The origins of ancient ethics can be traced back to Rome and Greece. It discusses people’s various requirements. People typically require wealth, health, love, academic and professional success, children, and respect, among other things. These things are seen by everyone as a path to happiness and a comfortable life. Ancient ethics are generally concerned with what constitutes a good and happy life. How can we live a healthy and happy life? This is the most important question in ancient ethics. Happiness, according to ancient ethics, is not based on having material possessions; rather, it is based on engaging in meaningful activities and having pleasant experiences. Understanding life goals and choosing to pursue the good ones is the first step in ethical evaluation. In ancient ethics, intelligence and wisdom are critical to living a happy life. People must first comprehend how their diverse objectives fit together. This involves understanding which goals are important and those that are not. People must understand the goals they should pursue or abandon entirely if they fail to fit together. That way, human beings can achieve their life goals and lead happy and successful lives. Ancient ethics is based on the premise that some goods are not good in the real sense of word. People can misuse or apply the goods to cause harm or exploit others. For instance, strength as good as it may appear can be used to exploit the weak. Plato argues that happiness lies in using the good things or possessions wisely or correctly. Evil is founded on the utilization of the right possession for the wrong reasons. Everything that people do is for the sake of happiness. Wisdom is the greatest good because it gives people the ability to use other goods well. Wisdom should thus be the most sought-after good if people intend to live happy lives. It is way better than material possessions or individual honors.
The second point in ethical evaluation is understanding and practicing virtues.Virtues are important elements in ethics. There is a close association between virtues and happiness. The more virtuous people become, the happier they are. In the ancient years, ethical theorists were keen followers of famous Greek followers like Aristotle and Plato. Plato and Aristotle attempted to bring order by defining how people should lead their lives. Plato, for instance, put forward four virtues that should guide an individual’s life. They include Justice, wisdom, courage, and self-control. Plato identifies wisdom as the most important of all virtues. Wisdom gives people knowledge of what is good and bad. It also enables people to be in peace and harmony with themselves. Aristotle, one of Plato’s students, also shared the same views, though his beliefs were a bit complex. Similar to Plato, Aristotle acknowledges that there is one virtue that is very key than all the others. According to Aristotle, this virtue is prudence. Prudence is the ability to make a good judgment in a difficult situation. It involves figuring out the best course of action; choosing the best course of action leads to a better and happy life. According to Plato, happiness arises from engaging in activities such as community service, having friends and acting in a fair and just manner. In ancient ethics, justice, wisdom, courage, and moderation or self-restraint are the foundations of moral virtue. Justice is acting fairly and giving people what they deserve. Committing an injustice is doing something or taking an action that is not of benefit to everyone. Every social value like wealth, income opportunities and freedom must be distributed equally among all the people unless an unequal distribution of these values is meant to benefit everybody. Courage allows one to act and pursue rights in situations that are intimidating or fearful. Moderation or self-control is about one’s ability to deal with emotions. It also involves the capacity to control earthly appetites. Socrates argues that the worth of a man lies in his ability to take action, regardless of whether the action endangers his life. He only considers one thing; whether his actions are just or not.
The final idea for ethical evaluation point is understanding that virtues can be acquired through training and education. Human virtues fall into two main categories; good characters, and intellectual success. Intellectual success results from continued education and is acquired over time. On the other hand, the goodness of character is acquired through training. This goes to show us that moral virtues are not implanted in a person’s nature. In life, natural things can never be altered by training. For instance, you cannot train water to climb a hill because water naturally flows downhill.This shows us that good people are not born, rather goodness is nurtured throughout life through training and education.
Ancient Greek philosophical theories offer a much wider perspective on life. Greeks philosophers like Plato and his student Aristotle was focused on providing an explanation on what is a real happy life. They emphasized on eudaimonia a Greek term for happiness, rather than bad and good actions. This wider perspective of life led them to focus critically without bias on the motive of human actions. The philosophers also focused more on the virtues that motivate people to act in the right manner. Peoples’ actions cannot be comprehended without understanding the motives behind those actions. The motive of an action has more to with a character of the actor.
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