Aristotle wrote some 2400 years ago, but his writings seem everlasting, and some
what truthful, even now. Virtue ethics are in Book II of Nichomachean Ethics. Virtue
ethics, as told by Aristotle, and translated by Richard McKeon, have been the basis of
ethics and philosophy. In Nichomachean Ethics he observed what distinguishes us from
animals and the undeniable pursuit that makes us human. All of Aristotle’s ideas are
pertinent to present-day life and thought.
Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. at ancient Stagira in Greek, Macedonia. His
father, Nichomachus, was a personal physician for the king of Macedon, and could very
well have transmitted a scientific, yet observational way of thinking into his son. His
father died when he was seventeen. Aristotle then went on to become a pupil pf Plato. He
studied under Plato for about twenty years. That was where he broadened his interests and
embraced ethics. Plato often referred to Aristotle as, “the mind on legs” (Aristotle in 90
Minutes--pg. 13). At the age of thirty seven he married Pythias who was eighteen at the
time. In later years she died giving birth to their daughter. He then married Herpyllis, a
maidservant, who gave him his first son Nicomachus, to, whom he dedicated
Nichomachean Ethics. In 322 B.C. at the age of sixty-three, Aristotle took his own life.
The virtue ethics Aristotle accentuated are the importance of virtue and reason for
good moral character. He argued/believed that good is the aim of every action and every
action has a purpose. He gave two classifications of good: “Good as a means; Good as an
end.” He thought the reason other purposes were sought was to achieve the ultimate
purpose in life, which was happiness. Happiness was only to be achieved by living a
He analyzed what virtues lead humans to happiness and the vices that lead them...