Do you consider honesty a virtue? You wouldn’t be the only one. Admirable virtues have been defined and broken down throughout history by philosophers, psychologists and religion. Get the details on what it takes to be virtuous through reviewing examples of admirable virtues. Inspect how virtues are related to ethics, morals and values, too!
Reading a book, you might wonder about the virtues of the hero. Many times, a hero is brave or wise. But, what makes an admirable virtue?
By definition, a virtue is a thought or action that is righteous or of high moral ground. It is a good quality that you or someone you know possesses. For example, you might think of your grandfather’s wisdom as a virtue. Your friend’s kindness can also be a good moral virtue.
Traverse through history and subjects to find out some of the best examples of moral virtues to have.
All virtues aren’t created equal. Or are they? When it comes to virtues, Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman breaks them down into six basic categories. These include:
- Knowledge - your perspective on life and love of learning
- Courage - persistence and bravery in situations
- Humanity - appreciation of others and the world
- Transcendence - appreciation of art and spirituality
- Justice - your sense of fairness
- Moderation - thoughts of modesty and control
Each of these categories are then broken down into more specific virtues, like creativity, love, kindness, humor and more.
Psychologists aren’t the only ones who have highlighted important virtues. Philosophers have too. Check out some famous virtue examples from Aristotle and Confucius.
Aristotle is one of the greatest and best known of the ancient Greek philosophers. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle named intellect and morality as the main categories of virtue. He further broke them down into 12 important virtues. Each of the virtues is meant to be expressed in moderation, or “the Golden Mean,” as a virtuous person avoids excesses and deficiencies.
- Courage - including valor and bravery
- Temperance - restraint and controlling one’s self
- Liberality - generosity to others
- Magnificence - spending great sums for honor’s sake
- Pride - ambition, worthy of great things
- Magnanimity - healthy belief in one’s own value
- Good Temper - keeping a level head, patient
- Friendliness - sociable to others
- Truthfulness - being straightforward and honest
- Wit - a sense of humor and joy
- Modesty - neither shy nor shameless
- Justice - having a fair mind and a sense of right and wrong
Not to be topped by the Greeks, the Chinese offer a set of philosophical virtues for humans to live by as well. Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who emphasized morality and correctness in his teachings. The five Confucian virtues cover:
- Ren - charity and humility
- Yi - honesty
- Zhi - knowledge and wisdom
- Xin - faithfulness
- Li - politeness and propriety
Both philosophers also clarified that balance between virtues was key. Having too much or not enough of each virtue was undesirable. For example, too little magnificence could lead to pettiness, while too much could lead to vulgarity.
It makes sense that you can find several examples of admirable virtues in religious texts like the Bible. Dive into several examples of religious virtues.
Called the “Fruit of the Spirit,” Galatians 5:22-23 breaks down virtues that are considered gifts for humankind. These gifts are what keep a person moral and just in their thinking. These admirable virtues include:
- Love - love in overs and yourself
- Joy - finding joy in the world and in God
- Peace - calmness in yourself and God
- Forbearance - patience and perseverance
- Kindness - having moral integrity
- Goodness - be generous to others
- Faithfulness - being trustworthy to others and being faithful to your savior
- Gentleness - humility and grace in situations
- Self-Control - controlling desires
These virtues are then reiterated throughout several areas in the Bible. For example, peace can be seen in Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” You can see the virtue of kindness in Proverbs 11:17, “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.”
Another religion that clarified important virtues was Sikhism. Sikhism, a monotheistic religion of the 15th century, breaks down the virtues and evils of the world. Sikh virtues include:
- Sat (truthfulness) - being just to others
- Santokh (contentment) - happiness in yourself and God’s Will (Hukam)
- Daya (compassion) - empathy toward others
- Nimrata (humility) - keeping ego in check
- Pyare (love) - caring for all creatures
When it comes to religious virtues, they’re typically contrasted with sins. Whereas to love is considered a virtue, to hate may be considered a sin. Just like diet and exercise, when you think of virtues, it is important to seek balance.
Virtues have a relationship to your ethics, morals and values. The virtues that you hold are typically based on them.
- Since values describe your ability to determine right and wrong, you develop a sense of justice or humility from your experiences or upbringing.
- Your morals emerge from your values to create a belief system you follow. This could be a personal, ethnic or even religious belief system.
- Morals will then guide your code of ethics. Your ethics define specific rules and guidelines to follow in life.
All of these combine create a person’s character traits. You can then categorize or describe those character traits as virtues that a person might possess.
When you think of virtues, you might think of heroes in books. But, admirable virtues are all around us in everyday people and everyday interactions. It is simply a question of whether you have the integrity to follow yours.