As I mentioned in my previous post, part of Richard Weaver’s solution for how man can get out of the hole he’s dug himself into is to return to a classical understanding of education as the cultivation of virtue and wisdom. So then, just what are virtue and wisdom?
Our English word virtue comes from a Latin word that can mean strength, courage, character, worth, or merit; but its basic meaning points to a human being attaining excellence in some area.
Practically speaking, a specific virtue can be defined as a refined faculty. Andrew Kern defines a virtue as “a God-given, natural ability trained to a pitch of excellence. Humans have the natural faculty or ability to speak. But that ability refined becomes the virtue of eloquence.” 
There are four basic categories of virtue: Moral virtues, intellectual virtues, physical virtues, and spiritual virtues. But I’m focusing on a specific kind of virtue—a meta-virtue, so to speak—and that is the virtue of loving the right things in the right way.
Anyone who finds happiness and fulfillment in the mere acquisition of money, or fame, or food, or comfort, or the like, may feel fulfilled, but only in a very shallow way. He is fulfilled only in the sense that he has exhausted his inadequate ability to be fulfilled. His glass may be full, but his glass is very small. Part of what it means to grow in virtue is to expand your capacity to love—to expand the number and kind of things you can appreciate—to heighten the quality of the things in which you delight. That’s what training the affections—one of the essential aspects of a good education—does for you. By cultivating the taste in higher things you would not otherwise be able to appreciate, you are not just obtaining more things to appreciate; you are expanding your ability to love the right things.
We could illustrate this point with literature or music. I may find immediate gratification in a substandard novel, but not be able to appreciate Homer, or Stevenson, or Tolkien because I have never adequately prepared myself to appreciate their greatness. Or I may like the immediate pleasures of some form of pop music, but because of my lack of experience and knowledge of any other kind of music, I not only don’t like more sophisticated forms of music, but I’m not capable of appreciating the great composers such as Strauss, or Schubert, or Zdeněk Fibich—because my taste for these other, higher things has not been cultivated. So there could be things that are deeper and richer that my sensibilities simply aren’t able to delight in because I have not cultivated my appreciation of them.
It is so easy for us, sometimes through sheer laziness, to be content with less significant things—to be content with being unable to delight in works of true excellence. This is not necessarily always a problem with the things (it’s not wrong to find enjoyment in the cheap story or the pop song), but it is a problem with the inadequacy of our contentment—the limited capacity of our affections. The hard truth is that it takes a little work to be able to delight in the right things, in the right way; so we have to exercise our affections like muscles, training and stretching ourselves to grow a greater capacity to appreciate and delight in works of excellence.
Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris—that is, rightly-ordered affections, wherein every object is accorded that kind of and degree of love which is appropriate to it. This reflects the teaching of Aristotle who said that the aim of education is to train the student to like and dislike what he ought. Why is this so important? Why is training our loves—our affections—such an integral part of education?
Well, because education is about the formation of the soul.
Augustine said that the character of the soul is assessed not by what a man knows, but by what he loves. The reality is that you can know the truth, but if you don’t love what you know to be true more than you love a lie, you’ll betray the truth every time. You can know the good—you can know the right thing to do—but if you don’t love the good more than you love what you’re being tempted by, you’ll stray from goodness every time. So it is essential that you pursue virtue.
 Andrew Kern, “What is Virtue?” Memoria Press.
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