HAPPINESS AND VIRTUE
- The opprobrium of virtue — some modern conceptions:
- Equipment for a reformer.
Our subject-matter in this chapter is virtue. Probably there is no part of our human equipment that has been more thoroughly misunderstood and more viciously maligned. A close parallel to our modern treatment of virtue was given a few years ago by Russian peasants to modern tractors which they considered mysterious, incomprehensible, perhaps dangerous, certainly very extraordinary and suspicious contraptions. If we were to attempt to sum up briefly this modern notion of virtue, our summary would not have to go beyond the statement that virtue has a double connotation to the modern mind: repression and ignorance.
For a hater of joy and humanity
It was not mere coincidence that led cartoonists to picture the champions of the prohibition law as dressed in a funereal ministerial garb. Quite recently a newspaper carried a full-page feature in which two contrary opinions were given as to the manner in which — New Year’s Eve should be celebrated. One held out strongly for a riotous type of celebration, in fact made a consequent headache the measuring rod of the celebrant’s humanity, good-fellowship and normalcy; the other was a very prim affair, advocating the gloomiest type of introspection as a fitting — “celebration”. The pictures of both authors were given as a graphic expression of this contrast of “virtue” with joyous humanity; the author of the first opinion was pictured as an attractive young woman, beautifully gowned, flaunting a charming smile; the other author glared out at the world from a battleship type of face, fittingly framed in the finery of the Victorian era.
Result of ignorance of workaday world; A neurotic inhibitionism
This point of view is so common that it has an effect even on Catholics. How often do we picture virtue in terms of the very simple, naive old pastor, the kind of person who is quite likely to mislay collar, vest or shoes; good as gold, with a heart as big as himself — but eccentric as the devil? Or we associate virtue with nuns, veils and cloisters as though it were a product of a super-human hothouse atmosphere. Virtue is looked upon as something to be taken cautiously, in small doses and in careful correlation to the individual temperament. The statement that all nuns are neurotic is not unusual, presumably on the grounds that nuns are virtuous and virtue is a neurotic repression vividly contrasting with the full, joyous, healthy expression of our human nature.
All this is, of course, sheer nonsense. But nonsense can be very deadly when it is taken seriously. It was nonsense that burnt witches and our present nonsense is much more deadly for the men and women, particularly for the boys and girls, of our time; for the agony it causes is not over in an hour or two, but drags its hopeless way through all of a lifetime and even all of an eternity.
Double basis of misconceptions: Ignorance of nature of virtue.
Like all nonsense, this particular nonsense about virtue has its roots in dank ignorance, a double ignorance of virtue and of humanity. As long as virtue is looked on as something beyond the ordinary, like forced feeding or the overtraining of an athlete, we are not likely to learn much about it. When it is considered as something unhealthy, like the sly smile of the demented, or as something hypocritical, like the guileless eyes of a vicious child, we are not likely to care to learn anything about it. And when we are told on all sides that it is something old-fashioned, immature, and unscientific, like red flannels, sulphur and molasses, or the dangers of night air, we become actually afraid of any familiarity with virtue, for we must keep up with the times.
Ignorance of nature of man
We cannot even begin to understand virtue if we have completely misunderstood man. To picture man as a machine or as a mere animal, rules out the very possibility of virtue as completely as it is ruled out of the clashing of gears or thc whining of a puppy. We looked thoroughly into the nature of man in our first volume and saw that he was spirit as well as animal, possessed of a soul as well as a body. With that accurate conception of man before our eyes, let us look more closely at virtue.
The nature of virtue: An operative habit
Our very first glance at virtue brings out the astounding truth that virtue is not at all extraordinary, not at all mysterious, but rather a prosaic thing without which we simply cannot get through even an ordinary uneventful day. In plain language, virtue is simply another name for a certain kind of habit, namely for a good habit ordained to facilitating operation.
In the last chapter we noticed the striking difference between the equipment of man and of the other creatures of the universe. A chemical, such as sulphur, needs no education or training for its full perfection; it follows a rigid law of physical necessity which finds it fully equipped from its beginning for its one determined action which can be placed only in one determined way. Much the same is true of the perfection of the animals; even though they have knowledge, they follow the rigid law of instinct which plots out every step of their way, tying them down to one narrow path plainly marked and hemmed in by a barrier that admits of no trespassing. But man starts off with his intellect and will be tied down to nothing that is less than God; his powers are like the waters of a great flood that must be turned into definite channels to produce definite results. These channels are the habits of a man.
