“Values, Virtues, Vice, and Dating” is part of a full-day seminar I gave at the Le Meridien Bangkok on 8 December 2018. In this keynote talk to a group of private coaching clients, I reveal how morality is the missing piece in the puzzle of dating, mating, love, happiness, and life overall. I also propose a virtue ethical approach to life and values, informed by a deeper understanding of moral philosophy from both eastern and western traditions. And I argue that we evolved a moral sense as an adaptive mechanism for forming smarter, more efficient, more trustworthy alliances. The moral sense is also adaptive because it allows us to raise happier families, resulting in healthier and happier offspring.
For over a decade, David Tien, Ph.D., has helped hundreds of thousands of people from over 87 countries find happiness, success, and fulfillment in their social, professional, and love lives. His presentations – whether keynotes, seminars, or workshops – leave clients with insights into their behavior, psychology, and keys to their empowerment. His training methodologies are the result of over a decade of coaching and education of thousands of students around the world. Join him in this special seminar series as he explores deep questions of the psychological bases for mating in the modern world. Subscribe now.
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Values, Virtues, Vice, and Dating: Ethics as the Missing Link to Love, Happiness, & the Good Life Show Notes:
1:01 Why having your own set of values is important
6:26 This is what’s wrong with the MGTOW, Red Pills, and Incels
10:53 Characteristics of a narcissist
16:50 This is why many millennials are screwed
21:31 What does emotional freedom feels like?
26:53 The human being’s evolutionary advantage
34:11 The sin that overshadows all other deadly sins
44:03 What psychopaths are like when in relationships
50:00 The four cardinal virtues and why they matter
56:22 An introduction to the Confucian virtues
1:00:59 The crucial difference between knowledge and practice
1:05:18 How one can become evil without even realizing it
1:11:32 How artifice and the artificial can be good
1:16:25 This is how you become a better person
1:19:50 Understanding moral connoisseurship
1:25:11 How you develop connoisseurship
1:29:48 Why should you be good?
1:36:01 Why being virtuous is also good from an evolutionary perspective
1:39:45 What makes your life meaningful
Ethics as the Missing Link to Love, Happiness, & the Good Life
David Tian Ph.D. shares what’s wrong with the values of MGTOW, Red Pills, and Incels.
There are four cardinal virtues, David Tian Ph.D. enumerates what they are and their importance in our lives.
David Tian Ph.D. explains the vrtues through neo-Confucian philosophy.
There’s a concept called moral connoisseurship, David Tian Ph.D. discusses why we need it and how we can develop it.
In this talk, David Tian Ph.D. reveals how we can lead meaningful lives.
David Tian: Hey, welcome. I’m David Tien, Ph.D. and for over the past 12 years, I’ve been helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success, happiness, and fulfillment in life and love. Welcome to the special new video series on virtues, values, vices, and how that all relates to dating, and how it’s actually the key to unlocking success in dating. This is a video series that was filmed at a private mentoring group meeting, and over the course of that weekend, which was an amazing weekend, some of what I covered was this video series that you’re going to see here.
Over the past few years, I’ve been getting a lot of questions that have prompted the material in this video series. I wanted to be able to share it to more people. This is why we’ve released this video series. Guys who are trying to get better at dating, one of their obstacles is learning how to have fun and making others have fun. Once they get that down, the next step is making connections with people and seeing if those people meet their standards; making connections and seeing if people meet your standards. Along the whole way, from the point of which you’re learning to have fun and making others have fun, and then of course making connections with people, your standards come into play. They’re really important.
Since the very beginning of the time I was teaching, dating coaching, and now life coaching, the standards and values, which will help you determine your standards, were always a necessary component of the curriculum. From the very beginning, I had sections on values, how to determine your values, how to think about how your values related to your real life, and testing your values to find out whether they really are your values, and so on. I found out that so many guys who were having trouble with women are at such a low level on the hierarchy of needs that they’re just trying to get their basic needs for security, certainty, significance, sex, and the physical desire component, trying to just get that handled.
