Proof Of Courage Essay

1513 words - 6 pages

The problem with the definitions of courage that we covered through the course of this semester is that they are very narrow yet the basic definitions are too broad. As a result of this, each needs to limit the scope of the definition at length. Do we really separate definition of courage for each specific circumstance? Just to name a few, we have battlefield valor, political courage, courage to partake in burdened virtues, religious courage (martyrdom), and fortitude. If a supposed self-evident truth does not hold true in all situations and cannot be aptly summarized in brevity, it is often because of a flaw.
Another reason for the multitude of definitions is that each author defines courage from the individual's perspective. This results in a bias towards defining courageous circumstances rather than courageous action.
Every paper, film, and novel covered during the course, without a doubt, depicted courageous individuals. Yet many of them would only fall under one or two labels of courage. The solution to the conundrum is simple. Courage needs to be defined by way of mathematical proof (regarding the approach, not the content) rather than from the subject's actions. Through an indirect approach it becomes easy to differentiate courage from similar falsities. Courage is a person's ability to knowingly surpass expectations in the process of overcoming an obstacle, to achieve a goal that is greater than one's self.
Aristotle places ample restrictions on what courage meant to him. Subjugated people were not able to demonstrate such a virtue. True courage can only be demonstrated on the battlefield by a fully informed individual. He states that women, children, slaves, and the diseased are unable to express courage as a virtue because either they have not chosen their circumstance or society does not permit them to act in such a way a way (Aristotle 3.chapter 5,6). My issue with this type of definition is that it limits courage to specific social casts. Time period withstanding, would a woman dying for the life of her child not be counted as courage? Or what of a leprous man taking their own life to dissuade social stigma against their family? Even within the social confines of the day, much was overlooked by his definition. Aristotle did name another type of courage which pertains to politicians but while degree of courage may alter, surely a separate definition isn't needed (for this reason, I will not cover Kennedy’s definition).
Thompson did an exemplary job of integrating Aristotle's views with Christian virtues but yet again, he limited his definition to the threat of death. “Moreover it belongs to the notion of virtue that it should regard something extreme: and the most fearful of all bodily evils is death, since it does away all bodily goods(Aquinas OF sub-question A[3]).” While his definition allowed for any social cast to express the virtue, only those faced with imminent death were able fully achieve...

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