In active life, qualities of character are split into 3 kinds: those for the sake of (1) acts, (2) themselves, and (3) relations.

Thus, “being a doctor” is for the sake of curing illnesses. It is better to cure an illness than to be a doctor. Being a doctor (a state) has no value apart from the curing (an act).

On the other hand, it is better “not to be a glutton” than “on many occasions to have eaten in moderation.” A routine, such as not overeating, is for the sake of a state, not being a glutton. This virtue contributes to the loveliness of the soul and is for its own sake.

Finally, some virtues are for the sake of relations between different individuals. “Not stealing” (act) is for the sake of and inferior to “hating theft” (state) which in its own turn is for the sake of and inferior to a “just society” in which people respect each other’s property rights and are related to each other according to justice.

It is interesting that in the speculative life, these distinctions are not present. To “know” something (an act) is to be able to recall it from memory and contemplate it. Which is exactly identical to “being knowledgeable” about something (a quality). Which again is identical to having a true belief, defined as a correspondence relation between thought and reality.

Categories: Metaethics


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