chapter  1
12 Pages

A Preamble on Virtue

Much work in moral theology and ethics has recognised the important fact that the way individuals live, the way they confront dilemmas and determine their obligations depends on how they see the world. in the course of history, religious and philosophical beliefs have been considered very important for the determination of a helpful list of virtues as road signs for the education of youth. some recent historians, however, have argued convincingly that the present cultural situation in the world is so lacking in consensus that any attempt to revitalise the idea of a virtuous life is doomed to failure.1 what seems a virtue to one can sometimes appear a vice to another. what could be the use of an appeal for a more virtuous life, if such an appeal will be refracted in myriad ways within the labyrinth of a fragmented culture? admittedly, there is more disagreement on whether a piece of conduct is virtuous than disagreement on whether a given virtue is desirable. radical relativism, however, remains a serious threat. The only hope seems to lie in a general retreat. one gives up the idea of reaching the global multitudes. one concentrates rather on small social units or communities within which intellectual and moral life could be rediscovered and sustained intact.2