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Jack of Spades

Pairs Of Virtues

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This is a concept of "Virtue pairs" I've had in mind for a while, I'd like to ask for some opinions and insights on the concept.

 

I think virtues should exist in pairs. If we fix our mind in practicing only one virtue, it easily gets derailed to some extreme and by doing so, has risk of becoming something else than a virtue.

 

Like, for example:

 

- Trust should be paired with wisdom, to avoid putting ones trust in wrong things/peoples.

 

- Being just should be paired with being careful, to avoid hunting down innocent people who only appear to be guilty.

 

- Being merciful should be paired with being responsible, to avoid putting other people in danger, "letting wolves run among sheep".

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Interesting thoughts, Jack of Spades. As I read your post, your pairs reminded me of the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance). The Church has long tried to figure out ways to teach the proper practice of the virtues, but often their efforts have led to more rules,laws, and doctrines, and fewer shining examples of virtue.

 

I went back and looked at a short piece I wrote for a Moral Theology course 3 years ago:

 

 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the goal of the virtuous life is to become like God. The ultimate goal is clear and perfect. The tools available to us (the virtues) have been thoroughly described by Scripture and theological authority. What is less obvious is how we can synthesize or unify these choices. How do we actually form the necessary habits that will allow us to respond with pleasure and promptness to daily situations where we must quickly and decisively use our freedom, conscience, and virtue in service to the Good?
I’ve been reflecting on how the four human virtues are represented in each of the Gospels, and it strikes me that while each of the Gospel writers addresses the four virtues, each does so through a different lens. Each writer seems to offer a different vision of the preeminent virtue. John favours Prudence (seeing rightly), a virtue clearly linked to truth. Matthew seems to suggest that Justice is the rudder that steers the course towards holiness. Luke highlights Fortitude (freely giving one’s life for another without complaint). Mark focusses on Temperance.
St. Thomas Aquinas placed Temperance fourth among the human virtues. Yet it was in discussing Temperance that Aquinas raised the crucial issue of emotions (which relate to the heart). In my experience, it is fruitless to relegate insights about one’s heart and one’s emotions to “last place.” The reason? The human brain has many complex, interconnected circuits that involve both will and emotions, and both are necessary for the full, healthy functioning of the human brain that God has so lovingly designed for us. When we don’t understand these interconnections and their expression through biological analogues (such as neurotransmitters), we’re unable to move through the four stages of development of virtuous emotion, a progression made possible, in part, through God’s gift of neuroplasticity in the brain.
The second half of the Parable of the Sower in Mark (Mark 4:13–20) bears a strong resemblance to these four stages of development. In the parable, the same Word is given to each of the stages or “emotional gardens”; what differs is the receptivity of each “garden.” If we want to “become like God” we must better understand the brain that serves as the garden soil for the implanted virtues.
Have you ever noticed how much a brain neuron resembles a turnip? Just some food for thought.

 

Yes, I really did you use the word "turnip" in a theology assignment.

 

I know the official Church position is that all four cardinal virtues are equally important (like the four legs of a chair), but in reality the Church has long put Prudence first and Temperance last. Hence my statement about Temperance.

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Jack of Spades, one eyed Jack or two?

 

I think virtue is a ladder that has many rungs organized according to the necessities and operative needs of an individual’s good will. The problem with having only one rung on the ladder is that it can be a virtue that becomes annoying as it undermines the other virtues from being developed and that single virtue in overflow can easily transform into a vice. People with only one virtue could easily think that everyone should be dressed in the same way, neglecting the other rungs on the ladder making it useless as they disguise their vice as a virtue. With only one we can’t recognize the other virtues that people possess so are inclined to see their imperfections or perceive their virtues as fake, which precipitates a dilemma where everyone is uncomfortable. A single virtue opens people up for people to take in them in, in order to mislead and betray their good nature so they become rigid and fanatical about converting people to their way of life. Everyone has virtues even our enemies have these good qualities, but not everyone wants to see them, being a conservative and being a liberal is a virtue, but they are demonized by the other side. One virtue can get lost in self-interest, but when we cultivate other people’s virtues in them they are respected and begin to mature in our own being, then and there we take in joy and get a glimpse of what virtue is all about.

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This is a concept of "Virtue pairs" I've had in mind for a while, I'd like to ask for some opinions and insights on the concept.

