Home » [2023 Winter] Ethics: Virtue

What does it mean to be good as a human being? Modernity, all too often, has treated this as a problem to be solved. That is, we tend to view moral failings as simply in need of the right solution, the right education, the right program. Morality, however, is something that belongs to the individual. It is a matter of internal habit, not a matter of an external system.

Put in other words, we might say that the ethically-righteous course of action consists in how we hold ourselves. There is no checklist. There are no solutions. Actions of moral consequence are all unique, unrepeatable. No one is confronted with the same moral difficulty twice. In order to deal with them rightly, we must ourselves be good.

It is precisely this—being good—that Aristotle pursues in his Nicomachean Ethics. This great masterwork, which will be read in its entirety across this 8 week seminar, develops the concept of virtue (that is, in this context, human excellence) through understanding the characteristic activity which is proper to the human being. We will pursue Aristotle in this course with some supplemental readings, expository and provocative lectures, and weekly discussions.

The Aristotelian approach to the question of moral righteousness stands in contrast to many of the presuppositions of today. This seminar will challenge many of our preconceived notions about what it means to be good and how this is achieved.

This is an introductory seminar. View the syllabus here and learn more about Lyceum Institute seminars here. Participants will be challenged but need no prior experience. Participants are required to use a copy of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Preferred translations: Bartlett and Collins or Joe Sachs.


Discussion Sessions
10:15am ET
(World times)
Study Topics &

Week 1: Happiness and the Good
Lecture: The Work of a Human Being
» Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1.
Week 2: The Nature of Virtue
Lecture: Action and Affection
» Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2—Book 3, c.5.
» “On Moral Philosophy”, Yves Simon.
Week 3: The Moral Virtues
Lecture: Moral Greatness
» Nicomachean Ethics, Book 3, c.6—Book 4.
» “The Virtue of Courage”, R.E. Houser.
» “The Virtue of Temperance”, Diana Fritz Cates.
Week 4: Justice
Lecture: Due Proportionality
» Nicomachean Ethics, Book 5.
» “The Virtue of Justice”, Jean Porter.

Week 5: Intellectual Virtue
Lecture: Prudence and the Unity of Virtue
» Nicomachean Ethics, Book 6.
» “The Intellectual Virtues”, Gregory M. Reichberg.
» “The Virtue of Prudence”, James F. Keenan, S.J.
Week 6: The Struggle for Virtue
Lecture: Striving for a Coherent Life
» Nicomachean Ethics, Book 7.
Week 7: The Good of Friendship
Lecture: Hierarchy of Friendships
» Nicomachean Ethics, Book 8—Book 9, c.6.
Week 8: The Hierarchy of Happiness
Lecture: Unitive Goods of Human Life
» Nicomachean Ethics, Book 9, c.7—Book 10.


Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, priced according to likely levels of income. If you wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the suggested rate, it is acceptable to sign up at a less-expensive level. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

One payment covers all 8 weeks.

Ethics: Virtue

[2023W] Ethics: Virtue – Benefactor

Recommended for those with fulltime employment in well-paying professions and sufficient resources to provide a little more.


Ethics: Virtue

[2023W] Ethics: Virtue – Patron

Recommended for those in professions that do not pay as well as they ought and for whom continued education is especially important (including professors and clergy).


Ethics: Virtue

[2023W] Ethics: Virtue – Participant

Recommended for those who are currently students or with part-time employment.


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