What is virtue?

As the hero of the famous cartoon, "If you are good - it's good, and when the opposite - bad!" With the birth of each person living in a society commits certain acts and gets them to the corresponding estimates.The theme of this paper will be mostly good and righteous deeds man does good or seeking to do so.What is virtue, what they are and how you can help yourself in the acquisition of such qualities?Let's deal.


virtues and vices - for many of these definitions is not entirely clear, because in ordinary daily use such words are rare.Of course, every child knows what is good and what is bad.However, in contrast to the values, accepted in society, ethics and morality, virtue - it is an inner need to do good not because "so it is necessary" but simply because otherwise you can not.It is also possible to recognize the virtue and some personal qualities of the person, to help him find his place in society.Such, for example, can be:

  • politeness;
  • friendliness;
  • ability to sympathize and empathize;
  • responsibility;
  • honesty;
  • performance and so on.

Defect - the flip side of virtue, or rather its opposite.Any action that leads to harm yourself or the world around them, may be considered vicious.Accordingly, the defect can be recognized and reprehensible traits:

  • laziness;
  • greed;
  • conceit;
  • falsity;
  • envy and others.

analysis and research of human vices and virtues are always interested in the minds of educated people both ancient and more modern.Property classification virtues were different philosophical and religious teachings.

In antiquity

ancient Greeks noticed that the path to righteousness is quite heavy.Virtue is not given at birth, the road to it is difficult and requires considerable effort.Based on ancient Greek philosophy distinguish these types of it:

  • moderation;
  • wisdom;
  • courage;
  • justice.

The leading role in this great Socrates gave wisdom, and the source of origin of each thought the mind.But his disciple, at least the great philosopher Plato believed that each of the virtues is based on the personal qualities of the soul: the wisdom comes from the mind and the courage to rely on the will.He also noted that each estate inherent in a certain kind of virtue - so do not wait for the courage and wisdom of the craftsman, and moderation - from warriors or rulers.

Arguing that such virtues can not remember Aristotle divided the human essence of the will to virtue (ethical) and mind (dianoeticheskuyu).He believed that the sensual, irrational part of any person is obedient to his mental (rational) part.Virtue was defined as the ability to find around the "middle ground", the deviation in one direction or another recognized defect.That is a kind of measure between the lack or excess of anything.

Oh great renaissance

In the Middle Ages, during the Renaissance humanism, virtue - virtus - considered the main categories for the perfect person.Uomo virtuoso - so called man possesses it.This concept covers the whole range of moral norms, acquiring over time a variety of shades.

On the one hand, the notion that such virtues, based on the provisions of ancient ethics, and interpreted as a rational self-restraint in the spiritual and physical needs.On the other, the image of the ideal man - uomo virtuoso - a little softened by new ideas about the inseparability of body and soul, earthly and spiritual needs.Therefore, the ideal is a person not only reasonable, but also active, because the first duty of a man - a constant self-development, the desire for knowledge and useful activity.

«new» times

Over time, the notion that virtue is taking new forms.One of the leading representatives of the philosophy of the "new" time - Spinoza - considered a virtue benefits that a person is able to bring the outside world.But according to Kant, virtue - have a strong mental toughness to follow their duty, never, however, is not becoming a habit, but every time requires a conscious choice.

notorious politician, writer and diplomat Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography outlined the principle of "Thirteen Virtues", which should be inherent in a successful person:

  • calm;
  • modesty;
  • justice;
  • moderation;
  • thrift;
  • diligence;
  • order;
  • silence;
  • determination;
  • sincerity;
  • abstinence;
  • purity;
  • chastity.

By and large, this list can be extended even repeatedly, for example, pedantic Germans define its much larger number of points.

