virtues

virtues


Moderation is Sometimes a Virtue

moderation April 13th, 2019

I saw a picture of a childhood friend today, shaking hands with president Trump. He said he was proud to be shaking the hands of a president – this or any other. I spend so much time in a given week learning about or thinking about the travesties that pass as governance, and feel sometimes like I am stuck in an Orwellian nightmare. I can’t help but feel that if one agrees with Trump as a person, that they are a part of a social group that is diametrically opposed to my sensibilities and philosophies and instincts. And that if they support him as the leader of the free world, they are lost as to what values and virtues such as freedom, responsibility, and the rule of law really mean. I felt much the same way when Bush was in office. It raises some interesting questions not only about friendship, but also partisanship, principles, and temperament. As I reflect on this friendship vis-à-vis the problems in America today, I am asking myself questions about the virtue of moderation – not one of my most familiar 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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The Values and Virtues America Desperately Needs

the values and virtues America desperately needs September 2nd, 2018

America, if it were a person, would be experiencing anxiety, self-doubt, egocentrism, confusion, self-loathing, and narcissism. Life has never been easy or uniformly positive for all but the wealthy, and even then, the rich aren’t any happier than the other social classes. It’s true, there was what some consider to be a “golden era” as we came out of World War II. The wealthy and corporations paid a large share of the tax burden, had more in common with the other social classes (e.g., “the Commons” were more robust then), and jobs were well-paying and fairly secure. Despite the racial, gender and sexual orientation problems that plagued America then, it was a time of general prosperity, social mobility, and optimism. Something has gone awry to an increasingly dire degree; if America were a person it would be spending a lot of time in bars, occasionally getting into a fight while intoxicated, and dealing with a persistent cough. The values and virtues America desperately needs are the subjects of this blog. It entails social criticism, but I think America can look to its “better angels”, as Lincoln put it. We have to do it. 

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Cultivating Virtue & Living Wisely

virtue August 2nd, 2018

Cultivating virtue helps us to live well, and within reason. But how are we to understand the kind of guardrails reason provides? Why suppose that reason can govern action and emotion in the way that modern Aristotelian theorists of virtue seem to suggest that it can? After all, there is an impressive body of empirical research suggesting that people frequently fail to live up to their own ideals. In this blog, Professor Candace Vogler writes about reason, virtue, and living wisely.

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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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Virtues: Society’s Guiding Light

love is best among virtues September 10th, 2017

Since time immemorial, values, virtues, and societal norms (and mores, folkways, etc.) have been part and parcel of the fabric of every civilization. Not only is interesting to think of the ways in which different cultures differ from each other and how societies can spin out of control, it is exciting to think of the ways in which certain virtues hold up beautifully over time. For example, every society has more or less valued the virtue of truth: honesty, fair dealing, justified belief, etc. A society which prized chicanery, deceit, and unscrupulous behavior would not long last. Trust and law are the glue that hold a people together, and thus, the virtue of truth is written into the sacred texts, myths, laws, and norms of a society. Read on to see which virtues are tried and true, and ideally gain some inspiration for honoring them. 

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“Rarities”

August 24th, 2017

The qualities and aspirations and virtues of wise and developed individuals are rarities, indeed. Here is a glimpse:

Sharp like the metaphoric steel blade
Possessing uncommon passion and zeal
Power to act on behalf of right
Courage to feel what’s authentic and real.

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Wisdom: We Need a Revolution (V&E-2)

knowledge and wisdom May 8th, 2017

With all the problems in the world, most astute observers would agree: we need a revolution in wisdom – and quick! Wisdom can create a sea-change in our attitudes, values, daily activities, overall goals, and indeed the entire trajectory of our homes, communities, institutions, nation, and world. Knowledge and wisdom are fairly complex concepts; the advantage Values of the Wise offers you is that it is explored from many different angles and through the eyes of many unique thinkers, past and present. In this blog, Jason Merchey interviews two experts on knowledge and wisdom: Copthorne Macdonald and Nicholas Maxwell, Ph.D.

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Social Justice: Based in Historical Truth

social justice May 3rd, 2017

I was a little discomfited by Daniel Lattier’s derision of social justice in his account of an elementary school in Minnesota which has made some noble attempts at teaching children about historical truth, such as the idea of “white privilege.” I believe this position shows a lack of insight into the way America works, will shortchange children of all races, and will perpetuate the status quo. It’s not terribly surprising, though. Consider: “Once you follow a path of nonviolence and social justice, it won’t take you long before you come into conflict with the culture, with the society” ~ Martin Sheen. Lattier wrote in Not All Parents Want Their Children to be Social Justice Warriors:

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