Courage and Continence (NE III.6–9)

Howard J. Curzer

in Aristotle and the Virtues

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693726
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738890 | DOI:
Courage and Continence (NE III.6–9)

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Aristotle is famous for his doctrine of the mean, but this is just one of several doctrines that together constitute Aristotle’s architectonic of virtue. The others include the doctrine of disjoint spheres which says that no situation is governed by more than one virtue, and the parameter doctrine which says each virtue is a disposition for getting all of the relevant parameters right (e.g. fearing the right objects, on the right occasions, to the right degree, etc.). This chapter describes and defends these and other doctrines in the course of describing and defending Aristotle’s account of the virtue of courage. In particular, although courageous and continent people both feel fear, Aristotle does not conflate these two character types. Fear inclines continent people to perform cowardly acts, and so must be resisted, but it inclines courageous people to perform courageous acts carefully, and so makes a useful contribution.

Keywords: courage; continence; doctrine of the mean; architectonic; fear; confidence; physical risk; kalon

Chapter.  24123 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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