Morals, Virtue, and Personality
Only a personality can know what it is doing before it does it; only personalities possess insight in advance of experience. A personality can look before it leaps and can therefore learn from looking as well as from leaping. A nonpersonal animal ordinarily learns only by leaping.
As a result of experience an animal becomes able to examine the different ways of attaining a goal and to select an approach based on accumulated experience. But a personality can also examine the goal itself and pass judgment on its worth-whileness, its value. Intelligence alone can discriminate as to the best means of attaining indiscriminate ends, but a moral being possesses an insight which enables them to discriminate between ends as well as means. And a moral being in choosing virtue, morality, is nonetheless intelligent. The human person knows what they are doing, why they are doing it, where they are going, and how they will get there.
Intelligence alone cannot explain the moral nature. Morality, virtue, is indigenous to human personality. Personality is basically changeless; that which changes grows is the moral character. Moral intuition, the realization of duty, is a component of human mind endowment and is associated with the other inalienables of human nature: scientific curiosity and spiritual insight. A human’s mentality far transcends that of our animal cousins, but it is our moral and religious natures that especially distinguish us human beings from the animal world. The selective response of an animal is limited to the motor level of behavior. The supposed insight of the higher animals is on a motor level and usually appears only after the experience of motor trial and error. Humans are able to exercise scientific, moral, and spiritual insight prior to all exploration or experimentation. When any human being fails to discriminate the ends of their mortal striving, they find themselves functioning on the animal level of existence. They have failed to avail themselves of the superior advantages of that material acumen, moral discrimination, and spiritual insight which are an integral part of their cosmic- mind endowment as a personal being.
Virtue is righteousness – conformity with the cosmos. To name virtues is not to define them, but to live them is to know them. Virtue is not mere knowledge nor yet wisdom but rather the reality of progressive experience in the attainment of ascending levels of cosmic achievement. In the day-by-day life of mortal human beings, virtue is realized by the consistent choosing of good rather than evil, and such choosing ability is evidence of the possession of a moral nature. A human’s choosing between good and evil is influenced, not only by the keenness of their moral nature, but also by such influences as ignorance, immaturity, and delusion. A sense of proportion is also concerned in the exercise of virtue because evil may be perpetrated when the lesser is chosen in the place of the greater as a result of distortion or deception. The art of relative estimation or comparative measurement enters into the practice of the virtues of the moral realm.