The Role of Habituation in Virtuous Development
People are by nature moral beings who desire to live virtuously. In his teachings, Aristotle argued that human beings can become righteous through their upbringing. He believed that they can be guided in ways that could lead to the development of positive character traits through habituation. One key factor is learning to take pleasure in actions that comprise a good character. In contemporary education systems, numerous teachings from Aristotle regarding virtue, character, and habituation are used to educate about character development and its importance.
Habituation is imperative in the development of virtue because as Aristotle stated, good moral traits are gained through a repeated and guided practice that occurs over time. In that regard, it is critical for an individual to repeat specific emotional states or dispositions for prolonged periods. This enables them to feel and act appropriately through the transformation of a moral act into a habit. Habituation comprises the various acts that involve the proper practice of virtue (Leunissen, 2017). Moreover, it molds people’s dispositions and desires in a manner that cannot be conducted discursively. Habituation leads to the attainment of knowledge that empowers people to act virtuously under different circumstances (Leunissen, 2017). It is an effective means of becoming virtuous because moral responsibility does not come naturally. Positive habits must be formed through the practice of virtue, which involves the repetition of specific actions (Leunissen, 2017). For instance, the only way for a person to become brave is by taking brave actions. In the process of virtue development, positive behaviors must be encouraged and negative behaviors must be discouraged (Leunissen, 2017). As mentioned, virtues arise through practice, and therefore, people can develop both positive and negative traits. Thus, the proper practice should incorporate habits that promote positive behaviors.
Leunissen, M. (2017). From natural character to moral virtue in Aristotle. Oxford University Press.