In other words, they’re so desperate that they’re unable to think deeply about values, or when they do think about values, it’s always at a very superficial level, or they just ask me or some ‘guru’, “What are the values that I should have? Tell me my values.” When it actually comes time to interacting with a woman, she finds that he is a kiss-ass, he’s a try-hard, he’s a co-dependent nice guy because he actually doesn’t have any values of his own that are ones that he’s worked out himself. The big problem underlying all of guys’ problems with women is that they don’t know what they stand for, what their ideals are, what’s really important to them in life.
They just basically say, “What does a woman want me to be, or what is she attracted to? I’ll take on those values for myself.” That’s a really bad way of thinking about values, and it’s actually a scary thing about that person. Hopefully, it’s just that he hasn’t been tested yet, but it might be that he lacks a morality. The only way out for him is to think deeply about it and to experience the process of developing values for yourself, testing them, honing them, owning them, and then of course re-evaluating them over time.
As we evolve and mature, we change our thinking, and our priorities, and so on. This whole video series is answering that question of, “What should my values be? And how is that question of values related to dating and dating success? How are values actually related to dating and dating success?” I propose one helpful and healthy way of thinking about values which comes out of virtue theory and virtue ethics. It comes from virtue ethics from east and western historical traditions. I bring those into play here in this video series. I hope you enjoy. Check it out. Love to know what you think. Please leave a comment. Join the private Facebook groups that we’ve got, and just keep in touch. Enjoy the video series. Without further ado, here we go.
David Tian: And all weird, and he’d be stiff, and wouldn’t feel comfortable. This is because that’s associated for him with a persona that he’s not used to having. He’s having an internal identity crisis. He’s like, “This is not me. This is me.” And this is happening. A lot of that work of helping you see the shame, and the narcissism, and the true self is that it releases you from this. You can now say, “Oh, I have many different parts and I can grow this other part, this persona, that I’m going to use for maybe business. Maybe it’s the board room, maybe it’s for pitching VCs, maybe it’s for closing deals, maybe it’s for being daddy and you have to play with your daughter, or maybe it’s helping at the charity on the weekend with the old folks home. There are all these different parts of you as well.
There’s one that’s the son, or the daughter, or the way you are with your mom or dad, or with your brother, sister; that’s also another persona. That persona looks differently, thinks differently, feels differently. If you’ve inhabited that persona for a long time, it’s relatively consistent. It coheres. When you want to develop a persona for another environment, it’s the same process that you did as a child, or a teenager, or in your workplace, creating a new persona. But because dating or mating relationships is triggering all of your old love stuff, your needs for love, connection and all that, that’s from childhood, it’s so much weightier, so much bigger.
Versus, you’re in the boardroom, there’s not many triggers for business. When you were nine years old, you weren’t looking for business success, so it’s easier to have that distance and it’s not emotionally-triggering for you. But entering a love relationship where you get attached is. A lot of the work is just helping them see… You can create a persona, and that means the way you talk, walk, all that stuff, that can change; you can develop that for a specific purpose. Once they embrace that I’m developing a persona, it should come easier. The problem is… Now, finally, we can understand the virtue issue.
There’s growing movements of MGTOW, Men Go Their Own Way, Red Pill. Incels, they’re not very big but they’re very dangerous, incels who will plow down innocent people. And then of course, as part of that is the school shootings by disillusioned single men who are bitter about life in general and want to take it out on the most innocent, including children. If you are so bitter that you would look for the paragon of innocence to destroy it, you are really fucking bitter. You’ve really gone over the edge. A lot of this has to do with, they’ve all skirted PUA, pick-up artist movement, they’ve all dabbled in it because their initial problem is women.
All of these guys, all of their complaints, all of their shit is revolving around their failure or lack of perceived success in mating. You come to the end and you’ve now basically prepared this guy, because it’s like persona work, you can be really successful. He’s either going to become a narcissist if he’s successful or he’s going to become a bitter, disillusioned man, a men’s rights type of person. You may not think that this follows logically, but it will if we’re missing the final portion.
