In Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle discusses the human soul and how it relates virtue and happiness as happiness is a certain sort of activity of the soul in the accord with complete virtue. The human soul is within and allow one to feel, reason and make decisions. The soul is said to be divided into two where one part is non-rational and the other part has reason and is considered rational. What has considered the non-rational portion is not specific to humans but a shared trait between living things as it deals with natural functions such as emotion and function for nutrition and growth. On the other hand, the rational portion of the soul that deals with human emotions as well encompasses virtues of thought and virtue of character therein allowing us to use reason. Although separate by function, both the rational and non-rational overlaps when discussing emotion as they both listen to reason and obey it.
Feeling and emotions are a natural state and when discussing feeling we can compare animals and humans as they both share emotions but where humans differ; is the ability to use reason. Aristotle wrote that that feeling are neither virtue or vice and a person is not blamed or praised for having their feelings but; a person’s actions because of their feelings, and the pleasure or pain felt is what determines virtue of character. Feeling and actions are categorized as virtue of characters and they allow excess, deficiency and an intermediate condition. The intermediate is what Aristotle classifies as the mean. Aristotle also mentions that emotional pleasure and pain can be deficient or excess and an individual can also experience pleasure or pain for reasons that does not align with virtue.
For example, a parent could have instructed a child to sit still while in a glass store. The child did not care for these instructions and decided to throw himself down to the floor as an expression of his emotion. This action caused damage to merchandise and must be paid for. The parent is free to have feeling of anger disappointment or embarrassment, but it is the way that the parent act on his or her emotion that expresses character of virtue. In one scenario, the parent publicly yells at the child with insults and words of disdain. Or, the parent says absolutely nothing. Both situations mentioned does not apply to the intermediate as the parent could have calmly expressed their feeling and used the situation as a moment to teach their child obedience and characters of virtue.
I agree with Aristotle’s position and the way that he addresses emotions. Without previous knowledge of Aristotle and his teaching, if asked, I would identify emotions as only irrational because a person is typically not able to dictate how they feel or force natural emotions but I have come to learn and agree that if I am virtuous then virtuous actions will be pleasant and the opposite actions will not bring pleasure. Feeling and emotions are a natural state, but it is the way the we act on our feelings that determines virtue of character and this characteristic is developed over time.