 

I think virtues should exist in pairs. If we fix our mind in practicing only one virtue, it easily gets derailed to some extreme and by doing so, has risk of becoming something else than a virtue.

 

I must admit, I can't help thinking of virtues (in pairs or otherwise) as illusions. Constructs of the mind and society.

 

Virtues or their lack promulgate dualism ... It is something I think all people might move away from.

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Rom,

 

How do you propose we move away from these constructs we call virtues and what will the benefits to society be if we do?

 

Joseph

 

 

I must admit, I can't help thinking of virtues (in pairs or otherwise) as illusions. Constructs of the mind and society.

 

Virtues or their lack promulgate dualism ... It is something I think all people might move away from.

Rom,

 

How do you propose we move away from these constructs we call virtues and what will the benefits to society be if we do?

 

Joseph

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Rom,

 

How do you propose we move away from these constructs we call virtues and what will the benefits to society be if we do?

 

At the risk of derailing this thread, I will give this question a shot.

 

Firstly I don't think there is one path that everyone can take. We all come from different places in terms of experiences, emotions beliefs, cultures etc.

 

I personally lost my belief in these types of concepts ... essentially it was the universe unfolding, but more pragmatically by introspection, eg

When I look deep into myself

I see the universe quietly staring back at me.

 

It comes from the understanding there is not an intrinsic "I" that is pulling my levers. Probably similar too the Buddhist concept of not self.

 

I think Joseph Campbell's quote here is relevant:

... But the ultimate mystical goal is to be united with one's god. With that, duality is transcended and forms disappear. There is nobody there, no god, no you. Your mind, going past all concepts, has dissolved in identification with ground of your own being, because that to which the metaphorical image of your god refers to the ultimate mystery of your own being, which is the mystery of the being of the world as well.

 

Not everyone will have this point of view and that is OK too. The universe continues to unfold, regardless of what we think we believe.

 

I am not sure I have answered your question Joseph?

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I am not sure I have answered your question Joseph?

Rom,

 

Fine on the first part of the question.

 

Do you see these concepts or constructs (virtues) as being a positive influence to the evolution of society or the universe or would you call it just part of the unfolding or something else?

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Do you see these concepts or constructs (virtues) as being a positive influence to the evolution of society or the universe or would you call it just part of the unfolding or something else?

 

Primarily I see them as unnecessary. If a society unfolds (or evolves, it matters not) in a way that I like, is that positive? I might think of myself as proselytizing for agnosticism, but in fact this just a confabulation on my part. I might think of agnosticism in it broadest sense a positive attribute for individuals and society, but that too is a confabulation.

 

The universe has been doing its thing for 99.999 % of existence without the concepts of virtues, ethics, morality and the like. I am sure it will carry on long just fine after those concepts have been ground back into stardust.

 

I think another couple of Campbell quotes are apt:

 

You yourself are participating in evil, or you are not alive. Whatever you do is evil to someone. This is one of the ironies of creation.

 

This is fairly straight forward.

 

But this one is a bit more difficult:

… one of the greatest challenges in life is to say “yea” to that person or act or that condition which in your mind is most abominable.

 

We live our lives where we put virtues, morality ethics and the like on a pedestal. Whether it is saying "yea" or a quiet acceptance. I won't argue.

 

Personally, I listen to my wants. And by and large try and fulfill them. But even here I am being a little disingenuous. I recognize "my wants and I" are a response to how the universe is unfolding.

Edited by romansh
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Rom,

 

It seems to me that virtues or virtue pairs are useful to society in general. While one may consider them illusions or not, it seems to me they are actually part of the universe unfolding at this moment in time. Are they not?

 

Who are we to say whether they should or shouldn't be necessary? ( rhetorical question ) You have made clear your desire to live without them but the universe seems to be using them with most to evolve. I am not saying one choice is better or worse than the other ..... or right or wrong ... just saying the universe is using them at this time in evolution and its unfolding and i am not in opposition to that.

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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I agree Joseph.

 

The universe is using* the concepts of hate and fear (and a whole bunch of positive) as well. I am sure hate and fear "have their place", but personally I would not advocate for them.

 

I see no harm in pointing out there are alternative ways of looking at the unfolding universe, other than through the prism of dualism. Dualism is a concept that evolution has made easy for humans to understand. Does not make it an accurate reflection of reality. It is only a reflection of our perceptions.

 

* We might be careful here not to anthropomorphize the universe by suggesting the universe has an intent.

