Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Seven Cardinal Virtues

The first stop on our journey of exploration concerning virtues is "The Seven Cardinal Virtues". This list of virtues was initially derived from Plato.

Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher who lived approximately 400 before Christ. Plato himself was a student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. He was considered to be one of the great thinkers of his time.

Among the seven cardinal virtues were four which were considered "cardinal", a term which comes from the Latin word cardo meaning hinge. The cardinal virtues are called this because they are the hinge upon which the door of a moral life swings.

The other three virtues are considered theological virtues. They are called this because the object of the virtue is the divine being (Theos). The other four virtues at their extreme have vices and are only virtues when they are kept in between the extremes. For these three virtues, faith, hope and love, when God is the object of them, there is no vice in having an unlimited amount.

The Seven Cardinal Virtues: (taken from Wikipedia)

Prudence - proper judgment of reasons for action with regard to appropriateness in a context.

Justice - proper judgment regarding individual human interests and rights.

Restraint or Temperance - practicing self-control, abstention and moderation.

Courage or Fortitude - forbearance, endurance and ability to confront fear and uncertainty or intimidation.

Faith - steadfastness in belief

- expectation of good

Love or Charity - selfless, unconditional and voluntary loving-kindness

I will stop with this today... Tomorrow we will begin to consider each virtue, what they mean to us and how we can practically apply them to our daily life.

Please leave a comment and tell me what these mean to you and how they have worked or changed your own life.


Anonymous said...

I've gotta admit, you've got me befuddled on this one, Sherri. I can see studying the fruits of the Spirit, but I'm trying to figure out what led you to study the seven cardinal virtues.

As you stated, they originated with Plato, a Greek philosopher. They were developed by St. Thomas Aquinas, the main proponent of scholasticism, whose purpose was to "reconcile the Christian theology of the Church Fathers with the Greek philosophy of Aristotle and his commentators."

In contrast to being salt and light, this school sought to integrate human philosophy with Christianity, and introduced much leaven into the church.

Wattcha thinkin', sister?

Sherri Watt said...

Thanks GaGa,

I know it seems weird but I do believe we can take some good from the study of the virtues themselves, which is where I am going. Then on to the 7 seven deadly sins vs the seven heavenly virtues.

In a society that is morally bankrupt I believe it benefits us to look at what a virtuous person should be.


Anonymous said...

No doubt society is morally bankrupt, but that's because they don't have the Holy Spirit to transform them into the image of Christ.

If we simply tell people the right things to do, I think we're apt to just create more white-washed hypocrites, and our churches have enough of those.

I once had a discussion with a Christian counselor, who said he never discussed God or Jesus with a client unless they brought it up. My counter was that teaching people how to behave properly wasn't going to get anyone into heaven. How can we preach Christ crucified without pointing to Christ? How can we build a Christian house on a worldly foundation?

I know there are many good Christians that would agree with you on this, but I'm not one of them. I've been accused of being a purist and it's true - perhaps because before I was a Christian, I held many good, moral beliefs that brought me no closer to Christ.

God bless you, Sherri. We don't have to agree on everything.

Sherri Watt said...


I would ask you only to see where I go with it. I don't think you will be disappointed.

I am not concerned with what Plato had to say about these virtues but what God has to say about them.

Read todays post.