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I am in the process of responding to one of the latest Reading Comprehension Questions in my Ethics course. This week we were reading from pages 27-33 of Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics (2nd Ed.) Translated by Terence Irwin. The question posed is thus:

Choose some virtue not discussed by Aristotle and present an Aristotelian analysis. Be sure to give a careful picture of what the virtue and its corresponding vices would look like.

And the below is my drafted response. I was wondering if anyone could provide input, and see if there is anything I might be overlooking regarding the Aristotelian Analysis?

RESPONSE:

For my Virtue in this discussion I have chosen Forgiveness. This virtue is defined and described as follows:

Being forgiving is giving someone another chance after they have done something wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. Instead of revenge, make amends. Forgive yourself too. Instead of feeling hopeless after a mistake, decide to act differently, and have faith that you can change.

Forgiveness in many situations is difficult to give, to another entity and even to oneself. Even in my personal life, I currently struggle to forgive a person whom I care deeply for who has caused a lot of pain with their actions towards both myself and someone I also care deeply for. It has been several years since the hurtful actions took place, and while on the surface the relationships appear to have returned to normal, for me the pain is still there; deep and throbbing under the surface of every one of my thoughts. It has taken a lot of restraint on my end to keep myself from drifting into close companionship with the Bottle, or to lash out physically against the person or even my own surroundings.

To forgive is to move on. To let the actions of the past remain in the past and look only towards the future. It also means to (still) continue to act as if the actions never occurred in the first place. It means to devalue the pain that was caused to the injured parties, and move forward as if “it was no big deal”. The virtuous act is to forgive in this situation, with hope and faith move forward that such actions will never occur again. But with no punishment of value having occurred to the actionable party to make up for their offense, I am not sure at this time I am capable of giving forgiveness. This is not to say in this situation I would like to see the other party punished, but I do not wish the injustice done to myself and the other party to be so devalued as to just be “swept under the rug”.

In this situation I believe Aristotle would advise moving forward, to forgive. I think his justification would be more peace for the mind and body; to let the anger, hurt, and all the other whirlwind of emotions be let go of. No one benefits from the lack of forgiveness in this situation, and it only harms myself to not give it. To not forgive is a vice, as I will continue to hurt my own mental state and perhaps boil over to a point of harming even my physical state in some manner. But to just forgive I see also as a Vice, for there will have been no reprimand for the harmful actions and no justification (if there will ever be) for the harm befallen me.

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    What would forgiveness be the mean between in terms of behavior? Your question does not seem to address this at all... You seem to be confusing something moral to do with a virtue. – virmaior Dec 15 '14 at 1:37

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