What is Fortitude?

"Fortitude" is a five-dollar word used to describe a virtue more simply known as "courage" or "bravery." It is one of the four cardinal virtues along with prudence, justice, and temperance. In particular, fortitude along with temperance helps one to conquer the obstacles to doing the good with prudence and justice.

According to Aristotle, one possesses the virtue of fortitude if he/she "faces and ... fears the right things ... from the right motive, in the right way and from the right time, and who feels confidence under the corresponding conditions." In other words, a brave person is one who prudently decides in certain situations that it is right to endure suffering for the sake of a good, even though he is afraid. Indeed, the brave person endures suffering in cases where he knows that avoiding it would be a greater evil.

One common modern example of fortitude might be the student who decides to remain at her table when an unpopular student in the school cafeteria sits down to eat lunch with her. She fears the ridicule that she will receive from her peers for this act, but decides that she would be doing a great injustice if she left the unpopular student alone. One also associates fortitude today with the whistleblower who stands up to injustice in workplace in spite of fears of losing his job.

For Aristotle, fortitude was mainly about one's willingness to do the right thing in the face of bodily harm. Specifically, Aristotle thought that "he will be called brave who is fearless in face of a noble death, and of all emergencies that involve death." Because the ultimate good is life, the ultimate threat to one's pursuit of the good is death, and thus, the ultimate sign that one possesses fortitude is if he suffers those things that could potentially result in his death. In particular, Aristotle believed that fortitude was most fully shown on the battlefield.

Since fortitude involves doing the good in spite of fear, a truly courageous person must actually be afraid of something. Again, life is a good, and so it is perfectly natural and right to fear death—though there will inevitably be varying degrees of fear among different people.

Fortitude is also only shown when someone is pursuing a "right end," or, a proper goal. For instance, a person who exercises for her health may consistently show courage in dragging herself out of bed early in the morning to endure the physical strain of her workout. But, a man who exercises purely for the sake of making himself more attractive to women would not be considered courageous. Instead, he would be demonstrating the lengths he is willing to go to in pursuing a vain desire. 

Aristotle describes virtue as a "mean"—a behavior that represents a moderation between two extremes. The two extremes between the virtue of fortitude are cowardice and rashness.

The extreme of cowardice is obvious, since it is commonly thought of as the opposite of fortitude or bravery. Whereas a brave person "fears the right things in the right way," Aristotle deems the coward as one "who exceeds in fear… for he fears both what he ought not and as he ought not." For instance, it is natural to fear death, but one shouldn't fear it to the point that it leads him to do something wrong, such as abandoning his post in battle, or knocking over others to get out of a building on fire.

There are also more mundane examples of cowardice. Wealthy celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric, and Shirley MacLaine have admitted to suffering from "bag lady syndrome," which is an irrational fear that they will suddenly not have enough money to take care of their basic needs. Oftentimes very picky eaters have an irrational fear of trying certain foods, to the point that it leads them to be inhospitable toward others.

While the coward fears the wrong things in the wrong way, the rash person does not fear things enough. Thus, the person who seeks out situations that unnecessarily put him in the way of danger is not truly brave. The reason is that he does not truly value his life in order to rightly fear losing it. Either that, or he does not fully comprehend that his actions could actually lead to physical harm and death. Indeed, this ignorance often explains the seemingly rash behavior of youth.

According to Aristotle, rashness is an imitation of bravery. Thus, it's understandable that many people make the mistake of associating rash behavior with bravery itself.

Again, too, there are more mundane examples of rashness. Those who never check their speech or behavior because they profess to "not care what anyone thinks about them" often view themselves as brave. But, as Aristotle says, it is natural and right to fear a bad reputation (that results from doing bad things), and those who do not are not virtuous.

Thomas Aquinas wrote that "endurance is the chief act of fortitude." The one who is brave does not flee at the sign of danger; he stands his ground and suffers whatever "slings and arrows" are hurled at him as a result of pursuing the good.

Interestingly, then, impatience is an example of a lack of fortitude. Indeed, the word "patience" comes from the Latin verb pati, which means, "to suffer." The impatient person is one who grows "inordinately sad" (or angry) at having to endure what blocks his way toward achieving a good. Think, for instance, of the parent who wants to relax in the evening (a definite good!), but absolutely dreads the idea of having to get the kids ready for bed. Or, take the example of the teenager who longs to be free of her parents' household upon graduating from high school, and acts disrespectful toward her parents as a result of this longing. Such behavior demonstrates a lack of fortitude.

