|Aristotle (384 -322 B.C.) was born in the city of Stagira in Macedonia. His father, Nichomacus, was King Amyntas of Macedonia's personal physician. In 367, at the age of 17, Aristotle went to Athens to attend the Academy, a school, which had been founded by Plato and named for the grove in which it was located. Aristotle stayed at the Academy (where he taught rhetoric), until the founder's death in 347, at which time the Academy was handed over to Plato's nephew Speusippus. Then Aristotle left Athens, traveling until 343 when he became tutor at the Macedonian court for Alexander, soon to be known as the Great.||Human beings in the very sense are born ignorant;
it is through primary socialization of families and conditioning that we start
to build up our own characters. For example, nobody is born brave; however,
he exhibits the virtue of bravery by doing brave actions. Only then we can call him a brave person.
This brings us to the point that our character is not something granted for us by nature;
it is shaped by actions we repeatedly do. In this sense, Aristotle told us that the virtue
of character arises from habituation, the repetition of similar activity. For that if the character
is given by nature in a certain direction, habituation cannot change it to another direction.
In other words, we can consider the human being as a bundle of habits. We are wired by habits;
habits wire our working as like as machines are wired to perform certain behaviors, but the difference is that we,
human beings, choose how to wire ourselves, our wiring is far more complex, and our wiring is more dynamic.
When we say that we are wired by habits that shapes our reactions and responses; this is not a pessimistic
acknowledgement to be fought against; contrarily, it is something that should make us relieved.
Why? Because it tells us that we are adaptable; we can wire ourselves constantly; we can even destroy all
our previous wires and start new ones. We just have to take the burden of the wiring action itself.
Aristotle was pointing at the role of habituation as a mean by which our characters are formed.
Whatever we are repeatedly used to do will become part of our character after sometime. That's why it is
very important to try to act right. This very act is more significant to youth for that planting virtues
of characters at young age is like writing on the stone.
Another view related view point to the concept of habituation is discussed by William James,
the pioneering psychologist and philosopher trained as a medical doctor. James discussed the ëplasticityí of our brains.
In that, what we repeatedly do, we are actually paving neural pathways inside our brains.
This like the flow of water passing over an non-cultivated land; at the beginning the land is straight,
but after the repeated flow of water, a pathway starts to be paved by the flow. Aristotle's virtue of
character and James' plasticity of the brain informs that we are the authors of our behaviors.
It is us who can plant a good habit inside us or change a habit or destroy a bad one; we just need
to keep consistent in doing the right actions so that they pave their pathway inside us.