Aristotle’s Concept Of Virtue Ethics Free Writing Sample

The combination of such qualities as generosity, kindness, honesty, courage, modesty, and hospitality in one person is scarce. However, when this happens, the carrier of all these traits is called virtuous, a hero, or a saint (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017). Such people become role models, inspiring society to develop positive personality characteristics. Aristotle considered the concept of virtue in his ethical theory. The philosopher attached particular importance to the moral ethics of the individual’s personality traits, rather than social duties and rules. However, Aristotle, like other thinkers, emphasized that virtues “need to be nurtured and require time” (Grimi, 2019, p. ix). In this way, the theory differs from other ethical views in several ways discussed by scholars.

In the article “Teaching the Virtue,” Cristina Hoff Sommers (1993) criticizes how virtue is being taught in American colleges. She argues that “social morality is only half of the moral life; the other half is private morality” (Sommers, 1993, p. 3). However, there is a big focus on discussing social policy with college students. Teachers do not emphasize such topics as “private decency, honesty, personal responsibility, or honor” (Sommers, 1993, p. 3). Thus, according to Sommers (1993), the main problem today is the lack of personal morality education. Therefore, from the perspective of content, she proposes introducing students to the works of philosophers on the theory of virtue, including Aristotle’s ethics. Sommers notes that many find the idea of ​​discussing the development of virtuous traits appealing. Sommers finds it necessary to study philosophical ideas in schools, suggesting teachers reject the system when a student comprehends moral values himself. Instead, there should be a direct explanation, stories of goodness, and the cultivation of ideas of “civility, kindness, self-discipline, and honesty” (Sommers, 1993, p. 11). Thus, in terms of scope, teaching children about moral heritage through literature and history should be ubiquitous in schools and colleges.

In her lectures on Aristotle’s virtue ethics, Professor Tamar Gendler describes two kinds of laws ruling the people’s lives. The first type is normative law, which expresses judgments about the way entities should be. The second one is descriptive law, which, on the other hand, describes what entities are. Thus, a habit is a tool for transforming normative law into a descriptive one. Gendler says that Aristotle’s basic insight is that “if you want to become something, act as if that is what you already were” (YaleCourses, 2012, 7:10-7:23). Behavior initially under conscious control can be automatized through the constant repetition of the same action. Therefore, once a person becomes habitual to a certain behavior, a normative rule transforms into a descriptive one. Thus, the development of virtue, from the point of view of Aristotle, requires repeating virtuous actions.

The view of virtuous behavior development described by Tamar Gendler may be considered human programming. Nevertheless, a person should choose to start cultivating a habit. It was noticed that turning normative law into a descriptive one requires repeating actions, which takes some effort. Therefore, such a view seems to be a combination of personal choice, in the first place, and conscious human programming. This approach corresponds with Sommers’s idea in the way that it is necessary to introduce students to the possibility of studying virtue. Once they can develop their morality through virtuous acts, it would be easier to form a habit at a young age.

In Sommers’s article, the need to study classical philosophical texts in colleges is convincing because that can help form awareness of the concept of virtue among children. However, her proposal to exclude the teaching through the actions of the students themselves is questionable as they would lack experience and the ability to analyze their behavior through the lens of morality. Thus, Gendler’s lecture is an overview, while the article analyzes the problem and ways to solve it. However, both materials explore the importance of a habit in forming personal morality and developing virtuous qualities.

References

Grimi, E. (2019). Introduction. In Virtue ethics: Retrospect and prospect (pp. 1-16). Springer.

MacKinnon, B., & Fiala, A. (2017). Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues. Cengage Learning.

Sommers, S. H. (1993). Teaching the virtue. Public Interest, 111, 3-13. Web.

