A brave man and a coward

‘[For Socrates,] courage is a virtue particularly connected with keeping a clear sense of what one regards as most important.’

–Bernard Williams, ‘A Critique of Utilitarianism’

‘If my soul could only find a footing, I would not be assaying myself but resolving myself. But my soul is ever in its apprenticeship and being tested.’

–Montaigne, ‘On Repenting’

A brave man ventures forth, sticks out his neck, is willing to make a fool of himself. Most calculate and play it safe, hence are not like the brave man. A brave man uses his own judgment, tests himself. Most are ’empiricists,’ basing their expectations for the future on their experience of the past. Boring, dull, boredom. Most are weak-tongued, saying what is ‘on their minds,’ as opposed to exercising restraint, as opposed to saying the right things and nothing but. Most lack a clear view of what is most important, thus what is most important can never grab, never shake them, ripping the self apart, shaking the new self free of trivialities. Most are weak-willed, incapable of remaining committed to an idea in the face of possible challenges. A moment of exuberance, of feverishness, the slightest opening dissipates once the hardness is conceived of and is deemed, too soon, ‘just too hard.’ Steadiness and forbearance accrue only to the brave ones who have pressed and bent themselves, who have assayed their souls in the apprenticeship of living. They are like clear-eyed drunks. Prosoche, therefore: no needless speech. Prosoche: no flimsiness of character. Prosocheno wateriness of spirit, no shilly-shallying about.

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