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Samuel Falkowski


Bold Points




Michigan Home School

High School
2014 - 2024


  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other
    • Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General
    • Philosophy and Religious Studies, Other
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Undecided at this time

    • Dream career goals:

      RonranGlee Literary Scholarship
      "Virtue, therefore, is a characteristic marked by choice, residing in the mean relative to us, a characteristic defined by reason and as the prudent person would define it. Virtue is also a mean with respect to two vices, the one related to excess, the other to deficiency; and further, it is a mean because some vices fall short of and others exceed what should be the case in both passions and action, whereas virtue discovers and chooses the middle term. Thus, with respect to its being and the definition that states what it is, virtue is a mean; but with respect to what is best and the doing of something well, it is an extreme.” Aristotle. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins, The University of Chicago Press, 2011. Is virtue really alive, or is it a dead relic? After all, the significance of virtue is often questioned by people of today – they may contemplate it thoroughly and appreciate its goodness; alternatively, they may dismiss it entirely and discard virtue as a fluctuating, restrictive mindset. Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, thinks long and hard upon the subject of virtue. Within his musings, he truly defines what virtue is – a definition I shall explore and later show to be truly applicable to the modern day. In the first part of his definition, Aristotle claims that virtue is a “…characteristic marked by choice…a characteristic defined by reason as the prudent person would define it.” What does this mean? Choices are directed by reason – this is obvious enough. But what is reason? It is the faculty which sets man apart from animals. Man can recognize the truth in all things. He understands that what is true is full, perfect in being - there are no faults in any part. For example, he recognizes that a lie is a faulty statement since he sees that it has incomplete truth, or no truth at all. Thus, virtue is recognizing the truth between various actions, weighing each and deciding which is the best. If virtue consists in choosing the action that lacks fault, then there must be a standard by which this choice is made. Aristotle says that the standard is set by two vices – such vices, he claims, are either an excess or a deficiency of a given trait. For example, we can find two extremes in the face of fear. The first extreme, the excess, would be brash impetuousness; the second extreme, the deficiency, is weak cowardice. Between the two, a mean arises which we call “courage.” Courage, then, must be the virtue which consists in correctly being confident and fearful depending on the circumstances, and taking the appropriate action. Virtue, therefore, is the golden mean between two actions. It is “…what should be case in both passions and action.” When we view virtue in light of the whole human life, we realize that it is quite demanding. What is the point, after all, of living a virtuous life? Aristotle believed, as did the rest of the Greeks, in an afterlife where virtuous actions led the soul to eternal bliss in Elysium, while evil actions led the soul to eternal torment in Tartarus. Therefore, the best thing to do with one’s life was to live it out virtuously. This is what Aristotle refers to when he says that virtue “…with respect to what is best and the doing of something well, it is an extreme.” It is extreme to pursue virtue in every action, every day, for every year in one’s life – but the reward is great. ********** As we have seen, throughout history, people have freely chosen the virtuous mean, the excess, or the deficiency. Various people are honored as saints, while others have been condemned as sinners. Why do we do this? Is it because we enjoy putting people in black and white categories? We know that is not the case because we condemn such zeal as excessive. Do we do it because of societal pressure? Again, this is not the case because there are many varying and different opinions. A grandfather who lives vicariously but still takes the time to love his grandchildren will be remembered by his children to be reckless, while the grandchildren will remember him as a generous, loving man. In both cases, we see that people are recognizing the true effort and sacrifice the grandfather made. They are reasonably weighing the truth in action, as Aristotle claims. However, some people claim that this act of recognizing differs. A common objection to the virtuous life is “Values fluctuate from society to society, and there does not appear to be a universal mean to choose for virtue. Hence, Aristotle is incorrect.” When we view different societal ideas of virtue, we are struck by the varying differences, but we are also struck by the similarities. Naturally, we begin comparing the two. We might say that Christian virtue differs from that of the Nazis. However, when we say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, we are measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more than the other. For example, everyone agrees that the taking of another man’s life is wrong. However, when a man fatally shoots a knife-wielding burglar in order to protect himself and his family, we say that he has acted rightly. In this example, we find ourselves appealing to an Aristotelian standard. We recognize that it is deficient in self-control and excessive in anger to kill another man on a whim. But we also recognize that it is both deficient in courage and excessive in selfishness to permit a burglar to murder our spouse and children - while doing nothing for fear of our own life. This is a small example, but it rings true for other cases. We all believe that there is a certain way in which people ought to act, and this is by the virtuous Aristotelian mean – the observable differences in different societies lie in the individual’s free choice to pursue the Aristotelian mean. I ask this question again - what is the point of living a virtuous life today? One might think among these lines: not everyone believes in an afterlife, there is no proof of an afterlife anyway; therefore, get what you can while you can, because life is short. And so forth. To these thoughts I offer a bet, adding on to Pascal’s Wager. If there is no God or afterlife, what does a man gain and lose by living a virtuous life? He will be remembered as a saint, but he loses other idiosyncratic pleasures he would have experienced in vice. If there is an afterlife, what does the virtuous man gain? He will go to heaven. If indeed, there is no afterlife, and we are being good for nothing, then our only reward is an honorable - or dishonorable – legacy. For example, take Mother Teresa. Everyone remembers Mother Teresa, who ministered to the poor in the streets of Calcutta. If there is a God, an afterlife, then she earned heaven. If not, she has still won. Her reputation is so great that everyone loves her to this day, and she is the media’s common measure of a saint. On the other hand, we have the example of the infamous Adolf Hitler. If there is a God, he is among the damned. If not, he won power for himself during his brief time on earth, abused it, and has earned himself the legacy of being the very image of a damnable sinner. Thus, we truly see how Aristotle’s words are still applicable today. We honor and venerate those who choose the virtuous life, and we chide and condemn those who fail to choose the virtuous mean. This Aristotelian standard of choosing a proper mean between excess and deficiency are found within every man, which shows us that this is not something to be dismissed. Lastly, we may not have tangible proof of an eternal reward for virtuous behavior, but we do see the long-lasting legacies of those who made the effort and sacrifice to be virtuous. I daresay that virtue is not dead. It is very much alive, and the pursuit of it is noble and admirable – a pursuit I hope all will choose.
      @ESPdaniella Disabled Degree Scholarship
      According to the National Center for Deaf individuals, in 2019 only 19% of deaf people had a bachelors degree. As a deaf adoptee, I plan to inspire other deaf or hard of hearing young adults by closing the gap in that statistic. Not only do I plan to graduate with a bachelors degree, I also plan on studying music and languages. I have artificial hearing and have been blessed with the gift of cochlear implants. When I was a baby, someone told my parents I would never be able to fully appreciate the gift of music. I hope to be an inspiration to any deaf and hard of hearing individual that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to including learning music (I am a pianist) and languages, two seemingly impossible tasks for someone who was born deaf. Instead of “I Cant” it should be I CAN. I do hope one day I can give back in someway to the deaf and hard of hearing community in the career field I excel in. Thank you for considering me for your scholarship!