Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

Explain the role of practice and habit in forming virtues.

Re: Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics books I-II

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"In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle maintains that the virtues are formed by repetition as are other habits (see book II, chapters 1-5). "[I]t is by doing just acts that a just man is produced, and by doing temperate acts the temperate man," he explains, and without this kind of habit formation "no one would have even the prospect of being good" (1105b9-12). Further, the "mark" of a good "legislator" and "constitution" is that they: "Make the citizens good by forming habits in them" (1103b4). And in his investigation of the virtue justice, he takes as his "starting point" the ordinary meanings of a "just and an "unjust" man: the latter is "lawless," "grasping," and "unfair"; the former is "law-abiding" and "fair" (V:1129a30-34). In short, Aristotle's intention is to clarify the ordinary meaning of virtue as habit."