Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
. . is a characteristic involving choice, and . . . consists in observing the mean relative to us, a mean which is defined by a rational principle" (43). The vicious person is unwilling or incapable of finding and practicing this mean.

Another important aspect of Aristotle's definitions of virtue and vice is the concept of pleasure and pain and the relationship of those two conditions to the moral education of the child. Clearly, the individual who experiences pleasure from an act will repeat the act again and again in order to re-experience that pleasure, and will avoid an act which brings him pain. In this sense, a human being is as simple as any animal which is subject to the laws of conditioning.

Therefore, as Aristotle sees it, the problem is one of strictly controlled education. Society is responsible for educating its citizens, especially its children, with respect to the pleasures and pains of both virtue and vice:

Men must be brought up from childhood to feel pleasure and pain at the proper things; for this is correct education. . . . It is through pleasures and pains that men are corrupted, i.e., through pursuing and avoiding pleasures and pains either of the wrong kind or at the wrong time or in the wrong manner. . . . (37).

An effective moral education, then, will teach the individual to experience "the noble, the beneficial, and the pleasurable" aspects of virtue, while avoiding "the base, the ha

 
 
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