Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy is the perfect companion for anyone wishing to begin or refresh his or her study of Western philosophy. Durant provides well-written and relatively brief accounts of all the major Western thinkers' lives, from Plato to Santayana, along with analysis and critiques of their major works.
In reading the section on Aristotle, I came across this interesting passage on that philosopher's idea of the "Ideal Man" taken from his work, Ethics, and thought I'd share it here:
He does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life, -- knowing that under certain conditions it is not worth while to live. He is of a disposition to do men service, though he is ashamed to have a service done to him. To confer a kindness is a mark of superiority; to receive one is a mark of subordination... He does not take part in public displays... He is open in his dislikes and preferences; he talks and acts frankly, because of his contempt for men and things... He is never fired with admiration, since there is nothing great in his eyes. He cannot live in complaisance with others, except it be a friend; complaisance is the characteristic of a slave... He never feels malice and always forgets and passes over injuries... He is not fond of talking... It is no concern of his that he should be praised, or that others should be blamed. He does not speak evil of others, even of his enemies, unless it be to themselves. His carriage is sedate, his voice deep, his speech measured; he is not given to hurry, for he is concerned about only a few things; he is not prone to vehemence, for he thinks nothing important. A shrill voice and hasty steps come to a man through care... He bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace making the best of his circumstances, like a skillful general who marshals his limited forces with all the strategy of war... He is his own best friend, and takes delight in privacy whereas a man of no virtue or ability is his own worst enemy, and is afraid of solitude.
I suppose the question is: Is this an outmoded way of looking at masculinity? Or even more importantly, what do other cultures outside the Western/Aristotlean tradition have to say about the proper conduct of men?
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