Ethical Virtue and Nobility Essay

Ethical Virtue and Nobility Essay

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Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, asserts that every ethical virtue aims at what is noble. In order to establish his definition of nobility, Aristotle takes the example of the virtue of courage. This virtue aims at what is noble, namely the common good, and this noble end is reached through courageous acts done by a brave man. There is a direct relationship between becoming good and loving what is noble. In order to become a good person, one must be conditioned to love what is noble and hate what is ignoble. This person will develop the proper character and be able to perform virtuous acts. One cannot become good without reverence for nobility. Furthermore, there also is a direct relationship between ethics and what is noble. Ethics is based on doing what is right, which means doing what is noble.
Aristotle approaches the topic of nobility by giving an account of courage. Aristotle refers to death as the most fearful thing because it is a definite end. The man who has courage and is brave would be concerned with death because he would be the only one able to face it. The truly brave man would experience death only in battle though, because there is a difference between the man who dies at sea and the one who dies in battle. The deaths that take place in the battlefield are the noblest because they “take place in the greatest and noblest danger” (Nicomachean Ethics III. 6). While a solider goes into battle for the greatest good for the greatest number, the fisherman goes to sea simply to get food for himself or his family. The honor, which is not to be confused as being the same as nobility, that is attached with the deaths in battle may be due to the underlying intention of the brave man. The brave man going into battle ...


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...amples of people who are thought to be noble in American society. The common feature for all these examples is the self-sacrifice, selflessness, and work for the good of the community.
Ethical virtues all aim at nobility, or the common good, which sometimes involves self-sacrifice. In the case of courage, the brave man is able to sacrifice himself in battle for the good of others. The man has to be conditioned to love what is noble and hate what is ignoble. This cultivation of the soul is necessary for the man to become good, have a virtuous character, and be able to do virtuous deeds with noble ends. Being an ethical person means aiming to do what is noble. Since love of honor is a desire of humans, the positive cultivation of this desire aids in the development of a virtuous person. Nobility, then, becomes the end of the virtuous actions these people perform.

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