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Do cultures need to valorize virtues as human universals to function

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 8 months ago


Do cultures need to valorize "virtues" as human universals to function?


Reading Plato, I was reminded of the reaction of Hans Castorp, the young man of Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, upon encountering this peculiar use of the word ‘virtue’:

What a vocabulary! And he uses the word virtue just like that, without the slightest embarrassment. What do you make of that? I've never taken the word in my mouth as long as I’ve lived; in school, when the book said “virtuous,” we always just said “valour” or something like that. It certainly gives me a queer feeling inside to hear him.

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, (New York 1966), p. 101, quoted in Terrence Ball (1992), Constitutional Interpretation and Conceptual Change, pgs. 134-35 in Leyh, Gregory (ed.), Legal Hermeneutics: History, Theory, and Practice, Berkeley: University of California Press.


-John Curran



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