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On eagles wings: Our recovery from Coronavirus (XLIII). Integrity as a virtue

Have a beautiful first weekend of September. This is one of my favorite months. It is the beginning of autumn, which is an spectacle of nature in multiple colors for all of us. Anyway, let’s continue with grasping the different views or theories about Integrity. On our last post, we covered the first 5 theories. But there is one conception of integrity that is still pending: the theory of comprehending Integrity as a Virtue, which is Eleonora Escalante Strategy core compass.

An aquarelle practice handmade with love by Eleonora Escalante, in August 2020.

Initially, I will introduce the way that contemporary philosophers explain this. In the simplest language form I can find. The original source of reference , for this first part of the article ( Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), is in our bibliography below.

Integrity as a virtue has two ways of approach:

  1. Integrity is an epistemic virtue. Indeed, I know you will ask me what is epistemic? Epistemic comes from the Greek word Epistēmē, which means knowledge. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its scope or extent and validity. When we examine integrity as an epistemic virtue, that means that an epistemically person with integrity, is motivated to pursue the search of truth, the context, causes, origins and discover the most justified belief in the midst of life. In simple terms, a person of integrity is always asking him/herself why? Why is this situation happening? Why is this person acting this way? Why would I do this? In this truth discovery process, a person that holds an epistemic integrity will always be motivated by finding new answers to encounter the real truth between the apparent. Just by understanding why, then we become persons of integrity.
  2. Integrity is a special dynamic kind of cluster concept that requires taking our life seriously and self-examination over time. La Caze, Cox and Levine (2003) consider that integrity is a complex and thick virtue term. Integrity as a cluster of elements or self-imposed constraints that are tying together our coherence of actions when we are tempted to behave wrongly in relationships or situations. These philosophers state that Integrity shows up in the middle of temptations of our daily life. A temptation is trying to get someone to do wrong. So integrity only happens when temptations challenge us to behave against the ethical code that guide our endeavors. In consequence, integrity is a dynamic concept that arises with the motivation to keep our impeccable steadfast adherence to an ethical code in the middle of these temptations.  For integrity to appear in our lives, it only can be manifested or practiced by living different type of situations, in our relationships with others and ourselves.
    What are the temptations that defeat integrity? There are certain human conditions that defeat integrity, and these are called temptations of two orders:
    1. On one side character traits, ways of behaving, practices that are originated by certain excesses of us when we search to practice integrity. These can also be pathological such as:
      • Arrogance
      • Dogmatism
      • Fanaticism
      • Monomania
      • Preciousness
      • Sanctimoniousness
      • Rigidity
    2. On the other side, disruptive characteristics of us, that undermine integrity, which make us impossible to discern stable and balanced features in our lives. These are
      • Capriciousness
      • Wantonness
      • Triviality
      • Desintegration
      • Weakness of will
      • Self-Deception
      • Self-Ignorance
      • Mendacity
      • Indifference
      • Hypocrisy
An aquarelle practice handmade with love by Eleonora Escalante, in AUgust 2020

How do we practice Integrity as cluster virtue concept in the middle of these two latter list of temptations already explained? What is it that make us coherent in our traits of integrity beyond the motivation to keep us attached to strict moral code? Again, according to these philosophers, there are two possibilities here:

  1. Taking one ´ s life seriously in all its important aspects: personal, intimate, social, professional, aesthetic, religious, philosophical, political, commercial, social, intellectual and emotional. Even if self-conflicts arise, in between all these areas.
  2. Taking account of one´s constant self-examined life. Pursuing Integrity involves taking account of knowing that integrity is a dynamic choice of life. We all change over time, we change values, convictions, commitments, desires, knowledge, beliefs and emotions. And by understanding this truth, integrity appears as a quality of character that requires to live an examined life in all these aspects that we are constantly changing. It requires a self-examination, self-monitoring, a frequent and constant self-analysis of us, and for doing this we require meditation or praying time daily. For me it is in our constant communication with God that we are able to live an examined life as a “person of integrity”.
An aquarelle practice handmade with love by Eleonora Escalante, in August 2020.

Eleonora Escalante personal reflections about the view of Integrity as a virtue.

