Historical Background The development of ethical theory in Western civilization has been by the gradual accretion of insights, rather than by a systematic evolution in a straight line of progress.
Preliminaries If ethics is widely regarded as the most accessible branch of philosophy, it is so because many of its presuppositions are self-evident or trivial truths: At least for secularists, the attainment of these overall aims is thought to be a condition or prerequisite for a good life.
What we regard as a life worth living depends on the notion we have of our own nature and of the conditions of its fulfillment. This, in turn, is determined, at least in part, by the values and standards of the society we live in.
The attainment of these ends can also depend at least in part on external factors, such as health, material prosperity, social status, and even on good looks or sheer luck. Although these presuppositions may appear to be self-evident, most of the time, human beings are aware of them only implicitly, because many individuals simply lead their lives in accordance with pre-established standards and values that are, under normal circumstances, not objects of reflection.
The historical Socrates was, of course, not the first to question the Greek way of life.
Nevertheless, Plato continued to present his investigations as dialogues between Socrates and some partner or partners.
And Plato preserved the dialogical form even in those of his late works where Socrates is replaced by a stand-in and where the didactic nature of the presentations is hard to reconcile with the pretense of live discussion. But these didactic discourses continue to combine questions of ethical, political, social, or psychological importance with metaphysical, methodological and epistemological considerations, and it can be just as hard to assess the extent to which Plato agrees with the pronouncements of his speakers, as it is when the speaker is Socrates.
Furthermore, the fact that a certain problem or its solution is not mentioned in a dialogue does not mean that Plato was unaware of it.
There is, therefore, no certainty concerning the question: It stands to reason, however, that he started with the short dialogues that question traditional virtues — courage, justice, moderation, piety.
It also stands to reason that Plato gradually widened the scope of his investigations, by reflecting not only on the social and political conditions of morality, but also on the logical, epistemological, and metaphysical presuppositions of a successful moral theory.
These theoretical reflections often take on a life of their own.
The Parmenides, the Theaetetus, and the Sophist deal primarily or exclusively with epistemological and metaphysical problems of a quite general nature.
Nevertheless, as witnessed by the Philebus, the Statesman, the Timaeus, and the Laws, Plato never lost interest in the question of what conditions are necessary for a good human life. Socrates explores the individual virtues through a discussion with persons who are either representatives of, or claim to be experts on, that virtue.
Xenophon Memorabilia I, 10; In the Laches, he discusses courage with two renowned generals of the Peloponnesian war, Laches and Nicias. Similarly, in the Charmides Socrates addresses—somewhat ironically—the nature of moderation with the two of the Thirty Tyrants, namely the then very young Charmides, an alleged model of modesty, and his guardian and intellectual mentor, Critias.
And in the Gorgias Socrates discusses the nature of rhetoric and its relation to virtue with the most prominent teacher of rhetoric among the sophists. Finally, in the Meno the question how virtue is acquired is raised by Meno, a disciple of Gorgias, and an ambitious seeker of power, wealth, and fame.
Nor is such confidence unreasonable. These flaws vary greatly in kind and gravity: Socrates shows that enumerations of examples are not sufficient to capture the nature of the thing in question. Definitions that consist in the replacement of a given concept with a synonym are open to the same objections as the original definition.
Definitions may be hopelessly vague or miss the mark entirely, which is to say that they may be either too wide, and include unwanted characteristics or subsets, or too narrow, and exclude essential characteristics.
Moreover, definitions may be incomplete because the object in question does not constitute a unitary phenomenon.Virtue (Latin: virtus, Ancient Greek: ἀρετή "arete") is moral excellence.A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being.
Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. In other words, it is a behavior that shows high moral standards. Plato (c. B.C.E.) developed such distinct areas of philosophy as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics.
His deep influence on Western philosophy is asserted in the famous remark of Alfred North Whitehead: “the safest characterization of the European philosophical tradition is. Virtue ethics began with the ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They searched for the elements that made a person good but in so doing they did not look at how a person acted but at what sort of character he had.
No aspect of our mental life is more important to the the meaning and impact of virtue from the perspective of plato quality and meaning of our existence than emotions. February 2, Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul Learning from the Mind and Heart of C. They are what make life worth living, or sometimes ending.
1. The Meaning of “Meaning” One part of the field of life's meaning consists of the systematic attempt to clarify what people mean when they ask in virtue of what life has meaning. Aristotle's Virtue Ethics: Definition & Theory. Aristotle's perspective on ethics was based on the virtue of being human.
There are two important distinctions between Aristotle's approach to.