Ref: Mini Paper #1, 08/15/2014
Question: “Would your Good Person qualify as “good” or “virtuous” according to Aristotle?”
Answering this question poses a dilemma for me in that the person who committed the acts of niceness was in fact myself. Is it possible for me to judge myself sans bias? I’ll try.
As Aristotle is to be the judge of my actions, after reading what I did, I would expect his initial questions of me would be? “Why did you do it? What was your motivation?”
Assuming there might be a pretty severe punishment if I lied to him, I would honestly have to respond:
“I felt I had to.”
To which I’m pretty certain he’d say, “Why did you feel you had to?”
“I do not know sir.”
I honestly cannot say why I helped an almost perfect stranger except to say, it seemed the right thing to do at the time. I expected no gain nor reward. Perhaps I was driven by my past experiences in life, perhaps it was my belief in “Wacantognaka” (Generosity) one of the Virtues of my Lakota Spirit or perhaps simple empathy because he didn’t ask me to, I offered. Whatever the case, I feel that the initial act was the correct thing to do.
As I stated in my original paper, I have continued to help my friend as best I can but with caution and therein lies the question of whether or not my acts can be deemed good.
Giving my friend some furniture did help him a lot but I admit to an ulterior motive – I didn’t have a place to store it and even if I did, I didn’t need it – he did.
As for the computer, I’m sure there is a question as to my motive. Yes, I was trying to sell it and yes, I knew my friend could not afford it BUT he desperately needed it to continue in school. My initial thought was to just give it to him but having been in his situation, I felt the need for mutual trust was important for us, so we agreed to his paying for it when he received his school funds. (He has paid.)
In your treatise “Nicomachean Ethics”, (1144b14–17), you state: “Ethical virtue is fully developed only when it is combined with practical wisdom.” Have I met that criteria in your eyes?
I believe I did. I believe my motives were more positive than negative and that the outcome yet to be judged, may be a positive for more than Sam and me. Without pure intention I believe both Sam and I learned valuable lessons about ourselves and the real meaning of virtue.
Although my days are number now, I believe Sam will go on to do positive things in his life. Perhaps things that will improve the lives of everyone because we shared a trust and learned about ourselves.