By Kristjan Kirstjansson
What can Aristotle educate us that's proper to modern ethical and academic issues? What do we study from him concerning the nature of ethical improvement, the justifiability and educability of feelings, the potential of friendship among mom and dad and their young ones, or the basic goals of teaching?
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Additional info for Aristotle, Emotions, and Education
Some difference must be noted, however, between children at Level 1 and adults who have not moved to a higher level. Whereas the children must be counted as amoral or pre-moral rather Aristotelian Moral Development 21 than vicious or immoral, adults who are still at Level 1 are likely to have developed settled states of character, and vicious ones at that. Level 2 comprises ‘the soft’. The non-rational part of the souls of ‘the soft’ has started to respond to reason and become morally sensitive, but such people lack will-power and resilience and are easily overcome by pain.
This common intuition is shared by Aristotle, and he must, therefore, claim that there was some point in the moral-development process when we could have said ‘stop’ and avoided becoming the individuals that we, as adults, have become. This is, indeed, the tack he takes: it was ‘originally open’ to the persons who are now virtuous or vicious not to have acquired this character. Hence, they are responsible for it; though once they have acquired it, they can ‘no longer get rid of it’ – just as ‘it was up to us to throw a stone, since the origin was in us, though we can no longer take it back once we have thrown it’.
If that is so, perhaps the majority of people can aspire to no more than the type of self-control championed by Cohen. However, Aristotle must be referring to adult citizens, and it would be unreasonable and out of line with his description of the level of ‘the many’ to hold that this level is not the one where most people (if you include such people as children and labourers) are placed. 28 Aristotle, Emotions, and Education Moreover, even it were empirically true that, as things stand now, most adults have not reached higher than the level of continence, it would be morally under-ambitious and blatantly un-Aristotelian to posit that level, as Cohen does, as the ideal level of moral living.
Aristotle, Emotions, and Education by Kristjan Kirstjansson