Intellectual Virtues

Those virtues that enable you to better understand the world around you and your place in it.

The intellectual virtues are that subset of the virtues that name particular excellences in coming to an understanding of the world around you and your place in it.

In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he categorized the intellectual virtues in this way:

  • science (deriving conclusions rationally)
  • intuition (knowing sensible first principles)
  • philosophy (wrestling with the big questions)
  • art (knowing how to manipulate the world into desired forms)
  • wisdom (choosing the right means for wise ends)
“The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is that that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness.” ―Camus, The Plague (voice of Dr. Rieux)

See also

Some intellectual virtues