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Courage to say 'It is'

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Does it take courage to act on one's own judgement? If yes, what would be the reason for it?  Is it only the uncertainty of an outcome which demands courage? To take a concrete example we can refer to, I'm specifically thinking of the first run of the John Galt line which Dagny & Rearden both participate in. Later, Francisco tells Dagny that every act of saying 'it is' and acting on one's own judgement (I assume especially when you are the first on a new path) requires courage.

I define courage as an act of integrity. It's acting with integrity when confronted by fear in pursuit of a value.

There's a relevant quote from Atlas Shrugged where Francisco is talking to Dagny.


“Dagny,” he said, looking at the city as it moved past their taxi window, “think of the first man who thought of making a steel girder. He knew what he saw, what he thought and what he wanted. He did not say, ‘It seems to me,’ and he did not take orders from those who say, ‘In my opinion.’ ” 

She chuckled, wondering at his accuracy: he had guessed the nature of the sickening sense that held her, the sense of a swamp which she had to escape. “Look around you,” he said. “A city is the frozen shape of human courage—the courage of those men who thought for the first time of every bolt, rivet and power generator that went to make it. The courage to say, not ‘It seems to me,’ but ‘It is’—and to stake one’s life on one’s judgment. You’re not alone. Those men exist. They have always existed. There was a time when human beings crouched in caves, at the mercy of any pestilence and any storm. Could men such as those on your Board of Directors have brought them out of the cave and up to this?” He pointed at the city. “God, no!” “Then there’s your proof that another kind of men does exist.”


I understand that I personally might feel fear when acting on my own judgement in some specific situations, especially when confronted with vigorous opposition, but take a completely rational being with correctly integrated subconscious premises and let me try to apply Objectivist epistemology to him (with the above examples of the John Galt line & Francisco in mind). If this rational being came to his newly found conclusion and discovery by a process of logic, including both reduction to observations or first principles and integration by essentials to the rest of his knowledge, what would the fear to act on his judgement, which requires courage to be overcome, be based on? "they might be right, I might be wrong" would be arbitrary since there's no evidence for your judgement being wrong; "I might get hurt"—isn't that also wrong, since on what evidence would there be for you getting hurt? 

Is the issue here my definition of courage? or have I overlooked something?

Edited by Jonathan Weissberg
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  • 6 months later...


The reason courage is necessary to act on one's judgment is because

we rational people live in an irrational society. When some people

in society act irrationally, we cannot always predict their response 

to our act of integrity.

It especially requires courage to confront the persecution that comes

from being a rational agent.

See "Can a rational man live in an irrational society."

and "America's Persecuted Minority."

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