Nicomachean Ethics

by

Aristotle

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Habituation Term Analysis

Habituation is the “repetition of similar activities” which, when practiced consistently throughout one’s life, results in a state of character, or virtue. For example, just as someone becomes a harpist by practicing the harp, a person becomes temperate by doing temperate actions, brave by doing brave actions, and so on.

Habituation Quotes in Nicomachean Ethics

The Nicomachean Ethics quotes below are all either spoken by Habituation or refer to Habituation. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hackett edition of Nicomachean Ethics published in 1999.
Book 2 Quotes

Virtue, then, is of two sorts, virtue of thought and virtue of character. Virtue of thought arises and grows mostly from teaching; that is why it needs experience and time. Virtue of character results from habit; hence its name “ethical,” slightly varied from “ethos.”

Hence it is also clear that none of the virtues of character arises in us naturally. For if something is by nature in one condition, habituation cannot bring it into another condition. A stone, for instance, by nature moves downwards, and habituation could not make it move upwards, not even if you threw it up ten thousand times […] And so the virtues arise in us neither by nature nor against nature. Rather, we are by nature able to acquire them, and we are completed through habit.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 7 Quotes

In fact the incontinent person is like a city that votes for all the right decrees and has excellent laws, but does not apply them, as in Anaxandrides' taunt, 'The city willed it, that cares nothing for laws'. The base person, by contrast, is like a city that applies its laws, but applies bad ones.[…] The [impetuous] type of incontinence found in volatile people is more easily cured than the [weak] type of incontinence found in those who deliberate but do not abide by it. And incontinents through habituation are more easily cured than the natural incontinents; for habit is easier than nature to change.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Related Symbols: The City
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 10 Quotes

Now some think it is nature that makes people good; some think it is habit; some that it is teaching. The [contribution] of nature clearly is not up to us, but results from some divine cause in those who have it, who are the truly fortunate ones. Arguments and teaching surely do not prevail on everyone, but the soul of the student needs to have been prepared by habits for enjoying and hating finely, like ground that is to nourish seed. For someone who lives in accord with his feelings would not even listen to an argument turning him away, or comprehend it [if he did listen]; and in that state how could he be persuaded to change? And in general feelings seem to yield to force, not to argument.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:
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Habituation Term Timeline in Nicomachean Ethics

The timeline below shows where the term Habituation appears in Nicomachean Ethics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
...well as individually. Legislators make citizens good by acclimating them to good behavior, and “correct habituation distinguishes a good political system from a bad one.” (full context)
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
...in the right way. In the exercise of virtues, too, the repetition of similar activities (habituation) rests upon and reinforces a state of character. So, then, performing activities rightly is very... (full context)
Book 7
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
...but does not apply them.” The person who doesn’t deliberate is easier to cure through habituation than the weak person who doesn’t stick to the results of their deliberation. (full context)
Book 10
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
...won’t find it painful. But, from Aristotle’s perspective, obeying these laws in youth isn’t enough; habituation to virtue is still needed as people become adults, so laws are needed throughout life. (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
...nature to obey. They must also expel those who are incurable. Someone who’s brought up, habituated, and who follows decent practices throughout life can become good. (full context)