 

it is bad enough that we anthropomorphize our 1.3 kg of sloppy proteins, sugars and electrolytes.

 

 

ps I very carefully did not use the word "should". :D At least in this thread. I am well aware of the nature of that word.

Edited by romansh
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Fair enough Rom, We do look through a dark glass and often stumble upon more prudent ways of looking at things.

 

 

 

* We might be careful here not to anthropomorphize the universe by suggesting the universe has an intent.

 

As for intent...... i am not so careful and would suggest you are collectively part of that intent if we could actually divide it in pieces .... and ..... its intent if i might "confabulate", is to unfold. :)

Edited by JosephM
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Fair enough Rom, We do look through a dark glass and often stumble upon more prudent ways of looking at things.

 

 

As for intent...... i am not so careful and would suggest you are collectively part of that intent if we could actually divide it in pieces .... and ..... its intent if i might "confabulate", is to unfold. :)

 

Fair enough Joseph, but for me the universal-intent are like eddies in a pond they flicker in and out of existence.

 

I am driven to say, I have no evidence for this universal-intent, so I will give this belief a pass for the moment. But I do understand that your own personal eddy drives you to your belief. :)

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I think virtue is a ladder that has many rungs organized according to the necessities and operative needs of an individual’s good will. The problem with having only one rung on the ladder is that it can be a virtue that becomes annoying as it undermines the other virtues from being developed and that single virtue in overflow can easily transform into a vice. People with only one virtue could easily think that everyone should be dressed in the same way, neglecting the other rungs on the ladder making it useless as they disguise their vice as a virtue.

 

That's a good way to put it. I intentionally simplified my view on virtues a bit in the OP.

 

Everyone has virtues even our enemies have these good qualities, but not everyone wants to see them, being a conservative and being a liberal is a virtue, but they are demonized by the other side.

 

I think in such ideological clashes, there often comes a somewhat complicated psychological clash of loyalty versus humility. Voice of loyalty says I shouldn't praise my enemys virtues ("enemy", in ideological sense in this case), but it can actually be an act of humility to at least be ready to recognize them. I think anyone who is honest with themselves, have to, at some point in their life ask themselves the question "What if I am one of the bad guys?". It's really not an easy place to go, but in hindsight, I think historically things would have been much better if more people had asked themselves that question.

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When a country goes to war it is interesting how they play with virtue to get people to kill. They build up a momentum to get the country to back them and then they are exploited in the name of virtue. The Vietnam War is a good example. I was branded a bad guy, the enemy and a communist because I was against the war. They lied, gave me a record and tried to destroy my future in the name of virtue. The funny thing is I thought it was all done in vice.

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Fair enough Joseph, but for me the universal-intent are like eddies in a pond they flicker in and out of existence.

 

I am driven to say, I have no evidence for this universal-intent, so I will give this belief a pass for the moment. But I do understand that your own personal eddy drives you to your belief. :)

 

Oh.... but it seems to me you do have evidence. If you see the Universe unfolding, is that not evidence in itself of intent? Intent perhaps incomplete if one looks to the non-existent future, which inevitably fails to see an end goal or purpose ... yet each moment of unfolding seems to me is a witness of universal intent in itself . Perhaps it goes unnoticed by many, yet each moment ... act, thought, or phenomenon contains an intrinsic intent/purpose.

 

In essence there is no particular purpose external to itself. Therefore it is my view that you will not find evidence of intent as long as you are looking externally to the moment at question..

 

Joseph

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Oh.... but it seems to me you do have evidence. If you see the Universe unfolding, is that not evidence in itself of intent? Intent perhaps incomplete if one looks to the non-existent future, which inevitably fails to see an end goal or purpose ... yet each moment of unfolding seems to me is a witness of universal intent in itself . Perhaps it goes unnoticed by many, yet each moment ... act, thought, or phenomenon contains an intrinsic intent/purpose.

 

In essence there is no particular purpose external to itself. Therefore it is my view that you will not find evidence of intent as long as you are looking externally to the moment at question..

 

Joseph

 

I am not sure I would call it intent, purpose or any other synonym. When I electrolyse a copper sulphate solution to make acid, oxygen and copper crystals ... I don't see intent there (other than perhaps my own illusory intent). If I relax the system and turn off the current, the oxygen, copper and acid recombine to make copper sulphate. All this and the universe is still unfolding.

 

There appears to be no direction other than a higher entropy.

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