Give Colour to Virtues

“My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” – Louis Riel

Another way to conceptualize the four pivotal virtues of civilization is to contemplate how they each shine in their own way without detracting from their synergistic interplay. So let us begin with the primary of the other three by which there can be no integrality.

Prudence may be rendered here as practical reason. Like the Chief in command it possesses the intellect to act appropriately under particular circumstances, and to instruct and/or command the governing body so as to work in cohesion. It possesses the foresight to avoid unnecessary barriers and to create pathways that keep us mindfully aware, thus my reason for associating it with the element of air.

Turning to the east we have the element of fire. Fortitude strengthens and fortifies the armour that protects our back, and is ever battle ready in the event that an adversary should attack. If the code is to protect the person on your right, then prudence would do well to choose the most adequate Commander-in-Chief to safeguard the light.

On the other side of the circle we have Justice (in Mercy), which helps to ground and bring balance to the society. It prevents the system from becoming lopsided and attempts to restore good relations and rectify discord. Like the earth itself she holds everyone and everything as equal, knowing in her heart of hearts that even the oxygen from a plant is just as vital as those who ought to care for the ecosystem.

The battering ram of misunderstanding breaks down infrastructure and mutual trust. And in its stead may bring grievous harm to others. Thus Temperance, like Justice, tempers extremes and aids in restoring imbalances. For the good of the whole it prescribes in view to optimizing health and enabling wellbeing. Like the element of water Temperance both heals and replenishes morale.

Prudence, Fortitude, Justice and Temperance are the base virtues that enable the world to remain in an even keel. In turn allowing for freedom & liberty to spread its wings by which we can enter into social contracts that help to grow the economy in a way that sustains the environment and allows for human flourishing. These cardinal or political or civic virtues empower us to be ethically and/or morally responsible, and are the means to keep our skies blue and our hearts perpetually true.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds you might say, but we all sense our pharmaceutically manicured lives are slipping away. Of greater importance now being what we sacrifice and leave behind in our stead, the sort of good that prevents further manmade dread. So as long as one can spin their own yarn, give me the truth that brings no harm!

About Philosopher Muse

An explorer of volition and soul, a song under a night sky and a dream that forever yearns to be.
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8 Responses to Give Colour to Virtues

  1. Very interesting, Jason. Very interesting color scheme. I guess the only thing I wonder about is that
    virtues ethics, which is so important from a certain angle, leaves so many questions unanswered.
    For example, a whole slew of people can all agree with what you wrote, but hold contradictory views
    on so many moral issues. Everyone would believe their views are prudent, just, and temperate, etc.,
    and yet they contradict.

    • Thank you Mr. McManaman for a delightful play, you made some valid points I am inclined to say. You see, virtue ethics, like most other disciplines that stick around for a while before they dwindle away, can potentially serve a purpose of cutting through the gray, regardless of what the masses demand, shout and say. Yet with a merciful heart we can let the wheat and weed grow together, for nothing insubstantial can last forever.

  2. I have never thought of the four virtues and their parallels to the four elements, but it makes sense in the way you have constructed it. Definitely something to ponder at length. Thanks for the insight.

    • Glad you possess the willingness and/or humility to ponder the 4 political/civic/cardinal virtues that work to keep our society aligned with Nature. Such gifts were imparted long before Plato came on the scene. As a good and upright Warrior Chief you would do well to preserve and protect the will of the gods. Live and breathe the truth that brings no harm.

      “Virtue may be defined as a habit of mind (animi) in harmony with reason and the order of nature.” – Cicero

      • ShiraDest says:

        Glad to see that virtuous minds think alike, if I may be so bold as to add myself to that category. If I may take yet another bold step, Jason, I wonder if you find my blog posts on building community reasonable enough to add your thoughts to mine, particularly on a Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday?

        In Service to Community,
        -Shira

      • “Truth is the first and fundamental part of virtue. It must be loved for its own sake.” – Montaigne

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