what does virtue mean

Virtue is a word that originates from the Latin virtus and its original meaning is that of virile strength. Today the meaning of virtue is more closely linked to that of a quality manifested by an individual, which can be both an innate and an acquired quality. And in this sense we can distinguish intellectual virtues and moral virtues , the first related to intelligence and the others linked to the idea of ​​doing good.what does virtue mean

The capacity for learning, reflection, the ability to reason, logic, abstract thinking, dialogue, the search for knowledge, would be intellectual virtues.

Acting in accordance with the notions of good , within ethics and with justice, fleeing temptations and always seeking prudence and temperance in actions, are the moral virtues. Thus, virtue in the moral sense would be a person’s inclination to seek to do good or, in other words, everything that we find in an individual’s personality that leads him to do good deeds.

Within Christianity, we also find the theological , theological or supernatural virtues , which would be those virtues that are a gift from God. They are: faith, hope and charity; on the other hand we have the cardinal virtues , which are acquired by effort and are where all other virtues originate. They are: prudence, courage, temperance and justice.

However, although virtue is traditionally associated with moral, intellectual and theological issues, it is common to use the word “virtue” to refer to any quality presented by a person or to designate some character characteristic of someone valued by society.

Virtue can also be used as a synonym for cause, reason or consequence. For example, in the sentence: “The girl died due to the accident last Monday”.

Virtue in Philosophy

Virtue has been a recurrent theme in philosophy since its inception. For Plato , the Epicureans and the Stoics, the virtues are the essential characteristics that enable a person to have a happy and fruitful life. These virtues would be wisdom, courage, temperance and justice, an idea very similar to the so-called cardinal virtues.

For Aristotle there are no innate virtues, as they would be acquired with reflection and experience. For him, everything that contributes to complete human nature with excellence is called virtue, and acting according to reason would be the most important of virtues.

In classical Greek philosophy, the ideas of happiness and virtue were always connected. However, there was never a consensus on whether virtues were the necessary conditions for a happy life or whether happiness was the condition for virtue. The 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant takes up the theme. For him, virtues do not make anyone a happier person, but they are what make someone worthy of happiness. 

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