Character is…

A character can be defined as a function a person has or lacks moral virtues and vices. Philosophically, the moral character of an individual determines what kind of person he or she is likely to be. In addition, the moral character determines other aspects such as virtual and ethics which are critical for co-existence among human beings. The virtues and the vices that constitute a character can be identified by one’s day to day behavior or one’s style of response to certain circumstances. An example is an honesty. A person who has the characteristic of honesty will be disposed to tell the truth when asked about something. The dispositions to a character are long-term and tend to be stable. Dispositions are also robust and are consistent in the wide range of conditions. This is because it is virtually impossible for a person who has a character of honesty to consistently tell the truth to one party and constantly lie to another. The character is at the intersection of issues in empirical psychology and normative ethics. Therefore, it is possible to approach character through observing the standards set by normative ethics. Alternatively, it is possible to approach character based on the provisions of the moral character. The following paper is an evaluation of my own character based on the opinion of philosophers.

My Character According to Aristotle

Aristotle’s views on character are the basis on which other philosophers place their opinions on the same. He provides the most psychologically insightful account of a character based on virtues. According to Aristotle, the excellence of a character is referred to as a state since it is impossible to alter it. In addition, every virtue is responsible for a particular action or feeling. Aristotle gives an example of the virtue of goodness or having a mild temper as responsible for managing anger. Personally, I am of a mild character, and I am also kind. However, I also get angry over certain issues which are against my beliefs as well as individuals who tend to be unfair to others because personally, I am of a fair character. According to Aristotle, the character of being mild does not mean that a person cannot get angry over certain issues. In fact, people of mild character are supposed to get angry at certain things such as various forms of injustices and mistreatment. In addition, such individuals should also be willing to stand up for themselves as well as for the people they care about. Aristotle views any action contrary to this as deficiency of character of an irascible individual. On the other hand, it is inappropriate to take offense and be angry for no rational reason. Therefore, Aristotle views the character as a state that is primarily determined by the environment. For example, intensive anger is regarded as appropriate but at other times, calm detachment is. Also, any non-virtuous person is faced with inner doubts even if he/she appears to be in harmony with virtuous people. This implies that character is an inner virtue that drives one towards certain activities. Even if a vicious person appears as single-minded when pursuing a particular disdain for justice, material goods or power, they have to seek the company of others in one way or another in order to forget their evil actions. Aristotle also relates moral character to the aspects of continence and incontinence. Continence is basically a form of self-mastery. Both the continent and the incontinent persons have internal conflicts are aware of the inner turmoil. Personally, I consider myself to be a continent character because I always recognize what is right and what should be done and implement it despite certain struggles and a pull of recalcitrant feelings. Most incontinent individuals may recognize what is right and morally right but fail to do it as a result of the recalcitrant feelings.

Character According to David Hume

As a Scottish philosopher, David Hume is known for his influential radical philosophy of naturalism, empiricism, and skepticism. He explored the psychological basis of human nature that determines character. According to Hume, human behavior and characters are primarily governed by passion and not reason. He postulated that innate ideas did not exist, and only objects of experience bring about knowledge. As opposed to David Hume, Plato focuses on the virtues of ethics as the determinant of moral character. However, the happiness of a human being is the independence of us and the human life. According to Plato, the character of goodness is superior to all intelligibility. Plato also borrows Socrates’s idea that virtue is knowledge and the moral fault of ignorance. In addition, virtue is essential regardless of the utility of itself. Virtue ethics is a character trait of the soul and determines the inner harmony. Consequently, the character traits of the inner soul determine the overall character of a person. In addition, virtue ethics urge individuals to develop their character basically for the purpose of having a good life. For instance, the virtues of honesty, kindness, respect and being considerate of other people lead to goodness. This is because such virtues are grounded in the ultimate of eternal truth in forms that are recognized only by the soul. Therefore, based on Plato’s opinion of virtues, it means that my personal characteristics of being considerate of people who are different from myself, kindness, respecting and being fair to everybody are likely to be an inherent part of me founded on eternal truth, and therefore they are likely to remain with me for the rest of my life. Eudaimonia, also known as the praiseworthiness of virtuous life is described by Plato as rooted in Good. Plato also links the character of being Good with godliness. From this description, I can refer my character is godly because generally, it revolves around the Good. For instance, respect and fairness is a good moral character which is also godly. By being considerate and treating everyone fairly, other people are likely to reciprocate the same and treat me fairly and respectfully and consequently leading to harmony. On the other hand, my character could be as a result of passion according to David Hume. This, therefore, means that the fact that I am respectful, faithful and considerate is because I have a passion that drives me towards this behavior.

Character According to John Stuart Mill  

The classical text of utilitarianism is where the ethical theory of John Stuart Mill was articulated. The basis of the classical text is to justify utilitarianism on the moral foundations. According to Stuart Mill, every action tends to be right according to its capacity to impact on overall happiness (Zivi 49). Therefore, he focuses on the consequences of the character rather than the ethical sentiments or rights. Moral judgments presume rules according to John Stuart Mill. In addition, moral character is built on social rules. In addition, moral character is characterized o either is right or wrong, and it is named according to the final consequences. For instance, a morally wrong character is referred as wrong because we think that it should be sanctioned through formal punishment, bad conscience or public disapproval. I can base my character on the provisions of John Stuart Mill. For instance, I have a characteristic of being extremely kind to everyone. Therefore, I can measure the outcome of my character based on Stuart’s ideas. For example, the fact that I am a kind person to everyone, I should gauge the moral status of this character depending on its end results. If I am kind to everyone, most people are going to reciprocate the same and be kind to me. Another reason I relate with John Stuart Mill is that his basis for judging moral character supersedes the moral or ethical standards that have been set by the society, and the only thing that matters is the end consequences of the character. Personally, I am traditional, and therefore, I should judge actions based on the moral and ethical standards that have been set by the society. On the contrary, I do not judge people based on their race, appearance or sexual preference though is the way of the traditionalist. Instead, I choose to view actions beyond their moral standards and focus on the end results. For instance, a person’s homosexuality may be regarded as morally wrong by traditionalists. However, analysis of the end results does not affect anyone negatively and adds to the happiness of such families. Therefore, according to John Stuart Mill, I am likely to support any idea as long as its result generally increases the happiness of the community regardless of the moral or ethical standards.

Character According to Thomas Hobbes 

According to Thomas Hobbes, human behavior is guided by five main conditions: Our actions and motives are based on internal biomechanical processes. Secondly, the determinant of good and evil is basically the preferences of an individual depending on what he/she loves or hates. Also, Hobbes asserts that there is no objective value in the strictly natural condition. Besides, there is no justice or injustice in the strictly natural condition and that in terms of the power of mind and body, all human beings are naturally equal, and therefore, nobody should strive to dominate the other. Therefore, Hobbes is a naturalist, and if our laws and social conventions are taken away, humans can fall in the state of nature which should govern the character of individuals. Hobbes’s philosophy draws heavily on aspects of survival which are a determinant of one’s character. Therefore, basing my personal characteristics on Hobbes’s philosophy, the moral character of kindness or respectfulness is a result of particular circumstances which dictate that I should be kind and respectful. Secondly, my character of fairness to all people regardless of their race, sexual orientation or appearance could be as a result of nature. The fact that I live in a multicultural society comprising of people with differences in sexuality, race, and appearance could have influenced my character of being considerate.