Essay On Courage In Plato's Laches

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What do we learn about courage in Plato’s Laches? As well as illustrating your answer with reference to the dialogue, critically evaluate what you take Plato to teach us about this virtue in this dialogue. While progress is made on defining courage in Platos Laches, the virtue as a whole is not understood by the interlocutors. Laches and Nicias are able to give examples and situations of courage, however when asked to find a common universal definition they are unable to do so. Furthermore, Socrates elenctic method shows contradictions in both Laches and Nicias’ understanding of courage. These contradictions act as an obstacle in obtaining knowledge about courage for the interlocutors. Therefore, the examples and various definitions given by the…show more content…
He also states this definition is applicable “in war and in every other situation.” (195a2) showing his attempt to provide an answer that is a universal rather than a particular. At first glance, this appears to advance our understanding of courage as it seems too be applicable in all situations. This seems to be the common element found in all acts of bravery. However, while providing the correct form of answer to Socrates question, it does not capture courage as a whole. His definition equivocates knowledge and courage itself, rather than saying knowledge is necessary for courage. However, knowledge is not the only necessary condition for courage in his definition. Thus, the particulars of fearful and hopeful become problematic for Socrates. As Socrates points out through further questioning if one were to have such knowledge as stated by Nicias - one would have knowledge of all virtues, “of practically all goods and evils put together” (199d1). The elenctic method draws out contradictions in Nicias beliefs, leading again to a conflicted answer. Thus, one can argue progress has not been made in understanding
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