less than fully courageous

ludolila

Member
Russian
Hi, I would like to know what "less than fully courageous" means. Does it mean "very courageous" or the opposite?
Thanks!
 
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I would like to know what "less than fully courageous" means. Does it mean "very courageous" or the opposite?
    Welcome to the forum, Ludolila!
    The meaning of many, if not most, expressions can vary according to the context (surrounding text) in which it is used. Please note the forum rules (at the top of the page) and tell us where you saw this expression, and give us the full sentence. You might also include the sentence before it if that makes the circumstances clearer.
     

    ludolila

    Member
    Russian
    Sure :)
    I read this in the notes of a fellow student, I think it's from a philosophical article. Here is the context:
    "Affect threatens to place us under a host of effective and authoritative demands, more that we can easily bear. This explains why a less-than-fully-courageous prudence might counsel against the affective life."
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    You can see that your fellow student is a philosopher! :D He has a way with words.

    less-than-fully-courageous means a not very courageous prudence = a weak prudence.
     

    ludolila

    Member
    Russian
    Thanks, I guess it makes sense (sort of :rolleyes: )
    By the way, Parla mentioned that this expression can have other meanings. So I was wondering what these meanings might be... Can someone write a different example?
     
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    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    You can see that your fellow student is a philosopher! :D He has a way with words.

    less-than-fully-courageous means a not very courageous prudence = a weak prudence.
    I'm getting a slightly different reading on this.

    Fully courageous would be fearless.

    Less than full courageous would be someone who is one notch lower than fearless. Certainly not a coward. But someone who takes measured risks. He considers the consequences of his actions and weighs the possible benefits against the possible risks. He then uses some mental balance beam scale to make his decision.
     

    grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    Was the author British? It sounds like typical English understatement.

    Example

    Paramedic: You have broken your leg in three places, are you in much pain?
    Patient: I'm not too comfortable.
    Paramedic: I'll give you some pain-killers.
    ________________________________________________

    In Britain less-than-fully-courageous could easily mean cowardly.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Was the author British? It sounds like typical English understatement.

    Example

    Paramedic: You have broken your leg in three places, are you in much pain?
    Patient: I'm not too comfortable.
    Paramedic: I'll give you some pain-killers.
    ________________________________________________

    In Britain less-than-fully-courageous could easily mean cowardly.
    I will defer to your expertise in this; I am less-than-fully-British and therefor you make a superior source of information on that (if it were a British writer).

    On the American front, things change however. I am not totally-irresponsibly-fearless normally, but I've been know to do some things that call for that exact trait. So I would call myself "less than fearless, unless the situation demands fearless".

    "Fear" of course is just a warning that nature provides; it is not (or should not) be a controller of action. Ideally fear warns us of danger, and we analyze the situation and act accordingly. Fear should not determine action, just warn of the risks attendant to that action.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    In Britain less-than-fully-courageous could easily mean cowardly.
    That's what I thought it meant, and I'm about-as-far-as-you-can-get-from-fully-British.:) The author of this particular use seems to have some convoluted philisophy in mind, and to mean it literally, but I don't think it would be wise to generalize from that.

    There's a name for this kind of euphemism by negation, but I don't know that it is.
    not wise = dumb, stupid
    not supported by the evidence = a lie
    etc.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    +1 for the litotes.

    "Less-than-fully-courageous" has to mean "cowardly," in my book. Let's check to see how that would run in a paraphrase of the quote provided by the OP: Sure, a life of emotional ties to people is overwhelming and puts so many demands on us that it's difficult to bear. So we might say - hey, I'll be prudent; I'll just keep myself from feeling anything for anyone and thus prevent myself from getting in trouble when my heart gets broken or I let a friend down. But such an attitude of so-called "prudence" is nothing less than pure cowardice.
     
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