This topic provides a variety of quotes, articles, and other resources that discuss the meaning of prudence and its continued importance for today's culture.

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"It must be really painful to be an economist of the mainstream today — at least, it should smart to some extent. In a financial and economic calamity of the current scale, people naturally want to know who issued the warnings about the real-estate bubble and its likely aftermath.

When private-sector jobs have not grown at all in ten years, and when ten years of domestic investment is...

"In conclusion, [Nathan Hale was] an insignificant schoolteacher who never wrote anything important, never owned any property, never had a permanent job, never married or had children, never fought in a battle and who failed in his final mission — made history in the last few seconds of this life. He is to be admired because of his courage in accepting a difficult mission (both dishonorable...

"Last year at Christmas, Marlene*, a Toronto IT executive, was playing one of those after-dinner games that are the adult equivalent of Truth or Dare – pick a card and prepare to reveal to a table full of people the worst lie you've ever told, or whether you'd confess to your next-door neighbours that you'd just nicked their new SUV. When Marlene drew a card asking her to identify her greatest...

This article tells the story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese official who courageously issued visas to thousands of Polish Jews during World War II. Sugihara's courageous act probably cost him his job, but in the process he enabled many Jewish families to avoid death.

"Larry Bourbonnais, a combat-tested Vietnam veteran, said it was the bravest thing he's ever seen.

Bourbonnais, who was among those shot by a gunman Sunday at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, watched as a security guard, later identified as Jeanne Assam, calmly returned fire and killed the shooter."

"[Lothar Kreyssig] wrote the Reich Minister of Justice protesting not only the Action T4 program but also the treatment of prisoners in concentration camps. He then charged a doctor with murder in connection with the deaths of his patients.

When he was called into the Minister's office, where he was told that Hitler himself had authorized the program. To which Kreyssig replied: "The...

"Do you know the name Peter Buxtun? Few people do. However, to a special group of illiterate Black sharecroppers in Macon County, Georgia, his name will always be associated with outstanding courage and conscience that speaks up when systemic injustice occurs. For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages...

"None chose to retreat or, in contrast, raced in wildly. In turn, from survivors' accounts, there was little panic on the part of workers in the towers. In orderly fashion, both survivors and victims sought to descend the smoking stairs—perhaps more methodically than what we see sometimes at airline rebooking lines."

"On February 1, 1960, four young African-American men, freshmen at the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina, entered the Greensboro Woolworth’s and sat down on stools that had, until that moment, been occupied exclusively by white customers. The four—Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., Joseph McNeil and David Richmond—asked to be served, and were refused. But they did not get up...

"Courage is universally admired, and rightly so. One reason is that a courageous person says what he truly feels regardless of the consequences. A result is that those who deal with a courageous person know where they stand with him. Another reason for admiring the courageous is that they can be counted on to get things done. Trepidation does not deter brave men and women from making hard...

"When we Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, what word comes readily to mind? Freedom - and rightly so. But you can't have freedom without other virtues.

Consider one that is particularly appropriate as we mark the signing of the Declaration of Independence: courage. Two stories illustrate it well."

This article relays the history of Elizabeth Van Lew, a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War. Van Lew demonstrated amazing fortitude in ministering to Union soldiers, passing information on to Union troops, and enduring ridicule during and after the war by her Southern friends and neighbors.

"'Traitor,' said Wallace, 'was I never.' The rest of the charges he confessed and proceeded to justify them. He was condemned, and executed by decapitation, 1305. His head was placed on a pinnacle on London bridge, and his quarters were distributed over the kingdom.

Thus died this courageous patriot, leaving a remembrance which will be immortal in the hearts of his countrymen. This...

"Tradition across many societies—not to mention psychology and evolutionary biology—holds courage up as a masculine virtue. But in these times, when American women serve alongside men in combat and when most Western women enjoy 'emancipation,' can courage still be considered the domain of one sex? Two AEI scholars explore different dimensions of the issue, with Harvey C. Mansfield asking...

