I found Aristotle’s writing on Virtues and the Virtues of Character very interesting. I don’t thing people ever really sit back and spend time thinking about virtues and what they entail and how we acquire them. Aristotle determines that there are two classes of virtue – virtue of thought and virtue of character. Virtue’s of thought are wisdom and intelligence while virtues of character are generosity and patience.
Aristotle proposes some interesting ideas about virtues of character and how they are acquired. Our virtues of character are a result of our habits – they are not naturally acquired. Aristotle says our virtues of character are a result of our youth, because that is the habits we grow up in, and acquiring such virtues while were young give them the opportunity to fully develop. For we develop the virtue and eventually display it. The habits are what determines the difference between a good and a bad virtue. Acquiring the good virtues in youth is crucial, not only because they can fully develop, but also because the repetition of the acquired good virtues is what really makes us posses the virtue.
Aristotle also says the virtues must used in median amounts, because the excessiveness of one virtue leads to absence of another virtue. Aristotle provides the example, if one avoids everything he becomes cowardly, however, if one is afraid of nothing he becomes rash.
The idea of acquiring the right virtues of character is correlated with pleasures and pains. Pleasure encourages certain virtues, while pain discourages some. This is why obtaining virtues in our youth in our habits is crucial, because we distinguish the pleasant virtues from the painful ones.