Courage is regarded as virtue in societies. But I have this dilemma:

I think courage is related to how you value your own life and whether you are willing to put it under risk for some reasons.

For example, I see someone asking me a phone, well, I calculate the risk that if I don't give up the phone this person could kill me because he is a thief say, so I give it up. Now, someone may say: hey he didn't have the courage to stand up. But for me it doesn't make sense. I could've done something but when I know it could have been fatal for me and since I value my life I decided not to intervene. Can someone clarify this dilemma for me? What exactly is courage and when is it courageous to do smth?

  • Did you check a dictionary before asking? Might be good to refer in your question. – tkruse Jul 18 at 12:04
  • Courage means not making decisions out of fear, not pressing forward when a rational risk calculation suggests otherwise. That would be recklessness. Of course, this only applies if the calculation is indeed rational. – Conifold Jul 19 at 7:55
  • Your concept of courage is wrong. Courage is the strength to face serious risks. Losing a mobile phone is not a serious risk, it's just money. Your example is bad. An individual is courageous when he goes to war, and prefers dying instead of seeing his family trapped by the enemy. An individual is not courageous because he doesn't jump from the train in order to catch a falling mobile phone. – RodolfoAP Jul 31 at 9:41

Aristotle would observe that courage, like all virtues, must follow the Golden Mean: it is not courageous to be foolhardy, any more than it is to be cowardly.

Furthermore, the four cardinal virtues are

  • Justice
  • Temperance (self-control, not an intemperate denunciation of temperate drinking)
  • Prudence
  • Courage

An act that violates any of them is not virtuous. The question of whether you are afraid to risk your life is secondary to the prudential question of whether it is right to risk your life for your phone -- which would entail that your phone is more valuable than your life. That would be greed, not courage.

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  • Then what is example of courage? Because it seems to always boil down if I want to put my life at risk. There are probably very rare cases when one should do so. And even if there is one, then again it is mere act of calculation. – user47539 Jul 18 at 16:50
  • @user47539 Well you need to put something at risk, else where would the fear come from that you'd overcome with courage? If you never face risks, then you never face fears, then you never need courage. But you can risk other things than your life, like your career, your marriage, a lot of money, your reputation, ... But risking a dollar in a bet will not show a lot of courage. And of course hopefully there will be some calculation instead of just risking your life for fun, like bungee-jumping. But you can be selfless in courage, such as actually sacrificing your life to save others. – tkruse Jul 20 at 9:28

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