According to Aristotle, what is a virtue? What is Aristotle’s position on how we acquire virtue, and how we know that we have actually become virtuous?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Aristotle defines two types of virtue. Moral virtue is an inclination to act in the right manner and is defined as having just enough. Intellectual virtue is acquired through benefaction and education. He believed that moral virtues are learned through our behaviors rather than something that can be taught. For...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Aristotle defines two types of virtue. Moral virtue is an inclination to act in the right manner and is defined as having just enough. Intellectual virtue is acquired through benefaction and education. He believed that moral virtues are learned through our behaviors rather than something that can be taught. For example, a person can have virtue as a flautist. They are a rational person actively performing well in their behavior. The flautists' behavior is that of playing the flute. Another example is the virtue of courage. Only if we practice facing our fears can we become more courageous. Aristotle lists a table of virtues (mean) in par with vices (excess and deficiency). Once a person can achieve a middle ground between excess and deficiency, Aristotle believed that one could attain a type of excellence. A truly virtuous person would exhibit all the different aspects of his listed twelve virtues; courage, temperance, liberality, magnificence, pride, honor, good temper, friendliness, truthfulness, wit, friendship, and justice. Once a person has attained this true virtuosity, he believed a person will naturally be inclined to act appropriately and rules would not apply to them.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team