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The Legend of Zelda and Aristotelian Virtue Ethics

Even casual fans of Zelda have heard of the triforce. The mystic golden triangles, left behind by the 3 goddesses after their divine act of creation, each represent a particular character trait, power, wisdom, and courage. The bearer of each piece of the triforce is said to personify the character traits that each piece represent. In addition, complete balance and mastery of the triforce requires one to have all three pieces at the same time. Without all three pieces at the same time, a person’s soul is out of balance.

In a lot of ways, this characterization of the triforce shares similarities with Aristotle’s virtue ethics. Aristotle wrote that in order for a person to reach eudaimonia (sometimes translated as ‘flourishing’ or ‘happiness’) they must have the proper balance of the different virtues, such as courage, wisdom, temperance, and justice. Aristotles ethics would provide a unique lens to analyze the different character in the Legend of Zelda and how the embody their respective virtues . Link obviously embodies courage, and its easy to see why. Link consistently takes on monsters 3 times his size, is motivated solely by justice, and is steadfast in his duty. An article examining the major characters of the series through the view of virtue ethics would be a neat take on the series.

  • I thoroughly agree. This is something I would love to see explored more: developing and analyzing philosophies with video games and virtual experiences. At the moment, there's very little or not prominent academic work discussing the ways the virtual medium can explore these topics and this would be an excellent addition. I admittedly don't know much about Aristotle's philosophies but with the familiar characters and plots of the Legend of Zelda games, I, and many like me, could begin new inquiries! – TheNayobian 5 years ago