Finishing at the time around the Age of enlightenment, the virtues are once again analyzed with d’Holbach and Kant. Paul-Henri Thiry (Baron) d’Holbach (1723-1789) a French Enlightenment philosopher valued perseverance above the rest in order to attain happiness; keeping one’s interests in mind, especially the act of seeking morality due to what it bears, and their own moral code in light of the ignorance a person expresses when they are immoral.
And through that, temperance is also valued for keeping moderation of the vices in life, such as wine and good food. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is one of the most influential philosophers in the history of western philosophy and will not be analyzed for what virtues he sought after, since he had no blatant ones. Kant systemized nearly all he could with his thinking and anything from courage to happiness can’t be on the same terms as another person would have, and virtues are to be set in stone with what they are dealing with and in time immemorial.
Thus it all comes down to two things; the good will which is constant for any person when expressed and Kant’s ethical formula, the Categorical Imperative: act as if the maxim (general rule by which you act) could be willed to become a universal law; the belief that what is right for one person is also right fore everyone in similar circumstances. It is then applicable with good will backing the formula.
And if a virtue would need to be stated, Kant’s defining virtue would be wisdom, seeing the bad and good in all things, but even more so, his formula is applicable to nearly any action as a more sophisticated “Golden Rule” with a scientific mindset. The Enlightenment was chosen for the fact that the age was the rise of scientific thinking, its true rebirth. With that, it would be considered contradictory to a pure philosophical search, though that thought would be wrong, seeing how talk of virtue and of man was indeed present.
d’Holbach speaks of perseverance as the ultimate virtue only being limited by temperance in accordance with that which is right and would be used to gain true happiness; both virtues are the same which the Confucian “gentleman” holds. Continuing with d’Holbach, a moral code is then set by the person implicating his ways and with that an ambiguous case is formed concerning the “gentleman” based on the person’s moral code which they’d establish.
As for Kant, he understood the values of virtue, as well as knowing that there are different methods in attaining the virtues, and thus his Categorical Imperative along with a man’s good will, virtue can be attained. Present Virtues Contrary to the previous methods of analysis, for the present to be viewed and understood in the “current” time, interviews will be taken instead of information from texts or sites, in order to truly get a grasp on the present day characteristics of “man” in the present society of the day. Q1: A virtue is defined as “a conformity of ones life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
” With knowing that, what are your DEFINING virtues? Then list 5 virtues you’d wish to have. Out of all ten interviews, 16 different virtues were generated; the virtues with the most appearance being honesty, love, respect, integrity, dependable, loyal, honorable, prideful and courage. The virtues that were unique in answer were that of charisma (M. , Muscai, personal communication, November 12, 2009) and Patience accompanied with dedication (H. , Ismail, personal communication, November 12, 2009). Q2: What should a man do to attain happiness?
A variety of answers were given with only one answer being repeated multiple times, that being to work diligently at 100% at all times, seeing how one gains happiness through hard work and struggle (C. , Rosario, personal communication, November 12, 2009, & J. , Ordaz Sr. , personal communication November 13, 2009). Another answer that was unique was “love and be loved in return,” seeing the link between this and Confucius’ reciprocity (J. Gonzalez, personal communication, November 13, 2009). Q3: What non-materialistic thing do you value above the rest? Such as a feeling or characteristic.
Love, friendship and honor were the answers across the board, the most to the least respectively. Q4: What would you be willing to sacrifice for the aforementioned non-materialistic thing to keep it? Each interviewee was willing to sacrifice all material possessions, with a few of them being wiling to sacrifice their own lives, one such person willing enough for the sake of remembrance in the light of the answers in question 3 (J. , Ordaz Sr. , personal communication November 13, 2009). Q5: List the characteristics, morals, values and virtues that you think a “gentleman” has or should have.
A variety of answers were generated; the ones which appeared the most being loving, honorable, humble, honest, loyal, well spoken, compassionate, trustworthy, generous, respectable and willing to sacrifice. Another unique answer was made, “a gentleman follows the Golden Rule” (M. , Antillon, personal communication, November 13, 2009). The present day “man” is charismatic for upholding his integrity, loyalty, pride and honor; delivering respect where respect is due; he is a man that can be depended on to weather through almost any problem.
Through hard work and diligence along with a heart to love and be loved in return, he is able to achieve happiness; it is that same love, as well as friendship and honor, that is valued the most; and any, if not all, material possessions would be sacrificed for those sine qua nons, those essentials to a man’s life, and even if the materials aren’t enough, his life would be willingly given. And above all, he must follow the Golden Rule. That is the “Gentleman” of the present day. Conclusion
The in depth perception of virtue and the entity which encompasses all the best virtues to be considered the ultimate state for man, the Confucian “Gentleman”, was first derived over two millennia ago in the East by Confucius. Since then the ideas of virtue had stretched outward in the metaphysical world and other philosophers were able to make of it what they wanted and walls were built slowly. The earliest successors of the philosophical world heading westward were the Platonists, their virtues the same as Confucius’ without the term of “the gentleman” being implemented as much in the East.
To uphold their virtues through an accepted justice to reach happiness for their love of knowledge and the world and help those amongst them learn and persevere, controlling themselves in their desires and wanting to reach near perfection as man. A “True Man” was then questioned in the middle ages, and Aquinas deduced that the “man” should be prudent in nature, limited by his temperance with all things worldly and show courage in all areas, from forgiving to acceptance and uphold justice.
The scientific era then saw “man” in a more general sense, acknowledging that each man is an individual and to reach virtue through the exact same methods would be preposterous yet in the end, it was reasoned by both Enlightenment thinkers, that by the strife for personal happiness, one must show good will towards others and implicate the Categorical Imperative to set what is right as right in accordance to the virtues which are set in stone as being thus.
Although a formula needed to be exercised, that “man” can be achieved. The Confucian “Gentleman” after two millennia, through time altering stages within the world, has indeed survived. Each era believed the man to be in accordance with integrity, generosity, sincerity, persistence, benevolence, humility, magnanimity, diligence and graciousness. Be it achieved through lectures, doctrines, or formulas, it has survived despite the barriers between the two different societies, cultures and multiple philosophies.
And though that is said, it must be stated that the interviews for the present were composed of a majority of males, with only two women contributing to the questions, thus it must then be speculated to whether the “Gentleman” in the yes of a woman still exist to present day, as well as analyzing philosophies from women in the past and see that view point as well.
Also, Confucius admitted to not being on the same caliber as the “Gentleman” he described, and the question arises if the philosophies of virtue and the essence of what a man should be, given by the men of old, were able to state their definitions and for that to be taken critically and as the truth to become a “True Man/Gentleman. ” Even then though, the Confucian Gentleman isn’t set in stone; every man tries to sculpt himself in that image; and despite time, the same slab of marble remains chiseled but unfinished, with the Muse of the Gentleman changing in form too.