Whither Prudence

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by otherstar, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. otherstar

    otherstar Registered User

    The third of the Four Cardinal Virtues in the EA degree is prudence, most commonly thought of as merely “caution” or “hesitance in taking action.” The Texas Monitor says this about Prudence:

    Prudence teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictate of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge, and prudently determine, on all things relative to our present, as well as our future happiness. This virtue, particularly attended to, in all strange and mixed companies, will prevent us from letting fall the least sign, token or word, whereby the secrets of Masonry might be unlawfully obtained.​

    When you read this portion of the Monitor (it’s not often given in Lodge), one will see the prudence is more than merely being careful when making decisions. Prudence, as a virtue, is a cultivated habit of constantly striving to do the right thing, to make the right ethical choices. Not just sometimes, but at all times. The paragraph ends on a note related to the EA degree, and esoterically to something I cannot mention here, but I want to unpack the rest of the paragraph in this short essay and I will not return to the last sentence since that is something better discuss in a Tiled Lodge.

    Aristotle, in his Nichomachean Ethics, proposes a system of ethics that is now known as Virtue Ethics (VE). In VE, virtues are thought of as the highest human goods. People become virtuous by making the right decisions in alignment with a particular virtue (e.g. to become prudent, one must strive to make to the make the decisions to act rightly as often as possible; to become temperant, one must act with a proper degree of self-restraint). Over time, a person will first develop the “habit” (see above) of acting rightly. After a time of exercising the habit of acting rightly, a person will develop virtues in accord with their actions (hopefully).

    Aristotle, and many other VE thinkers, consider prudence to be the mother of all other virtues. A prudent man would tend to make the correct ethical decisions in most situations and thus would start to develop the other Cardinal Virtues as he moves through life. Human beings are defined by Aristotle (and others) as “rational animals” because we have the use of our intellect to think, to reflect, and to make decisions based upon reflection rather than just acting upon instinct. As Masons, we are charged to reflect upon our world. To take action. To grow in virtue by using our metaphorical working tools to strive to make the right ethical choices, developing good ethical habits that will hopefully grown into virtues thereby replacing the vices and superfluities of our lives with the virtues that fit us better as living stones for that house not made, eternal in the heavens.
  2. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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  3. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

    Well put.
    otherstar likes this.

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