Virtue & Character

Virtue & Character


Environmental Sustainability: Our Top Priority

environmental sustainability April 21st, 2018

Environmental sustainability should be humankind’s top priority, but it clearly is not. Though it is obviously only one of many priorities and goals for individuals in competitive societies, it’s “game over” if pollution makes the planet unsafe. Even worse, it’s “game over, you are a bunch of losers” if we fail to heed the loud and clear reports by legitimate scientists about climate change caused by human activity. Without environmental sustainability, we will all be too sick to pursue other goals such as creativity, social justice, values such as peace and family, and ultimately, wisdom. Here is a brief call to action. 

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Pithy Quotes by Unitarian Universalists

Unitarian Universalist philosophy April 16th, 2018

I have been looking more and more into the religious/spiritual movement of Unitarian/Universalism. Not sure if you’ve heard much about it. It’s in the category of agnosticism, spirituality, deism, and pantheism as far as being a reasonable, admirable, defensible, humanistic approach to personal growth and community enrichment. I wanted to share a bit about the philosophy (I think that is a decent word to describe this thing – more apt than “religion” or “sect” or something. Perhaps “tradition” or “movement” would be fine, too. To that end, I will quote liberally from the Unitarian Universalist Association website and then I will share a few quotations from prominent (even, famous) U-U thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Teaching Virtue & Character Education (V&E-20)

character education April 2nd, 2018

This blog is excerpted from chapter 20 of the book Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom and explored character, and a phenomenon called character education. We’ve all seen examples on television – and many of us on our very streets – of children and adolescents who are somehow “off-track,” selfish, crass, violent, careless. Obviously, this has a lot to do with the family, community, political and socioeconomic environment in which the child is embedded. Should schools be teaching children how to be good, responsible adults with integrity and ethics? Or does that step on religious institutions’ toes? What would it look like to teach something as hard to communicate as virtue? Jason interviews character education expert, former professor, and author, Bernice Lerner, Ed.D. to find answers to his questions.

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Magnanimity & Altruism: Saving 50 Jews from Death

magnanimity March 22nd, 2018

Eleanor and Gilbert Kraus are very likely two of the greatest unsung heroes in American history – at least, in Jewish history. I watched a documentary about their courageous acts (in 1939), which amounted to nothing less than a full-throated display of magnanimity and altruism. Here is their story. I will also include a selection of quotations about magnanimity by noted Holocaust survivors, human rights activists, altruism researchers, and stalwart exemplars of virtue and honor such as Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Viktor Frankl. 

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Passionate Proponent of Progress: Marquis de Condorcet

progress March 21st, 2018

Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, known as the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794), was a  French philosopher of the Enlightenment. He was also an amazingly progressive and early proponent of women’s rights and educational reform. Condorcet did much of the heavy lifting in bringing the ideas of progress, or the indefinite perfectibility of humankind, to the fore. History has much benefitted from his courage, grace, and intelligence. He also has a very interesting denouement – to use a French word! – and I will share that shortly.

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Ten of History’s Greatest Thinkers

greatest thinkers March 19th, 2018

Perhaps you know of the eminent historian, writer, and psychologist/philosopher/anthropologist all rolled into one, Will Durant. He died in the late twentieth century, but was truly a man of letters and a wonderful writer. I found a neat little book, compiled after his death by John Little. It is a compilation of his writings that involved rankings of merit. The first real chapter in the book is “The Ten Greatest Thinkers,” though the two men put greatest in quotation marks, as I suppose they should, since great is really a subjective term. My intention in this blog is to share which ten men (yes, they are all men) he thinks shine the brightest among history’s renowned philosophers and scientists, and include a quote of each.

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Fifty Nifty Insightful, Inspirational Quotes

inspirational quotes March 19th, 2018

Over the last 25 years, I have carefully collected a very diverse array of quotations – 30,000 as of this writing. With that kind of carefully-compiled database of quotes about values, wisdom, virtue, character, and self-growth, it is easy to pull together lists of quotes (and I make it just as easy for you to do the same!). This blog features fifty nifty motivational, inspirational quotes. They will help you to re-focus, appreciate your life, see things from a more philosophical perspective, and be a better person. One of the best motivational quotes through the centuries has been Gandhi’s, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” but I now present you with fifty additional inspirational quotes:

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Motivational Quotes About Helping Others

helping March 18th, 2018

Does your life matter? Does mine? Do they matter to other people? Do they matter in the larger scheme of things? Significance may be the ultimate issue, and an important yardstick of successful living. Our feelings of self-worth are intimately tied to our sense of significance. What gives the strongest boost to our feelings of self-worth? Isn’t it the knowledge that we are making a meaningful contribution to the world around us? That we are helping others? That we are doing things which somehow matter?

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The Enlightenment Luminary Voltaire on Ancient Philosophy

ancient philosophy March 17th, 2018

I have spent nearly forty years of my pilgrimage in two or three corners of this world seeking the philosopher’s stone that is called Truth.” With those interesting words, Voltaire, the 18th-century writer, skeptic, and iconoclast begins an interesting essay about ancient philosophers. It is actually the submission to The Philosophical Dictionary, a project of tremendous importance to the Enlightenment, and it is entitled “Precis of Ancient Philosophy.” Alongside Denis Diderot’s and Jean d’Alembert’s Encyclopedia, published starting in 1751, France was churning out some incredible works of Enlightenment nonfiction. Considering this was during the reign of King Louis the whatever and Pope whomever, the use of the pen was actually dangerous business. We should all take our hats off to these men of great courage and vision. And be happy Switzerland existed.

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Quotes About Philosophy, by Modern Philosophers

quotes about philosophy March 16th, 2018

Quotes about philosophy, by philosophers, is the subject of this blog. I myself have been collecting philosophical quotes for 25 years now, but obviously the hobby goes way back. In fact, I have a penchant for collecting old books of quotes, and it’s really neat to open a book from the ’30s or ’40s and see what quotes about philosophy, science, politics, and values were like. I believe that a short collection of some intriguing quotes about philosophy by modern philosophers (mostly) is a cool idea, so here I go! Enjoy. 

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