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What is Virtue? | Book Review Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

A lot of people are happy to note that virtue is lacking in our society, and we have a lot of work to do if we want a virtuous society. But, I hear only a few voices offering a solution to this problem. Only a few people are calling people to act virtuously and live a life of virtue. The Vital Masculinity podcast is doing great work to promote that, but sadly not many others are. Not many people are answering the basic questions like “What is virtue?” or “How do I become a virtuous person?”

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What is Virtue According to Aristotle?

Aristotle defines the mean as the proper way of being between two extremes in great detail in his Nicomachean Ethics. Virtue, according to Aristotle, and many Greek philosophers, is an excellence in morality. Here’s what Aristotle has to say about excellence:

“Excellence, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean, relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it.”

-Aristotle

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How to Be a Virtuous Person

If you want to be a virtuous person, you should learn to seek the Golden Mean. But, how do you do that? Well, it’s not easy, but it can be done if you are ready to learn and put in the work. In this book, Aristotle explains that you have to do what is proper to the situation. That requires knowing what the situation is, and it means you have to know how to respond. This takes Practical Wisdom, which you can learn more about here.

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“Regarding practical wisdom we shall get at the truth by considering who are the persons we credit with it. Now it is thought to be the mark of a man of practical wisdom to be able to deliberate well about what is good and expedient for himself, not in some particular respect, e.g., about what sorts of things conduce to health or to strength, but about what sorts of thing conduce to the good life in general.”

-Aristotle, Book VI of the Nichomachean Ethics

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