By James Urmson
Aristotle's moral writings are one of the world's maximum, yet are simply misunderstood by way of the green. Professor Urmson, after 50 years of analysis, offers a transparent account of the most doctrines in an simply intelligible method and with out residing on concerns of quite often scholarly curiosity.
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Extra resources for Aristotle's Ethics
He positively wants to act honourably and dreads the thought of acting shamefully. I think that Aristotle does succeed in saving what is most important in his general account of excellence of character. Though he has had to withdraw the claim that the action will always be positively pleasant, it remains that there will be no internal friction as there will be in the strong-willed man, who has to make himself act properly. The brave man does not want to run away and does not have to force himself to stand his Particular Excellences of Character 67 ground.
Now it may be imprudent, reckless, negligent and even unkind to return the weapon in the envisaged circumstances; but it would not in English naturally be called unjust to return it, nor would it be unfair or grasping to do so. Polemarchus' correct reply would be that it is not unjust in the narrower sense to return the weapon, but he gives way just because the ambiguity was present in ancient Greek, undetected by him. Socrates was a past master at trading on ambiguities, and Aristotle at exposing them.
This distinction is at least strongly suggested in such a passage as: 'Now the brave man is as dauntless as man may be. Therefore, while he will fear even the things that are not beyond human strength, he will face them as he ought and as is reasonable for honour's sake' (1115b 10-13). The suggestion often attributed to Aristotle that brave men are liable to experience fear only in the face of dangers that it would be unreasonable to expect them to face is really bizarre and shows a remarkable ignorance of human nature of which Aristotle is not guilty.