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Personal growth: Choosing which values or virtues to develop November 19, 2017

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal growth.
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It is possible that many of us “…do not have a strategy to build character,” and without such a strategy both our inner life and our external life “will eventually fall to pieces.”

This is one of the bold predictions made by David Brooks in his book The Road to Character (1). Brooks suggests that one of the main reasons we are drifting in terms of developing our character is that as a society we tend to emphasize what Brooks calls the “résumé virtues” as opposed to the “eulogy virtues.”

Brooks writes that the résumé virtues or values (the ones we list on our CV’s) contribute to our external success, whereas the eulogy values are deeper; “They are the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being — [such as] whether you are kind, brave, honest, or faithful…”

Brooks suggests that the résumé virtues are based on “utilitarian logic” while the eulogy virtues are centred on “moral logic.”

He says that while most of us recognize that the eulogy virtues are more important that the résumé virtues, the majority of us nevertheless spend most of our time on the résumé virtues in constructing our value system.

In addition to explanatory passages, the bulk of the book consists of biographies of people whom Brooks believes exemplify choosing the path of the eulogy virtues.

I’ve just started with this book, and judging by the opening pages it should be rewarding.

(1) David Brooks, The Road to Character, Random House, New York, 2015

Update: I recently stumbled upon a detailed article in the Columbia Journalism Review discussing how David Brooks in recent years  began increasingly writing about moral considerations as opposed to writing almost exclusively about politics. The article is titled, The Transformation of David Brooks. Here’s the link to the article:


—Dennis Mellersh