The End of Courage

Cynthia Fleury title in Arabic translation
06 September, 2017

The Arab Center for Research and Policy studies undertakes the translation into Arabic of significant works devoted to the topic of democracy. To this end, Abdennabi Gouara translated French intellectual Cynthia Fleury's 2010 work La Fin du Courage (194 pp.)

According to Fleury, each epoch confronts, at a specific moment in its history, a melancholic threshold. This is no different to when an each individual experiences this phase of exhaustion and self-erosion. This test is the end of courage. Each era passes through a phase of both the instrumentalization and disappearance of courage. But neither the democracies nor the individuals can remain in this state of impotence; no one resists this moral and political degradation.

Fleury argues that both humans and society are dying from a lack of courage.  We forget to maintain courage, be it at work or in one's daily life: Humans forget their morality and erode themselves in their daily resignations. These resignations are manifested in both the home and the workplace.  This begins, according to her, with the desire to follow the rules. This is true most particularly in politics.  In the workplace, instead of breaking down the system, individuals break themselves down.  Courageous acts are becoming rare and as we are committing fewer and fewer sacrificial acts of risk from which we learn what we can lose and not what we can gain we are collectively losing.

Humans are no longer taught to be courageous. One of the difficulties of courage is that it is a solitary choice: "knowing how to say no, taking on the risk and making a sacrifice is a solitary path.  Few of us take this risk."  The surest way to oppose what Fleury calls "democratic entropy" remains the ethics of courage and its re-foundation as a democratic virtue. Cynthia Fleury reminds us that there can be no political courage without moral courage, and shows brilliantly how philosophy makes it possible to found a theory of courage that articulates both the individual and the collective. For if the courageous man is always solitary, only the collective ethic of courage is durable. Education and a collective ethic are the only solution to the end of courage.

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