Lecture 4

Lecture 4

Understanding is the faculty of standing presence in the sense that the world presents itself within its defined looks addressable by the logos. Temperance, on the other hand, maintains the stand of understanding by defining the limits of what human being sets its heart on. Such definition orders the individual's practical relations with beings in the world and allows it to maintain its stand as opposed to becoming the slave of its limitless desires and merely following its inclinations.

Manliness as an alliance with understanding to control passion

There remain the other two principal 'virtues' to be considered, a)ndrei/a and dikaiosu/nh. A)ndrei/a is aligned with qumo/j (439e) and o)rgh/ (440a), aspects of human being which are again related to ardent drive and striving and strong emotive passions such as anger, rage and violent displeasure. Qumo/j comes from the verb qu/ein, which means 'to move violently' 'to boil up in a passion'. Someone who is qumoeidh//j has the look or ei)=doj of passion and is given to being heated, wild, angry, courageous. Plato characterizes a)ndrei/a as a power (du/namij) which "rescues through everything a firm view with regard to what is terrible" (dia\ panto\j sw/sei th\n peri\ tw=n deinw=n do/can 429b). Manliness concerns the relation of human being to the terrible (ta\ dei/na), to what is detrimental to human life and human living. Therefore it is 'negative' emotive passions which move the soul, for they are directed toward warding off something detrimental, whereas desire aims at acquiring something beneficial to living. Human being must take heart (qumo/j) to face the terrible. In certain situations in human living it is appropriate to get into a rage, a passion and anger to confront what is terrible or harmful. To lose one's firm stand in the face of danger, on the other hand, is cowardice (deili/a). It is not just what is detrimental that has to be warded off, but also one's own desires that boundlessly strive to be satisfied. To be virtuous, the heart and ardent, passionate, heated striving must become allies of reason (cu/mmaxon t% lo/g% 440b) and thought (logismo/j 440b) and assist (e)pikou/rouj 440d) in keeping desire bridled. A)ndrei/a signifies that virtue which mobilizes the strong emotive forces within the human breast to assist and enable practical reason to take a stand against all that is detrimental in the world or even simply terrible, including its own terrible fears and detrimental desires. Emotion here means the movement from within that takes hold of the human heart and body in a given situation and casts the human into a particular mood and urges it into a particular striving. In De Anima Aristotle points out that the moods in which human being continually finds itself in encountering the world, its being uplifted or downcast (h(du\ h)\ luphro/n), are always associated with the body (a)ei\ meta\ sw/matoj De an. A 1 403a16). A sign of this is that a terrible mood of fear can overcome a man even when there is nothing to fear (mhqeno\j ga\r foberou= sumbai/nontoj e)n toi=j pa/qesi gi/nontai toi=j tou= foboume/nou 403a23 cf. M. Heidegger Gesamtausgabe Band 18 p. 203, hereafter referred to in the form GA18:203). Just as with respect to the polis, a)ndrei/a signifies that the guardians of a polis are under the command of the polis' rulers and law-givers and maintain a steadfast view of the terrible in accordance with what the law-givers lay down, so too in the individual soul a)ndrei/a signifies that the passions are allied with and assist practical reason and deliberation, which is to govern the individual's actions. Practical reason has insight into a given situation and must rule the individual's actions, guiding the passions of anger, rage or strong displeasure as supporting forces.

We can thus now see that both the principal virtues of a)ndrei/a and swfrwsu/nh signify a relation of the leading and governing faculty of human being, phronesis, with the heart of human being, including its bodily emotiveness, which on the one hand strives to attain all it lacks (e)piqumi/a) and also strives to ward off all that is detrimental to human living (o)rgh/) or steadfastly maintain a stand in view of all that is terrible for the human soul. When the relations among these various aspects of human being are in joint, and phronesis governs both the desires and the passions in guiding the individual's actions in practical life, the human soul is just (di/kaion 441d) in the precise sense of being in joint. Each aspect of the human soul then fulfils its proper function and therefore 'has its own' in maintaining the individual's stand in the world. This being-in-joint is the virtue of dikaiosu/nh, justice.

To be continued...

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