Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 4, Chapter 7 (1127a-1127b33)

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Book 4, Chapter 7 (1127a-1127b33)

  • Aristotle continues with his list of "Virtues-That-Shall-Remain-Nameless." This time, he struggles to find the mean for "boasting."
  • A boaster pretends to be awesome—even though he clearly isn't. He claims abilities he either doesn't have or that aren't as developed as he says.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, we have the "ironist," who downplays his good qualities and abilities.
  • The person who rides the line between the boaster and the ironist might be called truthful, in that he represents himself accurately.
  • The boastful person enjoys lying but isn't necessarily malicious. He's just a fool.
  • Aristotle has a little bit of love for this scamp: if he boasts to increase his honor, it's not as bad as lying for financial gain.
  • Ironists, too, can be lovable. Because they don't jabber on, they seem more refined (not silly or crass). Aristotle reminds us that Socrates was always downplaying his abilities.
  • But Aristotle, 4th century B.C. as he was, understood something of the humblebrag.
  • He knew that overly downplaying yourself was a kind of boasting in itself. Not cool.

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