Moral Wisdom or prudence may be defined as the proper connection among the end or goal of an action, the means to achieve it, and the judgment to act upon it, such that the result is a morally satisfying outcome.
WISDOM OR PRUDENCE PERFECTS CHARACTER VISION MORAL SENTIMENT p R U D E N C E DELIBERATION VIRTUE MORAL STRENGTH JUDGEMENT
Wisdom is the perfection of the various aspects of moral competence It perfects the desire to do the good by developing a robust sense of the good life, a moral vision. It perfects virtuous behavior by guiding it deliberatively towards the proper moral ends and means. It perfects moral strength by helping to making the right decisions.
The General Characteristics of Wisdom Reasoning ability A clear, logical mind, a storehouse of infor- mation and learning, with an ability to apply these to the solution of a particular problem Sagacity A good understanding of themselves and others.
Learning capacity They attach importance to ideas; they learn from other people’s mistakes, as well as their own; they seek out detailed information; they change their mind on the basis of experience and knowledge; they feel they can learn from others; they are not afraid to admit mistakes; they correct their mistakes, learn, and then go on; they seek the counsel of others.
Perspicacity Good intuitions, discernment and insight; they offer solutions that are on the side of right and truth. Good character They are self-honest, considerate of others, and have genuine concern for people; they are fair, and listen to all sides of an issue; they are modest.
Good judgment They are sensible, and think before they act, speak or make decisions; they are able to take the long view into consideration.
How is prudence or wisdom acquired? 1. one must have acquired a virtuous character. 2. maturity of the faculties of judgment and understanding. 3. experience in making moral deliberations and decisions. 4. an understanding of the ways of the world; a savoir-faire. 5. intellectual insight, intuition, observation and discernment.
Prudence and practical reasoning is concerned with connecting means and ends in a manner that leads to good moral outcomes. Practical reasoning is concerned, then, with: The end of an action The means to an end The decision to act, to initiate those means.
In its most general sense, wisdom and practical reasoning are concerned with: Vision--the ends of action Deliberation--or the consideration of means to ends. Judgement--or decisions about when and what to do in light of some end or goal.
This helps to characterize the various aspects of moral wisdom: Deliberation is concerned with determining the best moral means to attain a good end. Moral Vision is a sense of the good life. JUDGMENT Judgement is choice concerning the best moral course of action. DELIBERATION MORAL VISION
The person who is morally wise, then, is someone who has the proper vision of the good life, knows the best moral means for attaining it, and has the right character and strength of will to act upon what must be done.
Moral vision is one part of wisdom of wisdom or prudence.
Moral Vision is concerned with articulating a sense of the good life. Deliberation is concerned with determining the best moral means to attain a good end. JUDGMENT DELIBERATION Judgement is choice concerning the best moral course of action. MORAL VISION
. . Some characteristics of Moral Vision: 1. According to Aristotle it is the sense of the good life, a view of what is best in our lives, or an idea of happiness. . . . . 2. According to Plato, without moral vision one is direction-less, and interested in only satisfying our lower needs. . . 3. Thomas Sowell calls visions maps; they are cognitive, but pre-analytic --it is what we sense about the world before we have constructed any systematic reasoning about it.
A Moral Vision is layered. It typically consists of a Cosmic Vision, that is, a sense of the moral order of the cosmos. It also involves a Public Vision, a sense of the common good, themoral quality of the origin, history and direction of the society one lives in. Finally, it consists in an individual sense of the good life, as set in the context of these other two aspects of moral vision. COSMIC VISION PUBLIC VISION SENSE OF THE GOOD LIFE
Cosmic Vision 1. In most cultures a cosmic vision of the world is ex- pressed primarily in terms of myths and stories. 2. A cosmic vision attempts to explain how things came to be the way they are, and how they continue to be ordered. 3. A myth is a narrative, and a narrative conveys certain moral qualities by: a. the order of events in the story. b. the outcome of the story. c. the various roles agents play in the story. d. the character of the agents relative to these roles.
Cosmic Vision Synopsis of Genesis Creation Story God (Yahweh) creates the world out of a formless void. First light is created , then light separated from darkness. The upper waters are separated from lower waters. Dry land is separated from water. Vegetation is created by type. Days and nights follow in ordered sequence. The sun and the stars are created. Sea, air and land creatures are created. Human beings are made last.
Cosmic Vision A Tlingit Creation Tale: Raven goes to a place where there’s some dirt and rocks. He tries to put them together, but they don’t stick. That Raven, he’s got a temper, so he kicked the rocks and swore because he hurt his toes. But then he had another idea. This time he mixed in some water with the rocks and dirt. He worked hard, that Raven did, and had an awful time of it. The mountains dropped off. The oceans spilled over. Sometimes he got so mad he just kicked the whole thing to pieces. Raven’s world was lumpy and bumpy, and it sure didn’t look like what he had in mind. But he was good and tired of working on it. So he said the hell with it. And that’s the way it stayed.
These two stories convey different norms and values and attitudes concerning the origin of the cosmos. The Genesis story conveys the idea that the cosmos was created purposely, perfectly and imbued with good.
