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On eagles wings: Our recovery from Coronavirus (XX). Aristotle 101.

Last week, I promised to continue to echo our journey to Aristotle’s ethical virtues philosophy, who sojourned us before Jesus-Christ, the top philosopher of all the virtues ethics theories of our times. Today´s post is about displaying the first dispatch of the origins or general aspects of the third ethical reasoning approach, or what is called human nature ethics. Contemporary human Nature ethics philosophers overflow, particularly since the decade of the 90s. Nevertheless, we will stick our schedule into the Human Nature Ethical reasoning, first with Aristotle, and later (on Friday) with Jesus-Christ.

Blue Jay1 x Elevate

“Hey, watch my brand new wings!” A petit aquarelle of a blue jay bird. Handmade with love on Fabriano 5 paper, by Eleonora Escalante. Size: 5 inches x 7 inches.

Human Nature Ethics. The third ethical theory approach to business ethics is called by some the Human Nature Ethics, and by others is defined as Moral Virtues ethics. This ethic´s reasoning involves more than moral rules/norms or rights (Kantian) or moral consequences (Utilitarianism). For Human Nature ethicists,  morality also involves virtues, which have to do with a person´s character and the type of actions that emanate from that character. This theory puts great emphasis on the nature of souls which obviously needs to be developed to reach its highest potential.  The virtue ethics theory started with Aristotle, more than 2000 years ago.

Who was Aristotle? Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who studied under Plato and tutored Alexander the Great. His ritual passage into life was from 384 to 322 B.C.E.  He was born in Stageira, Macedon, and studied in Athens. When Plato died, Aristotle returned to Macedon to become the tutor of the young Alexander the Great. When Alexander succeeded his father Philip to the throne in 335 B.C.E., Aristotle returned to Athens where he founded his own school, the Lyceum, and for the next 8 years, he attracted a large number of scholars. Once Alexander died in 323 B.C.E, a strong anti-Macedonian reaction took place in Athens and Aristotle fled to Chalcis. He died there a few months later, in 322 B.C.E.Excellence to Aristotle

The range of Aristotle´s thinking was remarkable.He explored, discovered, argued, and taught in fields as diverse origins, such as logic, metaphysics, theology, history, politics, aesthetics, ethics, psychology, anatomy, biology, zoology, botany, astronomy, and the ancient equivalents of physics and chemistry. If we can find an integral mindset throughout all our history, Aristotle is one of the most noteworthy philosophers of our times. Aristotle´s influence has been enormous, for example, on Thomas Aquinas, and thus on all medieval Christendom”.

Aristotle´s Ethics is one of his two most famous works, along with Politics. Aristotle´s Ethics in Greek should really be translated to “Matters to do with Character”, and the central concern is “the morally good person”. Let´s review 4 ethics writing passages from him:

    1. “ None of the moral virtues is engendered in us by nature since nothing that is what it is by nature can be made to behave differently by habituation”,
    2. “The moral virtues, then are engendered in us either by nor contrary to nature; we are constituted by nature to receive them, but their full development in us is due to habit”,
    3. “But the virtues we do acquire by first exercising them, just as happens in the arts. Anything that we have to learn to do we learn by the actual doing of it”,
    4. “So it is a matter of no little importance what sort of habits we form from the earliest age-it makes a vast difference, or rather all the difference in the world”.

freedom aristotle

Moral Goodness according to Aristotle. Even though we have so much to reflect on Aristotle´s mindset, we will concentrate only on the “Moral Goodness” theme that he inherited us.  In the 18th Century, Aristotle´s legacy was reviewed and discussed by many philosophers. And in the 20th century, according to Professor R. T. de George,  a growing number of modern ethical philosophers introduced the philosophical movement known as “virtue ethics” or “human nature ethics”.   The virtue ethics theory in one phrase states that both previous ethical reasonings (Utilitarianism and Kantian Deontologism) overlook the most fundamental aspects of moral behavior, namely a person´s underlying moral character.

What is character? What is virtue? Virtue is defined as moral quality practiced with excellence. Character is a combination of qualities, moral virtues, and ethical strength´ attributes that distinguish one person (individual), or a group from another. 


Intellectual Virtues vs. Moral Virtues. Aristotle differentiated between intellectual virtue and moral virtue. Intellectual virtue owes both its inception and its growth principally to instruction (education), and for this very reason, intellectual virtues need time and experience. Moral virtues, on the other hand, are the result of habit (practice). For Aristotle, all intellectual faculties with which nature endows us must first be acquired by learning and many years of training, and only later effect their actualization. But the moral virtues, we do acquire them by first practicing them, just as happens in the arts. Moral virtues are developed when we learn by the actual fact of doing it.  For example, we learn to be wise by acting wisely, and when we behave as foolish, by making stupid mistakes then only then we really begin our journey to wisdom which requires a lot of years of practice. We discover the moral virtue of honesty, by saying the truth, no matter what. We also learn the virtue of rectitude, by exercising our integrity, year over year. We learn the moral virtue of courage, by exercising our power of bravery and later on discerning when our intrepidity may hurt us.  And we absorb the moral virtue of generosity, by acting without unselfishness, providing to others with kindness.


Moral virtues only come by practice, through actions. There is no other way to develop moral virtues, but by actions, by repetitive behavior in our dealings with ourselves and with other people. It is the way that we behave in the face of other people (in a community) situations, particularly in the limit of circumstances (such as danger, crisis, disasters, economic poverty) that life teaches us to develop moral virtues. It is the way that we act in our social give-and-take relations that makes us just or unjust. It is the way we act in the social interactions that make us timid or confident. It is the way we act in our job problems that makes us brave or coward. It is the way we act in our money management interactions which makes us transparent with money or corrupted. As adults, we only show our moral virtues through our character, so it makes a vast difference or all the difference in the world, to grow with a sort of habits that are developed “petit a petit” from the earliest ages of our infancy.

Aristotle recognized that people are social by nature. “According to Aristotle, persons are “social” by nature and cannot be understood apart from the larger communities in which they participate”. Aristotle wrote, “the person is a social animal”. “For Aristotle, then, fulfilling one´s natural constitution implies developing certain virtue or traits of character, including wisdom, generosity, and self-restraint, all of which help to make us a good member of the community.  For Aristotle, moral virtue involves the rational control of one´s desires. And in action, where a choice is possible, one exercises moral virtue by restraining harmful desires and cultivating beneficial ones”.  According to Aristotle, the development of virtue requires the cultivation of good habits, and this turn leads him to emphasize the importance of a good upbringing and good education.

Moral virtues, like craft, are acquired by practice and habituation. The reason why we must wait until humans reach the required levels of practice to show moral goodness before selecting them to lead entities, corporations or public bureaus, rest in the Aristotelian theme of first promoting the building of character. In addition, according to Aristotle, the character is a combination of two elements: the right or privilege of the attributes (defined by Alexis de Tocqueville as habits of the heart) and the routine (defined by Nietzche as – a long obedience practice in the same direction).

In summary: For Aristotle,  the perfection of inherent human nature is to develop and actualize their potentiality which includes physical, mental/intellectual, social, and moral categories. Obviously, in order to the full development of each person’s moral virtues, it is required the cultivation of good ethical habits since childhood.

We will stop here. In my next publication, we will continue with Jesus Christ, the top virtue ethics philosopher of our times. Have a beautiful week. Blessings.

eagle look

Sources of reference utilized to write this article:

Excerpt from Aristotle, “The Nicomachean Ethics”, JAK Thompson (London; Allen &Unwin, 1976). Book 2.

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.







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