"On a crisp January day in 2007, a 50-year-old construction worker named Wesley Autrey became a New York hero when he rescued a man who had fallen onto the subway tracks."

A brief history of the life of Joan of Arc, the courageous woman who sought to save France in the 15th Century.

"Critics point out that motherhood as 'a creative and personally fulfilling role' is a motif that weaves itself through Maya Angelou’s books, and is realized at the conclusion of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, when she is at last bonded with her mother, and about to become a mother herself. The notion that the individual possesses the power to live a fully realized...

"American audiences seem to agree. Almost immediately after opening, High Noon became the number one film of the summer and, at the time, the fastest-earning film in United Artists studio history. It went on to be nominated for numerous Academy Awards, including 'Best Picture,' 'Best Director,' and 'Best Screenplay,' and won Oscars for 'Best Actor,' 'Best Film Editing,' and 'Best Music.' Last...

"We live in a culture that embraces perpetual adolescence. Expressions of manliness in the traditional sense are seen as often as chest hair on a male model. Hence, it should be no surprise that the very idea of being virtuous is met with derision. After all, the word virtue comes from the Latin word vir, meaning 'man.' Hence, virtuousness is meant to be equated with manliness in that a man...

"Every so often, a seemingly mundane event occurs in our lives that ends up affecting us in a profound manner. I’m not speaking of a major life change, like a death or serious illness, but of something that could easily be overlooked or quickly forgotten. Allow me to share one such experience.

Late last fall I was preparing an article for a local business journal; it was a typical...

"Several years ago the Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial outlining the absence of moral direction in the public forum as a consequence of the current understanding of the separation of church and state. The author argued that it is as though the embrace of any moral standards implies the adoption of certain religious tenets or the dogma of a particular church.

The Founding...

"The emotions have an innate need to be guided by reason. An emotionally healthy life is one in which the emotions are moderated by right reason. It follows that emotional stability and well-being are the result of a certain structuring in which the emotions of the concupiscible and irascible appetites are subject to a will that in turn is subject to reason. "

"We live in a bureaucratic age that is sorely lacking in moral courage. Fifty years ago, James Burnham foresaw what he called 'the managerial revolution,' the emergence of a new class of professional bureaucrats who would dominate all our institutions: government, business, education, even the church. These mushrooming bureaucracies have submerged individual responsibility and blunted the edge...

"Courage is often a measure of our self-esteem and will. Courage is what makes us individuals different from others. It shows in what we believe and the power of belief over our will. It is always 'the difficult path.'"

Chart or Graph

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle dissects the arenas in which man acts and explores the vices (either a deficiency or an excess) and virtues of each normal human action or feeling (i.e. "Fear and Confidence," "Pleasure and Pain," etc.). This chart presents Aristotle's conclusions in a compact manner.

Analysis Report White Paper

Situated historically at the beginning of the medieval period, Augustine’s thought expresses itself as one of the most influential metaphysical systems of the entire history of philosophy. Such a privileged status has often served to occlude some of the more radical implications of Augustinian thought.

Few studies have examined the effects of over-controlling parenting, or 'helicopter parenting,' in college students. Some studies have found that college students of over-controlling parents report feeling less satisfied with family life and have lower levels of psychological well-being.

"In The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper delivers a stimulating quartet of essays on the four cardinal virtues. He demonstrates the unsound overvaluation of moderation that has made contemporary morality a hollow convention and points out the true significance of the Christian virtues."

Video/Podcast/Media

"It must be really painful to be an economist of the mainstream today — at least, it should smart to some extent. In a financial and economic calamity of the current scale, people naturally want to know who issued the warnings about the real-estate bubble and its likely aftermath.

When private-sector jobs have not grown at all in ten years, and when ten years of domestic investment is...

In 1918, Sergeant Alvin York showed immense courage under pressure when he - almost single-handedly - captured or killed 150 German soldiers on one day. York later received the Congressional Medal of Honor in recognition of his courageous deed. This movie clip depicts the famous battle in which York performed this feat. York's diary of the event and other eyewitness accounts can be found...

"The speakers of the Stepping Up Video Series discuss how they define Courage."

Primary Document

"Man becomes accustomed to everything,—to death on the battle-field, to death in the hospital, to kill and to suffer. Use familiarises all scenes. An ancient people, the first and legitimate masters of the American continent, melts away every day from the earth, as snow before the sun, and disappears. Another race rises up in its place with still more astonishing rapidity; before this race the...