There is, then, a striking difference between the action of inanimate creation, of animal creation and of man. The actions of the first two are strictly determined by nature from the very beginning; that of man must be qualified, determined by the habits which a man develops. These grooves which he cuts so deeply that they become a second nature and give his actions a delight, facility and promptness comparable only to that of nature itself, are operative habits, perfections of his faculties which determine the path his activities will take, conserve his energy and make possible an always greater action, an always greater perfection.
A good habit
If these habits direct his activity away from his goal they are bad habits or vices; if they direct his activities toward his goal they are good habits or virtues. Putting it in another way, we might say that a man is a very good thief, standing head and shoulders above his fellows in the quantity and quality of his plunder and the cleverness of his thievery; but of course we are speaking metaphorically. We could not say he was a virtuous thief. What we are saying is that he has habits that are excellent in their way, but that way is an evil, defective way; while virtue always implies perfection, the fulfilling of the possibilities of a man, the full realization of his potcntialitics. Virtues are good habits.
A definition of virtue
The identification of virtue with good habit immediately destroys the modern notion of virtue as a repression, an inhibition; habit is a principle of action, of activity. So that virtue is by its very nature a principle of activity; in fact it covers the whole field of good action. There are, of course, some very disagreeable people who operate in the name of virtue, people who, after the example of Martin Luther, are simply terrible when they are good. There is that whole class of the sanctimonious who shudder at contact with publicans and sinners. And there are those incorrigible gossips who are deeply irritated by one who refuses to speak unkindly. But none of this is virtue. In fact we could define virtue as a good habit by which a man lives rightly, without which he cannot live rightly, and which he cannot possibly put to bad use. If it is a human virtue, it is the result of our actions; if it is a supernatural or infused virtue, it is the result of the gracious kindness of God. But whatever kind it be, it cannot be the principle of those viciously unkind acts which are so often associated with the name of virtue.
You can hate virtue — as the gossip hates charity because it is a constant and well-merited rebuke. You can be stupidly proud of virtue and frown on everyone else who does not give first-hand evidence of possessing that same virtue. But to accuse virtue of being the cause of an evil act is like expecting one channel to carry water in different directions at the same time. Virtue is a power-line to one definite, determined destination; and that destination is in complete harmony with the nature of man, it is good.
- The humanity of virtue: Its limitation to strictly human cognitive powers
- –perfect and imperfect virtue
Virtue is not, then, a grim enemy of jolly humanity. It is as distinctively human as a quiet chuckle, a sympathetic smile, or a roaring laugh. No creature but a possessor of human nature has any use for or any possibility of having virtue; it deals with the production of distinctively human action, it is the smooth path along which actions which alone are proper to man run a rapid, pleasant race to their goal. If we are in search of virtue, we have only to look at man, and within man himself, to look at the two great principles from which human action alone flows — the intellect and the will.
This double location of virtue, in intellect and will, brings up a distinction which answers a puzzling difficulty. It has often been noticed that a man can be an intellectual genius and a moral degenerate. A highly educated criminal is not only a possibility, but his very education makes his criminal activity more dangerous, more thorough, often more vicious. Socrates thought this could not be so, but the facts refuted him; our American educational system has made thc same Socratic mistake and still cannot believethe facts can be right. After all, the whole purpose of virtue is to produce good actions; virtue in the intellect, then, certainly should make good men.
It does make good mathematicians, scientists, carpenters, and so on. But I can at least conceive of a carpenter being also a thief; and Bertrand Russell, who is an excellent mathematician, if he carries out one-half of his ethical principles is most certainly making a botch of his life. In other words, these intellectual virtues may make a man good in this or that line; they are incomplete or imperfect virtues. The explanation lies in this: some virtues give a man the ability to produce a good act but do not assure man of always using that faculty well; while others both give the man the faculty to act well and also guarantee the good use of that faculty. For example, grammatical habits give a man the faculty of speaking well; but even with those habits a man may speak very badly and certainly can violate the Ten Commandments. But a man with the habit of justice not only has the faculty of acting justly, but by that habit he does here and now act justly. He does an act of injustice only with difficulty and by deliberately pulling himself out of the groove of justice. In other words, these latter habits make a man simply good, not good in this or that line. They are the moral virtues.
