, Research Paper
In this essay I will be describing the virtue of bravery. I will first define what
Aristotle thinks virtue is, explain the virtue of bravery, and then finally reflect this virtue
on my personal experience in the Shaw neighborhood.
Aristotle breaks down virtue into four aspects which are: a state that decides in
mean, consisting in a mean, the mean relative to us, which is defined by reference to
reason(1107a). He also states that there are two kinds of virtue: one of thought or
intellect and one of character or actions. He also states that virtue is a state of character
and is achieved by habit.
Aristotle uses several examples to define a the bravery virtue. He say that as
humans we fear all bad things such as, bad reputation, povery, sickness, friendlessness,
and death. However he says that these things do not concern a brave person. Fearing this
things are not all neccesarily bad though. Fearing something like a bad reputation is good
and shows that you are decent and properly prone to shame, unlike if you do not fear this
you have no feeling of disgrace. Someone who has no fear of this might be considered
brave by some people. However there are some things that are wrong to fear such as
poverty or sickness, things that are caused by ourselves, people who do not fear these
things are not considered brave. Sometimes someone who is not fearful of things caused
by ourselves may be considered brave when compared to someone who is cowardly in
wartime or someone faced with losing money(1115a 10-25). Aristotle also comes to the
conclusion that a brave person is only concerened with death in the finest conditions.
These kind of deaths are found in war and circumstances when it is honored by cities and
Aristotle?s next step is to define a brave person?s state of character. He asks the
question, What does a brave person find frightening? He answers with, a brave person is
frightened by the same things any human can find irrisistible, but the difference is that he
will stand firm against it until the end, and he is not frightened by things which are are not
irrisistable. ?Hence 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.?(1115b 15-20)
Aristotle then explains that a brave person aims at what is fine. What is fine to a
brave person is bravery. Therefore the end is fine, since each thing is defined by its end.
A brave person shows what bravery is by standing firm and through his actions.
A brave person who goes to excess is one who is excessively fearless. They are
excessively confident about frightening things, making them rash. Sometimes this person
may be a boaster and a pretender to bravery. A rash person will act that they are fearless
and appear to have qualities of the brave person but they never stand firm against anything
frightening. A rash person wishes for dangers to come, but when they do he cowers, but a
brave person is eager in action and keeps quiet until then.
A brave person that has deficiency is a coward. He fears the wrong things in the
wrong way. He has a deficiency in confidence and he is afraid of everything, while the
brave person is hopeful which is one of the ends of confidence.
?Hence the coward, the rash person and the brave person are all concerned with
the same things, but have different states related to them; the others are excessive or
defective but the brave person has the intermediate and right state.?(1115a 5-7)
Aristotle then distinquieshes between some misconception of what most people
assume bravery is, when in all actuality these are not genuine bravery; bravery of citizens,
experience and expertise, emotion, hopefulness, ignorance.
He says that citizen?s bravery comes first because they stand firm against dangers
with the aim to avoid legal problems or gaining honors. He also says the bravest seem to
be, ?those who hold cowards in dishonour and do honour to brave people.?(1116a 20-23)
He states that a lot of the time this class of people are compelled to be brave because of
their superiors, when they should be brave when it is fine and not just when they are
The second experience and expertise he explains is a so-called state of bravery
because in the example of the soldier who say has been to war more than once, will be
appear more brave than one who is going into battle for the first time. These same people
are also the ones who are the ones with the most capable in attack and defence. This does
not make them brave it just makes them strongest and physically superior. However these
people are the first to become cowardly when the danger overstrains them, and them are
more afraid of being killed than doing something shameful which is not of a brave person?s
The next state of so-called bravery he explains is emotion. He says that for those
who act on emotion are considered are brave, such as the beast who attacks after it has
been wounded. He uses a quote from Homer to illustrate the importance of emotion in
the human experience, ?put strenth in his emotion?, ?aroused strength and emotion?, ?keen
strength in his nostril?, and ?his blood boiled?.(1116b 28-30) He also distiqueshes from his
example of the animal who was wounded and the human experience by stating that brave
people act because of what is fine and therefore their emotion cooperates with them, while
beasts are not necessarily brave because distress and emotion drives them in an impulsive
rush to meet danger. Finally he explains that emotion is just similar to bravery and that if
you must fight to be brave, it must be because of what is fine.
The next so-called state of bravery he explains is hopefulness. He says their
bravery comes from a series of victories over many opponents which then makes them
confident. He says that they are similar but their confident for the wrong reason being that
they feel they are stronger and nothing could happen to them, and when things turn for the
worse they run.
The final state of so-called bravery is ignorance. They are similar to the hopefull
people, however they lack their self-esteem. He says that the hopefull people will stand
firm for some time while the ignorant people if deceived and them realize or suspect
something is different they run.
In the final desciption of bravery Aristotle relates bravery to confidence and fear,
pleasure and pain. He says that a person is brave if he is in a right state about these as
appose to being in a state with inspiring confidence. He once again explains that it is
bravery when someone stands against something painful because it is harder than to stand
against something which is pleasant. However, in the end bravery seems to end and
pleasant things as appose to what surrounds it until the end.
I will end this part of the paper with a quote which I thinks sums up what Aristotle
is saying, ?Hence it is not true that the active exercise of every virtue is pleasant; it is
pleasant only in so far as we attain the end.?(1117b 19-17)