Nature Vs. Nurture: Virtues In Our Society

1155 words - 5 pages

Stephen L. Carter proposes that integrity and honesty among other virtues and morals were unintentionally taught to our society via religious scriptures, nonacademic lessons in public schools, and child rearing methods used by parents are in the “curriculum” of “character education”. Despite the differences of virtues in areas such as sectionalism, prejudice, and racism, "nurture" or rearing of a society with virtues such as honesty and integrity is best understood as "monkey-see monkey-do"-the “source of growth in children's cognitive, language, and social skills” (Kessenich, Maureen, et al. "Developmental Theory.").
In various religious scriptures there is a list of virtues and morals one is required to live by. For instance in Christianity, the Bible encompasses the “Ten Commandments” which by definition are “the divine rules of conduct given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai” (Merriam-Webster.com). For thousands of years the Ten Commandments were used as a list of such morals and virtues teaching each succeeding generation the importance of honesty, and integrity among others. They are such one example of a religion teaching principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.
One can say, "Character education is as old as education itself." There is some truth into that statement as teaching character extends into prehistory itself. In Western philosophy, early Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle believed that happiness requires virtue; hence a person who wanted to be happy needed “virtuous amounts of character”. Socrates identifies happiness with pleasure and explains “various virtues as instrumental means to pleasure.” Plato on the other hand expands on Socrates’ theory, by teaching a path to pleasure and by extension virtues “understand what contributes to our overall good and have our spirited and appetitive desires educated properly and guided by the rational part of the soul.” He then goes on to explain that a person young in life should explore various virtuous pleasures and must then wait to later in life why he loves what he loves. The most influential philosopher of early Western civilizations-Aristotle believed in balance, and “moderation in all things.” His teaching recognizes the need to value developing one’s rational powers, and then using this recognition to identify which actions are appropriate in various circumstances. Such ideals heavily influenced the philosophy of politics, literature and education (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
In Eastern philosophy views the nature of man as quiet and calm until tarnished with material desires. When one gives into the desires of “wants” and not the initial “needs” to survive he loses his true self and the prominent principal is destroyed. These ideals seed the main points of Confucianism and Taoism as two of the great religious/philosophical systems in China. An ancient Eastern philosopher, Confucius taught that one...

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