YaleCourses. (2012). 9. Virtue and Habit I [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Symbolism Used By Hawthorn To Support The Theme Of “Young Goodman Brown”

“Young Goodman Brown,” a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is surrounded by the historical context of Puritan New England. Even though the historical events are not central to the literary work, they significantly define the main themes and issues addressed by the author. “Young Goodman Brown” tells a story of a Puritan man whose beliefs in goodness and social morality are easily undermined as he witnesses his fellow townspeople turn to evil. Thus, Hawthorne raises several themes, such as the good versus the bad, morality versus temptation, and faith versus guilt. The motif of good and evil is emphasized by charactonyms and the devil’s figure, which embodies the dark side of human nature. Goodman and his pure-hearted wife Faith are opposed to Satan, who wishes to bring out the worst in all people. At the beginning of the short story, Brown represents innocence and piousness as he tells his wife to pray and go to bed early to avoid any harm while he is away. Throughout the story, the man discovers that many of those appearing religious and righteous, in fact, have connections with Satan. At this point, the author touches upon another important theme: morality and temptation. The more respectable people turn to the devil, the weaker Goodman’s sense of morality and the stronger his temptation are. Finally, the motifs of faith versus guilt are woven into Hawthorne’s story as the protagonist is torn between staying loyal to God for Faith’s sake or siding with the devil. As Goodman witnesses his wife in her cap with pink ribbons to attend the unholy meeting in the forest, his doubts are dispelled, and the man gives in to the evil. Faith, her pink ribbons, and the gloomy forest create vivid images in readers’ minds. Overall, the short story applies allegory and numerous symbols to reveal the central motifs. Hawthorne uses forest setting, the name Faith, and pink color as symbols to support the theme of “Young Goodman Brown.”

First, the author depicts the dark and gloomy forest that has a symbolic value in this short story. Considering the psychological aspect of the symbol, it is evident that a forest often stands for the unconscious and the forbidden. In the context of “Young Goodman Brown,” this meaning is reinforced by the devil character that embodies evil and danger. Puritans believed that he dwells in the forest, and as Brown notices the figure of a man, he suspects it might be Satan himself. The woods is associated with wildness and pristine nature that conceals the darkest fears, sins, and desires. Brown is well aware of the fact that his journey to the forest is evil and sinful in nature, yet he decides to go that way. Moreover, he is astonished to discover that many of his fellow townspeople follow the same path through the woods. Hence, the connection between wild nature and impure thoughts turned towards the devil becomes obvious. According to Cook, the pass from Salem village to the forest symbolizes the transition from the conscious to the subconscious (474). As Brown leaves his wife home and steps out in the dark, he begins the self-exploration journey. It can be seen from his attempts to remain loyal to God and his Faith, which are supplanted by doubt. Gradually, Brown gets enticed by Satan, and the more sinful people he witnesses, the weaker his faith is. In this regard, there is a clear distinction between the safety of the village and the dangers of the forest, such as temptation and the devil himself. Hawthorne draws parallels with the biblical Garden of Eden as Goodman Brown faces the choice of staying home with his wife Faith or going out to see what the woods conceal. The moment he decides to join Satan is the moment when he experiences a fall from innocence. However, not only the devil figure is used to convey the symbolic meaning of the forest. Hawthorne creates other images, such as trees hiding Indians and wild animals, who represent the dark dangers to the Puritans and their beliefs. In this regard, “Young Goodman Brown” features such classic elements as the descriptions of morbid characters and events, fitting the genre of the dark romance. The encounter with the Satan and emotional suffering of the protagonist enhance the readers’ perception. The forest ceremony is the apogee of the story as it reveals that Faith attends the unholy meeting. Moreover, after Brown eventually loses his faith, nature begins to mock him, and frightful sounds fill the forest, turning it into a sin sanctuary. Hawthorne does not state whether the night events take place in reality or inside Goodman’s dreams. As Cook claims, the real and the illusional can barely be distinguished in the story (474). Therefore, the forest plays an essential role in “Young Goodman Brown,” representing the evil and the subconscious.