First, the beauty of understanding Integrity as a virtue stays in the radical discernment that Integrity is a learning process. We are not born with integrity, we make our lives a process where we begin to grasp it, get it from others, and then we apply it, petit a petit. So it is an experienced integrity that only happens through relationships with others and ourselves. This process begins at home, with parents and child-caregivers that role model it, even in little things to children. If parents take life seriously, kids will take it seriously. If parents take some minutes of their time to practice self-examination or constant appropriate reflection of themselves actions, they will know themselves better, and teach by their own example to kids in each aspect of their lives. Kids then raise with the idea that praying or meditating is a must, as much as eating or going to the bathroom.  At the moment, kids are desperately in need to see, observe and gather “integrity role models”. Social media is full of people who show profound moral failures nowadays; and it is a challenge for parents and educators to help children and teenagers to understand what is a person of a virtuous integrity in the middle of millions who don´t show it.

An Aquarelle practice handmade with love by Eleonora Escalante, In August 2020.

Second. Integrity as a virtue can´t be appreciated without knowing that temptations or integrity defeaters will always happen. Temptations are and will take place either through situations in different time-life contexts such as kindergarten, school, university, career-professional jobs, family, etc. Integrity defeaters will always arise. No matter what you do or are, temptations to integrity are and will always emerge. This lands us in comprehending that our panorama of existence (why are we born) is tied to the conception that we are born to learn how to be persons of integrity by how do we solve all those temptations.

An aquarelle practice handmade with love by Eleonora Escalante, June 2020.

Third. A person of integrity as a virtue requires other virtues, mainly the latter 10 that we have already studied (Humbleness, Meekness and Peacemaking, Mourning, Hunger of righteousness, Mercy, Courage under suffering, Purity of Heart, Love, Faith, Hope). If we are in the process to become a person of integrity we need to learn to show and act with all the latter virtues, particularly with compassion. No matter how religious you can be, if your actions don´t show all these virtues in your daily being, it is quite difficult to say that you hold the grace of working hard to achieve the virtue of integrity.

Fourth. There are different types of integrity. Since Integrity is a process, and we play different roles in society, is quite noteworthy to accept that our purpose in life is to be consistent in our different types of integrity. Having integrity is not an all or nothing thing. For example some of us can hold personal integrity at home, but not an intellectual integrity (such as those who steal intellectual property or don´t provide at least the credits, for example). Some of us can have artistic integrity (as to give copyrights to those who inspire us), but not a personal integrity (by cheating your spouse). Usually the majority of us have robust  levels of one type of integrity, but not in others. Particularly not in the professional integrity level (acting with corruption with your colleagues, or bosses and subordinates). All these conflicts of interests between different levels of integrity, put us in a life of moral struggles or ambivalency, that requires to be managed in “appropriate ways”. Self-examination of our actions, help us to solve these moral inconsistencies.

An Aquarelle practice handmade with love by Eleonora Escalante in August 2020

Fifth. Integrity requires that we are taught and trained to put boundaries. Integrity is impossible to be acquired without proper boundaries. The Bible and many novels, movies, and biographies show us radically so many stories about the issues of not having boundaries, which allow temptations to defeat our integrity discovery journey. Those who can´t have boundaries are usually dealing with depression, anxiety and eating disorders, addictions to drugs and social media, guilt, shame, marital and relational struggles, crime (from petty corruption, intellectual robbery to murders or assassination). I believe that schools and universities, as much as they teach math or geography, must dedicate a course of ethics per year, in which all students can learn and be taught how to build healthy and loving boundaries with themselves, family, friends, significant others, future children or kids, work and even with religion. It is impossible to reach integrity without learning how and when to say yes, and without learning how and when to say no.

Sixth. Integrity is gathered in “an integral elevation journey”. In combination with other virtues, as when we climb stairs. Step by step. I completely agree with Daniel Putman (1996) who expresses that “Integrity reaches its highest point when it unifies and maintains a balance of virtues”. I also believe that once we comprehend that our life is a process to reach integrity, then and only then it makes sense to all of us, who live in democracies, to elect leaders at the academic-political-social-religious and enterprise levels with “a higher” degree of integrity. It is ridiculous to put people to lead us, if these do not practice integrity with the highest standards. That is why presidential positions (at a government, cooperation and private sector) are reserved for those who have integrity as much as they can in each and all the areas of their lives.

Next tuesday I will return back with several examples of the material that I have shared today. This virtue is quite a huge core concept for us to understand. We will take our time to understand through simple and complicated examples. Afterwards, we will begin to show you how to do ethical codes.

Thank you for reading to me. Have a blessed weekend.

Sources or reference utilized to write the first part of this article:

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.


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