College Essay Examples

Views of Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas on Virtue

 Plato: Theory of the Good

Plato asserted that individuals’ well-being or life happiness persists as the fundamental target of moral thinking and conduct in society. However, people require virtues that exist as the requisite dispositions and skills needed in attaining righteous thoughts (Broadie, 2005). Furthermore, Plato argued that knowledge regarding virtues and reality originates from transcendent absolutes separated from the material world, thus existing as the realm of fixed principles guiding human actions (Broadie, 2005). On the same note, the individual’s knowledge refers to understanding concepts’ moral ideal and true nature. Furthermore, justice exists as a critical path of virtues leading to good in the community. 

Parts of Virtues 

Plato explained various parts of virtue which assist people in human satisfaction and differentiating good and evil. Virtue has significant connection parts such as wisdom, courage, justice, and moderation. As per Broadie (2005), Wisdom involves an individual’s intellectual abilities. Notably, people should use knowledge in comprehending the moral reality and apply it in daily activities. Besides, individuals with a high level of wisdom have guidance in the rationale of their choices. On the same note, Plato argued that moderation exists as a fundamental part of human virtue leading to self-control and temperance regarding diverse desires in life. People should have to desire good things in the wrong way (Broadie, 2005). Individuals should prevent particular desires that compromise their good character. Equally, Plato explained that justice concentrate on the overall trait of a person. As a result, a just individual persist as fulfilled, happy, and at peace in society (Opsomer, 2011). Hence, justice exists as a significant aspect of human virtue. Nevertheless, courage determines how people encounter adversity in life while aligning with a virtuous life. 

Background Knowledge 

Plato focused on concepts of virtue in two categories, including Republic and Protagoras. Moreover, Protagoras’s argument asserted that virtue exists as a piece of significant knowledge. As a result, Plato explained that people want things they believe to possess good in their lives. Besides, individuals could engage in evil or immoral activities since they believe that such actions are right (Broadie, 2005). Notably, differentiating virtuous and unvirtuous people originates from knowing good things and related activities instead of the desire for good outcomes (Broadie, 2005). Furthermore, from such concepts, Plato’s ideology of human virtue has a background of comprehending the good and participating in actions that could contribute to the good. From the Republican perspective, Plato aligns with the idea of virtue as knowledge. Moreover, he explains the concept using the human soul. For instance, he explained that the human soul possesses three distinct elements: appetite, reason, and spirit (Broadie, 2005). Appetite consists of the souls resembling the animal, which influences lust for body itches and pleasures. Equally, the reason section concentrates on calculating and engaging in rational thinking while spirit involves the emotional perspective of individuals. According to Broadie (2005), Plato asserted that virtue originates from making all the components of the soul operate incorrect relations. As a result, the reason should play an integral role in guiding the soul through the process of decision making and determining and differentiating right and wrong. Thus, spirit follows the reasons leading to offering motivation leading obeying by appetite. 

Aristotle: Teleology

Aristotle defined virtue as a character to behave appropriately while considering vices such as excesses and extreme deficiency. Notably, Aristotle argued that people learn moral virtue through habit and practices instead of instruction and reasoning (Green, 2012). Equally, virtuous life involves possessing an appropriate attitude towards vices such as pleasure and pain. Through teleology, Aristotle focused on studying the outcomes or purpose of various human actions and the things they serve. Besides, Aristotle concentrated on the role played by habit in an individual’s conduct. According to Green (2012), virtues fundamentally manifest in actions. Moreover, life satisfaction exit as the highest good aimed by diverse human activities. Furthermore, virtuous people engage in activities leading to human well-being (Green, 2012). On the same note, rationality persists as specific actions distinguishing human beings from plants and animals. 

Part of Virtue According to Aristotle

Aristotle asserted that justice exists as a significant part of virtue which facilitates treating and dealing with others. Justice exists between selflessness and selfishness applied in various situations in different forms. 

