Outlooks from the New Standpoint

By E. Belfort Bax | Go to book overview

COURAGE.

How shall we define Courage? What do we mean by Courage? Let us seek the broadest expression possible of courage—the bare notion of courage in itself So considered, may we not define it as the subordination of pain or fear to resolution or purpose? I can think of no more catholic definition of the notion. than this, or one that more completely excludes all debatable matter as to the extent of the operation of will, or the degree of consciousness of the purpose, involved in "true" courage, still less ulterior considerations of the content of the purpose. No one would call the indifference to danger of an infant or an idiot, or the mere enforced endurance of the man powerless to resist, courage, but some might affirm that certain animals could be said to have courage, or that the mere physical absence of fear would constitute a claim to the possession of courage, and many other such things. Again, no one would say that to jump over a precipice without an object was a brave action. Let us take this, then, as the primary abstract definition of courage per se—the subordination of pain or fear to resolution or purpose.

The corresponding formula for cowardice will, of course, be the opposite of this—the subordination of resolution or purpose to pain or fear. But though there is a formal opposition here, there is no real opposition. Courage and cowardice are absolutely indistinguishable from this point of view. Thus, a man, shall we say, fights to the death rather than runs

-163-

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Outlooks from the New Standpoint
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface. vii
  • I *
  • The Orator of the Human Race. 1
  • The Decay of Pagan Thought. 39
  • II 65
  • Liberalism V. Socialism. 67
  • The Curse of Law. 91
  • A Socialist's Notes on Practical Ethics. 109
  • The Economical Basis of History 125
  • Individual Rights Under Socialism. 143
  • Marriage. 151
  • III 161
  • Courage. 163
  • The Practical Significance of Philosophy. 179
  • Note on "Now." 199
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