Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Heimir Geirsson & Margaret R. Holman

The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He was a student of Plato's, and the personal tutor of Alexander the Great. He wrote on a wide range of philosophical and non-philosophical subjects, including biology, literature, politics, logic, metaphysics, and ethics. His famous work, the Nichomachean Ethics, contains his theory of the virtues. Aristotle holds that virtues are those qualities that allows us to achieve a state of eudaimonia, or human flourishing. Since reason is what sets us apart from other animals, human flourishing consists in living in accordance with reason. Aristotle distinguishes between intellectual virtues and moral virtues. Intellectual virtues enable us to think rationally, while moral virtues enable us to handle our emotions and desires rationally. He then explores the nature of these virtues and explains how they are acquired.

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