Atheists often make a god of humanistic ideals, and in their zeal perpetuate the same crimes they attribute to faith.
Shall we focus on specifics of virtue?
Self-respect is a virtue. Without self-respect we cannot understand the reasoning behind any arguments that tell us we should respect others. Self-respect doesn’t have to be taught. Children may not have the set of behaviours we call dignified, but they do naturally respect their own presence and intentions in the world. But self-respect pursued passionately turns to contempt for one’s neighbour. You behave hatefully because your blind adherence to self-respect makes you feel the need to aggrandize yourself in the eyes of others. It’s knowingly pursued, seen as justified, and has been the basis for every religious crusade.
Like the woman who dresses in very revealing clothing? That can be a reflection of self-respect turned into pride, yes. Appreciating the goods you have in your life is a virtue. We have to recognize the value of those things that lead to our well-being, but this appreciation of our goods can lead to belief in our personal entitlement, even the idea of privilege, leading us to deprive others as well. People have killed in pursuit of this virtue. It’s what motivates spouses to kill in order to collect on insurance policies. Kill in order to receive “the promised land.”
The pursuit of excellence in all these values negates all these values.
Justice is a virtue. Acting with equanimity and fairness is necessary for the well-being not only of ourselves but our offspring as well. We have to act in order to preserve the principle of compassion, but the passionate pursuit of justice leads to spite and revenge. Not only is the person pursuing justice willing to punish an offender, but they will punish those around the offender as well because they “allowed it to happen.” But the offender’s transgressions often become compounded as they are forced into the role of defender not only of themselves but of their friends and loved ones as well.
So to be virtuous is to not be too perfect in virtue? To be virtuous is to be vital without being reactionary.
Hold virtue with an open hand. Yes. The only true virtue is virtue shared. All else is sentiment, and sentiment by itself is blind.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.