Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"virtue wheel" an essay

Here is the beginning of my explication of the virtues I hold dear. After this I write on essay on all eight of them.


Michelangelo - Victory.JPG

Virtue wheel


            Every people that is a people is integrated. Character is the great integrator of a nation: those acts we specularize we also internalize. Man is from infancy the imitator. A few madstars escape this; the rest internalize and identify with stereotypes, consistencies, expectancies, with the ocean of directives living in each atom of public discourse.

            Each nation tells stories that educate children through ideal characters and the virtues they embody. The Greeks were self-critical enough to not only formulate their virtues, but to also explicate them. Socrates evoked the four virtues of “Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance, and Justice.” These were later called “cardinal” in the sense that everything swings on those four hinges. Aristotle explores these virtues, and the structure of virtue itself, in his Nichomachean Ethics. No nation or people has considered its own principles so thoroughly as the Greeks. Indeed, when Rome fell, Greece fell again—it wasn’t until the enlightenment that we regained this glory.

            We inherit no set of cardinal virtues except from the Greeks. And here we must look closer. All sorts of understructures and interrelationships hum beneath them: fortitude is handling pains, temperance handling pleasures, prudence is doing what’s right for the self, justice what’s right for others; or, alternatively, Fortitude and Temperance concern moderation, whereas prudence and justice concern absolutes; etc. But ultimately we must realize that this table of virtues made sense to the Greeks—came from the flesh of the Greek heroes. Likewise, our virtues come first from our own muscles.

            What distinguishes one people from another? Context helps. Why is Russia bleak not only in landscape but also in national temperament? Why do equatorial countries resemble each other as lax and tribal? Why are the countries which are given to four distinct seasons—including harsh winters—given also to the superiority of fierce will power?

            Men do what they must to survive. These are the facts: we live here, and living here posits absolute demands upon us. If I am a desert dweller, I must be able to survive the heat. If winters attack our landscape, we must master them. This is why equatorial people tend to little advancement, whereas seasonal temperaments tend to capability and ingenuity. London, New York City, Paris—the cultural centers of the last two hundred years—share similar climates.

            The basis of climate’s influence is the need of the individuals in the community. Need is primary. Sacrifice this, and the group dies. Simple as. The environmental context includes the peoples living there. Family is an environment too. All these demand attitudes, beliefs, personalities, and characters from us in order to

1) internalize the scene as we come to it as children, and

2) externalize ourselves into our scene as we mature into adults.

            The American virtues are Independence, Optimism, Directness and Productivity. All four grow from the most important American political documents: the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution; the Gettysburg address. All four are sung immaculate from the lips of the most important American poets: Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. All four are delineated through the minds of America’s most important philosophers: William James and John Dewey. All four are dramatized in America’s most important lives: Jefferson’s, Franklin’s, and Frederick Douglass’.

            The four American virtues correspond to the four types of habit: independence of mind, optimism of heart, directness of speech, productivity of hands. And the complex foundations of our country necessitated them.

            Each of us slips into his national temperament, and yet seeks his own private virtues. Vir is the reward for virtue. Each man is his own reward. What do I hope to gain from all my labors but an improved self? Good works do not get you into heaven; they show you are already there. We do good to achieve more self. Virtue is not its own reward. Self is the reward of action. Heart is the trophy we esteem. We must each seek our own virtues

            My own morals expand from the American basics. The square for Independence, the triangle for Creativity, and the radiant circle for Pragmatism; the cycle box stands for Order, the bow and Arrow D stand for direction, the x pointing skyward for Optimism, the interlocked fingers for Commitment, and the W-V for Wriving, the study of life and literature, fed into writing and truth.

In sum:


I innerdepend

I create in all things

I pragmatize my actions

I structure simple order

I speak direct truth

I optimize every circumstance

I commit to my beloveds

I study and write my life          


            Virtues, not morals; principles, not rules. No rule can predict the full possibility of context. And so virtuosity is not obeying rules, but interpreting principles.


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