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Plato and the Virtue of Courage

Plato and the Virtue of Courage

Winner of the first Delba Winthrop Mansfield Award for Excellence in Political Science

Plato and the Virtue of Courage canvasses contemporary discussions of courage and offers a new and controversial account of Plato's treatment of the concept. Linda R. Rabieh examines Plato's two main thematic discussions of courage, in the Laches and the Republic, and discovers that the two dialogues together yield a coherent, unified treatment of courage that explores a variety of vexing questions: Can courage be separated from justice, so that one can act courageously while advancing an unjust cause? Can courage be legitimately called a virtue? What role does wisdom play in courage? What role does courage play in wisdom?

Based on Plato's presentation, Rabieh argues that a refined version of traditional heroic courage, notwithstanding certain excesses to which it is prone, is worth honoring and cultivating for several reasons. Chief among these is that, by facilitating the pursuit of wisdom, such courage can provide a crucial foundation for the courage most deserving of the name.