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date: 10 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Greek noun for which “virtue” and “excellence” are often used as translations—aretê (plural: aretai)—is cognate to the name of the god of war, Ares (called “Mars” in Latin) and, centuries prior to Aristotle, designated the manliness or valor of a warrior. But by the fifth and fourth centuries BC, it had acquired a much wider connotation and extension. Aristotle insists that there is one virtue of thought—the one he calls phronêsis (often translated as “practical wisdom”)—which is intimately tied to the virtues of character: One cannot have any of those ethical virtues (justice, courage, moderation) without having phronêsis; and one cannot have phronêsis unless one also has those ethical virtues. This article discusses Aristotle's views on becoming good, focusing on habituation, reflection, and perception, and also examines virtues of character and virtues of thought, Socratic intellectualism, cleverness, the stages of ethical development, and mid-level goals.

Keywords: Aristotle, good, habituation, reflection, perception, virtues of character, virtues of thought, intellectualism, cleverness, goals

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