I interpret Aristotle’s quote as learning self-control is more challenging than destroying enemies. Sometimes it is better to say nothing. Everyone has differing opinions and beliefs. Therefore, moral disagreements will arise. Generally, these disagreements occur most when discussing religion, political views, and highly ethical issues (Knoll, 2020).
Moreover, capital punishment is an ethical issue that is frequently debated. Some individuals believe murder is wrong, even when executing a death row inmate. Others view this type of execution as justified. The families of crime victims have mixed views about the death penalty as well. Neither view is necessarily right or wrong.
The statistics about the number of inmates executed do not assist this debate. Twenty-three inmates, housed on death row in eight states, had their death sentences carried out in 2017 (Snell, 2019). During that year, Texas executed the most inmates, which was seven (Snell, 2019). Those who oppose capital punishment most likely view these states’ governments as acting immorally, especially Texas. Proponents would consider these states to be ethical.
Furthermore, tolerating others’, whether they are similar or different, is of the utmost importance for being morally sound (Knoll, 2020). Typically, higher educational obtainment increases the likelihood one will respect the views of others without retaliation. However, everyone, regardless of their education obtainment, can work toward being an ethical person. According to Aristotle, all humans are creatures of habit, and our routines contribute to how we think and act (Koehn, 2020). Thus, shaping both good and bad character (Koehn, 2020).
In conclusion, everyone has the power to change their character for the better. Moral standards make companies thrive. Ethics can be taught to an extent. However, these courses will not work unless individuals are willing to build good character. Therefore, respecting others is the best means for starting the process of being morally sound.
Knoll, M. (2020). Deep disagreements on values, justice, and moral Issues: Towards an ethics of disagreement. TRAMES: A Journal of the Humanities & Social Sciences, 24(3), 315–338. doi: 10.3176/tr.2020.3.04
Koehn, D. (2020). How would Confucian virtue ethics for business differ from Aristotelian virtue ethics? Journal of Business Ethics, 165(2), 205–219. doi: 10.1007/s10551-019-04303-8
Snell, T. L. (2019). Capital punishment, 2017: Selected findings. Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cp17sf.pdf
Aristotle is notably one of the world’s greatest philosophers and scientists. While his most important work was on biology, he also dealt with logic, metaphysics, psychology, meteorology, politics, literary criticism, poetry, drama, and ethics (Dunn, 2006). One of his most famous quotes, as related to ethics, is “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self” (Belshaw et al., 2016).
From a professional ethics prospective, this particular quote means that exhibiting control of the heart and mind, internally requires a greater level of strength and resiliency than the energy it takes to defeat one’s external enemies. The conquering of one’s enemies indicates that an individual is physically stronger or simply outsmarted his competitors. Yet overcoming an internal battle with self shows the ultimate level of endurance. Choosing to maintain morals and ethics can at times be challenging. Consistently standing in what is right, instead of taking the easy road for temporary satisfaction, requires and shows a great deal of self-discipline.
“Creating self-discipline is a process of self-conquering which is one of the most difficult tasks of all” (Charn, n.d., p. 38). “A person who is able to control her behavior is the one who can delay immediate gratification and pursue higher goals…” (Mischel, 1974; Strayhom, 2002, as cited in Charn, n.d.). I think that self-discipline and ethics correlate because exercising self-discipline and control can lessen the possibility of individuals behaving unethically, and having a strong foundation grounded in morals and ethics strengthens self-discipline as individuals strive to become better.
Belshaw, S.H. & Johnstone, P., & Thompson, A. (2016). Ethics in the Criminal Justice System. Kendal Hunt Publishing Company.
Dunn, P.M. (2006). Aristotle (384-322 BC): philosopher and scientist of ancient Greece. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672651/
Mayot, C. (n.d.). Discipline. Self-Control & Discipline. (pp. 38-48). http://www.ethics.au.edu/images/course_material/07Chapter4.pdf