Background Information

The concepts of teleology focused on circumstances under which moral responsibilities attributed to individual agents, the structure of vices and virtues while evaluating moral actions and techniques of attaining personal happiness in life. Besides, Aristotle critically concentrated on the personality or character of a person, which leads to engaging in good deeds. As a result, human beings focus on the outcome that exits happiness (Green, 2012). Furthermore, true happiness and life satisfaction originate from the cultivation and practice of virtue that makes complete life human life system (Broadie, 2005). Aristotle described the nature of virtue of personality as the dispositions to behave in a particular manner that responds to the same conditions leading to habit formation. Hence, good conduct originates from a formed habit acquired through repeated activities and corrections (Kern, 1983). Based on Aristotle’s concepts, ethics persist as practical instead of theoretical principles leading to acting and accepting the ethical duties in society. However, individuals should engage in responsible actions voluntarily. Involuntary activities originate from external forces arising from outside agents. Equally automatic actions occur as a result of ignorance. As per Broadie (2005), acting voluntary depends on deliberation concerning the choices on the action performed by the individual. Notably, in the process of reviews, activities of people are assessed and evaluated by focusing on light of good in which moral actions persist within people’s power and decision to engage or avoid. Thus, people could be held responsible for their actions and repercussions (Green, 2012). Therefore, genuine happiness originates from engaging in activities that contribute to virtue since moral activities are pleasant, complete, continuous, and self-sufficient. 

Aquinas: On God

Thomas Aquinas defined virtue as the habit that acts as an agent to engage in proper operation. Besides, the reason exists as a proper operation of human beings, and practices assist in reasoning well in society (Kaczor, 2021). Moreover, all virtues contribute to individual rational perfection instead of disposing people towards moral action and life. Notably, Aquinas asserted that some virtues focus on intellectual perfection, such as the world’s origin and how it operates. Furthermore, religion persists as the distinct moral virtue that aims to render God a source of life and the whole being and provider of everything on earth (Stump, 2012). As a result, religion persists as a significant part of virtue (Kaczor, 2021). The virtue of faith has different from other virtues due to the involvement of offering homage to God due to obedience to the first commandment. Similarly, Aquinas devised five arguments to prove the existence of God, including motion, causation, and contingency, as the first three referred to as cosmological arguments (Stump, 2012). The causation argument concentrates on the cause of events influencing specific changes in things. The fourth and fifth arguments comprised the degree of perfection and means of demonstrating the existence of God, respectively. Aquinas argued that natural human bodies possess limited intelligence for providing directions. Thus, it requires guidance from a knowledgeable Supreme Being such as God.  

Part of Virtues 

Aquinas focused on cardinal virtue leading to a salient form of moral actions, including fundamental elements such as prudence, justice, courage, and temperance. As per Kaczor (2021), prudence involves engaging in suitable activities due to moral judgments on personal behaviors. Notably, making sound ethical judgments requires significant knowledge of moral principles, which guides actions situations requiring particular decisions and activities (Stump, 2012). Aquinas explained that prudence has functions of principle virtue which lays the foundation for others excellences. Such excellences include reason, caution, docility, memory, foresight, and intelligence, which minimizes cognitive errors and acts morally upright (Kaczor, 2021). Equally, Aquinas argued that temperance denotes the type of moderation in every ethical virtue. Similarly, justice defines people’s relationships with others in society and diverse environments and situations (Kaczor, 2021). Legal justice governs an individual’s action aligned with the common good and benefits to community welfare. 

Background Information 

Aquinas broad view of virtues concentrated on perfecting diverse human powers. Furthermore, virtues originate from the development of habits among people leading to disposing of agents of moral actions. Human activities contain acts subject to human will and reason. As a result, human virtue originates from multiple powers subject to rules of choice and reason (Kaczor, 2021). Furthermore, virtue persists as the mean associating the defect and excess while exercising power. Factors of happiness and satisfaction in human life resulted in a distinction between Aquinas’ theological and natural virtues. For example, natural virtues relate to happiness due to human nature (Kaczor, 2021). Nature virtues comprise intellectual and moral virtues, which involves perfection in intellect and good work through apprehension of truth and habit perfecting diverse powers relating to human appetite, respectively (Stump, 2012). Theological virtues include hope, faith and love, which bears the eternal beatitude facilitated by God’s gift, such as grace. Hence, it cannot acquire through human effort (Kaczor, 2021). Therefore, a virtuous person should learn and comprehend the natural laws from God, which play a significant role in governing the motion of the objects and ethical behaviors. Hence, existing as ration persist as the human end which needs intellectual discipline. 

According to Aquinas, Plato and Aristotle, people opt to develop virtuous characteristics for being an as good individual in society based on their actions despite the philosophers using different theories and directions in explaining the concepts. Aristotle asserted that people focus on virtuous life to facilitate continuous and complete life satisfaction leading to personal happiness. As per Kern (1983), Aristotle argued that human beings exist as social and rational animals that require well-being in different environments and circumstances. Notably, being virtuous plays an integral role in living well, leading to making the right decision and participating in actions that lead to the greater good. Aristotle insinuated that people would live virtuous life to have the right choices that contribute to the greater good (Kern, 1983). Besides, achieving righteous life facilitates happiness leading to complete and satisfying life. Aquinas explained that people have various reasons for engaging in a virtuous life. For example, practising different types of virtue aims at the human right end and achieve well in the natural realm through the union of God (Kaczor, 2021). On the same note, people would prefer living virtuous life to uncover God’s natural law and stipulated in creation. As a result, rational reflection on actions that aligns with natural law leads to comprehending the ethical virtues. Besides, learning and understanding virtues contribute to living and practising moral life as required by society and possessing the universal truth. Moreover, Plato engaging in virtuous life concentrating on attaining personal happiness and life satisfaction in the community. 

