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The Relativity of Virtues - Essay Example

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This essay describes the goal of a higher life is final; however, the forms of human life including morality are ‘initial’.The term virtue often denotes moral excellence or righteousness and entails behavior of high moral standing. Vices refer to behaviors that are deemed immoral or evil…
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The Relativity of Virtues
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The Relativity of Virtues

Download file to see previous pages... Emerson states that “the virtues of society are vices of the saint”. This means that human beings tend to conform to the behaviors and actions that are perceived to be virtues in the society. As a result of this conformity, people fail in developing self-reliance and may perceive actions or behaviors that are not identified as virtues in their society to be vices. For example, during the era of slavery, a person who spoke of compassion or equality for the slaves can easily be dubbed a villain. However, the belief that all human beings are equal and have a right to be free is a virtue. Therefore, the person that the society dubs a villain owing to his support for the abolition of slavery is, in fact, a saint in his account. Emerson challenges reciprocity in the society that defines what actions are virtues and what actions are vices. Emerson states that the terror of reform “is the discovery that we must cast away our virtues, or what we have always esteemed such, into the same pit that has consumed our grosser vices”. Reform in the society brings about change for the purpose of improving the human life. The actors of change in the society identify an issue or issue that is an impediment to their wellbeing and act towards changing the issue. Emerson observes that the strength of a reform movement is the continual desire for the better. However, according to Emerson, this desire for change is a weakness as reform seeks amelioration of the outward circumstances but fail to achieve full independence for the inner life. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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