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Aristotle on Courage Essay

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In the 1939 movie classic, The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion is on a quest for the wizard to give him courage. He is afraid of everything and anything. However, in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle believes that courage is possible for all individuals. To gain courage one must have the inner qualities that will guide the courageous. The most important part of these qualities is to come to terms with death itself. Also, there are views of courage that are falsely perceived because they appear to be parallel with one another; nevertheless they are still very different.
One must have many different inner qualities in order to achieve courage. First, one must not be concerned with death; death can be a beautiful thing. Aristotle talks about how the possibility of dying for your country in war can be the utmost and most poetic danger of all. (Aristotle 48, Sachs) Dying for a country in defense gives a person honor because he or she stands firm in a belief regardless of what could happen to him/her. Aristotle compares this with citizenship. He claims:
Citizens seem to endure dangers on account of the penalties that come from the laws, and reproaches, and on account of honors; and because of this, those peoples seem to be the most courageous. (Aristotle 51, Sachs)
Citizens here show their courage and do not fear the consequence, and uphold rationality. The motive here is not fear of the end result being their persecution, but for the good and defense of their self and nation. One must yearn for the honor in the process of being unyielding in a belief. The citizens face real dangers that put them at risk; they are courageous because they stare them down and are willing to face them despite the risk with regard to rationa...


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...ing death (or failures) in honor of something greater, more poetic; and their balanced manner, it is clear that; if one obsesses about death or one’s failures, one will never be able to overcome it. Realizing that the most important inner quality is facing death and taking risk with respect to rationality; because if one does not, one will never amount to anything more beautiful (in a poetic sense) in their life. When one faces death or a failure, one is accepting the biggest challenge of all. And lastly, I strive to be like Aristotle’s courageous individual because I want to live a balanced life, and I want to live within a mean. I do not want to overly exercise fear and become cowardly, nor do I want be overly confident and lead a rash life.



Works Cited

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. Joe Sachs. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing R. Pullins Company, 2002.


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