Friday, October 31, 2014

Modern virtues

...[T]he problem isn’t that we no longer live in an age concerned with virtue. The problem is that we have organized ourselves around the wrong virtues.

Did I say “wrong”? Sorry. That’s so judgmental. So let’s call them, instead, the “modern” virtues. There are, by my count, seven cardinal modern virtues:
  • Freedom
  • Convenience
  • Progress
  • Equality
  • Authenticity
  • Health
  • Nonjudgmentalism
These are the characteristics modern society most prizes and has begun to organize its strictures around. Often with nonsensical results.

For example, the writer Mary Eberstadt notes that we live at a bizarre moment when it is nearly impossible to speak with any moral judgment about sexual practices—but a great deal of moral and philosophical energy is spent on the subject of food. You wouldn’t dare say that someone ought not put this part there with that person. And you wouldn’t say it because (a) your peers would think you a troglodyte and (b) you don’t really think it’s wrong. It’s just a lifestyle choice. Maybe it’s not for you, but who are you to judge? Food, on the other hand, is different. It’s morally elevated to eat organic grains and eggs that come from cage-free hens. You’re a better person if you only eat locally grown produce. A better person still if you don’t eat meat. ....
The essays:
PART I: THE CARDINAL VIRTUES
Chapter 1: "The Seven Deadly Virtues and the New York Times" by P.J. O'Rourke
Chapter 2: "Prudence: Long Live the Queen" by Andrew Ferguson
Chapter 3: "Justice: The One Virtue Nobody Really Wants" by Rob Long
Chapter 4: "Courage: The Rise of 'Shelter in Place' America" by Michael Graham
Chapter 5: "Temperance: The Deadliest Virtue" by Andrew Stiles
Chapter 6: "Hope: Chicago is a Place Called Hope" by David Burge
Chapter 7: "Charity: You Can't Give This Stuff Away" by Mollie Hemingway
Chapter 8: "Faith: The Eleventh Commandment" by Larry Miller
PART II: THE EVERYDAY VIRTUES
Chapter 9: "Chastity: The Final Taboo" by Matt Labash
Chapter 10: "Simplicity or the Many-Splendored Virtues of Hoarding" by James Lileks
Chapter 11: "Thrift: The Un-American Virtue" by Joe Queenan
Chapter 12: "Honesty: It's Absolutely the Best Policy (Sometimes)" by Rita Koganzon
Chapter 13: "Fellowship: Reach Out and Touch Someone" by Christine Rosen
Chapter 14: "Forbearance: Opting Out of the Politicized Life" by Sonny Bunch
Chapter 15: "Integrity: Living by the Code of the Superman" by Jonah Goldberg
Chapter 16: "Curiosity: Maybe the Cat Got What It Had Coming" by Christopher Caldwell