July 12, 2010

On Temperance as Respect for Other

Interesting view from Roger Scruton on temperance, although he seems to come at it from more the Greek point-of-view than Christian:
The courageous person does not merely confront danger resolutely; he acts from the motive of honour. It would be shameful to him to act otherwise, and this sense of shame has been built into the habit that governs his behaviour...

Temperance, as much as courage and prudence, involves the motive of shame. Temperate people are ashamed to give way to appetite in circumstances where reason forbids this: they refrain from eating or drinking when this would display them as pawns of their animal desires; they are alert to the social significance of eating, drinking, and sexual interest, and ashamed to behave as though their appetite for these things could eclipse all respect for their companions.

Hence temperance involves acquiring the motive that the Greek called aidos, by which they understood a kind of respect towards the other and a readiness to be ashamed before him...It's a kind of openness to the other, a valuing of his judgement, and a search for full mutuality.
Which suggests that in a culture that lacks shame there's likely less courage and prudence.

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