This will be more clearly seen if we remember that the moral virtues reside in the appetite of man. As we have already seen so often, the appetite of man is the centre and source of all movement; its proper object is the end or goal of man and it is by reference to the goal of man that his actions are judged good or bad. We may say of the intellect that it is false or true; but only of the will do we say that it is good or bad. These complete or perfect virtues which make the whole man, not merely his faculties, good, belong to the will; and if they be found in any other faculty, it is only in so far as that faculty is moved by the will. Faith, for example, which is in the intellect, can perfect the whole man because the intellect assents to these supernatural truths only at the command of the will. Prudence, also an intellectual virtue, is a complete or perfect virtue precisely because of the order it implies to the will and the object of the will. But we shall see more of that later on.
Its limitation to strictly human appetitive power
For the present it is sufficient to stress this double classification of intellectual and moral virtues, as habits perfecting either the intellect or the appetite of man. The moral virtues, then, are good habits in the appetite of man, primarily in the will of man. We say primarily because there are the virtues of fortitude and temperance in the sensitive appetite of man, conforming his emergency and mild passions to the dictate of reason; but these virtues are virtues only in so far as the sensitive powers of man can participate in his spiritual powers. They are nothing more than the habitual conformity of the sense appetites to reason; in so far as they bend the activities and goal of the sense appetite to the activity and Goa of the will they make a claim to be perfect or complete virtues.
The will itself has need of direct determination by habit. To move to its own proper good presented to it by the intellect, the will needs no help by way of habit at all. It was made for that, shaped for that type of action, determined along that line. But to reach out for a good that is outside its own field, the good of a neighbour, for example, or to a good that is outside the whole of the natural order — the divine good — it needs the habits which we call charity, justice, and the virtues connected with justice. More simply, for pursuit of a good pertaining only to ourselves our will needs no virtues; but for supernatural or altruistic goods we cannot get along without habits. And the exclusive pursuit of merely selfish ends does not develop or perfect man but destroys him, for it cuts him off from all social life, human and divine, and makes quite impossible the attainment of the goal of all human living in which the whole essence of happiness consists.
A sufficient division of virtue — intellectual and moral
These, then, are the virtues of man: the virtues perfecting his intellect and those perfecting his appetite, the intellectual and moral virtues. This is a sufficient and complete classification of the human virtues, or of the good habits, in man, because there are no other principles from which human actions can flow. In other words, these arc the two great dynamos to which the power-lines must be connected; there are no others. We shall treat of the moral virtues in greater detail in succeeding chapters; here it is enough to name them — justice, temperance, fortitude. Let us look more closely at the intellectual virtues with which our age professes to be so greatly in love.
I remember once seeing a seminarian, at home for a visit, greeted by a family of hard-working brothers. Everyone shook hands with him heartily and everyone immediately noted the contrast between his soft, callous-free hands and the rough hard hands of his brothers. The immediate verdict was: “Pretty easy; if you were home you would not have hands like that.” I know the seminarian devoutly wished that the brain developed callouses that might be adduced as proof of work.
As a matter of fact that contrast has been going on from the beginnings of the human race. The man of action has been sneering at the man of thought as a dreamer, much as the French revolutionists hooted at the idleness and uselessness of contemplative religious Orders. And the philosopher, the brain-worker, has been looking with envy for generations at the day-labourer whose work was done when he laid down his pick and shovel. Whether thinking or acting is the harder job is unimportant here; but the contrast of these two is of immense importance, for it shows quite clearly the channels along which thc activities of the intellect can flow and consequently shows the habits that may be developed in the intellect.
The intellectual virtues: Speculative — understanding, knowledge and wisdom
Intellectual activities that are not in view of something to be done or to be made are speculative activities and the habits or virtues perfecting the intellect for these activities are the speculative virtues: understanding, science and wisdom.
Today we have picked out the middle virtue — science — and denied or neglected the other two, much as a woman might cling to youth and forget childhood, while vigorously denying old age, and just as impossibly. These are not three separable, unconnected habits but rather steps up in perfection; science supposes and absolutely demands understanding, while wisdom includes both science and understanding.
