"The man who flies from and fears everything and does not stand his ground against anything becomes a coward, and the man who fears nothing at all but goes to meet every danger becomes rash." Briefly explain the context of this quote from Nicomachean Ethics. How does it fit within Aristotle's work as a whole?

This quotation fits into the author's work as a whole by putting forward the key concept that virtues constitute a mean between excess and deficiency. In the example quoted, Aristotle is dealing with the virtue of courage. A lack of courage is cowardice, whereas too much of it constitutes rashness. Courage represents the mean between these two extremes.

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The moral philosophy of Aristotle is based on the cultivation of virtue, or moral excellence. Aristotle identifies a number of virtues such as prudence, temperance, and courage to which the truly moral man may be said to have a disposition.

Aristotle differs from later moral philosophers in that he locates...

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The moral philosophy of Aristotle is based on the cultivation of virtue, or moral excellence. Aristotle identifies a number of virtues such as prudence, temperance, and courage to which the truly moral man may be said to have a disposition.

Aristotle differs from later moral philosophers in that he locates morality in a tendency to act in the right manner rather than in individual acts themselves. In other words, just because someone performs a good act it doesn't necessarily mean that they're morally good.

For Aristotle, one has to look at how someone conducts themselves over time. If they are truly virtuous, then we will observe that they consistently display virtuous behavior. In practical terms, this involves pursuing a middle course between the vices of excess and deficiency.

To illustrate this point, let's take a look at the virtue of courage cited in the original quotation. The coward, the man who “flies from everything”, clearly shows a deficiency of courage. By the same token, the man “who fears nothing at all” but throws himself willy-nilly into every dangerous situation, shows an excess of courage.

If a deficiency of courage leads to cowardice, an excess leads to rashness. In both cases, what we are dealing with are vices, which the virtuous man, by reason of his prudence—which is itself a virtue—manages to avoid.

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