Sep 09 2010 - Aug 11 2013

Philosophy Paper On Aristotle

Aristotle believed that virtues were means in that they were in-between two extremes, excess and deficiency. Courage is a virtue that can be considered to be the mean of excess of fear and confidence, and the deficiency of confidence. Courage is not just being brave in the face of danger, but doing "the right things, for the right reason, in the right way, and at the right time." The right reason is certainly that which is noble, and the right time would be any time nobility needed defending.

A person who is courageous would not run away from a battle simply because the other side was stronger than expected, to do so would be considered cowardly. However a person of courage would also not stay because he fears dishonour and shame, doing so would also mean becoming a coward, one who simply fears the shame of others more so than he fears death. A courageous person would stay however, because to do so would be noble, and would bring about a noble death, which would presumably make them happy, which is what all virtues aim to do. A hopeful person is not courageous in that they think they can win, for as soon as the illusion of hope dissipates they run, however a person of bravery will stay because he does not rely solely on hope, but the knowledge that what he is doing is noble.

They would not be headstrong or rash, suffering from over confidence, they would know when to fight for something noble and when not to. To pick a fight that you know you will not win would not be courage, but foolishness. A person of courage knows what they are getting into, and decides that doing something noble is more important than standing by, and running away. If someone is acting courageous from over confidence, but when things turn out differently than they expected, as in they expected a battle to be easy in the case of the experienced soldier, but things go badly and they run, for they were only fighting as long as they think they could win.

Take for example the current "War on Terror" that the Americans are fighting in Iraq. Would it be courageous what they are doing or something else? They are fighting for a noble cause, freedom, and are not deterred by the fact that it was not the battle that they were expecting. Even though it could be said that what they say they are fighting for and what they are fighting for are two different things we shall assume that soldiers fighting are there for freedom, even if the leaders are not. Therefore, we can say the soldiers are brave, while the leaders and over confident and cowardly. When given the opportunity to run they decided to stay and continue to fight for their noble cause, even though they are no longer certain they will win.

Can soldiers who are courageous listen to non-courageous leaders? No, because they are not being courageous in the right way, then it is no longer for the right cause, as they know their leaders are not doing it for the right cause. They are doing it out of loyalty to their leaders and fear of reprisals if they no longer wish to fight, and fighting out of fear is not courageous. They could claim ignorance of what their leaders intentions are, but ignorance is not courageous, and as soon as their ignorance is lifted, they will change their minds. So I do not think we can call the soldiers courageous.

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