Courage

I’ve been reading Clauswitz’ book On War for a the last few weeks, and I think he may end up being one of my favorite authors.

War is the realm of danger; therefore courage is the soldier’s first requirement.

Courage is of two kinds: courage in the face of personal danger, and courage to accept responsibility, either before the tribunal of some outside power or before the court of one’s own conscience. Only the first kind will be discussed here.

Courage in the face of personal danger is also of two kinds. It may be indifference to danger, which could be due to the individual’s constitution, or to his holding life cheap, or to habit. In any case, it must be regarded as a permanent condition. Alternatively, courage may result from such positive motives as ambition, patriotism, or enthusiasm, not a permanent state.

These two kinds of courage act in different ways. The first is more dependable; having become second nature, it will never fail. The other will often achieve more. There is more reliability in the first kind, more boldness in the second. The first leaves the mind calmer; the second tends to stimulate, but it can also blind. The highest kind of courage is a compound of both.

His stuff is usually full of all sorts of wonderful analogies and colorful illustrations, but I really appreciate the analytical as well. He keeps saying he wants to be scientific, but he mostly comes out sounding like Aristotle.

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