Aristotle on Improving One's Character

Phronesis 45 (3):205 - 219 (2000)
Abstract
Contrary to what most interpreters hold, in the "Nicomachean Ethics" Aristotle is not committed to the view that people of established vicious character could never become good. The present paper proves this result (1) by giving a better reading of 1114 a 12-21, a passage which has traditionally been taken to assert that unjust and self-indulgent people are doomed to a lifetime of vice; (2) by showing that when Aristotle refers to self-indulgent people as "incurable", he does not mean that they could never change, but only that they could not change as a result of external influences such as persuasion or punishment; (3) by proving that although Aristotle regards the desires of vicious people as determined by their character, there is room within Aristotelian moral psychology for the possibility that people of corrupt character become motivated to begin a process of moral reform.
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