"I have just read your commanding general's preliminary report of the battle of Fredericksburg. Although you were not successful, the attempt was not an error nor the failure other than an accident. The courage with which you in an open field maintained the contest against an intrenched foe and the consummate skill and success with which you crossed and recrossed the river in face of the enemy...

"It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the...

"The genius of Lactantius suffers a sad transformation when unclothed of vernacular and stripped of the idiomatic graces of his style. But the intelligent reader will be sure to compare this translation with the Latinity of the original, and to recur to it often for the enjoyment of its charming rhetoric, and of the high sentiment it so nobly enforces and adorns. This volume will be the...

"Besides the natural law and human law it was necessary for the guidance of human life to have a divine law. And this for four reasons: First, because it is by law that man is guided to the performance of proper acts in view of his last end. And if indeed man were ordained to an end that did not exceed the measure of the natural faculties of man, there would be no...

"In times of adversity and triumph alike, the American people have been guided by the strength of our character. With resilience and compassion, we have provided for our neighbors, lifted their spirits, and embraced our shared humanity. During National Character Counts Week, we celebrate our country's core values and commit to passing them on to the next generation."

"You have had many rectors here in St. Andrews who will continue in bloom long after the lowly ones such as I am are dead and rotten and forgotten. They are the roses in December; you remember someone said that God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December. But I do not envy the great ones. In my experience—and you may find in the end it is yours also—the people I have cared for...

An original New York Times article reporting on the famous "Tank Man" incident in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The picture taken of this incident has become an iconic example of courage in the modern era.

Tocqueville's famous analysis of the American economic and political system, as he observed during his travels of the country in the 1830s.

"Volume 1 (with 9 dialogues) of a 5 volume edition of Plato by the great English Victorian Greek scholar, Benjamin Jowett. The scholarly apparatus is immense and detailed. The online version preserves the marginal comments of the printed edition and has links to all the notes and comments provided by Jowett."

A key foundational work in philosophical writings, Plato’s Republic is considered to be "the first treatise upon education." As the introduction notes, Plato’s educational philosophies are expressed specifically in the second section of the ...

Sergeant Alvin York's diary account of capturing and killing - nearly single-handedly - over 150 German soldiers in one WWI battle. York's unbelievable account of fortitude under fire was backed up by a number of eyewitness accounts and was eventually rewarded with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"Aristotle does not say that fortitude is the highest virtue; but he selects it first for treatment when he describes the moral virtues: eipomen proton peri andreias (Eth. Nic., III, 6); whereas St. Thomas is at pains to say explicitly that fortitude ranks third after prudence and justice among the cardinal virtues. The braves in a warrior tribe and the glamour of braverie in knight-errantry,...

Foxe's book of martyrs is a well-known work detailing the persecutions and deaths of Christian martyrs from the time of Christ to the early 1800s. The work continually notes how these Christians endured their often harrowing persecutions with great fortitude.

"All of us here at home are being tested—for our fortitude, for our selfless devotion to our country and to our cause.

This is the toughest war of all time. We need not leave it to historians of the future to answer the question whether we are tough enough to meet this unprecedented challenge. We can give that answer now. The answer is 'Yes.'"

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes...

"We have lately received an uncertain though unpleasant account of the enemy's landing at Peekskill—How did your nerves bear the shock? My father and mother I apprehend were very uneasy. I should be happy were it in my power to bear all their as well as all your misfortunes. The infirmities of age added to the terrours and calamities of war conspire in depriving them of ease and enjoyment. I...

"I have the honor to enclose your Excellency the copy of a letter I have just received from the late Commissary General by which you will see upon how ill a footing our future prospects of supplies are, particularly with respect to meat. This corresponds with representations from every quarter and with what we actually feel. The army has been near three months on a short allowance of bread;...

"Last Friday, the British fleet was seen off Staten-Island; they have since been employed, uninterrupted by us, in debarking their men, stores, &c. And as they must now, I should imagine, be pretty nearly as strong as they expect to be this campaign, no doubt we shall soon hear of their motions, I have reason to believe, their first essay will not be on this, but on Long-Island; where...