All of this, up to this point, of true self, shame, narcissism, inner child, true self, it’s all without morality. It’s amoral. It’s not immoral but it’s amoral. It’s besides the morality. It’s largely amoral. It’s not immoral. It’s not moral. It’s just amoral. It’s separate from the issue of morality, good or bad, right or wrong. It’s just taking a guy from having the toxic shame, undoing that, and countering his inner child, thereby changing his narcissistic behavior so he’s not compensating with it, and leading and living as his true self, integrating his parts; and then finding out that he can develop a new part for a new purpose, and then developing that. What’s the end result?
The end result that a lot of guys find, that to my dismay discovered over the years, is the end result that they were looking for after doing all of this therapy, and all of this therapeutic work, and these guided meditations, the end result that they were looking for to gauge their success and whether they’ve reached that last stage is… Well, what was the presenting problem? What was the original problem? They weren’t getting women. So now, they go through all this, true self, inner child, parts, integration, narcissism, shame, toxicity. Boom, how do I know I’ve succeeded in going through this? It’s, again, do women like me? It’s ridiculous.
That got me really thinking, “Woah, weird. Could it be that Hitler could have gone through this process?” Everyone likes to take Hitler’s examples because it’s just so shocking. But you think about it. Could Hitler encounter his inner child? He’s like good Hitler boy. “We’ll take them down, yes. Yeah.” Instead of like healing his inner child, it’s just empowering his inner child, and then it becomes a narrative of power.
Dudes really respond to the word ‘power’, in sales letters, in headlines, in stuff like this. They respond to a lot of self-aggrandizement. It’s something I’m just coming to grips with, that instead of fighting it and resisting it, let’s work with that. Okay, that’s where they’re coming from. They just want to get stuff for themselves: money, women, power, whatever it is. They’re going to use whatever they can, and this evil that they could be, that they might actually be is there. They could use everything that I give them, no matter how awesome and great it is, for evil ends over bad ends, or for ends that I would not have even thought of when I started teaching it.
The last portion is to counteract that, but also more importantly, they will always end up being bitter. You take the guy who succeeds. How does he know he succeeds? Now, people like him, and he’s like the man. He feels significant. People like him, he feels important. That’s a narcissist, straight up. The thing is, as you know, we can always take that away from you. The world will take it away from you. People can take it away from you. I can take it away from you. I’ve given the example many times of I could just destroy you if that’s you.
I could destroy you by a couple hundred bucks; hire a bunch of models for 15 minutes, they go around you, turn you on, all that stuff. They make you think like you’re the man at the club, and suddenly, they spit at you, throw drinks at you, throw ice at you, walk away, and everyone sees it, now you’re shamed. Destroyed, because you got your significance from outside shit. You don’t feel significant if you look like crap and you’re at the bottom of the gutter. You don’t feel significant. Your significance is based on external stuff. That’s a narcissist.
So, even if he succeeds, he’s still going to be empty. Sort of like the alcoholic who hasn’t come down off the bender yet, he’s still on the bender. He doesn’t know how bad he actually is because he’s just taking more alcohol. I’ve done this example so many times. That might be, but the more common scenario is they fail. That’s the MGTOW, they got screwed over by some women. They got raped in a divorce, or they got rejected real hard. They got cheated on, and that would be the Red Pill guys.
What are they going to do? They’re going to cheat on them, those fucking whores, right? They’re going to line up a whole bunch of these women and treat them like crap. That’ll get their pride back and their ego. That’s Red Pill. You can just be incel, which is just like, “Screw the whole system. I hate guys who are good with women, too. I hate them all. I hate babies. I hate everything. I hate all that is good because it screwed me over because I didn’t get to have sex.” That’s the incel. But all of this is just coming out of failure with mating and women. Either they fail and they’re bitter, that’s just obvious, though maybe less obvious for those who are good at picking up chicks.
