26 September 2016

Fear Factor

At the risk of boring my handful of readers and exceeding my level of competance, the first of several observations on specifics examples of Aristotle's virtues.

First--a question.

What do you fear?

Death? Disease? Failure? Poverty? A Clinton Presidency?

We experience all kinds of fears throughout our lives. They are all but unavoidable. According to Aristotle, however, the appropriate response to fear is not emotional collapse but the virtue of courage. In his words, the courageous "He endures and fears what he ought from the right motive, and in the right manners, and at the right time, and similarly feels confident, is courageous. For the courageous man regulates both his feeling and his action according to the merits of each case and as reason bids him."

He notes the many sources of fear:

"Fear, then, is excited by evil of any kind, e.g., by disgrace, poverty, disease, friendlessness, death." 

As one might expect, the man who exhibits courage in the strictest sense is the man who overcomes the fear of death. In Aristotle's words, courage best describes one who "faces an honorable death and all sudden emergencies which involve death, and such emergencies mostly occur in war." But in such emergencies, "the courageous man always keeps his presence of mind (so far as a man can."

While Aristotle's thoughts on facing with courage those fears that endanger our lives seem obvious to anyone, he notes another not so obvious object of fear that few people reflect upon these days--the fear of disgrace. He writes that disgrace, too, is something that every honorable man should fear.

Those who exhibit no such fear Aristotle calls "shameless." Public officials are notorious for this. The presidential candidates representing the two major parties serve as Exhibit A. They seem unperturbed when  they are caught lying--even when confronted with video footage that proves it. Of course, Mrs. Clinton is the worst, by virtue of acting as a public figure for several decades. She has a record of thirty years of lying and covering up scandals. Observers have so saturated the internet with collections of Hillary's greatest hits that it is difficult to choose one that best encapsulates her history. Here is just one:

It is difficult to imagine anything more shameless that President Bill Clinton's career as a serial adultery. Fear of dishonor and shame was evidently not one of the things on his mind when Monica Lewinsky kneeled before him. The public humiliation seem to have impacted the first couple not one iota. They remain shameless serial liars.

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