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Aristotle on the weakness of the will - Essay Example

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Aristotle on the weakness of the will

However, the theory of Aristotle is more profound. He does not agree with Plato and Socrates in their views on the weaknesses of the will. In contrast to Socrates, Aristotle does not think that people will act in the right way in case they know what is good and what is bad. He also does not agree with Plato, who states that in order to follow ethical principles, people should receive corresponding education. Aristotle is sure that every person may understand what is good and what is bad in everyday behavior not depending on his/her education or position. However, not every person chooses to follow the principles even if he/she understands and knows them. Speaking about the weaknesses of the will we should mention akrasia, a state that makes people act in the wrong way. Every philosopher understands it differently. According to Socrates, akrasia prevents people from proper self-development. For him akrasia is something illogical as he states in Protagoras “No one goes willingly toward the bad (Protagoras 358d)”. Socrates is sure that if a person analyses the situation and decides the best way to act, he/ she will definitely follow this way. Thus, Socrates denies the possibility of illogical action (akrasia). In Protagoras Plato also denies akrasia, but in later works he acknowledges its possibility. He analyses a soul in state of akrasia and comes to the conclusion that if people decides that to act akratically is the best way for them, they will act akratically. It does not mean that a person who acts akratically has no virtues, but when he/she acts akratically, at least one of the virtues is lost. In contrast to Socrates, Aristotle acknowledges the state of akrasia and in contrast to Plato, he considers akrasia to be the one of the states that should be avoided. He associates the state of akrasia with the state of weakness, when a person knows that he acts in a bad way, but he/she is too weak to act differently. According to Socrates, people do wrong when they lack some knowledge. The philosopher states that people can become wiser. Those people, who do not think that they know everything, continue self-development and become wiser: "I know that I know nothing noble and good" (Apology 21d). Those who think that they know everything, do not develop further and do not become wiser, thus they can do wrong. Aristotle agrees with Socrates that wrongdoing may be a consequence of ignorance. But, according to Aristotle, ignorance may serve as an excuse only in some cases (Nicomachean Ethics, Book VII). The strength of Aristotle’s view is in his understanding that people do not always act in the right way even if they know that they do wrong. Socrates values virtues very high and is sure that knowledge is the main source of virtue, and those who possess knowledge will not act irrationally or akratically. This is the weakness of the philosophy of Socrates. The weakness of the philosophy of Plato is that he states that people should receive education in order to follow ethical principles. Aristotle is right assuming that even those who possess knowledge can do wrong. He states that virtue does not depend on corresponding education and it is not necessary to be educated in order to possess virtues. Every person should know how to behave in everyday life and most of the people possess corresponding virtues, but not all the people act in accordance with the virtues they possess. Sometimes when deciding how to act people act in the way that would benefit them most. In this case the virtue can be ignored deliberately. Such situation is frequently met in our life. Another case, when people may act in the wrong way, is the case of ignoring virtues, because of the lack of knowledge how to apply it. It is not ...Show more

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If we talk about the views of Aristotle on the weaknesses of the will, we should recognize that in his outstanding philosophy he followed Plato and Socrates considering acquiring virtues to be the top priority in the life of all of us…
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Aristotle on the weakness of the will essay example
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