Virtue & Character

Virtue & Character


Songs I’m Thinking About Today

March 16th, 2019

Two deep and inspiring songs that struck me today are the following. Van Halen’s “Dreams” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. Let these masterpieces sink in…

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Humanity’s Dark Side: Obedience to Authority

obedience to authority March 9th, 2019

There is a strain of experiments buoyed by theory that is in the category of social psychology – the branch of the study of human behavior that locates a human being in their social context. That is, people may have some individuality, some trait-like tendencies to think, feel, perceive, and act in a more or less typical way (i.e., based on their personality type). Social psychologists study how human beings function in relation to their environment. This essentially radical environmental approach doesn’t mimic the approach of Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner – dyed-in-the-wool environmentalists – because the attempt is not to change behavior, but to analyze and predict it. Read on for a brief summary, some elucidating quotations, and one of the most shocking experiments ever to come out of a major university.

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The Dialectic: A Top 10 Philosophy Concept

the dialectical method March 2nd, 2019

Have you heard the term dialectic? It’s a philosophical concept that is a bit complicated. This blog will explain what a dialectic is, how it can be useful, a little bit of history, etc. At bottom, the centuries-old concept is a way of moving toward wisdom in which two opposing positions are reconciled, compared, and synthesized, thus arriving at a new, superior, insight. It’s a higher-order phenomenon borne of philosophizing, communicating, comparing, contrasting, analyzing, and parsing. Strengths of each opposing point of view is considered, explicated, and utilized. Different theories can be compared in this manner and a final, integrative model can result. 

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Quotations on Values Inspire Personal Growth

woman on beach thinking about quotations on values February 25th, 2019

Some people don’t get much joy or fulfillment from reading quotes. I don’t really understand those individuals. Quotations on values, virtues, and phenomena such as strength, love, creativity, honor, passion, humor and fulfillment seem so, well, valuable to me. I think life would be sorely lacking in flavor if we lived in a black and white world of monotonous labor, the quest for survival, and being caught up in the consumerist desire to keep up and own more. I have smiled many times in my day, and felt temporarily lifted and a part of things when I read something someone wrote that reminds me of thoughts and feelings I have within, that moves me, that enlightens me. Such is the wisdom of reading quotations on values.

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Altruism in Action: Helping Others is a Virtue

altruism February 19th, 2019

Altruism is one of the most intriguing virtues. I have always found it to be “upon high,” very worthy, truly excellent. It has been called “selfishness in reverse,” and is basically when a person is helpful to another when “no benefits are expected or offered in return.” It sometimes involves self-sacrifice (for example, if you give money to someone, you don’t have that money any longer, or if you run into a burning building, you may be injured). It’s human beings helping human beings, and choosing to allocate valuable resources in such a way that one does not expect to keep a lion’s share of it. Is it real? How does is mesh with capitalism and the “rugged individualism” that the wealthy and powerful have fomented in this country since the very beginning? Is love really the answer?

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg Exemplifies True Liberalism

liberalism January 13th, 2019

I have a new favorite person! Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Live Your Values; Bring Them to Life!

live your values January 2nd, 2019

“…bring to Life Those Ideals.” The remarkable thinker, historian and activist Howard Zinn was referring you ought to “live your values” with that quote. It is a kind of integrity, I think, to not only know what you value, but to try to make your values real and manifest them in your life. It’s not always easy, though. “The hours” have a way of sapping energy and reducing focus. Yet Zinn lived into his 80s and was active and influential until near the end. Read on to find some inspirational quotes set in the context of living a life of value.

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“Anti-Intellectualism”: A Rejection of Critical Thinking

anti-intellectualism December 13th, 2018

Attorney, activist, author and secular humanist David Niose writes about one of the fundamental issues underlying much of the social dysfunction we see every day now in America: anti-intellectualism. What does this mean? This snippet captures his thesis well: What Americans rarely acknowledge is that many of their social problems are rooted in the rejection of critical thinking or, conversely, the glorification of the emotional and irrational. What else could explain the hyper-patriotism that has many accepting an outlandish notion that America is far superior to the rest of the world? Love of one’s country is fine, but many Americans seem to honestly believe that their country both invented and perfected the idea of freedom, that the quality of life here far surpasses everywhere else in the world.

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Virtues and Values in Challenging Relationships

virtues and values November 29th, 2018

The relationship and the difference between virtues and values is fairly intuitive: values are those things that we want and cherish, and virtues are those attributes in us that help propel us toward those things we value. In this blog, I will offer some opinions and insight into how we can use our unique virtues and values to negotiate our often-challenging social relationships in this era of partisanship, lack of shame, and everyone opining about everything, anywhere.

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Paternalism: The Individual Vs. The People

November 21st, 2018

Paternalism is the idea that the State (one’s country) has a right to determine some rules that citizens are obliged to follow because the State knows better and something important is on the line. So, stopping at a traffic light might simply be a law – and one that everyone can agree with. Libertarians, however, object to some laws made by lawmakers on the grounds that they are unnecessarily paternalistic, and sap the liberty of the individual. Wearing helmets during motorcycling is a good example of an issue that is debated between libertarians and those who feel that the individual is not necessarily the best decision-maker when it comes to things such as safety. Clearly, gun rights are the issue du jour. Here are some thoughts about who gets to decide what, how, and why.

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