In Plato’s Apology, Socrates believes that to be good, you should strive to find out why and how things are the way they are. When his childhood friend visited an oracle and asked if anyone was wiser than Socrates, the oracle said there wasn’t. In doing this, he demonstrates that you should not just accept what you see or hear at face value, rather, you should investigate further to understand why. It does you no good to not be able to explain it. If you cannot explain it, you could say that you might not even know it at all.
So he went around and talked to many politicians and craftsmen who were supposedly wise (the definition of wise used here being something along the lines of ...view middle of the document...
No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils” (29a).
On to Aristotle. I think it is safe to say that according to Aristotle, you can equate being good to being virtuous, and to be virtuous, we need to (be able to) train ourselves to be, not unlike someone trying to learn how to play an instrument. You have to practice and habituate yourself to playing said instrument, and eventually, you’ll get better.
Virtues can be thought of as good habits. Aristotle differs from Socrates, not to mention most philosophers, here by saying that you don’t learn how to play the instrument with reason and discussion on the instrument, but by someone helping to train you to play it, along with a good amount of practice.
His idea of habit over reasoning makes a lot of sense in the real world. For instance, if someone is a generally mean person, you can in many circumstances thank their upbringing (or training) while growing up. And as you have probably experienced, offering up reasons as to why they should be nicer doesn’t really get you very far.
Therefore, the virtues Aristotle talks about are those of a “well-raised” person. And even if you don’t necessarily agree with his choice of virtues, his own argument does the explaining for him. Arguing about it won’t convince you that his are the best virtues, it’s simply a matter of how you were raised and the experiences you’ve had throughout your life.
These four virtues are being magnanimous, having practical judgment, being fair or just, and friendship. When he says magnanimous, he is referring to someone who, when awarded an honor...