Why the society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools


Kevin Mangelschots

“The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.”

This popular quote from Thucydides, an Athenian general and scholar, is the inspiration for this article today.

It indicates that both intelligence AND Physical strength/courage are demanded in order to live a good life, to make good decisions, and to keep society from turning malevolent. This is specially important for people in leadership positions.

How to be a warrior in our modern life?

In a well functioning society, and life in general, we need to be both smart and physically capable.

Not only do we merely need to be capable, we also need to possess other vital skills such as courage, competitiveness, and assertiveness as well in order to protect ourselves, and the people around us.

We’re also required to be intelligent and wise in order to make good, thoughtful decisions that benefit ourselves personally, but also that of all other members of society.

That means if we’re not both scholars and warriors, then we will have our thinking done by weak people without courage, and our fighting done by folks that don’t even know why and what they’re fighting for.

Illustration of a samurai warrior.


It’s no wonder that strength is something that has historically been admired and that great sculptures have been made of incredible physiques in humanity’s short existence. Perhaps the people back then knew how important physical vigor was, and still is. Whether it’s to defend oneself, for general health, or to be able to perform the rigorous physical activities that life requires at times.

Yes, the need for physical strength has gone down in modern times since technology advancements and the increased use of machinery. It’s also true that life has never been safer than it is now. Yet, strength remains much more essential than almost all of us realize.

Being physically capable creates confidence

It’s indispensable to be physically tough in order to be competent enough to protect yourself from dangerous situations. Not only that, but knowing that you’re capable will make you radiate an aura of confidence that will already make most people realize that you’re not someone to be trifled with. At the very least, they’ll respect your confidence.

Confidence and being physically capable teaches courage

That much-needed confidence will make us muster the necessary courage to stand up against all the bad and evil that happens in the world. If people lack courage, then the bad people win since there’s nobody left to oppose them. And without the courage to stand up for oneself, and to speak up, there can be no change for the better.

Being intelligent and wise in life

Image of a scholar reading.

With regard to intelligence, there’s not much we can do to increase our fluid intelligence. But what we can do is increase our crystallized intelligence, which is basically the accumulation of knowledge and abilities that we acquire during our lifetime.

Accumulating wisdom

We can accomplish this feat by learning something new each day. By becoming, and perhaps even more importantly, remaining open-minded our whole lives. Read a book, observe, search for empirical evidence, seek out the truth and objective information.

You would be amazed how much you could learn in a short amount of time if only you applied yourself properly. And this will most certainly improve your existence in many ways you hadn’t even considered before!

Wisdom and intelligence allow you to make good decisions

The quote, “intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” written in white letters on a black background.

Not just that, flexing your brainpower allows you to make good decisions, which is vital if you want to have long term success in life.

For example, intelligent people forego immediate, short term gratification in order to gain a delayed, but much larger reward in the future. Smart behavior! And something that’s very hard to do in our current dopamine craving society that desires immediate gratification of the senses.

The capacity to make good decisions is especially necessary for the individuals in a leadership position. They need to be both courageous/physically capable AND smart/wise in order to make good decisions that benefit society as a whole. If leaders are weak and/or unwise, then society will be worse off, or even crumble, as a result.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What does, “the society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools” mean?

The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools, means that both are important for a society to thrive. Each individual should seek to be wise and strong, instead of simply pursuing one or the other.

If you’re not courageous/physically capable, then you won’t have the necessary courage to stand up and fight for what you believe in. Your ideals, so to speak.

But if you’re not wise enough, then you won’t know what you’re fighting for, even if you were to be courageous. It can lead to a lack of ideals that are considered worth fighting for. Without your smarts, you’ll be like a mindless, raging beast.

Where does the quote, “the society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools” come from?

A statue of Thucydides.

Thucydides was an Athenian general and historian.

He is well known for famously stating the following scholars and warriors quote around 460-400 BC, “The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.


Final note

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Acquiring physical strength/courage AND intelligence/wisdom are both equally important to live a meaningful, productive life, and to make society better as a whole.

While the focus in modern society lies more on intelligence and wiseness, strength will remain ever indispensable. Even when most of us might not realize this very fact anymore.

That’s why you should make it a point to become mentally and physically strong. To walk the ever continuing path of self-improvement and self-actualization.

Call to action

Make your physical and mental fortitude a priority, preferably from a young age. It’s not optional, it’s mandatory in order to live a meaningful life and to be capable of protecting yourself and society.

Make sure to learn something new each day, no matter how small and insignificant it might seem at the time. Read, observe, and aim for the truth, no matter what you’re doing.

Work on your fitness and overall physical strength. Lift weights, play sports, and gain the required confidence to become courageous enough to confront life and its tragedies head on.