To Do Something Truly Couragous, You Have To Mean To

The Federalist | 7/26/2019 | Susanna Hoffman
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Courage is a vivid virtue. Think of military heroes whose actions we deem courageous. Their actions are beautiful in their sacrifice, but their courage is not the result of random occurrence or uncalculated impulse. Military heroes are so honored because courageous actions require skill and intelligence, but not only those. They also require a good end in mind.

Courage is defined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle as “the right disposition toward pain.” At Hillsdale College, Dr. Larry P. Arnn teaches a free online lecture on this segment about courage in Aristotle’s “Nichomachean Ethics.”

Choices - Intent - Rightness - Action - Choices

Like all good choices, intent is important to determining the rightness of a given action. Good choices require the correct disposition of the soul, which is cultivated in the process of developing virtue. Since courage is the result of choice, good intent is paramount in making the courageous action good. This is because people can do things that may appear courageous but were actually motivated by evil desires. Therefore, true courage requires both intending to do a good thing and then acting in such a way as to achieve that good thing.

But what is courage? Courage is the careful balance between the extremes of fear and confidence. On the battlefield, courageous soldiers must seek the mean between an excess of fear, which is cowardice, and the excess of confidence, rashness. Just as cowardice will drive soldiers away from battle, rashness will provoke unnecessary injury or loss of life. Courage means balancing enough fear to prevent rashness and enough confidence to prevent cowardice. The result is a beautiful, intelligent, and skillful action.

Actions - Matter - Sense - Intent - Action

But these actions, no matter how masterful, are not truly courageous in the Aristotelian sense without good intent. For a courageous action, moral intention is discerned by identifying what you want accomplished....
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Federalist
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