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Aristotle in the first page of Book 1 Nicomachean Ethics tells us basically for every activity there is some measure of good, but a certain difference is found among the endings of these activities. He goes on to say “there are many actions, arts, and sciences, their ends also are many; the end of the medical art is health, that of shipbuilding a vessel, that of strategy victory, that of economics wealth.” He goes on to say that there are such arts that fall under a single power all things to do with bridle making and all those related fall under the art of riding, and every military action would fall under strategy, for it is sake of the former that the latter is pursued.

Everything we do has an end and it is something we desire; if we do not choose something for the sake of another thing this must be the good and the chief good of what we choose.

Aristotle following this line of thinking throughout the Nicomachean Ethics, he gives us insight on how to choose friends, virtue, courage, temperance, virtues concerned with money, justice, anger, and socialization just to name a few. In short, Aristotle is giving us the basis for the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule; using these as a guide on how we should live our life.

Aristotle named the following as virtues; courage, friendliness, temperance, truthfulness, liberality, wittiness, magnificence, shame, pride, justice, good temper, and honor. These virtues were viewed by ancient Greece as human qualities necessary for people to live well together, they were seen by Aristotle as a means between the extremes.

The virtue of courage is a human quality having to do with how we respond to risk or danger. The vice of deficiency would be timidity, or fearfulness, the comparable vice of excess would be rashness, or foolhardiness.

Aristotle’s enumeration of virtues has been of great historical importance, but other lists have existed. Christian theology counts humility as one of the central virtues, and this is a strength not appreciated in full by Greek thinkers, although it is by others in the ancient world, such as the Chinese Taoists.

It is easy to perform a good action, but not easy to acquire

a settled habit of performing such actions.


Ethics is about insight and habit, wisdom and virtue, in order to achieve a strong ethical stance, the above virtues must be exercised on a regular basis. Ethics and character go hand in hand. The ancient Greek word ethos, from which the term ethics is derived didn’t mean rules, it, simply means character.

Socrates taught Plato, Plato taught Aristotle, Aristotle taught Alexander the Great; Alexander however, became great through association with the great man. We become like the people we are around, not because of what they may say, but because of what we see them do.


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