In Book I, Chapter 13 of the book of his selections, Aristotle writes of an account concerning virtue. Because Aristotle is seeking the “human good and human happiness”, he is examining human virtue specifically. This concerns not the virtue of the body, but the virtue of the soul.

Within the passage, Aristotle explains his ideas using the comparison that politicians must obtain knowledge about the soul just as doctors must learn about the body. Since persons such as politicians have to study the soul, rather than the body, he calls political science a “more honorable” practice than medicine. Even so, a politician has to aim to study beyond the knowledge they are solely seeking and instead search for the actual purpose “of inquiring into virtue”. Not only that, but Aristotle builds upon the idea that the soul has two parts— one that is rational and one that is nonrational. He continues by questioning whether these parts are distinguished and separate from one another or actually two parts of one thing, making them inseparable.

This claim caught my interest particularly because of the overall theme and deeper meaning of virtue which it addresses. I found it interesting that Aristotle places much more importance on knowledge involving the soul than knowledge involving the body, but I understand why expansion of the mind transcends physical awareness in this case. The passage was also a bit tough for me to comprehend at times, though, especially when I had to make my own connections as a reader as to how the rational and nonrational parts of the soul were related to virtue. However, once it was clear that “division between virtues reflects [the] difference” between the parts of the soul, I was able to better understand the idea that virtue is not one universal thing; it includes many parts (such as the different virtues of character) that give the word ‘virtue’ several different and significant meanings.

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