I have to write a high school essay where the prompt is roughly centered around writing about someone who is courageous. With my interest in philosophy I would like to write my paper on a philosopher, a courageous one. Unfortunately, courageous in the sense which is allowed refers to one who is brave when performing a daunting task, otherwise I could write an essay on courage alone. So I have though about writing it on Socrates and his well known execution, any other suggestions? I have also read a brief amount concerning Anthony Ludovici's stance on Socrates' death, any comments as to its credibility?

TLDR: What philosopher can I write about for a high school essay in which I have to write about a person of courage?

  • What about Galileo? imo, he qualifies as a philosopher for the same reason Isaac Newton does: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/33143/… Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 1:01
  • Boethius wrote Consolation of Philosophy while awaiting execution, Simone Weil helped smuggle people out of Nazi Germany, and fought in the Spanish Civil War in a special ops unit, Camus published underground newspaper for French resistance during WWII.
    – Conifold
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 1:06
  • Galileo is one I have thought of as well, as Boethius, Weil, Camus, all very interesting, I am reading about it now Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 1:16
  • Socrates is an excellent option. His act is almost impossible to emotionally comprehend. and it would be interesting to compare your and your class mates conception of courage with his, since his (or plato's) views on courage appear in some of his dialogues.
    – nir
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 11:51
  • Thank you all for your responses, It will greatly help me in my decision! Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 15:24

4 Answers 4


"being brave when performing a daunting task." of course, there is always socrates, galileo, camus, etc. to go to when you talk about being brave as a philosopher. but...

  • what about wittgenstein who, in the trenches of the ww1, with death and sorrow around him, managed to put together tractatus logico-philosophicus, one of the milestones of modern philosophy?

  • what about susan sontag, who never stopped writing and questioning about the human spirit (both philosophically and in fiction), who was brave enough to go to sarajevo when nobody would?

  • what about being a philosopher/psychologist in your fifties, breaking up with your husband, going to live with another woman, being dumped by her and pulling yourself together by learning about another philosopher and his influencing ideas (the daunting task, in this particular example, would not be as daunting as you might expect and would be simply called (mid)life, the philosopher - alison gopnik - https://goo.gl/pVW0Kj)?

  • 1
    Please kindly fix the grammatical errors in your answer, such as capitalizing the first letter in each sentence. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 23:12

John Taylor Gatto. Many will not recognize him as a philosopher, but he took his teaching job seriously enough to recognize that it was doing more harm than good and published his letter of resignation in the Wall Street Journal. Your teacher might get a kick out of learning about him.


People actually fear a lot things more than their own deaths. A soldier who has lost appetite for war nevertheless goes to war for fear of facing military justice can't be said courageous. A military justice that makes soldiers choose between hazardous duty and legal consequence is basically assuming that soldiers are bigger cowards who fear jail time more than their own death.

On the other hand, a general who clearly foresees his military defeat then abandons the city he is supposed to defend can not be said to be a coward; on the contrary, there is courage in his flight. Kutuzov was such a character; he was called a traitor and a coward till his last day; it took a Tolstoy to restore his name half a century later. In Tolstoy's view, Kutuzov was the only person in Russia who clearly foresaw the course of events.

A general, who foresees defeat but has nowhere to escape then decides to surrender on favourable terms, can't be said to be a coward; he is actually an unsung hero who prevented a massacre of his city. There are countless unsung heroes like this in Chinese history.


"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." — Frankl, Viktor E. Man's search for meaning. Simon and Schuster, 1985.

Viktor Frankl is noted for having to deal with extreme circumstances. He offers his chronicles of life in a Nazi concentration camp and offers ways to find meaning in very extreme circumstances, such as choosing life over death.

Man's Search for Meaning is a short but rich a deep book; its length is suited from someone trying to write a high school report.

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