Nicomachean Ethics: Ruminations on Virtue Essay

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Nicomachean Ethics: Ruminations on Virtue

Humans are categorized as the only rational animal; we have the ability to reason, and using our skills of reasoning allows us to oftentimes act against what (could be considered) a “natural” instinct and do something seemingly selfless simply because it conforms to the individual’s notion of what is right. There is an inherent self-awareness to human sentience that does, indeed reasonably separate us from the animal kingdom. However our defining self-awareness and free will is precisely what feeds into the illusion that we are in complete control over our actions, when as Aristotle argues, our absolute adherence to what we believe to be morally right, is entirely dependent upon our environment.
In “Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle argues that individuals are merely products of their upbringing and that their idea of morality and ethics is molded by their society and its values. Human character is akin to a canvas, blank and ready to be filled; so from the day that we are born, we are being cultivated to repeat behaviors and actions that our society views as right. One’s ability to properly assimilate into the society will depend on their ability to conform to society’s notion of what traits that person should have depending upon the position (e.g. gender roles, economic class etc.) that person has holds. Various social forces (i.e. peer pressure) will play a large role in the assimilation or “development” of the individual as a…