Moral virtue would be a difficult concept to grasp if one were to search and seize such a thing. A consistent idea of virtue isn’t easily defined, for its ambiguity lets us to believe our own perception is the correct one. By doing so, everyone is right, in their own sense, yet they are also wrong. This never-ending debate would never cease, therefore our efforts would render useless. A common ground is required for some kind of agreement between us. In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle provides us with a more universal meaning for virtue, more specifically regarding honor.
Aristotle states, in Book IV, that the honorable man “does not run into trifling dangers, nor is he fond of danger, because he honors few things; but he will face great dangers, and when he is in danger he is unsparing of his life, knowing that there are conditions on which life is not worth having” (1124b5). I completely agree with Aristotle with his definition of the virtue of honor, also considered “pride” with other translators. The quote implies that a man of honor chooses to face danger appropriately, assuring it is the proper time and situation for doing so; determining that factor isn’t easy, but neither is honor.
The unduly humble man does not consider his honor above another man’s, so he doesn’t seek moral and virtue from anyone. The vain main positions himself to the highest of honor, yet his contributions fall short, and sees no flaws in his reflections. The proud man attempts to live with great honor, and he will continue to seek honor from other beings. The mean of pride isn’t an easy moderation to reach, but, nonetheless, it has a more solid and defined state than other virtues that are on Aristotle’s Table of Virtues.
When living a life of humility, we avoid any judgment from our peers and critics, whatsoever. A person’s reaction is what can lead to building one’s honor, or, contrarily, deconstruct it. In order to feel proud, we need the recognition and praise; but by avoiding such, we are too coward to accept our merits that display how worthy we are of ourselves, and of our family and friends. The lack of self-confidence is what can lead to certain disorders that can render you unfit for an environment.
This doesn’t seem like the healthiest state. Vanity can lead to a life of over-confidence and give us a feeling of false achievement. For we are to always assume that our worth is more valuable, and that there is no urgent need for change. Walking around with our chin up, without much contribution, is merely an illusion in our awareness. I see no difference in consuming more food than what we contribute with our labor. Yet this world is filled with counterfeits that reap the benefits of the humble.
Is this life sustainable in a society that judges you for who you are, or at least who you seem to be? The proud life is what we should strive for, albeit it is the most difficult to reach. As arduous as it may seem, we can take full pride in knowing that we are rightfully rewarded for our acts of selflessness and righteousness. It is not so much as expecting recognition, but rather assurance that our good deeds have not gone unnoticed. This can make us feel accepted and valuable in our own society, thus creating a stronger link in the chain.
As long as your actions are fit for you merits, there’s no shame in wearing the badge of honor. In my conclusion, honor is perceived differently between many of us. We over- and under-value our worth, in order to sustain a feeling of pride or contentment. Some might feel that gratification is just fuel for the ego. Others may believe that modesty is for the weak and useless. Is it better to expect less or more from ourselves in our society? This is where Aristotle’s guidelines for the moderation of pride can answer this conundrum, or at least attempt to.
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