Moral Formation Over Time

From my interview with Bill Kabasenche:

“You can’t just decide to become a good person – it’s going to be a process. You’re going to have to engage in a moral formation over time. So Aristotle talks about the sorts of practices you need to engage in in order to embody or acquire virtues. To a certain extent, it’s not as if you perfectly acquire the virtue of courage or humility, but you engage in a process of slowly over time becoming more the sort of person you are aiming to be.”

This comment was made within the context of Bill explaining why a virtue-based approach to ethics (which situates moral duties within the larger context of human flourishing) is superior to more legalistic approaches which simply want to ask “What should I do?” Although we need to ask what-should-I-do types of questions, there will never be a context for adequately addressing such questions unless we’ve first identified what virtues are central to flourishing as human beings.

I’d like to add to Bill’s observations that the Scriptures constantly assume that virtue includes dispositions and not merely behaviors. Virtuous dispositions like peace, gratitude, contrition, joy, compassion, all include an emotional as well behavioral components. Virtuous disposition also includes such things as proper perception, right motivation, and an attraction to goodness and truth. All of this is the fruit of time and good habits, which is why a person cannot suddenly become good overnight, despite the best intentions.

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Listen to the entire conversation here.

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