What of virtue?
It’s not a word that is used very often these days, and depending on your background or worldview it can have various meanings. But based on my limited research, most definitions of the word are good, and my only point in bringing it up is to try to get the word back into circulation. I think it might help the world for this word to be part of more conversations.
The first definition from Webster’s is: conformity to a standard of right.
This implies that there is a standard of right that one should conform to. Yes, we all may not agree on the particular details of that standard, but I think deep down, we probably have more area that we agree on than disagree. Even those who don’t conform to the standard will agree on a right and wrong, they just usually have a reason or justification of why they might have deviated from the standard.
The second part of that definition is: a particular moral excellence.
Morality or having morals is about a system of principles or rules of conduct, and if having virtue is on the ‘excellence’ side of our rules of conduct then that means that someone is conducting themselves better or higher than whatever standard is normal. And we usually respect those people who are able to live at a higher standard because we all know that being ‘excellent’ is more difficult. Making a choice between something easy and hard is difficult, so choosing to be excellent is usually the hard side.
The other two definitions of virtue that I think are interesting to be both part of the same word are:
- manly strength or courage
- chastity especially in a woman
It appears to me that most concepts in the world today associated with manly strength or courage would not be associated with chastity. In fact, probably the opposite, which is why I think the word virtue should be used more often, so that people can connect these two concepts: that real manly strength, courage or valor involves protecting the chastity of women.