Summary and Analysis Book III: Chapter VIII



There are five lesser forms of courage:

  1. Political or civic courage (e.g., that of citizen-soldiers), which inspires men to face danger for the sake of honor and renown or to escape the disgrace assigned by law to cowardice. Because it has a noble motive-honor — it is closest to true courage. A lower form of political courage is that in which fear of punishment is the only motive.
  2. Courage of experience (e.g., that shown by professional soldiers), which is primarily a matter of knowing when real danger is present and being familiar with dangerous situations. When the confidence of experienced men is shaken, they tend to be more cowardly than less experienced men who have political courage.
  3. Courage inspired by anger, pain, or some other blind emotion. This is similar to the courage shown by brute animals. It is the most "natural" kind of courage and can develop into true courage if choice and correct moral purpose are added.
  4. Courage based on optimism and sanguine temperament. This comes from a sense of superiority rather than a noble motive and rapidly turns to cowardice in the face of failure or adverse circumstances.
  5. Courage due to ignorance. This is the least enduring kind and changes to cowardice as soon as the facts in any situation become known.