"WE ARE upon the eve of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. It is, therefore, appropriate that our observance of Memorial Day should this year be at this place, so intimately associated with the moral grandeur of the Father of our Country."

"We are dealing here with a psychological situation to a very considerable degree. It is a question of fear. We have had a collapse in the stock market, out of which a good many people have lost money, and a lot of people who could not afford to, and a lot of unfortunate people have been brought in, the effect of which in the American mind creates an undue state of alarm, because our national...

"The year one thousand seven hundred and eighty, was a year of incident, expectation, and event; a period pregnant with future consequences, ... interesting in the highest degree to the political happiness of the nations, and perhaps ultimately to the civil institutions of a great part of mankind. We left England in the preceding chapter, in a very perturbed state, arising both from their own...

An English translation of Homer's famous poem The Iliad by William Cullen Bryant.

"WHEN it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle course for America remained between unlimited submission to a foreign legislature and a total independence of its claims, men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the formidable power of fleets and armies they must determine to resist than from those contests and dissensions which would certainly arise concerning the...

"Ethics in ancient times signified moral philosophy (philosophia moralis) [sittenlehre] generally, which was also called the doctrine of duties [deontology]. Subsequently it was found advisable to confine this name to a part of moral philosophy, namely, to the doctrine of duties which are not subject to external laws (for which in German the name ...

"In the history of this country, posterity will have much to admire and commend; and I shall be mistaken if they have not also much to censure and deplore. Be that as it may, I shall continue to possess my mind in peace, and be prepared to meet with composure and fortitude whatever evils may result to me from the faithful discharge of my duty to my country. The history of Greece, and other...

"Human activities aim at some end that we consider good. Most activities are a means to a higher end. The highest human good, then, is that activity that is an end in itself. That good is happiness. When we aim at happiness, we do so for its own sake, not because happiness helps us realize some other end. The goal of the Ethics is to determine how best to achieve happiness."

"A few very brief and fragmentary notes of one or two debates held in the Senate, during the first session after the adoption of the Constitution, have been found intermixed with the latest pages of the Diary. The interest that attaches to them grows out of the fact that, during this period, and even until 1795, the doors of the Senate were kept closed, with a single exception, through all...

"It is so much the established practice of writers on logic to commence their treatises by a few general observations (in most cases, it is true, rather meagre) on Terms and their varieties, that it will, perhaps, scarcely be required from me in merely following the common usage, to be as particular in assigning my reasons, as it is usually expected that those should be who deviate from it."...

"But there are several degrees of relationship among men. To take our departure from the tie of common humanity, of which I have spoken, there is a nearer relation of race, nation, and language, which brings men into very close community of feeling. It is a still more intimate bond to belong to the same city; for the inhabitants of a city have in common among...

"Of all the innocent passions which actuate the human mind there is none more universally prevalent than curiosity. It reaches all mankind, and in matters which concern us, or concern us not, it alike provokes in us a desire to know them.

Although the situation of America, superior to every effort to enslave her, and daily rising to importance and opulence, hath placed her above the...

"The Angel Michael continues from the Flood to relate what shall succeed; then, in the mention of Abraham, comes by degrees to explain, who that Seed of the Woman shall be, which was promised Adam and Eve in the Fall; his Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and Ascention; the state of the Church till his second Coming. Adam greatly satisfied and recomforted by these Relations and Promises...

Pericles was a political and military leader in Athens during the Peloponnesian War, and an architect of Athenian democracy. This speech, recounted by the contemporary historian Thucydides, provides his explanation and defense of democracy as the system that "favors the many instead of the few" and will "afford equal justice to all."

"Although frequently urged by friends to write my memoirs I had determined never to do so, nor to write anything for publication. At the age of nearly sixty-two I received an injury from a fall, which confined me closely to the house while it did not apparently affect my general health. This made study a pleasant pastime. Shortly after, the rascality of a business partner developed itself by...

"Your kind and charitable Assistance last Year, in purchasing so large an Impression of my Almanacks, has made my Circumstances much more easy in the World, and requires my grateful Acknowledgment. My Wife has been enabled to get a Pot of her own, and is no longer oblig'd to borrow one from a Neighbour; nor have we ever since been without something of our own to put in it. She has also got a...