Furthermore, Hawthorne uses the name Faith to support the main themes of his short story. Similarly to the protagonist’s name Goodman, Faith is not an accidental choice of words. This charactonym stands for Goodman’s own faith and Puritan beliefs. The name suggests that its owner is pure-heated and pious. Indeed, the story pictures a pure young lady with childish manners and a youthful, innocent appearance. As Fogle states, Hawthorn emphasizes Faith’s resemblance to an angel (456). Her hat with pink ribbons emphasizes her uncorrupted nature and faith in the good. Faith worries about her husband leaving her alone at night and asks him to stay as though she can sense something ominous. This episode indicates her sensitive and thoughtful nature, which quickly recognizes when something unholy is about to happen. Besides, the young woman represents Goodman’s focus on the moral behavior of others. As he goes deeper into the forest, he turns to Faith’s image that reminds him of purity and Puritan ways of living. The memories become vague, and the doubt intensifies as Brown walks further. In this regard, Faith is a symbol of safety and stability along with the village. The more Goodman distances himself from his wife, the weaker his faith becomes, and the harder he finds it to resist the devil. Even though he turns to his wife as a last resort before giving in, his faith was, in fact, corrupted long before. At the beginning of the story, Brown’s wife tells him to wait until sunrise as if she guesses his sinful intentions. However, Goodman sends her to bed, which can be viewed as a metaphor for neglecting his conscience and taking the first step towards sin. He recalls her image as he doubts others’ goodness and believes that if his wife remains good-hearted, he should resist the temptation. However, once this belief collapses as Brown notices Faith in the forest, his evil side begins to take control of his thoughts. This rapid change of heart reveals that Goodman’s faith is easily corrupted as it only relies on the morality of others instead of his inner principles. Once the collective sense of the spiritual and sane disappears, Brown gives up on Faith. According to Connolly, the protagonist’s estrangement from his wife is symbolic, in essence, as it represents the consequences of his poor decision to abandon God (371). Goodman’s attachment to Faith, i.e., his faith in the good, is not strong enough, resulting in his disappointment in others and his miserable fate. The character’s reliance on others’ purity highlights the issue of the Puritan society that valued the outer image more than individual core beliefs. Therefore, Faith is a powerful symbol in “Young Goodman Brown,” used to depict Brown’s faith in God and others and its eventual loss that reveals society’s hypocrisy at the time.

Finally, Hawthorn uses the color pink and its symbolic meaning to emphasize his point in “Young Goodman Brown.” It is used to describe the ribbons in the hat of Goodman’s wife. The symbol is vivid, and it draws the reader’s attention throughout the story. Hawthorn first mentions it in the scene where Faith tries to convince her husband to stay home. Traditionally, pink is associated with innocence and youth. It matches Faith’s character as she is described as a young wife, delicate, naïve, innocent, and childish. Pink is a color of happiness and joy, which is compliant with the angelic appearance of Goodman’s wife. Later on, as Brown walks in the forest, his faith is shaken as he suspects that his wife might be attending the unholy meeting. Goodman has slight hope that his wife resists the devil as he sees a pink ribbon flutter down from the sky. For Brown, it indicates that Faith must not be as righteous, undermining his beliefs, and attempt to resist temptation. He is stunned by the idea that his wife gave up on God and took off her pink ribbons, losing her pure nature. At this point, the symbol takes on another meaning, symbolizing the shallow appearance of faith that he relied upon. Fogle compares Faith’s pink ribbon to Othello’s handkerchief, pointing out that it can be viewed as a sign that Brown’s journey was a dream (451). Nevertheless, as the protagonist sees his wife returning home in the morning, he pushes her away, unsure how to interpret the meaning of her pink ribbons she is wearing again. They might be viewed as proof that the encounter with the devil was illusory, or they might confirm the superficial nature of human faith. Overall, Hawthorn uses the color pink to highlight the character’s purity and leave it to the reader to question it after the meeting in the forest.

To conclude, in “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorn uses symbols such as forest, Faith, and the color pink to support the theme of his short story. The main ideas addressed by the author are the hypocrisy of the Puritan society and the unreliability of faith, based on external representations of morality. The inner conflict of Goodman Brown is enhanced by the symbolic meaning of the settings, people, and colors.

Works Cited

Connolly, Thomas E. “Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’: An Attack on Puritanic Calvinism.” American Literature, vol. 28, no. 3, 1956, pp. 370–375. JSTOR, Web.

Cook, Reginald. “The Forest of Goodman Brown’s Night: A Reading of Hawthorne’s” Young Goodman Brown”.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 10, 1970, pp. 473–481. JSTOR.

Fogle, Richard H. “Ambiguity and Clarity in Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown.’” The New England Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 4, 1945, pp. 448–465. JSTOR, Web.

