Aristotle And The Virtue Of Bravery Essay

, 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

, 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)