Training in Virtue

A quotation from Stanley Hauerwas (H/T: Matthew Lee Anderson):

“Individuals of character have decisions or choices forced upon them, as does anyone else. But an ethic of virtue refuses to make such decisions the paradigmatic center of moral reflection. Morality is not primarily concerned with quandaries or hard decisions, nor is the moral self simply the collection of such decisions. As persons of character we do not confront situations as mudpuddles into which we have to step; rather, the kind of ‘situations’ we confront and how we understand them are a function of the kind of people we are. Thus ‘training in virtue’ often requires that we struggle with the moral decisions which we have ‘got ourselves into’ in the hope that such struggle will help us develop a character sufficient to avoid or understand differently such situations in the future.” – Stanley Hauerwas

I plan to mull this over and hopefully have something to say about it in the near future. Suffice it to say: as an educator, I think about how to cultivate virtue often, though I’m not always sure how or why it happens for some and not for others. I like that Hauerwas draws attention to the significance and insignificance of “choice” in the cultivation of virtue–it’s not simply a matter of will power. There are many other forces at work.

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