How Plato Uses Courage in Faulting Traditions
Integrating the ideas of traditional beliefs and definitions of courage, it is pertinent to note causal connections with Plato’s Dialogues. In particular, this concerns the Laches, in which two generals discuss the nature of courage and bravery. First of all, according to Plato, it should be recalled that traditional faith characterizes the stereotypes, preconceptions, and prejudices that are transmitted from parents to children in the process of upbringing. Such characteristics find a great acceptance in society, allowing people from different families to be bound together by shared ideas and prototypes. Similar stereotypes are evident in the interpretations of the nature of courage in the mouths of Laches and Nicias, apparently associated with the militaristic views of men.
Plato’s Socrates, asking each of them what courage is, brought his opponents to the point of being unable to formulate it clearly. In doing so, Laches first associated courage with the stereotypes of the paramilitary man. Such a man, according to the commander, must possess fortitude and the ability to defend his neighbor while maintaining the general army formation. Obviously, this interpretation is deeply associated with the traditional beliefs of the man as a warrior. Consequently, removing the filter of the gender and military direction of manhood would leave nothing left of Laches’s interpretation. Then, men’s second attempt to define the term was also unsuccessful, as Laches associated courage with endurance in moments of crisis. This idea also reflects the fallacy of traditional thinking since a courageous man is not one who can endure even the silliest of situations.
Plato’s Socrates’ interpretation of Nicias’ definition also revealed a fallacy of judgment. In particular, Nicias stereotypically associated courage with wisdom and morality, prescribing people’s professional attributes to the term. Furthermore, Nicias’s courage is associated with situational awareness and the ability to prioritize between danger and safety intelligently. Thus, according to Nicias, medics are a priori courageous people because they protect the safety of the victim. At the same time, animals are not supposed to be masculine because they lack a critical understanding of the dangerous and the safe based on the warlord paradigm.
To summarize, the interpretation of courage is closely related to people’s traditional perceptions. This was shown in the Laches, in which the two commanders defined the term through the prism of social prejudices and stereotypes. Specifically, Laches considered only the militarized and patient aspects of courage, while Nicene ascribed some of the courageous human’s uncharacteristic traits.