The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Which Virtue Gives Other Virtues Their “Principal Lustre”?

Self-command is not only itself a great virtue...

“Self-command is not only itself a great virtue, but from it all the other virtues seem to derive their principal lustre.”

–Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Agree, disagree?

I was trying to figure out what Smith means, exactly, and I think it’s this: when we consider the possessions of virtues, without self-command, they shrink. Courage without self-command, consideration without self-command — it’s hard even to imagine justice without self-command.

Also ...

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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