“Laches” by Plato

Conversation with Socrates

“Any one who has an intellectual affinity to Socrates and enters into conversation with him is liable to be drawn into an argument; and whatever subject he may start, he will be continually carried round and round by him, until at last he finds that he has to give an account both of his present and past life ; and when he is once entangled, Socrates will not let him go until he has completely and thoroughly sifted him… There is no harm in being reminded of any wrong thing which we are, or have been, doing : he who does not fly from reproof will be sure to take more heed of his after-life ; as Solon says, he will wish and desire to be learning so long as he lives, and will not think that old age of itself brings wisdom. To me, to be cross examined by Socrates is neither unusual nor unpleasant;”

What is Courage?

Socrates extends the definition of courage from courage in battle to all aspects of life, and makes a dear distinction between courage and fearlessness (rashness).

“I meant to ask you … not only who are courageous in war, but who are courageous in perils by sea, and who in disease, or in poverty, or again in politics, are courageous; and not only who are courageous against pain or fear, but mighty to contend against desires and pleasures, either fixed in their rank or turning upon their enemy. There is this sort of courage–”

“Courage is not the science which is concerned with the fearful and hopeful, for they are future only; courage, like the other sciences, is concerned not only with good and evil of the future, but of the present and past, and of any time.” Courage is “the knowledge of nearly every good and evil without reference to time”. If a man knew all good and evil, he would be perfect, and wanting in no virtue, whether justice, or temperance, or holiness. He would know which were dangers and which were not, and guard against them whether they were supernatural or natural; and he would provide the good, as he would know how to deal both with gods or men. “Courage, according to this new definition, instead of being a part of virtue only, will be all virtue.”



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