What Is Virtue Anyway?
Can we select and manage our own virtues?
The Thesaurus in Merriam Webster defines virtue as such:
But I like to define virtue as such:
a quality that you either have or want to have in yourself
In the traditional sense, this ‘special worth’ of Merriam Webster is socially given. If any qualities in a person of any given time and place is deemed worthy and ‘good’ by the society, that quality ends up being a virtue. But I don’t think that it should be the case. An individual should be allowed to determine what virtue he/she would want in themselves and fight or convince others that the virtue they have selected is more worthy then the one prevalent if that is not the case. It is about fighting for the true against prejudice.
While we’re critiquing traditional thinking, I am reminded of one Nietzsche from the 19th century.
In his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche says one should ideally have only one virtue. Saying how qualities evolved from the maturity of one’s passion is the best route to discovering one’s virtue, he also goes on to say that while it is illustrious to have multiple virtues, it is a hard ask. He says multiple virtues will eventually envy each other as they all vie for the highest position within you.
But I think multiple virtues can be managed together. For that to be possible though, we need generalization and a little act of symbolism.
At this moment, I want to share my virtues with you. (Not what I have, but what I seek in me.)
These virtues as of now are:
Now, what I did to make sure these qualities I want to have in me won’t fight and compete with each other as Nietzsche warned, I have used symbolism to turn all three into one.
First, let me quickly define what I mean by those words above.
Calmness for me is the quieting of thoughts such that they go about slowly, gently and smoothly.
Strength for me is when your thoughts stop and ignore fearly emotions. Strength is when your own thoughts dominate and beat the hell out of petty and harmful thoughts.
Depth for me is thoughts reaching the root of everything it encounters.
I initially didn’t want to write and publish this article because all this is my personal work in progress and I may not have the same thinking about these things tomorrow as of now. But then I wanted to go ahead and do it, for reasons I do not know yet.
Well then, with that out of the way, I want to talk about the generalizing and the symbolizing.
I searched for a single thing (symbol) that would successfully have all the three qualities I have in it.
What could that be which is calm, strong and deep? — And then I got it:
Ocean surfaces can be calm. Oceans are mighty strong. Oceans are seriously deep.
Okay, I do know how ocean surfaces are violent and disturbing too! Just like our thoughts. But since we are humans, we can decide how we would want the waters to flow.
Take a look at this for once:
I want that in me.