VIRTUE AND NATURE OF VIRTUE

Virtue indicates excellence. Virtues, thus, are good traits of character and vices are bad traits of character.  NATURE OF VIRTUE BY AYUSH HEALTH AND WELLNESS™

We pass moral judgments on man's voluntary actions, his intentions or motives, and finally on his character. Thus, one of the objects of our moral judgment is the character of a human being. The character of a man is the organization of man's sentiments, qualities, attitudes, and habits. It is during the formation process and transformation. Though it is not fixed, it is permanent integration of psychological traits and moral virtues.

Normative ethics, therefore, analyses the moral qualities or attributes, which constitute the moral character of a human being. Such qualities are called virtues. Etymologically, the word ‘vir’ means hero. The Sanskrit word ‘vira’ also means hero. Prof. P.B. Chatterjee in this connection writes The English word, ‘virtue’ corresponds to the Latin ‘virtus’ and Sanskrit ‘virya’ meaning valour or manliness, power, energy, or excellence. For the Greeks also, virtue indicates excellence. Virtues, thus, are good traits of the character and vices are bad traits of character. Virtues as good traits of character can be and must be deliberately cultivated. They make for the survival and well-being of the human individual and also that of society.

Human beings admire the qualities of a person who possesses them and exhibits them in his dealings with others and difficult situations. So they can also be called  the good habits of human beings. It is, therefore, rightly said that moral life does not grow in a vacuum. Good life or moral life is developed through habitual or regular doing good deeds or actions in changing situations. The character and conduct of a man are intimately related. The conduct of a man is the expression of his character in varied situations. In contrast, the moral character of a person is formed when he performs good actions consistently and persistently. For instance, one can become dutiful by doing ones duty honestly and efficiently. So a verse goes:

Sow a thought, reap an action;
Sow an act, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny.

In this way, virtues can be cultivated and can be termed as character-values. Since virtues can be cultivated, they can also be described as the acquired dispositions of a virtuous person. Hence, virtues denote the excellence of human character, while vices are the defects of character. These virtues, in other words, refer to the inner traits of man's being. So they constitute the morality of being, while duty and good actions refer to the morality of doing. One simple but profound message of any great man is 'Be good and do good', and the way to be good is through the doing of good actions consistently.

Duties are obligatory actions. A man does his duty. Virtue refers to the moral quality of a person. We, therefore, correctly say that a particular person is virtuous if he possesses good qualities. Such a virtuous person is not only good but he also does good deeds. He does not take holidays from virtues. The existence of virtues in a person is inferred from the habitual good conduct of that person. One must choose to be virtuous and pursue the path of good and right actions. Virtues promote the well being of their possessors and also of their society, while vices run counter to the welfare of their possessors.

Thus, man uses reason to determine the mean. Virtues can be cultivated only through the practice of choosing and doing good deeds, and through good habits. The difficulty in selecting the proper mean. This means is not a mathematical average. It is what is appropriate for a man. Practical wisdom helps man hit this mean. An individual knows ‘what ought to be’ using his insight which can be developed by practice. Passions can be tamed by the continuous practice of self-control. Virtue consists of the choice of mean that is practical moderation of impulses by reason in actual human experiences. Morality consists of the right determination and identification of the ‘mean’ related to the individual in society i.e. his profession and position in society. E.g. “Courage” of a soldier. It must be distinguished from the rashness. Moreover, the life of virtues leads to eudaimonia (well-being).

There can be no two opinions about the significance and need for virtues for promoting a morally good life. Actual morality consists in doing good deeds, and virtues are good traits or habits of character, which are productive of good works and right conduct. These good traits or virtues in turn can be cultivated through the doing of good deeds and acting on moral principles. Virtue is a matter of habit. Reason and experience play a major role in choosing the right actions or in hitting the mean and avoiding extremes. Hence, the importance of both intellectual and moral virtues.



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AYUSH HEALTH AND WELLNESS™

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