Bengali People Culture And Origins Of Bengali New Year

Interview Summary: The culture of the Bengali people

This interview delves into the culture of the Bengali people. Being one of the largest ethnic groups in the world, the Bengali traditions extend to millions of people, however, their influence is felt primarily in Bangladesh. Bengali New Year is one of the most symbolic and well-known manifestations of the Bengali culture. As the interviewee stated, it is better known in its original nomenclature as Pahela Baishakh.

It is a national festival that is celebrated annually on April 14 in Bangladesh. The interesting aspect of the holiday is that it is not specific to a particular religion. Representatives of all faiths and religions are welcome to engage in celebration. The respondent recalls the celebration of the holiday in 2018, when her Bengali Muslim friends congratulated the Hindu Bengalis who were dancing near them. Not only did the Hindu reciprocate the welcoming attitude, but they also proceeded to get acquainted with the Muslim group. This interaction exemplifies how Pahela Baishakh remarkable is since it is the only national event, which transcends the boundaries of group identities.

During the interview, it was established that Pahela Baishakh has major importance to the Bangladeshis, with many customary rituals performed. For instance, families prepare masks and floats, symbolizing evil, courage, strength, and peace. The celebration begins early morning, with people participating in songs and rallies. On April 15, the Bengali give each other sweets as gifts. Specific cuisine is served as festive food, which includes watered rice, panta ilish, and different pastes.

The interview also disclosed the significance of the Bengali New Year to the world’s cultural history. The middle of the 20th century was marked by the Bangladeshis’ resistance to Pakistan. Pahela Baishakh was seen as a national expression of pride and culture among the Bengali. As an acknowledgment of its role in the foreign struggle, UNESCO recognized the Bengali New Year as a cultural heritage of humanity.

Overall, the interviewee noted that the Pahela Baishakh reflects the pride of the Bengali people. Despite the majority of population following Islam, Bangladeshis also have large numbers of Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists. Yet Bengali New Year is a festival that unites all people irrespective of their religion, gender, and ethnicity. It shows a high degree of acceptance to the groups that are not dominant in society, as well as highlights the diversity of views of the Bengali people.

Interview Review: The origins of the Bengali New Year

The questions asked in this interview pertained to the origins of the Bengali New Year. As it became apparent, there is no single theory describing its roots. Until the 16th century, the Bengali people lived according to the Islamic lunar calendar. It created difficulties for farmers, as the tax collection was not synchronized with the natural agricultural cycles. The introduction of a new Bengali calendar alleviated tax payments to farmers. Subsequently, Emperor Akbar marked the change in the system measuring time by declaring a festivity on the first day of each consecutive year.

According to the interviewee, another explanation points to the mentions of the Bengali calendar’s chronology in the temples preceding Emperor Akbar by centuries. With these findings in mind, it is viable to suggest that the ancient calendar was taken and presented as the Bengali. At any rate, Pahela Baishakh is an essential Bengali holiday that has counterparts in other countries. For example, similar festivities occur in Indian states, specifically, in Odisha, Tripura, and Assam. In Indian states, the festival is named Poyla Boishakh, and it is also accompanied by music and dances. Bengali Indian families also add the traditional Indian alpana to house decoration, thus underscoring the national specific of the holiday.

The respondent posits a link between tax collection during Akbar’s rule and the traditions associated with the start of a new year in Bangladesh. It is customary to pay off debts on the last day of the passing year. The first day of a new year is favored for new beginnings. Whether it is a wedding day, a new business contract being singed, or an enterprise being set up, all initiatives undertaken on this day are believed to be fruitful and long-lasting. Businesses open new accounting books as a homage to Pahela Baishakh origin.

Altogether, Bengali New Year signifies the people’s respect for their history. The respondent remembers a conversation he had had with a participant of the festival in 2020 who claimed to associate Pahela Baishakh with pride of the valiant struggle of the Bengalis against the Pakistani rule. Moreover, the Indian Bengalis chose to add national and Hindu elements to their version of Bengali New Year, also using the Hindu variation of swastika in decorations. In contrast, the Bengalis purposefully do not affiliate Pahela Baishakh with religion, thus simultaneously avoiding communication difficulties and praising their historic achievements.

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