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Aristotle: Nicomachaen Ethics

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Aristotle: Nicomachaen Ethics

1a. The definition given by Aristotle on the brave person is, “Whoever stands firm against the right things and fears the right things, for the right end, in the right way, at the right time, and is correspondingly confident, is the brave person; for the brave person’s actions and feelings accord with what something is worth, and follow what reason prescribes ( Aristotle, p.41).” So in looking at the definition by Aristotle, we come to realize that the brave person is one who is not without fear, but in fact understands what things are worthy of fear and to what extent. Also, this person understands the dangers that are present in facing these fears, and are able to act in a way that is not cowardly but is not unnecessarily confident and reckless.

b. When Aristotle refers to virtue, he is actually referring to excellence of the soul and self in a human being. Virtue is a state of being in which you possess the right feelings at the right time. You must not only possess the right feelings, but you must also use the knowledge of these emotions to act correctly. When referring to bravery as a virtue Aristotle says, “The brave person is unperturbed, as far as a human being can be. Hence, though he will fear even the sorts of things that are not irresistible, he will stand firm against them, in the right way, as reason prescribes for the sake of the fine, since this is the end aimed at by virtue (p.41).” Essentially bravery is a virtue because it part of being an excellent human being. You must understand the correct feelings involved with being brave, and how to act on these feelings in the right way. Through this you can understand how bravery is a virtue and how you are able to be virtuous.

c. According to Aristotle the doctrine of the mean refers to being able to hit the right spot on the emotional spectrum. You must have the perfect balance of feelings and emotions in order to be a virtuous person. The mean is not an arithmetical number, but rather based on the amount of each emotion that is relative to each person. According to Aristotle the mean is, “Virtue, then, is a state that decides, consisting in a mean, a mean relative to us, which is defined by reference to reason, that is to say, to the reason by reference to which the prudent person would define it. It is a mean between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency (p.25).” In terms of bravery and the doctrine of the mean it is important to discern which emotions are involved in deciding the bravery of a person. At one of the spectrum is fear and cowardice; while at the other end is rash and recklessness. And, as Aristotle says, “What is frightening, but not irresistible for a human being, varies in seriousness and degree; and the same is true for what inspires confidence (p.41).” So when discussing the mean of bravery, each person has a specific balance of fear and confidence that is their mean, and therefore in finding this perfect balance, is able to find the virtue of bravery.

d. The connection to bravery and the emotions is similar to that of the connection of bravery and the mean. The emotions that are tied to bravery are mainly the balance of confidence and fear, with cowardice and rashness lying at the opposite ends of the spectrum. In finding the right amount of each, a person is able to become virtuously brave. A person must not be in fear of things that most men would not fear and in the wrong way, a result of these actions and feelings is being a coward in the eyes of his peers. But also “The person who is excessively confident about frightening things is rash. The rash person also seems to be a boaster, and a pretender to bravery (p.42).” With this statement Aristotle explains that a brave person does not live without fear, and in fact those that claim to do this are in fact cowards when it comes to standing against things that are frightening, while the brave person is ready for action. Overall a brave person must understand what is to be feared, to what extent, and when. And in this fear he must be confident against it to a degree that is not cowardly or rash.

e. Overall the analysis given by Aristotle about bravery is one that is very clear in helping to define what a person with virtue would do if he was brave. The explanation of the virtuous person being able to find the perfect balance of fear and confidence that is relative to them is a very interesting concept. While it allows for each person to have their own specific degrees of fear, it still leaves a specific outline for what constitutes being brave. It seems that being brave in the sense of the virtue would be very difficult though for the fact that the virtuously brave person must know what is right and fearful at all times and to what degree, and then act accordingly against it. While I understand the book is supposed to be this definition of the perfect virtuous person, it seems that being this person would be nearly impossible. Fear in all people is different and thus being fearful of the right things to you might be considered cowardly to other people, in turn upsetting the necessary praise you are to receive for being a virtuous person. So, while the basis for the outline of the brave person is one that is concise and accurate, it is seemingly an extremely difficult and almost impossible task for someone to be perfectly and virtuous brave.

2a. Friendship is an ethical topic for Aristotle, “for it is a virtue, or involves virtue (p.119)” Because friendship is part of being happy, and arguably the most important part, it is an obvious part of virtue for happiness is virtues ultimate outcome. The ethical aspect of friendship is not the utilitarian or pleasurable relationships with share with others, but rather the ethically good and virtuous relationships that we share with other human beings. Virtuous friendships are ones in which people admire and love one another for the virtuous and ethical characteristics that one another possess. Friendship to Aristotle is a good, noble, and present throughout human life, and because of this fact it is essential for being an ethical and virtuous person.

b. Aristotle defines friendship in three different relationships, the ethical good and virtuous, the pleasant, and the utilitarian. A pleasurable friendship is one that both people create in order to receive pleasure, usually in terms of erotic relationships. This relationship is very easily formed and once it is no longer useful can easily be dissolved. In a pleasurable relationship there is no need for a person to love the true self in someone else. In a utilitarian relationship, the two parties use one another to gain some sort of advantage, usually



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