Virtues: 2 Filters, 3 Pillars, & Many Authors

In the general population, why are virtues felt to be synonymous with tiresome, tense, dour, “unfun,” and (f)rigid? Only “very weakly” associated with “advantage?”

A little while back, I mentioned the word virtues in a wildhunt blog haloscan comment. Linked the word to one of my pages. Not one curious individual wandered over and at least took a look. I quizzed others, asking for their frank emotional reaction to just the word. Why does the word “virtues” operate like a turn-off button even in religious communities that contain the “undogmatic,” unless it comes from a religious leader/author as part of a religious package (examples: “NNV” or “12 Virtues of the Druids“) or is presented it within a revolutionary/trendy (for now) image? Such presentations are fantastic but it seems so easy for people to forget that virtues aren’t proprietary!

I strongly associate virtues with joy, curiosity, imagination, intellectual plasticity, advantage, excellence, and L.U.C.K. (laboring under correct knowledge). “Why not excellence? ” is an ADF Druid (I’m eclectic) motto I like because of such associations.

Cognition | Imagination | Virtues

So…if imagination is the virtue that bridges cognition and other virtues (scroll down to the bottom of wikipedia’s page on imagination to see this bridge), I’d like to imagine (instead of apathy repetitively answered with proprietary clarity) recognizing virtues as common ground even though people across the globe teach, define, stress, and associate them a bit differently.

Every man and woman is a star in a lot of ways but also in that we all author virtues through our daily actions — they’re demonstrative living things rather than merely doled out to us in prepackaged lists, as much as I like to explore such lists eclectically.

Two filters. First filter; to reference one of Jaron Lanier‘s pet topics/filters, one could look at ‘virtues as doled out to us in proprietary lists from leaders/authors’ vs. ‘virtues as demonstrably authored by each’ in a top-down/bottom-up conundrum sort of way. Second filter; you could also look at this through the pluralism vs. dualism filter — virtues get murky and trampled if we give in to pack behavior and follow certain leaders/lists like dogs — we need to demonstrably author virtues while standing on the shoulders of greats and geniuses, if we’re to have the best virtue-al cogency. Any way you look at it, a reasonable conclusion is that “successes usually come from a mixing of top-down and bottom-up approaches,” so, as for lists, I’m not happy with just one list from one religion. I’ve had to look at many of them and I happen to think that joy and lust (not limited to sexual lust!) are also virtues, if done well, as are other emotions, including anger.

Three pillars. Reason, experience, and intuition.

Virtues. “They must withstand analytical scrutiny, comport to our every-day experience, and ring true in our hearts.” — Fiacharrey

Living virtues…parents, teachers, artists and practitioners of magic invoke and evoke an array of virtues all the time, they just might not call them that.

Courage, Imagination, Mutually Earned Trust, Mutual Support, Accountability/Responsibility, Excellence in Education, Excellence in Communication, Resourcefulness, Mutually Earned Courtesy & Respect, Fairness, Cooperative Measures, Honesty, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-Reliance, Industriousness, & Perseverance…

Potentially fun, witty, juicy and a lot of other things, virtues are to EQ as words are to paragraphs, hence how I wrote NNV: Fidelity is a Web of Virtues. The more cogent the connections, the fewer avoidable problems people make for themselves and others. Conversely, someone is more likely to commit dishonest and evil acts, or suffer such from others, if they can’t or won’t make various connections. I wish I could say that there is a neat correlation between IQ and a system of cogent virtues, but there isn’t, though sufficient and applied intelligence helps, as does some reflection. This is something I had to grapple with and wrap my head around as a former incest and domestic abuse victim, because how could otherwise very intelligent people abuse me like that, how could I have married an abuser (first marriage) if I “knew” about abuse, and how can it affect generations? Aren’t people smarter than that? This is much of the impetus behind writing about abuse, learned empowerment, power paradigm shifts, and other related topics.

Virtues Resources

Virtues & Power Paradigms — Virtues as common ground (one of my blog pages).
Cult of Character — Watch out for cults of character!
Character First Template — Virtues of certain religious leanings that they’d like to be taught in American School systems (as part of blatant crypto-theocracy, heh).
The Dangerous Leanings of Bill Gothard’s Teachings — Virtues belong to us all. No one has a monopoly on them.
• cf. 1 Corinthians 3:21, 22 — Virtues are not owned/defined only by some.
SSB’s Resources for Ethics and Morality in Modern Pagan ReligionsExtensive!!! — Enter “virtues” here and you’ll get many different lists.

— sari0009

The above was cross-posted here.

About Karen A. Scofield

Eclectic. Artist. Engage me in conversation on message boards, in comment threads or in person prior to sending any online chat/friend invites. Thank you.
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6 Responses to Virtues: 2 Filters, 3 Pillars, & Many Authors

  1. I like this thank you. I have been meditating on virtues right now. And this brought new light to some.

  2. sari0009 says:

    You’re welcome. I’ve been studying the topic for years (since ’94/’95) and would love to hear some dialogue on it from many aspects, from personal to the big picture.

  3. ibonewits says:

    Virtues are a big topic among Druids, Asatruar, and various other Reconstructionist Pagans. Thanks for all the links!

  4. sari0009 says:

    They sure are. You’re welcome (I was quite taken by the wealth of links on so many sites).

  5. Hi Sari,
    Interesting that you should be taking an interest in Virtues from a pagan perspective; it is a topic dear to my own heart as well. Therefore I have written a book about it!

    “The Other Side of Virtue”
    published by O Books / John Hunt publishing co.

    More information can be found on my web site:
    or in the Books section of

    The release date is 25th July, 2008, but Amazon has now opened up for pre-orders.

    And you may be delighted to know that the book doesn’t offer a new “list” of virtues for people to obey. Rather, I explain the historical origin of the pagan concept of virtue, and show how that original concept survived and changed through history. Then I explore its deep logical structure,

    (by the way, I got Isaac’s permission to plug my book here. :-)

  6. sari0009 says:

    Perk! Totally awesome. Sounds as if you have the type of approach I’d, and many others like me, can really appreciate!

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