Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 3, Chapter 8 (1116a17-1117a28)

By Aristotle

Book 3, Chapter 8 (1116a17-1117a28)

There are five categories of courage.

  1. Courage in the citizen.
    Citizens behave well because they fear the law and shame in the public eye. This is a kind of virtue in itself.
  2. Those compelled to fight by rulers/tyrants.
    Not as courageous as #1 because they only persevere because they fear pain (rather than loss of honor).
  3. People who have knowledge/experience.
    Some people do well in scary situations because they have experience that tells them things will be okay.
    But this isn't true courage, since a person who stays calm because of knowledge will fall apart when something outside their skill/knowledge-level happens.
  4. The "Spirited."
    These are men who act bravely when their "blood's up"—when their adrenaline's rushing. But Aristotle calls this animalistic.
    But courage through "spiritedness" is natural, and, if it can be controlled by choice and an eye to a noble end, it might be true courage.
  5. People of good hope/high ignorance.
    Those who win a lot tend not to feel danger and so appear confident.
    Ignorant people similarly have confidence because they don't know how bad things really are, so they can't properly feel fear. Hardly courageous, in Aristotle's book.