To grasp these virtues it is only necessary to look at the way our minds work. In the very beginning we gather first principles; from these we proceed to conclusions in this or that line; and finally we go back to the roots of things, to last causes, to ultimate explanations. The habit of first principles is understanding; as a habit of the first principles of thought it contains the seeds of all the sciences, as a habit of the first principles of action (synderesis), it contains the seeds of all morality and of all the moral virtues. Important? It is vitally important. Can we imagine a scientist proceeding to experiment without the principle of identity, of contradiction, of finality, or of sufficient reason; without knowing his right hand from his left, water from sulphuric acid, without seeking a reason for the unexplained? Yet modern philosophers solemnly assure us that this is the only valid way to gather knowledge. Moral life without that first principle, “good is to be done and evil is to be avoided”, is just as impossible, for without it there is absolutely no basis for morality.
With the virtue of science we are quite familiar. Like all intellectual virtues it has to do with truth, with the firm certain hold on truth. The truth it seeks is that which can be deduced from the principles, or gathered from facts in the light of the principles furnished by the virtue of understanding. It always operates along particular lines: a science of mathematics, of chemistry, of physics, etc. We have let it stop there; but of course it includes much of philosophy and theology and is included in the ultimate reaches of philosophy and theology. Very simply, it is the virtue which deals with truth known through demonstration.
Another name for the virtue of science would be knowledge. Stopping at this point and looking around the modern world we would feel very much at home. For the modern world has stopped at knowledge. And mere knowledge can be a disorderly, chaotic thing which can shatter a man’s life just as a torrent of inharmonious sound can shatter a man’s nerves or even his hearing. Knowledge of thousands of facts and conclusions from a dozen sciences may fit a man to be a robot in an industrial machine or to hold a chair in a professional school; but something more is needed to fit a man for living. A crowd of boys turned loose among the instruments of a symphony orchestra can undoubtedly produce as much noise, waste as much breath and work up as much perspiration as any symphony orchestra; but something more is needed for the production of music. That extra something is order.
And that is precisely the work of the virtue of wisdom. It is not satisfied with the immediate truth, as is knowledge; it wants the last truth, the last explanation. It is not satisfied to take a principle from some other science, it must go back to the very last and very first principle. Looking out from this vantage point, it sees the relation of one truth to another, one science to another, and, what is more important, the relation of all the truths, all the sciences, to the last truth, the final goal. Perhaps if we give this wisdom its ordinary names its work will be better understood: if it is divine wisdom we call it theology; if it is human wisdom it is called first philosophy or metaphysics. In either case it is the supreme speculative virtue necessary for any human life. It furnishes the answers to the fundamental questions of human life — why, whence and where — of the universe and even of God. It should be the prime object of education. The skeleton of it is given to the Catholic child in the catechism class; its possession can make the ignorant washerwoman very wise, its defect makes the learned professor very stupid. And it is one intellectual virtue which is a stranger to the American educational system.
So much for the virtues of the contemplative, the thinker, the pursuer of truth for truth’s sake. While they are imperfect or incomplete virtues, remember always that they can be meritorious of happiness under the command of the will and that actually they are the beginning, the foretaste, of the joys of heaven, for the essence of eternal happiness consists in the contemplation of truth, the beatific vision. How about the virtues of the man of action, the practical channels of intellectual activity?
Practical — art and prudence: Their distinction
Here again there is a clear-cut distinction between the maker and the doer, between the craftsman and the moulder of human actions. There is no one of us who escapes the work of moulding our own human actions, of steering them along the lines laid down by reason to the goal of human life. But a good many of us could eat a pile of lumber as easily as we could build a chicken coop; to some a hammer is an enemy with a personal grudge. The practical virtue dealing with the direction of human action is prudence; the other, the craftsman’s virtue, is art.
It would seem as though our age had a positive genius for picking the unimportant and putting all stress on it. With only two practical virtues to choose from we pass by the one essential to human life, and exert our tremendous energies and undoubted ingenuity on the one that is not at all essential. St. Paul was, it is true, a clever craftsman; but I’m sure, hopefully sure, that heaven is full of saints who were clumsy with tools. Our great ability to make things, our inventive genius and technological perfection, our professional excellence and equipment has done some injustice even to art. While we have left the liberal or fine arts fairly intact, we have taken art out of the labouring man’s life and in its place demanded only a monotonously precise speed to keep pace with the instruments of mass production.
