Q. What do you understand by the following quote:
“Knowledge is virtue”. (250 words)20 Oct, 2022 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions
- Start the answer by briefly explaining virtue.
- Discuss virtue Theory.
- Discuss the views of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle on Virtue.
- Conclude suitably.
- Virtue can be defined as the moral character of the person carrying out an action, irrespective of ethical duties or the consequences of particular actions.
- A person who possesses the virtue of kindness will behave kindly towards others. He will not act kindly mainly because he thinks that it is his duty do so or because he calculates that acting kindly will maximize total utility in society. He acts kindly because he possesses the virtue of kindness.
- Virtue theory: Virtue theory makes a distinction between moral virtues and non-moral virtues. Moral virtues include kindness, benevolence, compassion, honesty, conscientiousness and gratitude. Examples of non-moral virtues are self-control, patience, courage, endurance, perseverance and so on. Non- moral virtues can be used for bad ends.
- According to Socrates, Virtue is knowledge because through virtue you can live your life in the best possible manner. To explain the importance of the virtue and care of self he says- “I go about doing nothing else than urging you not to care for your persons or property more than for the perfecting of souls and I tell you that virtue is not derived from the wealth, but that virtue is itself the source of wealth and all other good, both for the individual and for the state”.
- Further, the Plato explained virtue by giving his theory of virtue which takes the cue from Socratic doctrine, as he identifies virtue with knowledge. According to him, virtue is teachable, and that humans can learn morality just as they can learn any other subject.
- According to Plato’s theory of virtue, he makes a fourfold division of morals and associates them with different parts of the soul.
- The four virtues are wisdom or prudence, valor, temperance, and justice, Plato divides the soul into three parts–rational, spirited, and appetitive.
- Aristotle is regarded as the first systematic proponent of Virtue ethics and according to him Virtue can be defined as an excellence of character which leads one to act in a morally praiseworthy manner.
- The chief elements of Aristotle’s ethics are consisting of the following:
- The aim of men should be to achieve ‘eudaimonia” which can be interpreted as happiness or flourishing.
- As social creatures, men can achieve this goal by living in communities.
- As rational creatures, men have to lead a life of reason.
- Such life requires cultivation of moral virtues and intellectual virtues. This involves continuous practice.
- Virtue is a golden mean between two extremes and it can be found through practical wisdom.
As per Socrates Virtue is teachable and those who do wrong things do not have knowledge, they are ignorant being when they realize they are doing wrong as the property of knowledge is that no one can harm himself, and everyone wants to live life in best possible manner. Knowledge with virtue is in itself complete and self- sufficient. Thus, virtue is one and it is knowledge.
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