C. S. Lewis on How Courage Ranks among the Virtues
In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis imagines the threat that God is to the machinations of the Devil. God has created “a dangerous world,” says Uncle Screwtape. And he contemplates the reasons why:
This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.
— C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter 29 (February 1942)
- Do you agree with Lewis’s view that courage orders is “the form of every virtue at the testing point”?
- Can you think of a virtue where this isn’t the case?
- What would it mean to test your own steadfastness in any particular virtue against the limit of courage required for you to act consistently from that virtue?