Contempt and the Cultivation of Character

Journal of Religious Ethics 43 (3):493-519 (2015)
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Macalester Bell urges the cultivation of apt contempt as the best response to what she calls “the vices of superiority”. In this essay, I sketch two character profiles. The first—the ideal contemnor—paradigmatically answers the vices of superiority with contempt. The second—the ideal Christian neighbor—is marked by humility and love, and answers the vices of superiority in non-contemptuous ways. I argue that the latter character rivals the former as a fitting moral response to the vices of superiority. Furthermore, I argue that the two character profiles are incompatible, so one cannot jointly cultivate humble love and contempt. Given contempt's nastiness, and the alternative resources available for answering the vices of superiority, I suggest one should focus one's character-formation efforts on the cultivation of humility and love



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Ryan West
Wake Forest University

Citations of this work

Anger and the virtues: a critical study in virtue individuation.Ryan West - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (6):877-897.

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References found in this work

Confessions.R. S. Augustine & Pine-Coffin - 2019 - Hackett Publishing Company.
Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior.John M. Doris - 2002 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Summa Theologiae (1265-1273).Thomas Aquinas - 1911 - Edited by John Mortensen & Enrique Alarcón.
Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology.Robert Campbell Roberts - 2003 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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