The Nicomachean Ethics Book 2, Chapter 1 (1102b11-1103b25)
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Book 2, Chapter 1 (1102b11-1103b25)
- More on virtue. Intellectual virtue is the result of education, which requires experience.
- Moral virtues happen because of habits. Aristotle breaks it down for us: "moral virtues" (ēthikē) get its name from "habit" (ethos).
- This further proves that moral virtues are not "natural" for humans—it's something we acquire over time through habituation.
- But they also can't be present against the nature of a human being. If it's not innate in us to receive such training and it just isn't going to happen.
- What follows is the process of how these natures are nurtured.
- First, we have the "capacities" associated with the virtues in us. It's not until we can act on our own that those are displayed.
- We acquire virtues only by practicing the behaviors associated with them. Aristotle compares this to any skill, like house building. It's the practical experience that counts.
- This is the aim of those who create laws: to create good citizens by habituating them to follow the law.
- This is the same process that uncovers people who do not possess moral virtue. It's through our actions that we practice and define ourselves.
- For Aristotle, this just proves that we need teachers to nurture people, since we're not born already good or bad.
- This is also why it's important to make sure that the things that we do are worthy—otherwise we literally will become as degraded as our actions.
- Aristotle believes it's crucial to be habituated to doing virtuous activities from childhood, so it becomes second nature.