Table of Virtues and Vices [Aristotle]

[from Aristotle, Ethics. London: Penguin Classics, 1976--translated by J.A.K. Thomson]

Kind of Activity or Feeling




Fear and Confidence

Rashness Courage Cowardice

Pleasure and Pain

Licentiousness Temperance Insensibility

Getting and Spending [minor]

Prodigality Liberality Illiberality

Getting and Spending [major]

Vulgarity Magnificence Pettiness

Honor and Dishonor [major]

Vanity Magnanimity Pusillanimity

Honor and Dishonor [minor]

Ambition Proper Ambition Unambitiousness


Irascibility Patience Lack of Spirit


Boastfulness Truthfulness Understatement


Buffoonery Wittiness Boorishness

Social Conduct

Obsequiousness Friendliness Cantankerousness


Shyness Modesty Shamelessness


Envy Righteous Indignation Malicious Enjoyment
Friendship: So when people love each other on the ground of utility, their affection is motivated by their own good, and when they love on the ground of pleasure, it is motivated by their own pleasure; that is, they love the other person not for what he [she] is, but qua useful or pleasant.  So these friendships are accidental, because the person loved is not loved on the ground of his actual nature, but merely as providing some benefit or pleasure.  Consequently, such friendships are easily dissolved if the parties do not continue to show the same kind of qualities, because if they cease to be pleasant or useful, the friendship comes to an end. . . .
Only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness is perfect.  For these people, each alike wish good for the other qua good, and they are good in themselves.  And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends' sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he [she] is, and not for any incidental quality.  Accordingly, the friendship of such men [women] lasts as long as they remain good; and goodness is an enduring quality.  Also each person is good both absolutely and for his friend, since the good are both good absolutely and useful to each other [op. cit. 260 to 263]. 
Friendship between unequals: But there is another kind of friendship which involves superiority: e.g. the affection of father for son (and generally of the older for the younger) and of husband for wife and of every person in authority for his subordinates.  These kinds of friendship differ also from each other.  The affection of parents for their children is not the same as that of rulers for subjects; indeed that of father for son is not the same as that of son for father, nor that of husband for wife the same as that of wife for husband.  For each of these persons has different excellence and function, and different reasons for feeling love; and therefore their loves and affections are different too.  . . . the better person must be loved more than he loves, and so must the more useful, and each of the others similarly.  For when the affection is proportionate to merit, the result is a kind of equality, which, of course, is considered to be characteristic of friendship [op.cit. 269/270].
Note that the general goal of Aristotelian ethics is the full self-actualization of an individual.  Aristotle covers fully the nature of the interrelationships of the adult, free males in the city state.  Part of that positioning of the adult male in the society are principles of justice of distribution of goods and services (distributive justice) and adjustment to improperly distributed goods and services (rectificatory justice).  He does not consider slaves, to whom he concedes a tiny smidget of humanity and a largely servile nature into which they were born.  He does not consider any of the domestic relationships, except for what he indicates in the section about "friendship between unequals" section.  He does assert that habituation forms character.  Since women were largely responsible for child rearing, they must therefore be capable of habituating their offspring into the "good character" stage; however, Aristotle clearly asserts that men are the aristocratic heads of household.  If a woman occasionally does rule the household by virtue of her owning property as, say, an heiress to an estate, the domestic system is that of an "oligarchy" or rule of the few, which, according to Aristotle, is inferior to an aristocracy or rule of the best.

Reinhold Schlieper
August 30, 2000