Art is evidently an incomplete or imperfect virtue; it has no relation to the appetite of man. An atheist might make as good a violin as a saint. In fact an artist who deliberately violates the rules of his art, like the carpenter who wilfully hangs a door incorrectly, commits less of an artistic sin than the blundering artist who does not know any better. But quite the opposite is true of prudence; a man who deliberately steers his actions in the wrong direction is guilty of sin, while the man who steers his actions in the same direction not knowing it is wrong is guilty of no sin at all. The reason is that prudence is a complete or perfect virtue; it makes the whole man good. Nor is this a contradiction of what was said earlier about the intellectual virtues being incomplete virtues; for prudence is really an hybrid virtue, half intellectual, half moral. It is located in the intellect, but the material with which it deals is distinctly moral material, namely human acts; prudence works on the acts of seeing, hearing, thinking, willing, loving, and so on.
Necessity of prudence for good living
It has a most intimate relationship with the appetite of man. In the speculative order, as we have seen, the truth of a conclusion depends intimately on the truth of the principle from which that conclusion proceeds. In the practical order, the principles are really the ends of the actions; it is the end in view which determines the whole character of an action, that is indeed the reason for there being any action at all. Prudence, as the chauffeur of human life, steering human actions, presupposes right ends, right goals. In other words, prudence, before it can take a step in directing human actions to their goal, presupposes the rectitude of the appetite of man relative to that goal.
Remembering that good living is synonymous with good operation, that success in human life is measured by the goodness of human actions, or, in other words, by their approach to the goal of human life, it is easy to see how important prudence is in the living of human life and what a monstrous thing has been done to our age in cutting out these goals which are the foundations of prudence. For good operation it is not only a matter of what is done, but also of how it is done; it makes a big difference whether the action is the result of a rush of passion or of the deliberate, controlled direction of reason. And the work of prudence is precisely to furnish that controlled direction that makes human action coin of the realm for the purchase of happiness. In art, the goodness or defect is not a matter of the disposition of the artist, but of the quality of the work he has produced; but the goodness or defect of prudence is a matter of goodness or evil in the man himself. It is his very action that is the material upon which prudence must work.
Adjunct of prudence
In the next volume we will go into the virtue of prudence exhaustively. Here it will be sufficient to point out the obvious fact that prudence presupposes a certain perfection of counsel or searching for proper ways and means, and a perfection of judgment in picking out the best means at hand. Prudence, of course, as it deals with human action to an end, has to do only with means to that end.
Evidently these five intellectual virtues are not enough equipment for full, hearty, successful human life. The optimistic stand of Socrates in holding that they were — and our own American defence of the same position — is really based on thc notion that the only explanation of sin is ignorance. The notion behind this idea is that since all human actions are acts controlled by reason, reason is the supreme power in the government of our lives, a power which has only to crack the whip to have its subjects jump to obey. There is something in this, but not enough. True enough, reason is supreme, the first principle — of human actions precisely as human; but the command of reason is by no means absolute in its power. Over the spiritual, yes; but it has no command at all over the vegetative side of our nature and its power over the animal part of nature is by no means the despotic power of an absolute tyrant. It is rather a political power that may at any time be upset by a rebellion, is frequently resisted and only rarely get whole-hearted obedience. The appetite of man needs good habits, habits by which its activity flows along lines demanded by reason. The moral virtues are quite necessary, and as distinct from the intellectual virtues as intellect is from appetite.
- Interdependence of moral and intellectual virtues:
- Moral virtue without intellectual
They are distinct, but not at all unrelated. In fact, without some of the intellectual virtues it would be impossible to have any moral virtues at all. At least these two — understanding and prudence — are absolutely essential to moral virtue. The work of the moral virtues is to modify the activities of the appetite of man, to conform those activities to the demands of reason, to act as channels that will carry the flow of appetite’s activities in the direction demanded by reason. They are elective habits, constantly making choices aimed at the goal of life; they demand by their very nature a striving towards the right end and the counsel, judgment and command necessary to select suitable means to the end in view. Counsel, judgment, and command are the work of prudence; the right leaning towards the true goal is the work of the moral virtues. More simply, it is impossible to produce right moral action without prudence; and prudence, as an intellectual virtue proceeding from first principles, is impossible without the virtue of understanding, i.e. without the habit of first principles.
