Nearly all humans have the goal to live a virtuous and happy life. Two of the world most acknowledged philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, had their own views on this central issue. Plato supported the understanding view; he believed understanding is the key to living a virtuous life. Aristotle supported the habit and action view; he believed that individuals become virtuous by continuous moral actions. By and large both philosophers have a good standpoint; but in my judgment one has a stronger line of reasoning.
Plato supports the view of understanding over custom and tradition. He believes that individuals should acquire the knowledge to understand something and then start performing the action. Plato says that once someone understands the good then he or she will do it; he says “…what we desire is always something that is good” (pg.5). We can understand from this that Plato is saying individuals want to do good for themselves; we perform immoral deeds, because we don’t have the understanding of the good. The lack of knowledge and understanding will cause an individual to perform meagerly in life. He believes that custom and tradition are not favorable for us; from this I believe he is trying to point-out that we all should acquire our own understanding of things instead of taking the other views. His position demonstrates to us that understanding helps us do good and doing good means living a virtuous life.
I believe that Plato’s view is acceptable. A human must understand the actions he or she is going to perform; it is beneficial for us to know what we are doing before we do it. For example in any kind of organization you need understanding and knowledge of the action over tradition and custom, because knowledge is more widely accepted than tradition and custom. Tradition and custom vary from place to place, but knowledge and understanding are universal.
Aristotle, Plato’s student, invented his own view about virtuous living. Aristotle believes that individuals acquire character virtues threw actions that are repeated continuously. He says, “Virtue of character results from habit, hence its name ‘ethical’, slightly varied from ‘ethos’.” (pg.14) He says that none of the virtues that are in our character arise naturally; instead they are embedded in us by continuous actions. For example a soldier becomes brave threw continuous acts of bravery, the repetitive actions someway conditions him, and the virtue becomes a character in him. Aristotle also points out that an individual’s character virtues can also be in surplus or in lower; an individual can have too much bravery and be considered reckless; furthermore, one can also have deficiency in bravery and be considered a coward. Overall Aristotle believes we should do the actions; consequently, we will learn from it furthermore we will eventually make it a habit, and acquire it in our character.
I suppose Aristotle is correct to some extent. I agree with his explanation about individuals having excess and inferior amounts of character virtues. In order to consider a character to be virtuous you must have the normal expression or use of it. An individual with too much or too little can be considered not normal; therefore, the character cannot be considered a virtuous. The topic that I don’t correspond with Aristotle is the one about acquiring the characters of virtue. I believe we acquire virtues threw understanding and knowledge not by continuous actions; for example, one can do continuous actions but if that individual doesn’t understand what he or she is doing then the action cannot be considered a virtuous one. One has to understand that this is right and this is wrong in order for his or her to be virtuous.
Personally I think that Plato has a stronger line of reasoning. The concept of understanding and learning is more appealing to me. I believe every individual should base their actions on understanding. Understanding means to think and to reason and obtain knowledge; this in my opinion is the key to building the character. When an individual bases his or her actions on reason and understanding then almost certainly he or she will living a virtuous life.