Goethe's Faust

#45- Plutarch on Progress in Virtue


In this week’s episode, Scott and Karl discuss an essay by Plutarch, “How a Man May Become Aware of His Progress in Virtue.” As an eminent biographer and moralist, Plutarch is best known for his Parallel Lives, a series of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans arranged in tandem to illuminate their common vices and virtues.

To Karl’s initial dismay, Plutarch’s essay is less about the metaphysical elements of virtue and more of a self-evaluation for the reader. Presuming you already want to be a good person, what are the signs you’re doing alright? How do you know your vices and follies are in abatement and that your virtues are in ascendancy? If you know all about virtue and you still don’t get any better, do you really know all about virtue?

Plutarch is in opposition of the Stoics— he believes you can get better, even if it’s hard to see progress. It just takes practice and habituation.

Tune in to this week’s episode to find out what virtue looks like according to Plutarch and how to take real action towards becoming a more virtuous person.

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