Sunday, 25 February 2007

Educating in the Virtues (5)

The one aspect of this I have not yet mentioned is the importance of habit.

What we are striving for is a habitual virtuous response.

Clearly the ideal is for an individual to consider each situation and choose a virtuous response. However, in reality, much of the time we do not stop and consider each situation - we react quickly and habitually. Which is why cultivating habits of virtues is important.

For example, I have a good friend who has the virtuous habit of only saying positive things about others, unless there is a genuine reason to say something negative (eg to offer a warning).

I would love my kids to have that virtue (not one I have yet cultivated myself, alas).

The key to developing habits, of course, is repetition. So exercising the virtues is like any other exercise: done regularly, it increases the strength of the particular virtue.

A great read on all this is C S Lewis' 'The Abolition of Man'.

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