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The Virtous Development of a Personality

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Introduction

The thesis statement of current research should be formulated as follows:  “The virtous development of a personality comprises the key prerequisites to successful and harmonic life”. In this connection, the core objectives of the study shiould be delineated as follows:

  1.  To analyze Macintyre’s approach to the nature of virtues.
  2.  To investigate Noddings’ approach to the issue of occupation.
  3.  To compare the judgments of both researchers.
  4.  To contrast the judgments of both researchers.

Despite being more abstract, Macintyre’s approach to the nature of virtues is more comprehensive and valuable due to the author’s profound reasoning and sufficient substantiation. However, Noddings’ research offering practical solutions for future professionals should also be regarded as valuable.

The Nature of the Virtues

In the chapter 14 of the work “After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory” Alasdair Macintyre makes attempts to evaluate both the implications and significance of virtues. To the author’s point of view, there is no single understanding of the concept, notwithstanding the fact that the New Testament thinkers, Homer, Sophocles, Aristotle and medieval philosophers take into account the notion of virtues (Macintyre 181). Thus, it should be ascertained that virtues are interpreted through a wide range of rival and alternative conceptions. The first approach to virtues is exemplified by Homer’s “arêtai” including the physical strength as the most apparent example. In contrast to Homer’s approach to virtues, Aristotle is supposed to believe that “magnanimity” is the core human virtue (Macintyre 182). Also, the researcher takes into consideration Benjamin Frankin’s list of virtue in order to illustrate quite opposite comprehension of merits such as cleanliness, silence and industry. In addition, Benjamin Franklin accentuates on the drive considering it a partial virtue, whereas most of Greek philosophers deem it the vice of “pleonexia” (Macintyre 183). Other researchers taken into consideration by Macintyre include the New Testament thinkers and Jane Austen. Investigating five inconsistent approaches to virtues Alasdair Macintyre perseveres in disentangling two mutual issues: 1) - the problem of reasonable grounds for presuming on the existence of a shared concept of virtues; and 2) – the problem of different theories expressed in philosophers’ discourses with regard to what a virtue is (Macintyre 183). In order to resolve the aforementioned problems the author starts with the description of the philosophers’ theories of virtues. As far as Homer is concerned, it should be clarified that a virtue, to the poet’s way of thinking, is a quality manifested through the obligation to do precisely what the clearly delineated social role requires (Macintyre 184). On the other hand, Aristotle argues that virtues being inherent to man as such should not be juxtaposed with specific social roles. Moreover, the New Testament thinkers envisage the issue of virtues in the same logical and conceptual frames as Aristotle does. In the context of Austen’s approach to virtues, it should be emphasized that her inheritance from Shaftsbury and Aristotle is augmented by the significance of social roles detected in Homer’s works. Hence, Jane Austen represents a synthesis of views in respect of virtues. Furthermore, Benjamin Franklin’s theory of virtues resembles Aristotelian teleological approach; however, Franklin has managed to substantiate it with the utilitarian suppositions directed towards the external rather than internal interplay between means and ends (Macintyre 185). All things considered, Alasdair Macintyre expresses confidence that it is possible to formulate a unitary core concept of the virtues disentangled from the above-mentioned opposing approaches. In this connection, the author ascertains that the concept of virtues is dependent on some social or moral circumstances: Homer’s social roles, Aristotle’s “telos” or Franklin’s utility. Having analyzed various aspects of human life, Macintyre provides a tentative definition of a virtue. Therefore, a virtue is considered “an acquired human quality” which enables those people who possess and exercise it to achieve particular goods which are internal to practices while the lack of such quality prevents people from attaining any of the aforesaid goods (Macintyre 191). Moreover, the researcher continues elaborating on the definition by explaining the essence of such phenomena as quality, practices and goods as well as investigating the correlations between them. Also, Macintyre has elucidated that virtues are partially dependent on their place in practices. However, the interplay between the unity of virtues and an individual human life has not been evaluated completely.

Critical lessons

Nel Noddings in chapter 8 “Making a Living” discusses the issues concerning education which may be useful in preparing students for an occupation. According to the author, it is better to focus on personal peculiarities which assist the progress of achieving occupation rather than accentuate on the nation’s economic needs and how individuals may best climb “the economic/occupational ladder” (Noddings 223). In this connection, the researcher endeavors to persuade readers that the objective of personal development achieved through a particular job is more valuable than high wages. Also, each student is proposed to cultivate a specific attitude towards the work of others. According to Noddings, such factors as realistic expectations, daydreaming, self-understanding, appreciation of economic interdependence and the ethics of occupations should be taken into consideration when providing vocational education (Noddings 217). As far as the question of realistic expectations is concerned, it may be appropriate to assert that the author offers to maintain realistic expectations with regard to future occupation alongside with high expectations. Thus, the realistic expectations should also be valuable in order to fuel personal aspirations in the situation when high expectations have failed due to their unrealistic nature (Noddings 199). In the context of daydreaming, it should be claimed that Noddings convinces that “daydreaming leads to productive thinking” which facilitates preparation for the suitable occupation (Noddings 205). Likewise, the self-understanding and appreciation of economic interdependence may assist in establishing realistic expectations and happiness in the domain of occupation as well. Apart from the above, a mental note should be made that the ethics of occupation also plays a crucial role in personal development.    

Comparison and contrast

After everything has been given due consideration, the approaches of both researchers need to be compared and contrasted. In this connection, the similarities of the researchers’ arguments should be outlined in the following points:

  1. Both Macintyre and Noddings are disposed to think that people may achieve particular goods with the help of some qualities which are internal to practices. Macintyre’s unitary virtue should be juxtaposed with the aforementioned quality while Noddings’ internal motivations resemble it as well.
  2. Both of the authors examine the issue of personal development from the practical point of view. In Macintyre’s opinion a practice involves standards of excellence and obedience to specific regulations as well as attainment of goods (Macintyre 190). On the other hand, Noddings emphasizes the issue of personal development as an undeniable precondition for harmonic practical occupation (Noddings 223). Thence, Macintyre’s ideas of practices and excellence coincide with Noddings’ concepts of occupancy and personal development. According to Macintyre, practices should be discerned from institutions which may be called external goods (Macintyre 194). The institutions are involved in the processes of acquiring and distributing money, power and status. In Macintyre’s opinions, practices are impotent to resist the corrupting power of institutions without virtues including justice, courage and truthfulness (Macintyre 194). Similarly, Noddings resists the economic/occupational ladder bringing notice to the supremacy of personhood.

Besides, it is possible to detect several discrepancies between the two approaches. They should be highlighted as follows:

  1. Macintyre conducts a rather speculative research based on the analytical review of philosophical arguments represented by Homer, Aristotle, the New Testament thinkers, Jane Austen and Benjamin Franklin. His theorizing is directed towards the formulation of a unitary concept of virtues.
  2. Noddings is more practical in her research. She seems to investigate all the pros and cons of contemporary education offering a new approach laying special emphasis upon such components of personal development as realistic expectations, daydreams, self-understanding, appreciation of economic interdependence and professional ethics. Her primal aim lies in preparing students for an occupation.

Generalization and conclusion

In the final analysis, it should be generalized that Macintyre’s account of “practices” seems convincing. It is possible to agree with the author that practices are impotent to resist the corrupting character of institutions without virtues. In the context of Noddings’ approach, it should be acknowledged that the intrinsic motivation plays a crucial role in education because it may incite students in situations when no external driver is found.

It is possible to arrive at a conclusion that the thesis statement has been verified as true. Also, the research objectives have been completed.

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