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Quid Est Veritas?

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Aristotle Returns (sort of) [Jul. 7th, 2006|12:02 pm]
Quid Est Veritas?



Hopefully the mention of Aristotle won't scare you all away...I know with what fond memories we look back upon the sessions of bashing our brains against the fortress of Ariwaddlemeister, but fear not: all brain bashing is now purely voluntary. 

My question is related to my last essay, in which I argued that Aristotle relied too much on making men good by habit. But among the comments I recieved in response, a question was brought up: is that reliance really an evil (I had assumed that it was)?. So my question is this: is the more virtuous man he who has been habituated to doing good until the good becomes natural, or he who has been forced to reason through and see why good is good, and then exercises his willpower upon that basis and from there does good? A question relating to that is: if a man does do good from habit, is that a bad thing (given that habit does not involve thought) if he has habituated himself through his own reason and willpower?

To start off (ignoring the last question), I'll assert that the second mode is better. I think that it corresponds more accurately with human nature (man being a rational animal), whereas the first is a more animalistic way of making a good product by (unintellectual) repetition. 

Three notes:
1) This may not be the exact question that was raised in the essay, but it's something I've been thinking about. So we really don't need to bring Aristotle into it at all (unless y'all are burning to...)
2) I know, there won't be much discussion until Emma at least (b/c I know she's interested in this topic) is a member...
3) Fie upon whatever cruel Fate dictated that MD be off in the rainforests when we need her here; I need someone to staunchly stick up for the other side (which she probably would) so I (and we) can better work through this...she had better check up and give her thoughts once she gets back from Brazil. 

Oh, and 4): I know this is convoluted. But any answer is great. ^_^


[User Picture]From: eatflipper
2006-07-17 04:06 am (UTC)
Yeah, I agree, the wording was a bit confusion.

I might be a little rusty on my Aristotle; but here goes. With questions along the way.

Your question was....

Is it better to find the good through:

1) habitual good

2) reason.


Well, since I'm rusty on my Aristotle, I seem to have forgotten exactly what "good by habit" is. That means I'm (oh dang it) busting out the Book o' Nicky. See, see, the things you make me DO Jessica-Pumpkin! O_O

Okay, I can't find the exact section, so I guess this is just coming out of my brain.

So...habit. Does that mean accidental habit (I just HAPPENED to stumble on the right thing) or habit forced upon you by others (my MOTHER made me do it)?

In either case, I think reasoning through it on your own would be the more virtuous option(i.e. if I saw a person do both, I would feel prouder of the person who did it that way), and this is why: Reasoning through to virtue is more difficult than the other option(s). If you stumble upon the truth, then at least you're on the right path; you're not steered off in an entirely wrong direction. And if the good is fed to you, the same thing happens.

That raises another problem though....sometimes, we are given the right path and are repelled by it--rocketing off in an entirely different direction. Think of any time when your parents told you to do something and you disobeyed, just to be ornery - even if you knew they were right. (Well, maybe you're the perfect child and don't do that - but I know that I have been annoyed at having dried the dishes just because I was TOLD, even though I would have done it anyway - I would have been happier had they not told me to go do them). So it might actually be more difficult if the "correct" road were presented to you, because you would question that one in particular more than the other options - whereas if you were just looking at the options, you might regard them all more equally.

Make sense?

(Sorry this took so long for me to respond to - these were just such long-looking paragraphs! And I've been lazy. And it was a little convoluted. Maybe short and sweet questions would invite people to just toss their opinions in faster, and heat up the discussion? <--a suggestion)

<3 G

Wait.....can members of this thingy post in it? We can....can't we? *broody thoughts*
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[User Picture]From: pemberlybudgie
2006-07-17 03:38 pm (UTC)
^_^ yeah, loquacity does tend to be one of my prime faults; it's caused me to make a grand fool out of myself on more than one occasion...but hey, what's a blog but a learning experience? I'll work on condensation (wait, that makes me sound like some sort of cloud commander. "we need more condensation! Thunderhead 5, you've been down on your percipitation production lately. Cloud Hinting Slightly of Rain, hinting doesn't quite cut it anymore. People are too busy to pay much attention to the sky anymore. In this day and age we need something that more Obviously Implies rain." ... ...x_X) *coff* Good heavens (no pun intended). Here I go writing another long paragraph again. It's hopeless.

1) thanks for replying to my absurd question ^_^ 2) the kind of habit I meant was a sort of governmentally enforced habit (as in, the government/parents/whatever force someone to do the right thing until it becomes habitual). I personally think that this is less virtuous, but then the question comes up of whether it is possible to run a city based on the other possibility, that of each individual exercising his reason in order to come to the good. As Mr. Ellison pointed out (he was the one grading the paper), the majority of men are probably more easily swayed by force than by argument. So by bypassing reason in favor of utility (ok, so that is an extreme manner of putting it), is Aristotle in the right?

... ...it's terrible, I'm going all fuzzy about Aristotle too (fuzzy in the head that is. Certainly no fuzzy feelings in the heart ^_^). I'll probably forget everything I ever learned presently.

Oh, and members CAN post--and please do! I'm tired of throwing around confusing ideas well-couched in overstated prose, and besides I make a fool of myself so often during school that it's a pity to overdo it during the summer ^_^
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