharsos) Courage (andreia): mean in fear and confidence First Type. excessive fearlessness has no special name Cowardly (deilos): exceeds in fear and is deficient in confidence
Second Type. Rash (thrasus): exceeds in confidence
pleasure (hēdonē) and pain (lupē) Temperance (sōphrosunē) Profligacy, dissipation, etc. (akolasia) scarcely occurs, but we may call it Insensible (anaisthētos)
giving and getting (smaller amounts of) money Liberality (Rackham), generosity (Sachs) (eleutheriotēs) Prodigality (Rackham), Wastefulness (Sachs) (asōtia) Meanness (Rackham), Stinginess (Sachs) (aneleutheria)
giving and getting greater things Magnificence (megaloprepeia) Tastelessness (apeirokalia) or Vulgarity (banausia) Paltriness (Rackham), Chintziness (Sachs) (mikroprepeia)
great honor (timē) and dishonor Greatness of Soul (megalopsuchia)
(Traditional translation "magnanimity". Sometimes "pride".)
Vanity (chaunotēs) Smallness of Soul (mikropsuchia)
lesser honor (timē) and dishonor no special term in ancient Greek for the right amount of ambition (Over-)ambitiousness (philotimos) lack of ambition (aphilotimos)
anger (orgē) Gentleness (praotēs) Irascibility (Rackham), Irritability (Sachs) (orgilotēs) Spiritlessness (aorgẽsia)
general pleasantness in life Friendliness (something like philia) First Type. obsequious (areskos), if for no purpose quarrelsome (duseris) and surly (duskolos)
Second type. flatterer (kolax), if for own advantage
truth (alēthēs) Truthfulness(alētheia) Boastfulness: pretense as exaggeration (alazoneia) Self-deprecation: pretense as understatement (eironia, same word as "irony")
pleasantness and social amusement Wittiness (Rackham) Charming (Sachs) (eutrapelos) Buffoonery (bõmolochia) Boorishness bõmolochos