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even when a person is otherwise without assistance. Nevertheless, virtue in the proper sense is something deeper than merely making good choices. For example, genuinely courageous persons will be courageous in the face of danger and just persons will act justly even without fully conscious reflection, but simply because these are the kinds of actions such persons do. For this reason, it is often in moments of crisis and a need for sudden action that a person’s true character reveals itself. How, then, does one cultivate genuine virtue, rather than simply making good choices? Aristotle’s answer to this question is inspired by the parallel of learning to play a musical instrument (EN 2.1.1103a26-b2). By playing an instrument repeatedly, this playing eventually becomes what is now called second nature, and much of the detail of what goes on when playing can then happen without conscious awareness. Similarly, Aristotle argued that if we choose to act well repeatedly, which for him usually means taking the path of moderation between two extremes, these good choices eventually become easy. For example, the person who chooses repeatedly to eat a modest amount at each meal becomes accustomed to this choice and has then acquired a type of temperance. The general principle is that repeated virtuous actions themselves produce virtue (a virtuous circle), just as repeated vicious actions lead to vice (a vicious circle).

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Faith, hope and love (preview)  

Faith, hope and love (preview)