Is courage just a concept or is it real?

I was thinking about non religious people, people who don’t buy in to an afterlife, or God, or whatnot, because they can’t wrap their reasoning around this or that.

I had written something about indestructibility in my previous threads. I think I would group indestructibility in with indivisibility and the inherent. I was wondering if non religious people would have a problem with such words? Would they think because such words couldn’t be placed under a microscope should they be removed from the dictionary or mankind’s vocabulary? After all, there’s no way to prove such words.

I thought for most people, indestructibility and indivisibility and the inherent might be a bit foreign: words they don’t use every day. I thought another word I would group into this category would be courage . . . in terms that there is no way to put courage under a microscope . . . to prove it with one hundred percent certainty.

(When I think about courage, the first thing that pops into my mind is a soldier doing something above and beyond on the battlefield. If he’s a success, he’d be congratulated or receive a metal. But then I thought, I could see a soldier on the battlefield rising above and beyond and not succeeding, getting shot. Then there’d be some people who’d say, he wasn’t courageous, he just had bad judgment.)

(Fine line between what courage is or isn’t.)

Can you put courage under a microscope? And because you can’t, does it mean it doesn’t exist.

I think courage is like religion and spiritualism. A swelling feeling. Rising strength and increasing conviction in the face of adversity. The fabric of society. A certain type of endurance. A great spirit that possesses. (The eagle’s first plunge.)

I appreciate everybody who responded in my other threads.


It’s a concept.

“Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?”

“That is the only time a man can be brave.”

Wise words from a wise man (Ned Stark).

Or because it’s obviously wrong, like Santa Claus.

What does that have to do with anything? They can be applied to fictional things and to abstracts like mathematics, along with a few real world things.

Only because our brains scans aren’t good enough yet. It’s part of the brain’s structure like any other psychological quality.

No. Courage is a mental state, an attitude. “Religion and spiritualism” are false claims made about objective reality. They aren’t the same thing at all.

It’s a real concept.

You’re claiming courage lacks evidence?

Like a sharp blow to the head?

The adversity of demand for evidence?

Is that the same as the fabric of our lives? I thought that was cotton.

Much like trying to make sense of the OP.

What happened to the red mamba? Did the eagle get him?

Mr. Burns??

Courage and fear are both emotions. As such, they have a directly perceptible reality. God has not.

Courage isn’t real like a chair is real, but it’s a commonly-accepted and shared concept that can be put into practice. It’s a method, perhaps.

Maybe this explains where the disconnect is. Courage isn’t a feeling or a rising strength or whatever. When I think of courage, I think of the exact same reference in the the 3rd post to the thread. Fear is an emotion, it has a real physiological response and the way different people react to it is different. Courage is when one acts contrary to how the emotion of fear would normally compel one to act. For instance, a building is on fire with a child in it. Fear would prevent the average person from entering the building because he may die. It takes courage to overcome that and run into the building to try to save that child’s life. He may or may not succeed in doing so, but it is still courage.

This is why courage is so lauded as a virtue, because like other virtues such as temperance and justice, it is the ability to overcome his baser instincts and emotions with reason. Succumbing to the baser instincts and emotions are the vices and they are typically condemned as immoral.

But this is why I think you are having difficulty explaining and being understood by so many on this board. You seem to see religion and virtues as something different or something more than reason; they’re not. What I think most separates humans from other animals is our ability to reason. Morality arises from our ability to reason, understanding that our actions have long term consequences. I also think that religion arises from our ability to reason, whether it’s as an atheist might argue as a “god of the gaps” approach to reason, or as a theist might say that there is more to it. Either approach arises from our ability to reason.

As a young officer I was at a hostage situation, and volunteered to take the place of two young women who were being held by their father. He had a 45 automatic and threatened to kill his daughters and then himself.

He took me up on the trade, and I sat at gunpoint and talked to him until he sobered up enough to give me the weapon. Then other help arrived. The rest of the story is unimportant.

I was just doing what was right. My life vs two small children was an easy choice. Yes, I was frightened, but I knew absolutely what I had to do, and did it. I would like to point out that I am a non-believer, and to this day know that religion is not necessary to leading a moral life.

Don’t know if courage is an abstract idea, or “real”, but people do act in courageous ways regardless of their beliefs either about religion or the meaning or source of courage.

Superman is not brave because he can rarely if ever be harmed, courage requires the very real presence of immediate suffering. If a person is so religious that they believe they are actually going to a better place and it’s worth it for suffering that requires less bravery than one doing it on principle alone, especially compared to one who believes they will be nothing when they die.

What an interesting topic, I thought, reading the thread title. Then I read the OP and thought, “Oh well.”


I appreciate your comment. It was very interesting.

It was more than interesting. It gave lie to the premise of your argument. Yes, courage is intangible, which seems to be the point of your argument. But, we can observe courage, as in sunstrone’s example. God, not so much. To us atheists, that’s the key issue. Honest, we don’t have any trouble wrapping our reasoning around the concepts of God, the afterlife or souls. We don’t have any difficulty understanding the concepts. It’s the evidence which is lacking.

I don’t post much on the Dope these days, so I don’t know you and you don’t know me. As it happens, in days gone by, I was one of the strongest atheist voices here for the proposition that theism isn’t necessarily wrong because it uses a non-evidential epistemology, i.e, faith. But this argument that all intangibles are equal is a dog that won’t hunt.

I know this is a month old, but I feel compelled to comment anyway.

Courage is not an emotion. Courage is an intellectual state; it is the decision to disregard the emotion of fear in order to accomplish a task.

I couldn’t have said it better, Skald.

I bet you already did, upthread. I’d check but I don’t know how to scroll up. :wink: