Dominance is a state of action as opposed to inaction and an individual must work hard in order to achieve it. To reach Dominance you must reason and be a thinker as this is unique to humans, it is the final cause for humanity as it is the most fulfilling position to be in. Reaching such a superior end goal requires hard work and effort: “man is a political and social animal” – the greatest good for a person is for them to actively participate in the politics of society and to interact with other humans, morality can only arise once these activities have been performed.
A riotous life is an ongoing task and can only be achieved through practice and education. “Dominance is an end in itself’ and is merely pursued for its own virtues rather than as a means to an end. A virtue, for Aristotle, is a trait that contributes to a person functioning well as a human being such as bravery and generosity. A virtue is not doing one action on one given occasion such as giving to charity once and then never again, it is not ‘feeling virtuous as you are not brave if you feel brave and do not act upon it and it is also not a natural inclination as someone who has been born that way has not worked to become virtuous.
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Aristotle concludes that a virtue is a learned nature/tendency to reason and act in a certain way. We are each responsible for the choices that we make based on personal vice and virtue, how virtuous a person may be is entirely dependent on how they will intend to act in any given situation. The doctrine of the mean/the golden mean is a central concept in Aristotle virtue ethics. According to the doctrine of the mean, a virtue is a mean state between two extremes: one of excess and one of deficiency.
To be virtuous, one virtue must connect with another. Virtues will only fully develop in a minority of people and the doctrine of the mean can be used to guide you; however you must be educated to use this. And so, an element of elitism can be seen here. For example: it is good to be courageous, however you can have too much or, even, too little courage. Aristotle did not explicitly declare what the midpoint was, and so it is clearly not of numerical value and so it must be more about acting at the right time.
Although virtue ethics does not give you a clear answer to an ethical dilemma, it allows each individual to respond to each different situation they face. Aristotle believed that there were 4 different groups of people. There are vicious people who are those that do not attempt to be virtuous. There are incontinent people who face moral conflict but usually choose a vice. Continent people do the virtuous thing most of the time but still have to overcome a moral dilemma, and virtuous people enjoy doing good actions, and so they face no moral dilemmas in life.
Choices are important as every human has an aim in life. Such aims are then split into either superior or subordinate aims and, according to Aristotle; the superior aim of an individual is Dominance as this is the final purpose of a human. In society, some people re hedonists and seek pleasure, some serve the community and seek honor (politicians) and some are philosophers and live in a state of contemplation. Aristotle believes philosophers to be the best as they possess the ability to exercise key intellectual virtues which allow them to steer themselves towards Dominance.
Virtues are either moral or intellectual in which there are 5 intellectual virtues according to Aristotle: prudence/practical wisdom, intuitive intelligence, wisdom, scientific knowledge and craft/art. Of the 5 virtues, Aristotle considers practical wisdom to be the most important in Virtue Ethics as it imply describes moral behavior, and does not require people to do something different to what they already do.
You may do a string of good actions, but unless you know the direction you are to go then you may end up on the wrong path. Since people act differently in every situation there are no inherently bad actions. Anyone who is virtuous should, theoretically, always make the correct decision. Aristotle Virtue Ethics is person rather than action based; it looks at the moral character of the person carrying out an action. Good character traits must be cultivated and developed in order for people to truly achieve Dominance.