Why Virtue Matters
New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Chapter 6: Lifestyles and Moral Capital Estates
A frequent recourse in the moral education of the young consists in upholding a model whose virtuous character is to be imitated. This is the figure of the hero, an indispensable element in all children’s stories that try to instill virtue. We know, however, that no matter how hard one tried, he could never completely imitate another person’s character. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, because we all possess different habits, which furthermore have been developed in varying degrees. Secondly, because the physiological, psychological and sociocultural strands constituting each one’s character are all very diverse. Even in the case of identical twins there would always be variations in their acquired character or ethos sufficient to offset the similarities in their natural temperament or pathos. The ultimate distinguishing principle in character, therefore, is the use that each individual person makes of his own free will in the myriad of situations that life presents to him. And the most complete and lasting testament of a person’s decisions regarding these matters could be found in his lifestyle choice. The choice of lifestyle is arguably the most influential factor in the way an individual feels, behaves and lives; it is also the key element in understanding his biography. A person’s freely chosen lifestyle gives unity and texture to everything he does: the feelings he experiences, the actions he performs, the habits he cultivates, and the unique character he forges; it lends structure and meaning to his existence. The final goal or end that...
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