“An archer ought not to hit the mark sometimes and miss it sometimes: anything that gets its results by chance is not a skill.” – Seneca
Here’s a brief summary of the core virtues (skills) that matter most in my life and my reason for keeping them in the forefront of all my activities:
Prudence (as in practical reason) entails appropriate responses, discernment, foresight and constructive communication.
Fortitude (as in courage) includes bold action, determination, right effort, perseverance, patience, resolve and strength.
Justice (as in equality) allows for balance, fairness, equity, peace, restitution, rights & freedoms, accountability, law and order.
Temperance (as in moderation) consists of moderating appetites, self-control, healthy emotions, sustained energy, sufficient rest and dietary intake.
Each cardinal virtue opens up, interconnects and adapts to various circumstances and/or particulars of a given situation. They also help to provide the ground and/or maturation for more transcendent virtues to take form such as wisdom and ingenuity. Just like specialized skills they need to be cultivated over time in order to become second nature.
For thousands of years religious have expounded upon virtues in view to being pious but people of all walks of life are free to use them. There are also virtues that can be rather contentious for some. Take for instance the notion of justice and how it has been used to rationalize all sorts of inhumane acts.
When virtues are taken to the extreme they can become either excessive or deficient. Yet immoderation happens to be contrary to the very nature of virtue but that is not to say that there are occasions in life when we may need to apply a lot of a particular kind of virtue (e.g. patience, compassion, courage) so as to preserve the overall balance in the long haul.
I love the definitions from the opening paragraphs and that quote by Seneca is spot on! I love it! You’re an integral part of my Saturdays, keep posting.
Thank you, Shawn! I believe these general definitions suffice for the purpose of this article but they are by no means complete or exacting.
As a good father and loyal husband, which three sub-virtues from my core virtues do you draw upon most in your family dynamic?
I would have to say constructive communication, perseverance and patience.
Then you highly value vigilance; an honourable character trait.
That quote about the settled mind and spending time with itself is golden given today’s mass distractions.
“The first sign of a settled mind is that it can stay in one place and spend time with itself.” – Seneca, Letter 2.1
I may have to use that for a post myself. It applies to an experience I had this weekend. I’ll link your post in it as inspiration. Thank you, sir.
The wisdom of Seneca seems to have no end.
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