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The lessons of morality and religion in a novel

Character Strengths and Virtues: Your next choice is very different: First let me say why I shifted gears from Dostoevsky to contemporary psychology.

Les Misérables

My thought in putting together this list was to pick some central fields — like philosophy, literature and, in this case, psychology — and try to choose the best one or two books I could in those fields. Even though I am a philosopher, much of my work on character draws heavily from psychology, and I spent years leading The Character Project which tried to foster interdisciplinary work between the two fields.

It was published in 2004, and was key to launching the entire positive psychology movement. Today that movement has a major journal, a leading institute, the VIA Institute, and hundreds of publications coming out every year. Much of the work today continues to be informed by the 2004 book.

It includes traits like kindness, fairness and hope. In order to come up with their list, they drew upon the help of over 50 experts on character, and poured over the writings of religions and philosophies worldwide. Then, using 10 different criteria they devised, they were able to cut down their huge list of character traits to this list of 24.

  1. Aristotle defines ethical virtue as lying in a mean between excess and defect, and the mean is determined by the person of practical wisdom actually the male, since Aristotle is sexist on this point.
  2. There has, however, been less consensus on the question of how to justify human rights.
  3. In Heidegger, as in Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, it is hard to find a positive or constructive ethics.
  4. The Guide of the Perplexed was written for young men who had read Aristotle and were worried about the tension between the views of the philosopher and their faith.

It has become something of a standard taxonomy for studying character ever since. For instance, humility has had something of a chequered past in the West, with Aristotle not much of a fan and Christianity quite the opposite. Given the scholarship that went into producing the list of 24 character strengths, there is a strong case for at least taking each of them seriously.

  • Of these three, he rejected the first, on the grounds that no concrete ethical principles are self-evident, and that when they conflict as they do we have to take consequences into account in order to decide how to act;
  • Thus he believed, like Hegel, in progress through history towards freedom, but he thought it would take Communist revolution to bring this about.

Are Peterson and Seligman suggesting that these are subjective qualities, and are a conceptual way of thinking about personalities? Or do they mean these are discrete, measurable traits like intelligence?

It has ten items for researchers to use in measuring each strength, so 240 total items. Either this entire survey or shorter variations of it have been widely employed for years by researchers in positive psychology. One area of interest has been to see what correlations exist between how people rate themselves on a given character strength, and other important variables like subjective well-being, mood, health, exercise, criminal behaviour, and so forth.

And are our scores in these qualities or strengths something that we can improve upon through training?

Religion and Morality

Positive psychologists would tend to say yes. Our characters are not fixed in stone. They are malleable, although change is slow and gradual and it may take months if not years in order for people to show significant improvement.

To the extent that the VIA-IS is a good measure of character strengths, then it should be able to track these changes over time. And keep in mind that change can happen in either direction, so people can gradually become worse, morally speaking, too.

  1. The other major order of friars, the Franciscan, had its own school of philosophy, starting with Bonaventure c. His life in particular was a service to god, he thought, because his testing of the wisdom of others was carrying out Apollo's charge given by the oracle at Delphi, implicit in the startling pronouncement that he was the wisest man in Greece Apology, 21a-d.
  2. He thought this solution was both necessary and sufficient to remove the contradiction in ethics. Disputes about political authority in the period after Mohammad's death led to the split between Sunnis and Shiites.
  3. The church came to talk about one person with two natures, the person standing under the natures.
  4. To live authentically is to realize both that we create these tasks for ourselves, and that they are futile.
  5. His life in particular was a service to god, he thought, because his testing of the wisdom of others was carrying out Apollo's charge given by the oracle at Delphi, implicit in the startling pronouncement that he was the wisest man in Greece Apology, 21a-d. Within Sunni Muslim ethical theory in the Middle Ages two major alternative ways developed of thinking about the relation between morality and religion.

I would love to see a lot more work done on designing very practical initiatives to foster character improvement. Can you tell me briefly about the aims of positive psychology? I am not an expert on positive psychology, but I think it is fair to say that at the turn of the century, Seligman, Peterson, Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, and others thought psychology was overly concerned with problems, diseases, and flaws.

  • Then, using 10 different criteria they devised, they were able to cut down their huge list of character traits to this list of 24;
  • The only thing we can know about morals is that we get pleasure from the thought of some things and pain from the thought of others;
  • A different account of natural law is found in Porter, who in Nature as Reason 2005 retains the view that our final motivation is our own happiness and perfection, but rejects the view that we can deduce absolute action-guiding moral principles from human nature;
  • He thought he could provide a scientific calculus of pleasures, where the unit that stays constant is the minimum state of sensibility that can be distinguished from indifference;
  • In particular, we are required to believe in God, freedom and immortality;
  • He takes the commandments inside the heart; for example, we are required not merely not to murder, but not to be angry, and not merely not to commit adultery, but not to lust see Ezekiel 11:

In the process, it was neglecting other areas of human concern that deeply mattered to people, such as virtue, happiness, flow, psychological health, flourishing, purpose, and meaning.