Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Our Collective Inheritance"

According to Theodore R. Malloch, "The virtuous person does not merely acquire new and more disciplined behavior; he acquires new and more fulfilling motives."

Another significant point about virtue, "is that it is reliable; and people become reliable when they are motivated in the right way. In a time of danger we look to the courageous person because we know that he will put the common good above his own personal safety, and therefore, through his leadership and example, create the best chance that the present danger will be overcome."

"The Greeks saw virtue as a unity." For example,

"A courageous person must be temperate if he is not to overstep the mark. Intemperate courage is not courage but rashness, and temperance in turn needs courage if it is to show its proper worth--the courage to face up to temptation and to the pressure of one's peers and still say no. But one of the great difficulties that the Greek philosophers faced was that of integrating justice into the moral scheme. We can justify courage, temperance and wisdom as benefits to the person who possesses them--traits of character that bring success, and which make it maximally probable that the person who possesses them will overcome the difficulties that beset us in the trials of life. But justice is a much more "other-regarding" virtue, and the question "why be just?" troubled the Greek philosophers as it has troubled every thinking person since.  It is the question that launches the argument of Plato's Republic. And it is the question addressed by the Greek poets and tragedians in their most memorable bequests to us." ~ Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, Spiritual Enterprise, 2008