Thursday, 29 July 2010
Joannes Stobaeus quotes Aristotle to the effect that 'he who has overcome his fears will truly be free.' (A variant version of this sentiment is: I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies.) This is one of Aristotles' more famous assertions, I suppose; and there's a level on which it's patently true: our fears can make slaves of us. But that's not to say that a life utterly without fear would be anything other than a ghastliness: only the psychopath lives the completely fearless life (only a god or a monster, in Greek idiom). We need to embrace the good fears, the ones that make us human (the fear that those we love might come to harm; the fear that we've hurt others' feelings, the fear of failure) and live them as moderate components of a joyful life.