Jan 15, 2011

Soap Box

I hope you aren't sick of this topic, cause it's something I'm pretty passionate about.
The following are some excerpts from
Collin McGinn's
"Whe Not Be A Bad Person?"
(I know I won't be writing these in thechnically correct ways, but I don't really care... so you shouldn't either.)
Beauty and truth are often linked with goodness as the supreme values: these three commodities are what the world should contain more of. I am happy to go along with these noble sentiments, but I would add that beauty and truth are bound up with goodness in inextricable ways, as follows.
A good person is a truthful person: habitual deceivers are not good. And truthful not only to others but to themselves: they seek out and respect the truth for their own consumption, not fooling themselves about where the truth lies. She who loves goodness also loves truth.
Less, obviously, beauty has a close relation to goodness. Many beautiful works of art are suffused with moral goodness, in ways that are hard to disentangle from their beauty; but more to the point, goodness of character is itself a form of beauty-- what we might call 'moral beauty' or 'beauty of soul'. The character of a good person gives aesthetic pleasure. A bad person, by contrast, has an ugly character, a soul we find it repungent to gaze upon. I think this is why we like to hang the pictures of those we admire, while we find it hard to stand the sight of the wicked. Thus goodness partakes of beauty. Indeed, given that not everyone can be physically beautiful, goodness of character affords one of the few other ways of exemplifying beauty. Nor does it require special talents of great labour, like being musically or poetically gifted. In a sense anyone can be morally beautiful, though not anyone can exhibit musical or literary beauty. This is because moral beauty is more an affair of the will than other kinds.
So if you want to make up for a lack of looks, you don't have to become an opera singer; you can simply become a decent human being.
The face of a good person is apt to radiate the virtue within, thus acquiring a beauty it would not otherise have; while the face of a bad person will tend the reflect the innter ugliness and be repellent to the gaze. Look at the expression on a face, notably when in repose: it can say a lot. This is not of course a simple matter of plain physical ugliness being the measure of a man's badness-- far from it. It is a much subtler thing than that, though one that most people can recognise when they see a clear instance of it (I mention no names). A physically ugly face can give off moral beauty, and a physically beautiful face can be marred by inner corruption. Nor, of course, is it easy to judge a person's character from her face, and major mistakes can be made, but with experience it is a skill that can be developed. Attend to the smile, the play of the eyes, the indefinable aura of the overall expression. Naturally the older a person gets, so that their face has had more time to mould itself to their soul, the easier it becomes to read their character from what begins at the neck and ends at the crown. I often think that a certain sort of tightness in the face is a suspicious sign.
So, if you are still wondering what reason you have to be virtuous, there is this reason at least: you don't want to end up looking even less attractive than you do now!

I think one of my favorite things about this article is how much he focuses on recognizing the moral beauty of others.. instead of the typical "focus on becoming morally beautiful". I think it's good to put effort into the way you act and look, but it's even better to look for the good in others.
Anywho. Be good, look good.

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