Prussian virtues

This list of the best human qualities originates from the times of the Enlightenment Lutheranism.The notion of German virtues during the reign of King Frederick William I, Prussia strengthened the internal situation in the XVIII century.It is still a mystery why it has been allocated a set, however, the mass following it brought tangible benefits and left quite a significant mark in the history of Prussia.Here are the true virtues of man, according to Friedrich Wilhelm I:

  • thrift;
  • love of order;
  • sincerity;
  • integrity;
  • obedience;
  • piety;
  • restraint;
  • diligence;
  • modesty;
  • honesty;
  • loyalty;
  • toughness;
  • straightness;
  • sense of justice;
  • discipline;
  • subordination;
  • reliability;
  • dedication;
  • courage;
  • courage;
  • punctuality;
  • sense of duty.

Christian view

discussing different views on positive character traits one can not touch such a thing as Christian virtues.This is more or less the general concept can be divided into two major parts:

  • cardinal - which include 4 concepts come to us from ancient philosophy;
  • theology - the doctrine which has brought into our lives, Christianity;

The result had here is a list:

  • courage;
  • moderation;
  • prudence;
  • justice;
  • hope;
  • love;
  • faith.

little later this list has undergone significant changes and has established a new, representing the seven virtues opposed to Western Christianity seven deadly sins:

  • patience;
  • humility;
  • gentleness;
  • chastity;
  • diligence;
  • moderation;
  • love.

internal confrontation

Of course, everyone knows what the act is good, and what evil shall nevertheless virtue and vice are the internal conflict for most of us.The difficulty of moral choice has always been inherent in man."I know the righteous, but pick a pleasant" - a principle of life is still relevant today.After all, you agree that understanding of the word virtue, meaning it does not mean a corresponding behavior.

a long time, this situation is perceived as a paradox.And really - logically understand how to lead a life of unrighteousness, knowing that it is flawed, it is difficult.That is why the knowledge of antiquity is not applied in practice, are not considered.According to Aristotle and Socrates, if one knows how to properly, and arrives contrary, it means that its actions are not based on true knowledge, but on personal opinion.In this case, the person entitled to reach this knowledge confirmed in practice.

basis of the Christian doctrine, bad thoughts and deeds of men talking on the sinfulness of his body, and therefore must be completely abandon the Earth's practicality and rationality, to reject sinful flesh interfering achieve true spiritual harmony.

Whatever it was, but no matter, you see how the wisdom of goodness or righteousness, it is acquired by man in the process of awareness of the duality of his nature and the ability to resolve internal conflict.

What would make you virtuous

From birth to death man lives in the community of their own kind.Observing the behavior of other people, learning the laws passed in the society, he develops a model of behavior.Getting approval or disapproval of their actions on the part of other people, a man builds for himself a kind of scale of values, adherence to which is considered most appropriate.

major step on the road to a knowledge of virtue can be considered as recognition of the importance and values ​​of others.Living in a society, it is impossible to rely solely on personal interests and beliefs.Only the recognition of the value of people living nearby, a sober assessment of their own moral qualities, continuous learning can make a person worthy of imitation.

As the tradition look seven virtues

Since ancient times, sculptors and painters embodied the vision of vice and virtue in a variety of images.Most often, it was the image of young beautiful women in long robes, having with them a variety of attributes.
Christian virtue, for example, could look like this:

  • Faith - a girl in a white dress holding a cross, which marks the death of Christ, or a crystal bowl.It may also be depicted with a shield or a lamp in his hand.
  • other virtues - Love - initially looked like a sacrificial lamb or a pelican, in the canonical painting looks like a woman with many children or caresses with a flaming heart in his hand.Also quite popular a different image - a girl with one hand sowing seeds, and another hug.
  • Hope - girl in green robes, bowed in prayer, sometimes with wings or an anchor.In another version, she holds out her hands to the sun in prayer, and sits down beside her Phoenix-burning.
  • courage, prudence, temperance and justice is also depicted in a woman's appearance.

Which is better, room for improvement?

Surprisingly, explaining the notion of virtue and offering a path to its attainment, not one of the greatest philosophers of antiquity and modernity could not reliably determine what is the highest virtue.Socrates and Plato, for example, believed that it is the wisdom (knowledge), Aristotle - moderation, Confucius - loyalty and respect for elders.The Christian teaching of the highest virtue, love calls (mostly to God).Probably, everyone can determine for themselves what kind of them read more than others, because it is impossible to achieve perfection in all directions.