Tuesday, March 13, 2007


There seems to be a lot of studies out there on happiness, but not on courage. Here is an explanation why.

Courage is a very common virtue, its presence observed by all, even by children, and its absence sometimes severely blamed, more often excused with disdain. Your reputation will suffer a good deal if you are seen to be a coward. Nor can you take refuge in the relativism of values that, in other matters, is such a feature in the thinking of our times. You will probably not be able to defend yourself from an accusation by claiming that one person's courage is another's cowardice. We do not believe there is great difficulty in defining it. Though some societies are peaceable, others warlike, all seem to prize courage and despise cowardice.

Yet courage is very little studied. However much we praise it, however easily we define it, we today are not sure that we altogether approve of it. Our individualism prizes the self, but courage deliberately endangers the self for the sake of--what? It seems that the answer would have to be that we value something more than our selves, more than our principle of individualism, and this would be uncomfortable to confront. So we let the anomaly of courage, a virtue much noticed in life and little valued in theory, pass without comment. LINK

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