It is a serious mistake to identify prudence with an extreme caution which goes about everything in the spirit that makes a man wear both suspenders and a belt. Prudence is not timidity or indecision or fear; it is intelligent moulding of human actions into tools by which happiness can be carved out. Prudence is not to be identified with education or learning; a very ignorant person can be very prudent in living human life, even though he can be easily deceived by an expert swindler in ordinary commercial affairs. Prudence is not something limited to one class or state of life, precisely because it is so absolutely necessary for all human life.
Intellectual virtue without moral virtue
And this prudence is the only one of all the intellectual virtues that is impossible without the moral virtues. The interdependence of prudence and the moral virtues is complete: there is no moral virtue without prudence, and no prudence without moral virtues. Understanding, science, art, even wisdom can be had by a man who is thoroughly bad; but not prudence. Not every theologian is a saint, not even every great theologian.
The reason for this dependence of prudence on the moral virtues is that prudence really comes to grips with the concrete acts of human life. It cannot be satisfied with general principles, general conclusions, general rules; it must here and now have an intimate grip on the particular principles affecting this particular act. To put it more exactly, since the principles of prudence are the ends of action, prudence absolutely demands rightness of intention here and now, demands striving towards particular ends that are good here and now. And this right striving for good ends in the concrete is the work of the moral virtues, as, for example, a chaste man senses immediately, intuitively, the slightest trace of impurity in an action, a gesture, a word, or a glance, or a charitable person knows intuitively the thoughtful act, the word, the smile demanded by the tortured soul of a neighbour. With this to go on, prudence can steer its way to the goal; without it, prudence flounders in a world of general precepts like a correspondence-school detective who has forgotten his book.
Conclusion: Virtue and successful action. In relation to particular ends
Summing all this up briefly, it seems immediately apparent that the modern world has grossly misunderstood virtue in attaching to it connotations of ignorance and repression. Far from repressing human nature, virtue is an absolutely necessary principle of all good human actions, whether intellectual or moral. It is, very simply, a good operative habit. Every man to produce human actions must have habits; so habits he will build up, whether those habits are good or bad. Let him discard virtue, good habits, and he is dedicating himself to making a failure of his human life, he is twisting his own nature, stunting its growth, making it lopsided. For human nature was not designed for the pursuit of evil any more than a razor-blade was designed for sharpening pencils; to fill that nature with bad habits and then expect it to produce successful human life is like filling a razor-blade with nicks and expecting it to produce a good shave.
In relation to the goal of human life
Virtues are the channels along which human actions flow to the goal of human life. They are the grooves, the trails cut by pioneer action, which make every other action that much easier, that much more perfect; they release a tremendous amount of energy for greater efforts, fuller perfections, fuller development.
- Moral virtues and fullness of human life.
- Their importance proportioned to importance of goal of life
While the intellectual virtues perfect a man in this or that way, develop this or that capacity, it is the moral virtues alone which perfect the whole man. If the attainment of the goal of life is man’s one reason for living, if his partial happiness here and now is measured in terms of his approach to that goal, and his eternal happiness by his attainment of that goal, then there is nothing, humanly speaking, in this present life of ours outranking the moral virtues in importance. Their whole genius is the effective dealing with the goal of life and the approach to it.
Their rewards are those of successful living:Immediate — fullness of life;Ultimate — possession of goal of life, happiness
Consequently virtue has not for its immediate result the sour face of the reformer, the fanatic egoism of the neurotic, or the stupidity of the superannuated. Its immediate result is a full perfection, a blossoming of the human powers of man, a release of power for the doing of extraordinary deeds, a more and more joyous tasting of that abundant life which Christ came to bring to the world. Ultimately the reward of virtue is that stamp of success on life, the attainment of the goal of life which constitutes the happiness of man. That happiness is carved out by the tools which we call human actions, human actions controlled, steered to that one goal; these moral virtues are precisely the immediate sources from which spring the only human actions capable of being used as such tools, good human actions.
- Their denial is a denial of humanity of man.
- The moulding of men and morals
A denial of virtue is a denial of good habits. And that means either the abandonment of man to bad habits, or the denial to man of any habits at all, in other words placing man on the level of a machine or of the animals. It is to take the very humanity out of human actions; or at least to take the successful note of humanity out of those actions. For the work of virtue is to mould men, to protect human nature against any influence that would drag it down, limit it, or make it less than it might be. Virtue breaks down the barriers to full, free, human living, sets the powers of man ever more free, free enough ultimately to soar up to God Himself. In a word, it makes men more human by making them more moral.