Tag Archives: aristotle

Aristotle’s Moral Virtues and Vices

In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, moral virtues and their extremes are discussed. That is to say, personal characteristics and the extremes thereof. These extremes – or vices – are two of the three pillars of virtue, the third of which is The Golden Mean, or the Virtuous Mean. This mean is the position on the ‘scale’ where a well-balanced, morally virtuous person would lie.

Here’s that scale:

Vice of Deficiency Virtuous Mean Vice of Excess
Cowardice Courage Rashness
Insensibility Temperance Intemperance
Illiberality Liberality Prodigality
Pettiness Munificence Vulgarity
Humble-mindedness High-mindedness Vain-gloriness
Want of Ambition Right Ambition Over-ambition
Spiritlessness Good Temper Irascibility
Surliness Friendly Civility Obsequiousness
Ironical Depreciation Sincerity Boastfulness
Boorishness Wittiness Buffoonery
Shamelessness Modesty Bashfulness
Callousness Just Resentment Spitefulness

Adapted from the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy’s General Introduction to Aristotle.

An abridged version of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is available from Squashed Philosophers; a site I’ve written about previously.