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Write 4 page essay on the topic Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics.Download file to see previous pages... Examples of such emotions can be lust, greed, anger, jealousy, hatred, joy, and-in some cases- eve
Write 4 page essay on the topic Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics.Download file to see previous pages...
Examples of such emotions can be lust, greed, anger, jealousy, hatred, joy, and-in some cases- even love. However a “continent” person is able to resist the pressure of such emotions. He is able to dutifully abide by the path that reason prescribes, even if in reality he has no desire for doing so. This dutiful adherence to goodness is not just applicable to cases where the ‘good’ course of action has been determined by a person’s own intellectual and rational faculties. It can also apply to cases where ‘good’ has been determined and prescribed by society. Dutiful, albeit passive and thoughtless, adherence to ethical norms can also be called “continence”.
An “incontinent” person (the Greek word is akratês), on the other hand, is one who succumbs to the pressures of his desires and emotions and violates what in his own opinion is the demand of reason. The incontinent person lacks mastery of feelings. However, Aristotle maintained that “incontinence” is quite distinct from “evil”. The “evil” are those who believe that virtues (such as justice, temperance and truthfulness) are useless, and are not to be pursued at all. While the “incontinent” person fails to pursue ‘good’ out of a ‘weakness of will’, the evil do not even attempt to be virtuous. In other words the evil do not reach the conclusion that the virtuous course of action is rational. which seems, more or less, like a defect in their intelligence, or their rational faculties. He refers to the evil as kakos or as phaulos. It is important to note that even though the “incontinent” are removed from acting in a virtuous manner, they do acknowledge a duty of doing so. Hence, according to Aristotle, their situation is not hopeless (incontinence isn’t vicious). Here one might raise the concern that if the “incontinent” succumb to the inexorable counter-pressure of their desires and their emotions. then their actions are involuntary. And since, as the well known dictum suggests, ‘ought’ implies ‘can’, we can safely assume that the “incontinent” aren’t morally responsible for their seemingly reprehensible actions. However, Aristotle’s notion of “voluntary” (Book 3, Chapter 1) is entirely negative. An action is voluntary in two conditions. The first condition is the absence of any sort of ‘compulsion’ toward the performance of the action, and the second condition is the absence of ‘ignorance’ about the harmful consequences of the action. Note that ‘compulsion’ in used here only in the sense of being compelled by an external force (a force that lies outside the agent). And since desires and emotions lie within a person, therefore when an “incontinent” person succumbs to the pressure of his desires he can not be said to be acting involuntarily. It is clear that a person will act in ways that are ‘good’ if he is “continent”, and resists the irrational appetites that haunt him. However, according to Aristotle, the life of such a person is not virtuous. Aristotle believes that true ‘virtue’ and goodness are quite distinct from both continence and incontinence.