Courage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

 
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Courage (disambiguation).
"Bravery" and "Fortitude" redirect here. For other uses, see Bravery (disambiguation) and Fortitude (disambiguation).
Fortitudo, 1470, by Sandro Botticelli

Courage is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death, or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement.

In some traditions, fortitude holds approximately the same meaning as courage. In the Western tradition, notable thoughts on courage have come from philosophers such as Aristotle, Aquinas and Kierkegaard; in the Eastern tradition, some thoughts on courage were offered by the Tao Te Ching. More recently, courage has been explored by the discipline of psychology.

Theories of courage[edit]

Western antiquity and the Middle Ages[edit]

Further information: Cardinal virtues

Ancient Greece[edit]

There is a tradition moving back to Ancient Greek philosophy for counting courage or fortitude as one of the four cardinal virtues, along with prudence, justice, and temperance. ("Cardinal" in this sense means "pivotal"; it is one of the four cardinal virtues because to possess any virtue, a person must be able to sustain it in the face of difficulty.)

As a desirable quality, courage is discussed broadly in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, where its vice of shortage is cowardice and its vice of excess is recklessness.[1]

Ancient Rome[edit]

In the Roman Empire, courage formed part of the universal virtue of virtus.[2] Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero (106–43 BC) lists the cardinal virtues, but does not name them such:

"Virtue may be defined as a habit of mind (animi) in harmony with reason and the order of nature. It has four parts: wisdom (prudentiam), justice, courage, temperance." (De Inventione, II, LIII)

Medieval philosophy[edit]

In medieval virtue ethics, championed by Averroes and Thomas Aquinas and still important to Roman Catholicism, courage is referred to as "Fortitude".[3]

According to Thomas Aquinas,[4]

Among the cardinal virtues, prudence ranks first, justice second, fortitude third, temperance fourth, and after these the other virtues.

Part of his justification for this hierarchy is that

Fortitude without justice is an occasion of injustice; since the stronger a man is the more ready is he to oppress the weaker.

On fortitude's general and special nature, Aquinas says,[5]

the term "fortitude" can be taken in two ways. First, as simply denoting a certain firmness of mind, and in this sense it is a general virtue, or rather a condition of every virtue, since as the Philosopher states (Ethic. ii), it is requisite for every virtue to act firmly and immovably. Secondly, fortitude may be taken to denote firmness only in bearing and withstanding those things wherein it is most difficult to be firm, namely in certain grave dangers. Therefore Tully says (Rhet. ii), that "fortitude is deliberate facing of dangers and bearing of toils." On this sense fortitude is reckoned a special virtue, because it has a special matter.

Aquinas holds fortitude or courage as being primarily about endurance, not attack:[6]

As stated above (Article 3), and according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 9), "fortitude is more concerned to allay fear, than to moderate daring." For it is more difficult to allay fear than to moderate daring, since the danger which is the object of daring and fear, tends by its very nature to check daring, but to increase fear. Now to attack belongs to fortitude in so far as the latter moderates daring, whereas to endure follows the repression of fear. Therefore the principal act of fortitude is endurance, that is to stand immovable in the midst of dangers rather than to attack them.

Christianity[edit]

In both Catholicism and Anglicanism, courage is also one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Eastern traditions[edit]

The Tao Te Ching states that courage is derived from love (" loving causes ability brave") and explains: "One of courage, with audacity, will die. One of courage, but gentle, spares death. From these two kinds of courage arise harm and benefit."[7][8]

Courage (shauriya) and Patience (dhairya) appear as the first two of ten characteristics (lakshana) of dharma in the Hindu Manusmṛti, besides forgiveness (kshama), tolerance (dama), honesty (asthaya), physical restraint (indriya nigraha), cleanliness (shouchya), perceptiveness (dhi), knowledge (vidhya), truthfulness (satya), and control of anger (akrodh).

Islamic beliefs also present courage and self-control as a key factor in facing the Devil and in some cases Jihad to a lesser extent; many believe this because of the courage (through peace and patience) the Prophets of the past displayed against people who despised them for their beliefs.

Modernity[edit]

Søren Kierkegaard opposed courage to angst, while Paul Tillich opposed an existential courage to be to non-being, fundamentally equating it with religion:

"Courage is the self-affirmation of being in spite of the fact of non-being. It is the act of the individual self in taking the anxiety of non-being upon itself by affirming itself ... in the anxiety of guilt and condemnation. ... every courage to be has openly or covertly a religious root. For religion is the state of being grasped by the power of being itself."[9]

J.R.R. Tolkien identified in his 1936 lecture "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" a "Northern 'theory of courage'"—the heroic or "virtuous pagan" insistence to do the right thing even in the face of certain defeat without promise of reward or salvation:

It is the strength of the northern mythological imagination that it faced this problem, put the monsters in the centre, gave them victory but no honor, and found a potent and terrible solution in naked will and courage. 'As a working theory absolutely impregnable.' So potent is it, that while the older southern imagination has faded forever into literary ornament, the northern has power, as it were, to revive its spirit even in our own times. It can work, as it did even with the goðlauss Viking, without gods: martial heroism as its own end.[10]

Virtuous pagan heroism or courage in this sense is "trusting in your own strength," as observed by Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology,

Men who, turning away in utter disgust and doubt from the heathen faith, placed their reliance on their own strength and virtue. Thus in the Sôlar lioð 17 we read of Vêbogi and Râdey â sik þau trûðu, "in themselves they trusted"[11]

Ernest Hemingway famously defined courage as "grace under pressure."[12]

Winston Churchill stated, "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others." According to Maya Angelou, "Courage is the most important of the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage."

Symbolism[edit]

Its accompanying animal is the lion. Often, fortitude is depicted as having tamed the ferocious lion. Cf. e.g. the Tarot trump called Strength. It is sometimes seen in the Catholic Church as a depiction of Christ's triumph over sin (see Revelation 5:5). It also is a symbol in some cultures as a savior of the people who live in a community with sin and corruption.

Awards[edit]

See also Category:Courage awards

Several awards claim to recognize courageous actions, including:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, 1103b15-20, 1104a15-25, 1104b1-10, 1107a30-1107b5, 1108b15-35, 1109a5-15, 1115a5-1117b25, 1129b20-5, 1137a20-5, 144b5-10, 1167a20, 1177a30-b1, 1178a10-5, 1178a30-5, 1178b10-5, in Aristotle, Translation, Introduction, and Commentary, Broadie, Sarah, & Rowe, C., Oxford University Press, 2002.
  2. ^ Myles McDonnell; Roman Manliness
  3. ^ CCEL.org
  4. ^ Summa Theologica: Fortitude (Secunda Secundae Partis, Q. 123)
  5. ^ Summa Theologica: Fortitude (Secunda Secundae Partis, Q. 123)
  6. ^ Summa Theologica: Fortitude (Secunda Secundae Partis, Q. 123)
  7. ^ Chapter 67 and 73, Tao Te Ching (C. Ganson uses the word "courage", but the Mitchell translation does not.)
  8. ^ Zhonwen.com, Tao Te Ching with Hanzi translations
  9. ^ Tillich, Paul (1952). The Courage To Be. London: Collins. 152–183.
  10. ^ Tolkien, JRR. "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics". The Tolkien Estate. p. 25. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  11. ^ Grimm, Jacob (1835). Deutsche Mythologie (Teutonic Mythology) (in German) (1 ed.). Dieterich: Göttingen. 
  12. ^ Carter, Richard. "Celebrating Ernest Hemingway's Century". neh.gov. National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 

References[edit]

  • Jeanmart, G.; Blésin, L. (dir.), Figures du courage politique dans la philosophie moderne et contemporaine, numéro thématique de la revue Dissensus. Revue de philosophie politique de l'Université de Liège (http://popups.ulg.ac.be/dissensus/), n°2, automne 2009.
  • Avramenko, Richard (2011). Courage: The Politics of Life and Limb. University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Catholic Encyclopedia "Fortitude"
  • Summa Theologica "Second Part of the Second Part" See Questions 123–140
  • Becker, Ernest (1973). The Denial of Death. New York: The Free Press.
  • Walton, Douglas N. (1986). Courage: A Philosophical Investigation. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  • Palmquist, Stephen (2000). "Angst and the Paradox of Courage" hkbu.edu.hk, Chapter XII in The Tree of Philosophy. Hong Kong: Philopsychy Press.
  • Bussey, K. (1992). "Lying and truthfulness: Children's definitions, standards, and evaluative reactions". Child Development, 63, 129–137.
  • Deci, E. L.; Ryan, R. M. (2000). "The 'what' and 'why' of gal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry', 4, 227–268.
  • Eisenberger, R. (1992). "Learned industriousness". Psychological Review, 99, 248–267.
  • Evans, P. D.; White, D. G. (1981). "Towards an empirical definition of courage". Behaviour Research and Therapy, 19, 419–424.
  • Peterson, C.; Seligman M. E. P. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. New York: Oxford University Press. 197–289.
  • Putnam, D. (1997). "Psychological courage". Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, 4, 1–11.
  • Ryan, R. M.; Frederick, C. (1997). "On energy, personality, and health: Subjective vitality as a dynamic reflection of well-being". Journal of Personality, 65, 529–565.
  • Zimmerman, Barry J. (1995). Self-regulation involves more than meta cognition: A social cognitive perspective. Educational Psychologist. pp. 30, 217–221. 
  • Ian Miller, William (2000). The Mystery of Courage. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00826-X.