Stoics believe there are four virtues that, when obtained, lead to eudaimonia. In order to obtain these virtues, one must make a habit of practicing them on a daily basis. These virtues are Wisdom, Justice, Temperance, and Courage. This week we’re diving into the fourth virtue: Courage.
Courage is the ability to face life’s challenges without succumbing to them or to push for social betterment, even when you may face negative consequences. Stoics believe that courage is necessary to get through the mundane and difficult parts of life without losing your inner tranquility. In module 4 we learned about Musonius, who faced exile with courage and further had the courage to return to the land he was exiled from. In modern days we can also face a form of exile from family, in the form of deportation, or to a nursing home. It can even be said that many people faced exile during the current pandemic since they had less contact with friends, family, and coworkers. Some people may not have left their homes much at all if they are at high risk. In this week’s reading, Irvine discussed different ways that we can use courage to face exile, aging, and death.
We also read “Meditations”, by Marcus Aurelius, who was a philosopher and a Roman emperor. His meditations are a great tool to understand his conception of courage and the other virtues. He writes about obstacles that are innate to humanity such as death, illness, pain, weariness, criticism, and complaining.
According to Bob Taibbi, L.C.S.W. who is an author for Psychology Today with over forty-five years of clinical experience We live in a fear-driven society. (Taibbi 2018). Taibbi goes on in this article to give tips on how to cope which are interestingly related to the stoic advice as explained by Irvine in our text. However, in light of Taibbis assertion that the society we reside in is particularly fear-driven, it seems the stoic virtue of courage may be particularly relevant in modern society.
In the video below “Courage | The Art of Facing Fear”, posted by Einzelgnger, how courage is viewed in different philosophies is covered. First, please watch this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxcUJYRVqAs (Links to an external site.)
Then, answer the following questions, and number your responses accordingly.
Drawing explicitly from Marcus Aurelius The Meditations, explain the Stoic virtue of courage. Do you believe this is a virtue one should pursue, and would you say you already possess such virtue? Why or why not?
Sometimes even to live is an act of courage: the video provides this quote by Seneca. Using the information provided in the video, what do you believe Seneca meant when they said this, and how does this relate to Irvines provided advice for dealing with exile, aging, and death?
Using outside research, find an example of an individual, other than the Stoics, who has gone through exile, or something akin to exile. How would the Stoic concept of courage be of use in the situation, or would another virtue be more useful?
Utilizing the information in the video, what interpretation of courage do you believe to be the most useful to you in your life? If you prefer the Stoic interpretation, why do you believe this interpretation is more useful than the other interpretations, and if not Stoic, why is this perspective more useful than the Stoic one?