"This is the 15th Time I have entertain'd thee with my annual Productions; I hope to thy Profit as well as mine. For besides the astronomical Calculations, and other Things usually contain'd in Almanacks, which have their daily Use indeed while the Year continues, but then become of no Value, I have constantly interspers'd moral Sentences, prudent Maxims, and wise...

"It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the...

"Of the Thesprotians and Molossians after the great inundation, the first king, according to some historians, was Phaethon, one of those who came into Epirus with Pelasgus. Others tell us that Deucalion and Pyrrha, having set up the worship of Jupiter at Dodona, settled there among the Molossians. In after time, Neoptolemus, Achilles's son, planting a colony, possessed these parts himself, and...

"From whom, and for what reason, the city of Rome, a name so great in glory, and famous in the mouths of all men, was so first called, authors do not agree. Some are of opinion that the Pelasgians, wandering over the greater part of the habitable world, and subduing numerous nations, fixed themselves here, and, from their own great strength in war, called the city Rome."

Tragedy, as it was antiently compos'd, hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other Poems: therefore said by Aristotle to be of power by raising pity and fear, or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like passions, that is to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirr'd up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated...

In the eyes of John Locke, the education of a child includes more than books and schooling. Indeed, Locke’s thoughts on education cover the whole physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional being of the...

This portion of the Summa Theologica contains the "Treatise on Prudence and Justice."

The Analects are a collection of sayings and actions attributed to Confucius and his disciples.

"Although these pieces may appear fully to express their own real intrinsic value, as bearing the image and inscription of that great man Mr. Hobbes; yet since common usage has rendered a preface to a book as necessary as a porch to a church, and that in all things some ceremonies cannot be avoided, mode and custom in this point is dutifully to be obeyed.

That they are genuine, credible...

The Confessions are St. Augustine's 13 book account of his conversion to the Christian faith. Augustine reckons with what should constitute right Christian actions. His work provides scholars a mirror into the early Church and a Christian reflection in the late Roman Empire.

"These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

"Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions."

"I. BY that which is self-caused, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.

II. A thing is called finite after its kind, when it can be limited by another thing of the same nature; for instance, a body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited...

"When Confucius died, it is recorded that his last words were regrets that none among the rulers then living possessed the sagacity requisite to a proper appreciation of his ethical philosophy and teachings. He died unhonoured,—died in his seventy-third year, 479 B.C., feeing in the flickering beats of his failing heart that his inspiring pleas for truth and justice, industry and self-denial,...

Herodotus (often called the Father of History because of this work) provides another glimpse into ancient Greek thought. He recorded his Histories primarily to record the victories of the Greek city-states over the Persian Empire.

Reformation theologian John Calvin launched the Calvinism denomination with this gigantic work.

"Each one should act the part he is fitted for by his nature. Other beings are fitted to be subservient to the rational; as all inferior beings are subordinated to the superior; and the rational are formed for each other. What the structure of human nature is chiefly adapted to, is a social communication of good; and, next to this, is the command over all bodily...

"Compiled in the 3rd century AD by his student Porphyry, 'The Enneads' unfolds Plotinus' study of the principles of the universe. This work is organized into 54 treatises, which are in turn more largely grouped into six books, which form the foundational concepts of Neo-Platonism. The first Ennead deals principally with ethical topics and human subjects, such as happiness, virtue, beauty, and...

Montesquieu was a significant advocate of separation of powers between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and his discussion of law contributed significantly to the concept of rule of law.

"Smith expresses his general system of morals, exploring the propriety of action, reward and punishment, sense of duty, and the effect of numerous factors on moral sentiment.

In so doing, Smith devised innovative theories on virtues, conscience, and moral judgment that are still relevant and accessible today. Though somewhat surprising to find a philosopher of Smith's abilities...

"Though a voluminous writer and one of the great masters of English expression, Franklin wrote habitually with a single eye to immediate practical results. He never posed for posterity. Of all the writings to which he mainly owes his present fame, it would be difficult to name one which he gave to the press himself or of which he saw the proofs. Yet he never wrote a dull line nor many which a...

"Universal empire is the prerogative of a writer. His concerns are with all mankind, and though he cannot command their obedience, he can assign them their duty. The Republic of Letters is more ancient than monarchy, and of far higher character in the world than the vassal court of Britain; he that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in defence of reason rebels against tyranny,...