Like, some of these Red Pill guys are good at just picking up chicks because they disrespect them. That attracts the co-dependent female, and there are a lot of them, and they think that they’re succeeding. They’re just giving each other their neurosis, they’re matching there, but their lives are empty, their lives are bitter. That’s if they fail. But they can also succeed and think everything’s hunky-dory, but they’re actually just building a house on sand, then the tide comes in and washes it all away. It’s just a matter of time for the tide to come in. The only thing that can save you is the final chapter of my book. And now it’s like, “Woah.” Because I kept reading all of these guides on how to write books and stuff. There’s conflicting advice.
Tim Ferriss gave a really good piece of advice, which is: Write the book that you needed to read or that you need to read. Write the book about content that you’re so passionate about that you’d write it even if no one read it. When I got to that last part, I’m like, “Yes. That’s what I can geek out about for a whole lifetime. In fact, I made a whole career around it as a professor in moral philosophy.” Now, I can see why a lot of success that I had in this area that was a lot quicker than anyone else that I knew, it also explained why it was easier for me to bounce back from things. I’ve been at this for over 12 years now in this area of either dating coach or life coach, and I know people who started this journey before I did.
They had learned this. They had gotten into that world of learning social psychology and applying that to dating. They still suck, and it’s crazy. I’ll meet clients. They’ll sign up for courses or something, and in their pre-program surveys they’ll say, “In 2003, I read this book, and I found this forum, and I’ve been reading it ever since. Here I am.” Like, what? What have you been doing? I think I just figured it out. One of the most frustrating things about the modern world is, because of the fact that postmodernism, postmodern relativism won in the universities that — I didn’t expect this, but it won by the early 2000s, took over the universities.
There’s been a lot of empirical evidence for this now, especially now. I think it’s 14:1, people on the left versus anyone who’s not on the left. That’s trickled down, because all of the elites in the world were trained in universities, top universities, mostly western university. They will be imparting their indoctrination of relativism. Part of relativism is that there is no good or evil, it’s just your opinion. It’s all subjective. But you have to believe in their subjectivity; that’s always the stupidity about it. I was a philosophy student, and no one in philosophy who is serious about philosophy would ever… There are a few serious theorists of moral relativism, but you have to nuance that so deeply that it’s not anywhere close to the postmodern relativism.
Generally speaking, it’s really hard to defend moral relativism in Philosophy 101, even to freshmen. Now, it’s just the norm, it’s accepted. You don’t have any right to the truth any more than anyone else, et cetera. This has basically destroyed young people or people your age. I don’t know how young you are. I know how young you guys are, but I don’t mean like teenagers, but it’s destroyed men under 40. I guess the millennials, they’re screwed. They haven’t thought deeply about this word that no one ever uses anymore: virtue.
It was bizarre to me when it took a long time for me to realize that. I used to think it was just Singapore. I thought it was just the government doesn’t want people to think about right and wrong because they don’t want them to question the government and all this stuff, right? No, it turns out. It’s not just Singapore, it’s the whole western world. Unless you purposely went to an ethics class in the philosophy department, you would have no reason to study the different theories of normative, and meta-ethics, and things like this, and you would never come across this gigantic field of study called virtue ethics. My entire field was dominated was virtue ethicists.
In my little bubble in the academy, I thought everyone studied virtue ethics. I thought every undergraduate in the humanities would have at least one month of reading of Aristotle through at least the western virtue ethicists. But that’s not the case. That’s why you suck. I mean, that’s why you’re not happy. That’s why it’s so hard for you to be happy. That’s why it’s so hard for you to meet your own needs, because there’s a section in my dating courses, like Invincible where I ask you to think about your values. As a good modern person in this world of postmodernism, I tell you, I’m not going to tell you what your values should be. That’s for you to decide.
But here’s the process that you do it. We walk through that and you say, “Oh, David, blah blah blah.” You get it out of your system. And then what often will happen is if a guy is really honest with himself, he’s going to put power at the top, freedom, babes, everyone sucks my, you know, everyone’s kissing my, you know. That’s what he wants. That’s what these guys actually get off on. There’s no compassion. I never heard that ever at the top three of a guy’s list. Not that I’m saying you need to, but out of all these thousands of guys I’ve coached, and I’ve seen these surveys coming, no one’s ever put charity at the top, compassion, mercy, kindness, love, unless it’s the seven universal needs, right? That’ll be up there.
