Naval War College Review

Article Title

Ambition and Careerism


Aristotle confesses that the Greeks do not have a word for "ambition" except in the pejorative sense. He writes briefly on the subject in the fourth book of his Nichomachean Ethics. Aristotle is less interested in constructing ethical theory from the standpoint of "right" versus "wrong" than he is in analyzing the virtues or excellences that pertain to human character. We should strive, he says, to perfect our character by acquiring these virtues, for we are not born with them but are rather by nature fitted to receive them through habit and education.