Courage, Virtue, and the Immortality of the Soul: According to Socrates

1994 Words 8 Pages
In the Laches and the Phaedo, courage and virtue are discussed in depth. Also, arguments for the possibility of the existence of the immorality of the soul are given in the Phaedo. In the Laches, Socrates and two generals, Nicias and Laches, wrestle with how exactly to define courage. After discussing and working their way through two definitions of courage, Nicias proposes a third definition of courage. However, this definition of courage that he proposes is actually the definition of virtue. When the dialogue comes to an end, no definition of courage has been reached.
Virtue is very tough to define, as evidenced in the difficulty that Socrates, Nicias, and Laches have with trying to define both courage and virtue. In Socrates’
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However, from their discussion, it seems that they “were investigating it [courage] as a part of virtue” (Laches and Charmides, 198A). While courage is a part of virtue, it can still be distinguished from virtue. It would seem that for a person to be courageous he or she would not have to be virtuous. In order to be courageous it is not necessary for the person to be knowledgeable of all goods and evils. For example, a single man could be fighting off 50 men in order to try to save his house from attack. I would say that this man is courageous due to his actions of standing up to a larger army and trying to defend his home. This hypothetical man has a limited knowledge of good and evil and he certainly does not have knowledge of all goods and evils. To go a step farther, I would propose another scenario in which the same man is defending against a force of unknown strength. Is this man less courageous than in the previous scenario? No, in fact I would argue that he is even more courageous in this scenario than in the previous scenario because of the uncertainty in the strength of the enemy force and the lack of knowledge about the evil. In both scenarios, the man has the same limited knowledge of good and evil and yet the amount of courage that is displayed changes. The most obvious problem that I see is twofold. First, we as

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