Relationship between Virtue Happiness

Virtue plays a fundamental role in influencing individuals’ happiness since virtues provide the power to control various life factors. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle asserted that engaging in morally accepted actions contributes to happiness (Broadie, 2005). The relationship between virtue and happiness begins with a soul, which comprises various sections. The vegetative component enhances reproduction, growth, and nutrition in animals, human beings and plants (Opsomer, 2011). Furthermore, the sensitive soul comprises the five senses, while the components of the third included the rational and intellectual soul, which facilitates in-depth thinking and decision making (Opsomer, 2011). Moreover, happiness originates from lifetime goals that comprise good health, friends and family, knowledge, and wealth, contributing to the perfection and enrichment of human life. Such factors require people to make choices (Kern, 1983). However, attaining complete virtue originates from making the right decisions while focusing on the future and the outcome. Besides, happiness arises from exercising virtue (Broadie, 2005). Hence, engaging in virtuous actions enhances personal satisfaction. Therefore, genuine happiness comes from activities that facilitate virtue due to providing genuine value instead of amusement. 

Strengths and Weakness

Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas formulated significant theories to explain virtue. However, their concepts have various weaknesses and strengths.

Plato: Theory of the Good

The theory possesses various strengths, including explanations of why people recognize similar and significant elements. Furthermore, the theory facilitates questioning and learning new things and concepts subject to the subject (Broadie, 2005). Equally, the theory assists in understanding the existing imperfections and evil in the environment and society and the reason for their existence. Nevertheless, Plato’s argument enhances identification and categorization of various things human beings experience leading to making diverse decisions. Moreover, the model possesses particular weaknesses such as ideas and empiricism. Plato argued that knowledge and belief originate from backgrounds.

Aristotle: Teleology 

Aristotle argument has significant strength, such as being supported by inductive reasoning. The concept provides both natural and revealed theology leading to the presence of essential evidence. Furthermore, the idea is straightforward, leading to an understandable argument. Similarly, Aristotle argument aligns with scripture. Notably, the theory possesses some drawbacks, including being subjective with inductive reasoning having various flaws. 

Aquinas: On God

Strengths of the theory include the nature of the universe, which concentrates on its origin and existence. The model has significant support from a theological and scientific perspective. For example, the big bang theory explains the origin of the universe (Kaczor, 2021). Equally, time and the universe cannot exist as infinite due to constant changes in events, as explained by Aquinas. Besides, experience contributes to understanding the universe, including reasons for various events (Kaczor, 2021). Moreover, the concept has particular weaknesses, such as stating that the universe has always existed, which have limited prove for a reason for its existence and origin. 

I significantly agree with Aquinas based on various reasons. For example, most of Aquinas’ arguments are derived from the works of Plato and Aristotle hence presenting an understandable explanation of virtue. Furthermore, Aquinas incorporates diverse disciplines, including religion, science, and philosophy, contributing to his argument’s considerable evidence and support. 


Broadie, S. (2005). Virtue and beyond in Plato and Aristotle. The Southern Journal of Philosophy43(S1), 97-114.

Green, B. P. (2012). Teleology and theology: The cognitive science of teleology and the Aristotelian virtues ofTechneand wisdom. Theology and Science10(3), 291-311.

Kaczor, C. (2021). The reception of Thomas Aquinas in moral theology and moral philosophy in the late twentieth century. The Oxford Handbook of the Reception of Aquinas, 483-500.

Kern, W. (1983). Returning to the Aristotelian paradigm: Daly and Schumacher. History of Political Economy15(4), 501-512.

Opsomer, J. (2011). Virtue, fortune, and happiness in theory and practice. Virtues for the People, 151-174.

Stump, E. (2012). The non-aristotelian character of Aquinas’s ethics: Aquinas on the passions. Faith, Rationality, and the Passions42, 91-106.

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By Sandra Arlington

Sandra Arlington is a contributing writer to the Motley Fool. Having written for various online magazines, such as Ehow and LiveStrong, she decided to embark on a travel blog for the past 10 years. She is also a regular contributor to My Essay Writer.

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