10 Oct 2022


A Comparison of Virtues According to Confucius and Aristotle

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Academic level: College

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The concept of virtue is one of the areas where most studies have been conducted with the need to determine the rightness of an act or what constitutes a good act and a bad act. Confucius and Aristotle are regarded as philosophers who contributed to the understanding of the concepts of virtues. The writings of Aristotle have been considered relevant in understanding the concepts of ethics due to his emphasis on the need for the society to develop excellent character as a way of finally achieving what is important ( Hope, 2010) . In a similar manner, Confucius is attributed to his role in promoting values in the community by promoting social harmony and values that promote respects for spirits of gods. This paper explains the concept of virtue according to the views of Confucius and Aristotle and illustrates the similarities and differences in their perspectives, the manner in which these concepts describe the cultures of the Chinese and the Greeks, and the methods in which the concepts of virtue as presented by the two philosophers can be used in modern work settings ( Hope, 2010)

Comparison and Contrast 

Aristotle defines virtue as the tendency to behave in the right manner and in order to create a distinction between deficiencies in morality and vices. Virtue is learned through the development of a habit and practice rather than the development of reason and instruction. It involves having the right attitude towards pain and pleasure. It emphasizes the act of performing a particular human function in the right manner ( Santiago, 2008) . The concept of virtue according to Confucius is that it involves a number of components such as benefits to humans, justice for all humans, and performance in the right manner using the right knowledge. The similarity between the views of Aristotle’s view of virtues and that of Confucius is that they both emphasize the function of addressing human needs and performance of an action in the right manner. The difference between the views of Aristotle and Confucius is that the former does not put emphasis on possession of integrity, knowledge, or instructions, but emphasizes on the action performed by a human as a definition of virtue while the latter emphasizes the development of beliefs, knowledge, and principles without the necessity to perform a particular action ( Santiago, 2008)

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According to the Confucius view on virtue, the performance of an act in the right manner is illustrated by people’s customs, interactions between humans, objects, and nature. It involves the ability to share common perspectives on what is right or wrong without simply practicing it. This is different from Aristotle’s view on what is a virtuous act because, he states that action is what distinguishes humans from animals and plants and that we have to act in a rational manner in order to be identified as having virtues ( Sim, 2007) . He recommends that since humans have souls that govern their thought, they are able to govern their locomotion and instinct by developing a habit rather than simply through reasoning and instruction. 

The Suggestions of the Findings regarding the Differences between Ancient Greek and Chinese Cultures 

From the comparison of the views of Aristotle and those of Confucius regarding virtues, it is understood that the Greeks had a culture that promoted individual’s actions and tasks performed as a measure of one’s virtue while the Chinese incorporated the development of beliefs, loyalty, and principles towards certain ways of life in order to determine whether one is virtuous ( Hope, 2010) . The Chinese emphasized that a person has to develop particular doctrines and concepts of morality to be considered of good virtues while the Greek culture promoted the concepts of dos and don’ts rather than the divine beliefs relating to virtues. 

The Ideas of Virtue that can Apply to Ethics in Modern Settings 

Both the Confucius and Aristotle’s views regarding virtues can be used to develop ethics that can be used at work place settings in the modern world. The ideas of Confucius can be used by developing policies which promote benefits to employees of an organization, increases loyalty, and a classical virtue of righteousness in the beliefs of a person towards what is right or wrong ( Hope, 2010) . The ideas of Aristotle can be applied in work settings by developing working principles which promote willingness to perform tasks in the right manner and taking actions to do so without necessarily developing attitudes and beliefs towards particular forms of virtues. It can include developing policies that determine what people need to do and what they are not permitted to do as a measure of ensuring their actions are virtuous ( Santiago, 2008)


This paper presents an analysis of the views of Aristotle and Confucius regarding the concept of virtue by examining the similarities and the differences between them. It is established that the main similarity is that they both believe that a virtue is something that is beneficial and does not cause harm to another person. The main difference between the views if Confucius and Aristotle are that the former states that one needs to develop particular sets of belies and loyalty towards actions which are virtuous in addiction to practicing them while the latter emphasizes that one only needs to demonstrate the idea of virtue by actions. 


Hope, M. (2010).  Aristotle's Ethics Moral Development and Human Nature . London: Continuum. 

Santiago, J. (2008). Confucian Ethics in the Analects as Virtue Ethics. College of DuPage 

Sim, M. (2007).    Remastering morals with Aristotle and Confucius . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

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