"The writer says that his object is to impress upon those whom he has ordained the lessons which he had previously taught them. Like Cicero, he treats of that which is right, becoming, or honourable [decorum], and what is expedient [utile]; but with reference not to this life but to that which is to come, teaching in the first book that which is becoming or honourable; in the second, what is...

"I have not come here to-day with a prepared address. The committee in charge of the exercises of the day have graciously excused me on the grounds of public obligations from preparing such an address, but I will not deny myself the privilege of joining with you in an expression of gratitude and admiration for the men who perished for the sake of the Union. They do not need our praise. They do...

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We all know Facebook is awesome for keeping up with friends, sharing about your life, and even distributing ideas. One great new way to get people thinking is to take advantage of the new banner profile with the help of Intellectual Takeout. Here's what one of our banners looks like loaded up on a Facebook profile: If you haven't changed your banner profile, than Facebook is likely ...
Tired of business getting a bum rap? We are, too. Here's your chance to share on Facebook the good news that business is good, beautiful, and makes life better.
At Intellectual Takeout, we think it's about time freedom went viral. Before our generation is the opportunity to embrace freedom, to unleash each individual's potential, and to have a prosperous future. And yet it seems that almost everyone running our cities, states, and federal government is intent on destroying freedom and burying us in debt to pay for it. If you, like us, believe that...
In the genre of documentaries revealing the problems with public education, "Kids Aren't Cars" focuses on helping us understand how schools are modeled after a factory system and what we need to do to change them. Understandably, treating kids as if they are a product to be manufactured has had detrimental effects on children going through the system and the overall level of education in America...
"Many parents and taxpayers feel helpless because the problems can seem so monumental. 'Kids Aren't Cars' director Kyle Olson reviews what he learned in the filmmaking process and the small things individuals can do that will add up to make a big difference." Here's Kyle being interviewed on a few things you can do and share with friends, family, and educators: Part 1Part 2
While many documentaries on the education system focus on various examples of failure, "Flunked" takes a bit different tack. While certainly acknowledging and exposing the failures of the system, "Flunked" also seeks out individuals and approaches that ARE working in education. The hope is that these points of hope may serve as examples for others working in education.  Here's the trailer:...
Okay, so your friends and family keep telling you to jump on the social media bandwagon, but you have no idea what the fuzz is about. Here’s the deal: The Internet gives liberty-loving folk like us an opportunity we have never had before: to make the case for individual liberty, limited government and free market economics instantly and globally. But with the vast amounts of information...
Education history in America is important to know. ITO traces how education has changed from the colonial period to present day America.

