Ethical re-education: Aristotle on the 'ethics' of learning and doing

We can still learn a lot from Aristotle. In his Nichomachean Ethics he explained how both the arts as well as virtues ‘are not endowed, but realized and reinforced [by doing] in practice’ (Aristotle Book 2, Chapter 1:31-32, quoted in Trevor Marchand, 2010:1). Aristotle elaborates as on how we learn as follows:

'For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building and lyreplayers by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.' (ibid).

Actions are louder than the UK right now voters are facing a choice between Jeremy Corbyn whose whole life (political and personal) has been devoted to becoming 'just by doing just acts' and 'temperate by doing temperate acts' and Theresa May who acts 'brave' but whose actions are anything but 'brave'. 

Just as one becomes 'temperate by doing temperate acts', the opposite is of course also true: one becomes intemperate by doing intemperate acts, and one becomes unjust by doing unjust acts. The vast majority of our politicians today could use some ethical re-education.