The Basis of Morality

By Arthur Schopenhauer; Arthur Brodrick Bullock | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE VIRTUE OF LOVING-KINDNESS.

THUS justice is the primary and essentially cardinal virtue. Ancient philosophers recognised it as such, but made it co-ordinate with three others unsuitably chosen.1 Loving-kindness (caritas,

) was not as yet ranked as a virtue. Plato himself, who rises highest in moral science, reaches only so far as voluntary, disinterested justice. It is true that loving-kindness has existed at all times in practice and in fact; but it was reserved for Christianity,— whose greatest service is seen in this—to theoretically formulate, and expressly advance it not only as a virtue, but as the queen of all; and to extend it even to enemies. We are thinking of course only of Europe. For in Asia, a thousand years before, the boundless love of one’s neighbour had been prescribed and taught, as well as practised: the Vedas2 are

1 Plato taught that Justice (

) includes in itself the three other virtues of Wisdom ( ), Fortitude ( ), and Temperance ( ). With Aristotle, too, Justice is the chief of virtues; while the Stoic doctrine is that Virtue is manifested in four leading co-ordinate forms: Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.—(Translator.)

2 There are four Vedas : the Rig- Veda, Yajur- Veda, SāmaVeda, and Atharva-Veda.—(Translator.)

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