Saturday, December 18, 2010

Zhong 忠

All this talk of moral effort and conscientiousness (忠 in classical Chinese of the Warring States period) reminded me of a story of Wittgenstein. I consider his moral views to be a weird kind of virtue ethics. His moral virtues were unconventional and much like Nietzsche who also seemed to be an unconventional virtue ethicists (his virtues were strength, courage, integrity, playfulness, and creativity), Wittgenstein seemed to value the unconventional moral virtues of not bullshitting (remaining silent when one is outside one's proper domain of knowledge), epistemic integrity, correct usages of words as they were intended (unlike how philosophers use them which caused them plenty of confusion, he thought) and "being careful". In fact once when someone asked him what he wanted as an epitaph, he responded "He was careful". To be careful is the ultimate moral compliment to Wittgenstein.

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