Virtue & Character

Virtue & Character


Intention and Innocence Are What Make a Good Person

what makes a good person? September 21st, 2021

When we think of what makes a good person, we usually recall someone who is kind, selfless, and empathetic. But why is it that we often feel that some people who have those characteristics do not actually seem like good people? Is it the deed’s outcome and results that confers moral goodness, or is it the intentions of the person? I believe it is the latter, and moral theories indicate why.

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Altruism in Action: Helping Others is a Virtue

altruism September 1st, 2021

Altruism is one of the most intriguing virtues. I have always found it to be “upon high,” very worthy, truly excellent. It has been called “selfishness in reverse,” and is basically when a person is helpful to another when “no benefits are expected or offered in return.” It sometimes involves self-sacrifice (for example, if you give money to someone, you don’t have that money any longer, or if you run into a burning building, you may be injured). It’s human beings helping human beings, and choosing to allocate valuable resources in such a way that one does not expect to keep a lion’s share of it. Is it real? How does is mesh with capitalism and the “rugged individualism” that the wealthy and powerful have fomented in this country since the very beginning? Is love really the answer?

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Engaging in Socratic Dialogue

Socratic dialogue August 27th, 2021

There is something called Socratic dialogue. Essentially, two individuals engage in a conversation – a dialectic, as it is known – and they try to figure out the nature of the question and try to formulate an answer that is logical, rational, true, and correct. It’s not easy, but it is probably better to have a knowledgeable person work in concert with you if you are trying to figure out truth. This takes wisdom, obviously. Though it is not quite ready to be “an app,” there is something about the Socratic method that can be learned and useful to an individual even sans interlocutor, if you will. Thus, I will share with you my notes on what Socratic dialogue is all about. May it lead you one step closer to wisdom!

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“Values of the Wise”: What Does This Mean?

Values of the Wise logo August 12th, 2021

The goal of Values of the Wise (the company) is to bring to life ancient wisdom and progressive thinking. This is done through books, online tools and resources, quotations, social networking, and the like. But what are “the values of the wise?” What does the phrase actually mean? I am Jason Merchey, the founder and originator of the concept, and I will be happy to explain what I think it means.

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Ethics 101 (Highly Abbreviated!)

ethics: a noble pursuit August 5th, 2021

Ethics is a branch of philosophy with a long, storied past. Along with epistemology and aesthetics and metaphysics, ethics is one of the pillars of philosophical thought since Aristotle to the present day. Philosophers still study right from wrong in universities and books are written every year on the topic. What can we learn from studying it today; what dividend does doing so pay? The reason to learn more about right from wrong and morality is to be better able to make good decisions, live the kind of life an individual would really prefer, and have better and more functional relationships. After all, one has to be a good neighbor, responsible parent, trustworthy employee, and person of generally good character to get along well in society and both participate and benefit. Read on to find out more about what ethics really is about and how one can apply it successfully in one’s daily life. 

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The Values I Bring to My Work

the values I bring to my work July 18th, 2021

You have heard of the “Protestant work ethic”, I imagine. Or, “Diligence is the mother of good luck.” The Hard Rock Cafe’s motto is “Love Ever; Hurt Never”. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” claimed Benjamin Franklin. The fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper” by Aesop teaches the value of hard work and earnestness. I, too, have values I bring to my work as a real estate investor. Some I aspire to; some I adhere to better than others; some I actualize on a daily basis. Most would probably fit into the scheme I call “the values of the wise“: values that the quintessential wise person would probably tend to have. My area of professional focus has for a decade been real estate investing (REI). Brian Buffini believes that “Real estate is the purest form of entrepreneurship” so here are some thoughts on the values I bring to my work as an investor:

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Conservative Truth-Teller, Bruce Bartlett

conservative truth-teller July 12th, 2021

Bruce Bartlett is a most interesting man. He is a self-described conservative, but he claims to be a more traditional, principled conservative than the modern crop of neocons, Tea Partiers, and, as I would characterize them, gross hypocrites. He was a leading advocate and theorist about supply-side economics, also called “trickle-down economics.” However, he has since come to realize that the reasonableness of tax-cutting for the top tax brackets to stimulate growth has been misapplied, abused, and inappropriately resurrected by the likes of Bush, Trump, and so on. I aim to share a bit more about Bruce Bartlett, who I am calling a conservative truth-teller, due to his willingness to call spades spades and admit how far afield the GOP has gone since the days of Reagan. I think Reagan made many missteps and was not a particularly wise leader, but at least Bruce and I could agree on much!

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American Treasure: Helen Keller’s Values

Helen Keller July 3rd, 2021

In this day and age of political unrest, questionable media, and discrepant values, it is a breath of fresh air to read the beautiful words of optimism and understanding. I am referring to the wonderful woman and hero of girls and handicapped individuals everywhere, Helen Keller. She evolved from someone who truly knew hardship and adversity to one who successfully focused her time and energy into the worthy pursuits of growth, happiness, love, and compromise. She pushed her own (and society’s) boundaries and became someone great. Who was Helen, and what can we learn from her?

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“Strange Fruit” Had a Massive Impact on Society

Strange Fruit May 17th, 2021

America has maximized human and societal potential in many ways – we are truly a republic of great potential and productivity. Of course, being black, Holliday experienced an appalling side of America first-hand, one grossly shy of the beautiful principles on which it was founded. We are the best and the worst of everything in humanity. It is fair, recognizing slavery and poverty and vicious wealth inequality since ideals such as liberty, inclusion, democracy, and opportunity are unambiguously glorious values and aspirations we do treasure here. We must be truthful and integrate all our past and reconcile our darkness with our light. Anyway, Billie Holliday represented something special to many people, and I think the story of her song “Strange Fruit” is quite relevant to the idea of integration – both on a personal level, and certainly on a societal one.

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Ancient Greek Quotes (and Roman, Too)

ancient Greek quotes May 9th, 2021

The Athenians, Spartans, and Romans were remarkable in so many ways. Certainly, one way in which these societies excelled is in writing down laws, establishing and testing the limits of democracy and other forms of government, and in oration/theater/philosophy. We have myriad ancient Greek quotes, Roman proverbs, writings, meditations, insights, and bits of wisdom that survived the ages. This is saying a lot because much has been lost or destroyed in the last 2,000 years. It is a rich cultural heritage that Athens bestowed, and there is much of interest in the Spartan and Roman civilizations as well. Add in Macedonians like Alexander and Aristotle, and you have a very valuable vein of knowledge, discovery, and even proto-science. Below you will find a beautiful array of ancient Greek quotes (and Roman, too) on all manner of subject, including philosophy, personal growth, wisdom, politics, glory, courage, and strength. 

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