Virtue Ethics

The Excellent Life of Ancient Greeks

Lesson Objectives

Appreciate who Aristotle was in the history of Philosophical thought

Understand why Aristotle argues for things having a telos — an end

Appreciate why Aristotle thought eudaemonia was our highest good

Appreciate how Virtue Ethics was the moral framework of the Classical World

Understand how Aristotle arrives at Ethics by contemplating the Golden Mean

Understand the advantages and disadvantages of Virtue Ethics

Key Terms





Virtue Ethics

The Golden Mean

Aristotle in Ancient Greece

Aristotle in History

• Known to Medieval philosophers as "the Philosopher"

• Plato's most successful and famous student

• Mentor and friend to Alexander the Great

• Alexander's father, Philip II of Macedonia, takes over Greece

     • Alexander takes over the known world and sends it all to Athens

     • This raises Aristotle's image among the Athenian élite

Aristotle's Lyceum

• At 50, Aristotle returns to Athens (run by his Macedonians)

• He takes over a school called the Lyceum and creates his own curriculum

• Today, French secondary schools ("lycee") are named after it

• Aristotle also establishes a very important philosophy library at the Lyceum

     • Aristotle's many "books" are actually the lecture notes of his students

     • About 1/5 of Aristotle's works have been lost

How Aristotle Refocused Western Philosophy

• What good is art? (Aristotle rewrites Greek drama and defines tragedy)

• Why do people care more about idiots than logic? (Aristotle creates rhetoric)

• What makes people happy? (Aristotle systemitizes Greek ethics)