But when it’s values, “What is this?” It’s okay, because I didn’t either. I had authenticity, integrity, courage. These are very martial values. That parallels the movies that I like to watch when I’m going brain dead, I just want to lie on the couch because I worked hard all day. I just want to watch something stupid. I’ll go watch The Avengers beat everyone up, just the fighting. It’s that courage, right? But that’s a virtue, of course, but we don’t think of them as virtues. The values as helping you become more attractive, asserting yourself, keeping your own boundaries and all of that was quite obvious. I resisted all these years imputing values, telling them, you, suggesting values.
It’s gone to the point that these, on the internet, these MGTOW, Red Pill trolls are so numerous on our YouTube comments, in the Facebook comments, they just write #MGTOW, #RedPill, all this shit. I’m like, “Okay, I think it’s time to be more clear about this.” The reason those guys are so pissed off is because they actually weren’t clear about their virtues and values. In other words, they lost. They were in a situation with a woman, she won. It’s the only way he’d get bitter. He’s not going to become bitter if he won, right? She won. She got half his assets, or she cheated on him and hooked up with a hotter dude, whatever. In some way, she beat him at the mating game of evolution. She beat him, and he’s pissed as she beat him. There’s no court that will punish her. He’s angry about that. So, he goes online, and that’s what he does.
But he has no recourse, why? Because he’s just as bad as her. He just lost. He’s never stopped to think about virtue, because if he did, then he would know everything that we’re about to cover and he would be free from it. I have a course called Freedom U. It’s my best course, the one I’m most proud of, the one I put the most work in. I’m trying to get clear on what it looks like, the end goal of, “You have this freedom, what’s it like?” You get all of the stuff: freedom of self, purpose, love, all of this, meaning, et cetera. What is the other side of it? What’s that like when you wake up in the morning and you have this freedom?
A big part of it is you’re free from bitterness, from being triggered, from being controlled by your emotions. You love being controlled by positive emotions. You don’t like being controlled by negative ones. It’s really about being controlled by negative emotions. You won’t have that anymore. You’ll have control over your negative emotions, and you’ll have control, meaning you know how to massage them, change them, manipulate them, and you’re in control. You know what’s happening. Not that you never feel them, because a life with just positive emotions is also pretty boring. You need the contrast.
All of this is coming from freedom, but people aren’t free. None of those guys I mentioned are free. They’re just victims of the mating world, of modern evolution, of how it came out. It fell out like this. In the mating world, in their 20s, women have more power on average. The only men that could have more power than the majority of the women are the men in the top 0.1%. They’re all fighting for that, just like in that movie Beautiful Mind, Nash, right? Game theory.
Everyone’s gunning for the gold. The gold feels really good, but everybody else below number one is going to get screwed and they hate that. They have no recourse to it because they don’t have a morality. They don’t have that as a clear thing that guides them. They don’t have a conception of virtue or a vice. Because of that, everything gets muddled. Just this morning, the afternoon will be different, but just this morning, I’m going to give you some old style philosophy, show you how it changes your life. If you don’t understand this, you’ll be controlled by other things that will make your life negative. Exploring this, and getting an understanding of it, and applying it, will give you the freedom of life, the freedom to determine how your life will go.
It’s going to be pretty deep because we’re going to be drawing on ideas, philosophers, wise sages going back thousands of years. One great arrogance of modernity is ignorance of tradition. Especially from the left, they hate anything smacking of religion or old time tradition. They just want to tear these things down. They don’t like these icons. But this is obviously really bad. If you are ignorant of history, you’re doomed to repeat it. We’re going to try to understand what really, really smart human beings, over the past 2,500 years, have said about this very issue of how to lead and live a great life.
This is how we came to be as human beings. These are chimpanzees eating a monkey. They will find a young monkey and they will just tear it apart. One will grab an arm, the other will grab a leg and just rip it apart, and then they’ll just eat it like that. They’re eating from the middle of the torso. Red in tooth and claw is how we came to be. A lot of the world now is like this. This is largely because the controlling power of religious institutions have been so eroded that there are no checks on our barbarism. Whatever you can get away with, that’s what the morality of the world seems to be these days. Whatever you can get away with, as long as you don’t screw me over. That’s why guns are so important in America.
