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Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Czech Republic via Bristol UK
Insane since: Feb 2002

posted posted 07-16-2002 14:00

I was reading through a autobiography the other day and came across the best definition of courage i have ever seen.

"Courage can be defined in many ways, but in my opinion, someone who is truely courageous is not someone who is glory seeking or leads from the front, but someone who although mortally afraid for their own safety knowing that the course of action that they are undertaking may lead to their own death, without second thoughts undertakes that act without regard to thier own safety in order to help another person"

This quote was about a british police officer that went after a psychotic bank robber on his own after this freak had shot several other police officers and taken hostages. The guy was using an assault style shotgun (spas 12). The police officer was the only armed officer in the area at the time, to give an insight into the mind of the loony...when back up eventually arrived the loony continued to open fire and shot and wounded another police might not sound that great here...but before the armed officer got there unarmed officers (most british cops are) attempted to arrest this guy and his accomplice...

the book itself is great reading "The Trojan Files" Its about the rise of the armed response vehicles in London...

Anyway how would you define courage?

Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Seoul, Korea
Insane since: Apr 2002

posted posted 07-17-2002 05:57

The quote above is along the same lines of how I would define courage, but I think it's way too specific (it appears to have been written to describe that situation). In particular, I don't think courage has to involve a life-threatening situation. In fact, I don't think it has to involve physical safety at all. That would pretty much limit courage to wartime situations, disasters, or the kind of situations you describe. I also don't think courage has to involve helping someone else (more on that below).

I would describe courage as the mental strength to act in spite of possible negative repercussions--more simply, being able to act in spite of your fears. For example, a fireman who returns to a burning building to rescue a child is exhibiting courage, but someone who stands up for what they believe even though they may be ridiculed and ostracized is also exhibiting courage--even though they are neither putting themselves in mortal danger nor helping someone else.

I suppose there would be some who would say my definition is too broad. By my definition, a child who is afraid of going to a new school on his first day holding his chin up and marching into the classroom exhibits courage. Some may say that this belittles courage, but I don't think courage is defined by the outcome--it is defined by the risk involved for that person. An act that may require great courage for one person may require no courage at all for another.

That's a bit of a broader view of courage, I guess.

Cell 270

Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

posted posted 07-17-2002 08:49

I have to agree with Master Suho...that is, indeed, the 'true' definition of Courage.

Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: The Demented Side of the Fence
Insane since: Aug 2000

posted posted 07-17-2002 11:19

For a final philosophy examination, the question was, "What is courage?"

Three minutes into a three-hour exam, one student wrote, "This is," and walked out.

The professor responded by writing on the exam, "No, that was stupid."

Lunatic (VI) Mad Scientist

From: Massachusetts, USA
Insane since: Mar 2000

posted posted 07-17-2002 12:50

I like your alternate ending to that story =)

Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Czech Republic via Bristol UK
Insane since: Feb 2002

posted posted 07-17-2002 13:08

laugh...guess he failed that exam

Suho youre right but i did use the word "may" i like your definition though really excellent. But as it was a direct quote i didnt want to change it. But courage has many forms you are correct and that child walking into school as an example is just as good as the one i used to illustrate it and in my opinion does nothing to "belittle courage".

Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Seoul, Korea
Insane since: Apr 2002

posted posted 07-18-2002 14:49

tomeaglescz: Yeah, I understand it was a direct quote... and it also said there are many ways of defining courage.

Kudos to mahjqa for pointing out the difference between courage and stupidity (like Slime, I've never heard that story with that ending--but I like it).

Hmmm... that's an interesting thought, though. Do acts of courage and acts of stupidity have to be mutually exclusive? Let's say I decide to walk off a cliff, even though I'm afraid that I will be liquefied when I hit the ground. By my definition, that would be courage. And by most peoples' definitions, that would also be incredibly stupid. We could either add something to the definition (something vague about how the action would have to be for the good of oneself or others) or we could just leave it as is and say that courage and stupidity may coexist.

Well, after a bit of thought, I don't think adding that clause would exclude stupidity. Let's say I see a rose that I want to give to my wife. Unfortunately, the rose is growing in a garden guarded by a fierce bulldog. I overcome my fears and attempt to pluck the rose, but the bulldog lunges and rips out my jugular vein. Technically, I was acting for the good because I wanted to express my love for my wife by giving her a rose. Again, I was very stupid.

I know, that's stretching it a bit, but the point is that altruistic motivations are not mutually exclusive of stupidity. If we were to try to rework my definition in order to rule out stupidity, it would become so unwieldy as to be useless as a definition. I'm beginning to think that one can be both courageous and stupid at the same time--that the two are, in fact, not mutually exclusive, and both the student and the professor in mahjqa's story were right.

OK, my head is spinning now. Any other opinions on this?

(I hope I'm not going off-topic here. If I am, I apologize.)

Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

posted posted 07-18-2002 18:15

in a lot of cases, the fine line between stupidity and courage tends to be defined after the fact, based on the outcome (not that it should be, just saying that it often is).

one of my favorite quotes from an ani difranco song -

'they can call me crazy if i fail
all the chance that i need
is one-in-a-million
and they can call me brilliant
if i succeed'

Suho - courage is a broad thing, and so needs a broad definition.

Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

posted posted 07-19-2002 13:42

Courage...well, actually attaching the name to something is dependent on the past...I have never heard of it being used in a future tense. So it does seem to depend on the outcome...and on succeeding, at great odds. Failures are normally regarded as stupidity. Success as Couragous.

That would then make it not only conditional, but also dependent on the point of view.

Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: A ripped t-shirt pocket.
Insane since: Aug 2000

posted posted 07-20-2002 10:57

Last school year in English (American Lit), after reading Slaughterhouse Five, of course, we had a discussion about free will. When asked to speak one fellow student said he wouldn't because he was excersizing his free will. The teacher nodded in a slightly sinister but understanding manner. For the second half of the class we wrote an essay on the same topic. The next week the same student recieved his paper back, graded 20 points out of total of 50. When he asked the teacher about this horrible grade, the teacher simply responded that he was excersizing his free will.

Well spoken add...

There is no mention of whether the consequences of being courageous are recieved by the one acting as such or not in the definition or history of courage. So it's entirely subjective and circumstancial in drawing the line between foolhardy acts of stupidity and true courage. Though I believe that most stupidity is accompanied by selfishness. But then again is an act of courage an entireley selfless act or not? And who's to judge? Objectivity is one trait humans could benefit from.


[This message has been edited by fallen (edited 07-20-2002).]

Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: :morF
Insane since: May 2000

posted posted 07-20-2002 14:37

Unfortunatley for that teacher, he doesn't have a right to allow his free will to enter in to his grading. It had to be objective, focused totally on the students abilities and not at all on any personal issues he may be having with said student. If he did it as a way of getting back at the student, it was totally unethical and should have cased him to recieve a serious reprimand (along the lines of 'fuck up like this agian and you will lose your teaching license).

At least in Australia...

Koan 63, written on the wall of cell number 250:
Those who Believe
Those who Try
Those who Love

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