One of the distinctive features of Aristotle's philosophy of human affairs is his analysis of the various states of character, of which he identifies at least four: the corrupted person, the unrestrained person, the self-restrained person, and the good person. I might describe them briefly as follows:
Two points here are potentially confusing.
First, these states are not all or nothing. We're all familiar with people who might be unrestrained in one respect (say, they have a gambling problem) but who behave in acceptable ways in other aspects or domains of life. Although Aristotle mentions this nuance a few times, he doesn't talk about it in great detail (perhaps because he's interested in understanding the nature of the character states, not in judging individual people).
Second, when we describe these states of character in terms of knowledge and desire, we might infer that there is an inherent conflict between reason and emotion. However, that's not accurate, for two reasons: knowledge too involves yearning (for "all human beings yearn to know") and a wholehearted commitment to the beautifully right and fully human way to live is a seamless combination of yearning and thinking (for "commitment is either desiderative deliberation or deliberative desire").
Finally, what about this concept of "the beautifully right and fully human way to live"? Isn't that antithetical to pluralism about values? Well, maybe, but that's a large topic for a future post or my forthcoming book on Aristotle...
(Cross-posted at philosopher.coach.)
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