The Raven story, on the other hand, suggests that the cosmos was created haphazardly, imperfectly, and not necessarily imbued with either good or evil.
Given the present imperfection and suffering in the world, the Genesis myth would suggest that it is basically our fault that the world has gotten into such a situation. The Tlingit myth would suggest that the world is already inherently flawed. These views serve as a background to how one understands oneself as a moral agent.
Cosmic Vision It is possible to reduce myths to four or five narrative types, based on: 1. the sort of conflict involved in the story. 2. the character of the opponents involved. 3. who makes the breach and who resolves it. 4. and how it gets resolved.
CRISIS ? DISRUPTION RESOLUTION Stories typically exhibit this sort of pattern.
Types of Narratives Romance Comedy Tragedy Irony Satire each of these types fill out this pattern in a somewhat different way.
Romance A villain causes disruption in the order of things. The hero resolves the conflict by vanquishing the villain. The conflict is usually resolved positively, with good over evil. The sort of conflict is one of good versus evil.
Tragedy The tragic hero causes the disruption in the order of things. The conflict is resolved with the defeat or death of the tragic hero by a certain order or force. The sort of conflict involved is called pathos.
Comedy The conflict is resolved by non-violence, and the opponent is often incorporated into the happy ending. The conflict is caused by a blocker of high status. The sort of of conflict involved is called anagnorisis.
Irony The hero’s attempt to disrupt the order fails. A relatively weak hero attempts to disrupt the order The conflict ends with the order in place. The sort of conflict involved is called sparagmos.
Satire A naïve hero comes in conflict with an existing order. The hero resolves the conflict by divorcing himself from the existing order and returning to a truer, more natural order. The blocker is someone shown to be foolish or hypocritical.
In general, each of these narrative types expresses an implicit norm: For Romance or melodrama it is the good should prevail over evil, so that reward should be given to the good, and punishment to the vicious. For tragedy, the norms are that loyalty, love and cooperation should prevail within a group, and only ill consequences result from their violation.
For comedy, the same norms as tragedy are implied, except that the comedy shows these norms prevailing despite the threat of their violation. Irony, in many respects is opposed to the implicit norms of the romance, it implies that there may not be a just order to things, that people are flawed, the good may not necessarily prevail.
Thus our moral vision is conveyed by stories which visualize and concretize implicit norms for us. These norms serve as a background to our sense of ourselves as moral agents.
There are several different conceptions of the good life. Many people think that the good life should include things such as happiness, prosperity and success.
PROSPERITY is the achievement of a certain level of wealth and security. SUCCESS is accomplishment within a certain practice that affords the person a certain amount of recognition and status relative to that practice. HAPPINESS a subjective feeling of contentment or joy; sanguine temperament. FLOURISHING the effect upon a person of genuine mastery over a number of practices thought to be essential to the good life.
There are different senses of being a success and being successful. If you accomplish any goal you set for yourself, then you might consider yourself successful relative to that goal. However, no matter how many of these goals you accomplish, the goals themselves may not count you as being a success.
Being a successful physician, for example, may require more than accomplishing one’s own personal goals. A successful physician must also accomplish certain things as set by her colleagues, the profession and the public. It cannot be just subjectively determined.
Happiness may be considered to be more of a psychological state, having to do with mood and temperament. Consequently, it may not be correlated with external events.
Flourishing is something different than happiness. Flourishing is a condition that results from the qualitative exercise and performance of certain practices. Flourishing has more to do with the development of the person toward a more perfect way of life.
Success does not necessarily make one happy, nor does it necessarily lead to flourishing. There may be a certain price to success that inhibits flourishing or diminishes happiness. There has to be a delicate balance in any worthy practice; striving for success rather than excellence may corrupt the practice.
Prosperity creates comfort, security and sometimes recognition; but, again, there may be a certain price to prosperity that inhibits flourishing or diminishes happiness. If one aims at prosperity and success, then one looks to the extrinsic rewards of the practice, rather than any intrinsic rewards the practice or mastery of the practice might have.
The Good Life There are various senses of the good life promoted by our culture: the life of enjoyment. the American dream. the life of fame and power. the life of wealth.
The Good Life the life of enjoyment. aims to make life an adventure to enjoy, and to maximize all those pleasures which life affords.
Some difficulties with the life of enjoyment: 1. Pleasure has thresholds which require either larger quantities or higher qualities of it in order to reach the same level of satisfaction. 2. It requires a large amount of wealth to pursue, and occupations that can afford such a lifestyle.
3. Full-blown pursuit of pleasure is usually self-destructive. 4. Pursuit of pleasure does not exempt one from ordinary problems.
The Good Life the American dream. The American Dream. This is a life in pursuit of a modicum of social- economic goods, including secure and safe employment, a nice home, a good marriage and family life.
Problems with the American dream: • Life is not often secure; even in the more • secure environments, danger and tragedy • are constant threats. • Often duties required to secure such a life • require that one engage in risks and insecurities. • Such a life can lead to an isolation from • community, and a rabid form of consumerism. • To insure security one may have to sacrifice • relations; to insure relations one may have to • sacrifice security and success.