The universality of virtue

How to Be a Stoic

virtueWhile going through my notes for the book I’m writing during my sabbatical here in Rome (entitled, of all things, How to Be a Stoic, and to be published next year by Basic Books), I was reflecting on a 2005 paper by Katherine Dahlsgaard, Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman in Review of General Psychology, entitled “Shared Virtue: The Convergence of Valued Human Strengths Across Culture and History.”

The point of the paper is to conduct a qualitative comparative analysis of the concepts of virtue across a number of cultures with a long tradition of written philosophy: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, “Athenian philosophy” (mostly Plato and Aristotle), Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The results are well worth discussing.

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