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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 27, Issue 4, 2017

Values and Ideals. Theory and Practice: Part V

Ana Bazac
Pages 175-188

Aristotle, the Names of Vices and Virtues
What Is the Criterion of Quantitative Evaluation of the Moral Behaviour?

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle has given a tableau of the desirable virtues and their infringement through the surpassing of their limits. Thus, every virtue is framed or delimited by vices that represent either its excess or its deficiency. However, this type of defining is related to deep, metaphysical reasons: since every being, especially the living one, has its telos. Man’s telos is to practise and fulfil his human specificity, i.e. reason, and reason is the measure/quality of virtue as such; the excess or deficiency in his behaviour perverts and even stops the realisation of the humanity of man. And this humanity is, in turn, in accordance to the telos of nature, the good in and for the preservation of all things. If, hypothetically, persons would not be virtuous at all, this accordance would not be realised and man would be an accident in the logic of nature: and accidents are removed, sooner or later. The criterion of the “quantitative” moral evaluation is thus qualitative: a quality, the good aimed at by mindfulness applied to the concrete particular moral relations and learned from experience.