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§21. Φόβος [260–262]

g) Fear as πίστις: Courage as the Possibility of Being-Composed in Relation to It: The πάθη as Ground of λόγος


Aristotle says that insofar as human beings come into this disquiet, which is determined by οἴεσθαι and ἐλπίς, they become ready to deliberate.379 Human beings who are brought into fear run to another in order to confer, to get counsel. If I allow people to be brought into fear, if I make out political events as dangerous, I thereby make people ready for, and inclined toward, conferring. I make them into those who contribute to the realization of an intended decision; I do this for the purpose of their becoming themselves πίστις.

Referring back to speaking-with-one-another in everydayness, fear shows itself to be that disposition that brings to speaking. What appears here in the circle of everydayness is a phenomenon that has a much more originary foundation, insofar as, in the being-there of human beings, it can be a question of fear in yet another sense, what we designate as anxiety or dread: where it is uncanny for us, where we do not know what we are afraid of. If it is uncanny for us, we begin to discourse. That is an indication of how the γένεσις of speaking is measured by being-there, as speaking is connected with the basic determination of being-there itself, which is characterized by uncanniness.

The fear that Aristotle characterizes here itself has the possibility of being taken hold of by human beings in a decisive manner. Fear has, as a determinate πάθος, the possibility of a ἕξις. Such a possibility is courage. However, it is evident that I can only be courageous in the right sense if I am afraid. Fear is the condition of the possibility of courage. Whoever is not afraid vis-à-vis persuading himself not to be afraid (which is the case most of the time), does not yet get around to making a decision in the right sense, and being courageous. It is a question of taking hold of courage. It is a question of being afraid in the right manner, and thereby coming to resoluteness. Connected with this is Augustine’s thesis: initium sapientiae timor Domini,380 which makes the fundamental relevance of fear for being-there visible. Possibilities of beingcomposed in relation to fear: Rhetoric, Β5, and in greater detail, Nicomachean Ethics, Γ, Chapters 9–10.381

At the same time, ἐλπὶς σωτηρίας indicates that fearing, in the context of σωτηρία, stands in a distinctive connection with being-there itself. At one point, Aristotle says of ἕξις—more precisely of the ability to have the moment at one’s disposal in the proper mode—that it σῴζει μεσότητα,382 that it “preserves the mean”; it brings me into the genuine being that corresponds


379. Rhet. Β 5, 1383 a 6 sq.: ὁ γὰρ φόβος βουλευτικοὺς ποιεῖ.

380. Aurelius Augustinus, De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus, qu. 36.

381. Cf. Rhet. Β 5, 1383 a 13 sqq.; Eth. Nic. Γ 9–10, 1115 a 6 sqq.

382. Editor’s note: Cf. Eth. Nic. 1104 a 25 sqq. or b 11 sq., where the μεσότης preserves in all cases, namely σωφροσύνη and ἀνδρεία, also the εὖ.

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