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Know your rights with Flex Your Rights guide to the "10 Rules for Dealing with Police."
In a highly regulated society such as ours, it's very easy to get yourself in trouble with the law. Learn more about how to protect yourself with the 5th Amendment and how to interact with the police.
Looking for an internship? If so, Intellectual Takeout has an opportunity for you. We have plenty of work to do as well as ideas to spread, and we need your help to get it done. If you're interested in an internship with Intellectual Takeout, you likely share our passion and you're excited about the possibility of working for a great cause. That said, you might have a few questions about what "...
Let's face it, most of us love to watch TV and movies. A wonderful way to spread ideas is to embrace our love of the cinema by hosting a movie night with friends and family.  There are numerous documentaries that do a fantastic job of sharing the ideas of liberty. You can pull a small group of friends together at your house or even consider asking a local restaurant or tavern to let you...
Watch "Waiting for Superman" to learn about the problems with the public education system.
Another movie that tells the story of the failing public school model in the United States is “The Lottery”. It takes its own unique look at the systems by focusing on the use of lotteries to choose which children will be plucked from failing public schools and put into more successful public charter schools. Here’s the trailer:  You can watch the whole movie right now with the help of Hulu...
While there are a variety of really good documentaries about the failing public school systems in America, "The Cartel" stands alone in its frontal assault on the teacher unions, particularly those in New Jersey. If you'd like to get an inside look into how some teacher unions operate and the effects they have on education, you'll want to watch "The Cartel."From the movie's website: "This movie...
Are you concerned your child isn't getting the education necessary to compete in the global economy or even, perhaps, to carry on the lessons and learning of Western Civilization? If so, you have a number of choices. You could, of course, consider changing schools to a charter school, private school, or even homeschooling. If that's overwhelming for you right now, you can always supplement your...
Curiously, not a few individuals are realizing that their education (K-12 and even college) neglected to provide them with as much understanding of the world as they would like. At Intellectual Takeout, we believe that however you feel about your education, there is still much to be learned. To that end, we'd like to refer you to one book and a collection of "study guides" that serve as...
Sure, the idea of homeschooling is likely overwhelming. Indeed, homeschooling is a big commitment and a lot of work. That said, there's a reason why more and more parents are turning to homeschooling as the best option for their child(ren)'s education(s). Perhaps you are starting to realize that the public school system has changed a lot since you last attended it. Maybe you can't afford private...
How often do you hear conservatives being called a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals? Here's the reality: Conservatism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism have a rich, intellectual heritage reaching back many millennia. Our ideas are not just some historical relics from bygone eras; they are the very foundation of Western Civilization in general, amd the United States in particular....
Sadly (or happily for some), life goes on after college. So does the fight for freedom. Building friendships, networking, and growing the movement is critical after college. If our ideas are to be preserved and promoted, you need to stay involved. Plus, in a time when the individual seems to be ever more isolated and adrift, these groups can help plug you into social networks you can use....
Okay, so we don't expect you to drive a wooden stake into your flat screen. Plus, we're total hypocrites since we watch some TV. But here's the point: People waste a ton of time watching TV. If you're cool with government taking over your future, than keep watching Dancing with the Stars. If you consider yourself to be a free man or woman and want to live in a free society, then watch what you...
A great way to make a difference on your campus by spreading the ideas of individual rights, limited government, and free markets is to tutor. Plus, you can occasionally make a little bit of money. Depending on the subject matter, you will be discussing a variety of ideas, key thinkers, and theories. As anyone who has tutored knows, there are almost always opportunities to expand upon a topic....
The Association of American Educators (AAE) advances the teaching profession through personal growth, professional development, teacher advocacy and protection, as well as promoting excellence in education so that our members receive the respect, recognition and reward they deserve.

On Campus

We've built Intellectual Takeout to provide you with quick, easy access to information. In time, we hope to become your one-stop-shop for the ideas of freedom. If your professor allows you to bring your laptop to class (if not, you can use an iPhone), we recommend keeping a tab open to Intellectual Takeout. As we continue to generate new content on the site, you will be able to fact check the...
When it comes to campus life injustices, student fees rank high on any list. On most campuses across the country a mandatory student fee is assessed to each student at the beginning of the year. A portion of this fee, which may be several hundred dollars, will go toward funding various political, religious, and interest groups.  A college requiring you to support groups espousing ideas which...
If you're not happy with the direction of the country and you want to take back your future, at some point you will have to do something. It's not enough to just know that we're going in the wrong direction. You actually have to step out and get involved. Most college campuses have conservative and libertarian student groups. Find one of them to join. Below is a list of some of the larger non-...
Now that you're at college and the initial excitement has worn off, maybe you're thinking that the course selection is a bit biased and you'd like some options. So how do you (the consumer) get the college (the business) to change up its offerings? It certainly won't be easy. Nevertheless it's something that should be done--particularly since you're footing the bill. A good, education in a free...
Whatever activism you choose to do on campus, you need to get your story out. A popular tactic used by the Left is to isolate and intimidate freedom-loving students. You're not alone and there are a lot of people in your city, state, and country that can probably support your efforts. They just need to know what is happening. Whenever you can, record in-class bias, discrimination against...
The reality is that most students (and people for that matter) won't speak out. It's called human nature and it was recognized in the Declaration of Independence: "...all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." While you might feel alone when debating a teacher,...
In the land of the free and the home of the brave, speech codes are a particularly odious example of politically correct repression on many a college campus. In some ways, college campuses are the least free places for thinking and speech in America. Your best friend for fighting your school's repressive speech codes is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Here's a short clip...
Running for office isn't easy, even in college. Not everyone is cut out for it, either. For those of you who are, this completely non-partisan section is for you. If you are inclined to pursue student government, we're not going to spend time on telling you how to get elected. A good place to go for ideas and training is CampusReform.org. Rather, we want to help you in office, as a believer in...