Virtue by Plato

Essay by FelipeSCastCollege, UndergraduateB+, November 2014

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F. Suarez

The Pursuit of Happiness


When we look up the word virtue in the dictionary, a collection of words and phrases is presented to us. Generally, virtue is associated with a character that displays a sort of moral excellence and is synonymous with merit and valor (Webster Dictionary). With this said, can one of the greatest connections towards obtaining a happy life be associated with living a virtuous life? In order to answer this question we can look into the definition of virtue proposed by Plato as well as the theory of the divided self, proposed by philosopher Jonathan Haidt, and see its connection to human development. In the movie, Her, Samantha, an artificially intelligent operating system, proves just how important virtue was in her life. She goes through several stages of development, redefining her virtue, which ultimately guides her to become a more evolved and happier being as she becomes more virtuous (Film: Her). Through this, we see that as human beings develop personal characteristics by being virtuous, their own meaning of life evolves through this pursuit.

Plato views the effect of virtue as a state of the soul. He explains that the soul is divided into three parts: Reason (rational part), Spirit (emotional part), and Appetite (irrational part); and in order for a soul be truly virtuous, these three parts act in unison to promote the well-being of a person without one part having more authority over the others. He explains that "acts of injustice lead to disorder among the parts," because these acts make the soul unbalanced-with all three parts interfering with each other without listening to reason (Vitrano, Christine). That is why an unjust soul has an appetite that is tempted to pursue harmful pleasures, which causes that soul to be...