The guns protect you from the human equivalent of this. Otherwise, people would just take whatever they can. They’ll just break into your house, take whatever they want, and if you can’t do anything to stop them, why wouldn’t they? If you’re a woman, and you have desperate men, and they can get away with it, they would just rape you and then leave. Without morality, there’s no check on that. You’re just relying on the police. There aren’t enough police and they took long to get there, so pack a gun, concealed carry.
That’s how you protect yourself from this. That’s how you protect your home for invasions. You can’t wait for the county police to show up, county sheriff 20 minutes later. It’s over by then, so you got to protect yourself. That’s how the morality is now in the modern world because there’s no good and evil, there’s no right and wrong. It’s just whatever you can get away with.
In fact, in terms of evolution and science, that’s how we came to be. We are the product of killing and eating of other beings. It may not be so obvious because if you were in a full-on fight with a big animal, you would probably lose, just one of you, with your hairless arms, and no fur, and no fangs and all that. But what we evolved were brains. Our evolutionary advantage was brains, and brains were largely evolved in terms of survival value to coordinate with other Homo sapiens or other Homo groups of people, Homo erectus or Neanderthals. We could coordinate, and we invented weapons, et cetera. Over time, we’ve evolved to be the way we are now.
So much of the PUA world and the guys who study mating, they’re obsessed with evolutionary psychology. Like, evolution is the one science that they really pay attention to, one thing from the universities that they pay attention to, evolution. A lot of men have taken their playbook right out of evolution. They find out, “Well, women are attracted to this and that because of this evolutionary story and it’s adaptive in this way, so I’m going to take that. Status is adaptive? I’m going to take status. I’m going to show that I’m healthy because that’s an evolved preference. I’m going to do all that because of evolution.” And they, I guess, haven’t stopped to ask why they got fucked over.
You got fucked over, Red Pill, MGTOW, whatever, these bitter men, because you got evolved out. You lost. And now, you want some goodness in the world, but too fucking late. It’s actually not too late, but… I used to be a Christian, like a hardcore Christian. That means very conservative. I went to seminary, studied with pastors, all going to be pastors. I studied there. I did a New Testament Koine Greek in a class with just two students, with one professor. It was really hardcore. I won two awards, by the way, for Greek.
Anyway, just showing you how hardcore about Christianity I was. One of the things, and a lot of this is informing… My education in those areas informed everything I’ve done, and it’ll be quite obvious in a second, in a few minutes. One of the images I was shown was the evolutionary picture. You have Adam and Eve or the proto-humans at the top of this pyramid of dead animals ripped apart: blood, guts, everything. And then the caption for the seminary context was, “And God said this is good.” Imagine that’s actually us. We’re the apex animal, and underneath us are all these other dead animals that we conquered. We beat them.
Some of them allied with us like the dog. It’s a rare case, but most of the time, we won. Otherwise, it’d be a world populated by lions, or bears, or whatever it is. We beat them. Let’s just get clear on that. You can’t take your morality from evolution. If this is a world of evolution, it’s just dog eat dog, just get what you can. A lot of people, a lot of men haven’t come to grips with that. They’re just whining, and bitching, and taking the victim mentality on the internet. Because women now have all this power, they can choose whoever they want. They’re obsessed with this thing called hypergamy.
That’s where they’re like, “Oh, women are just going to trade up. They’re going to find the best man and they’re going to leave the man that they’re with if they can get an opportunity with a better man.” And they’re pissed. But dude, for millions of fucking years, we came about as a result of that. Now, you’re bitching and moaning millions of years later, there’s no goodness in the world? You fucked it up. Or you can understand why, for thousands of years, the smartest, wisest people in the world thought it was important to think about good and evil, right and wrong, not just because some god up on some mountain told them about it, but because of something much deeper. It actually is scientifically going to explain how you achieve happiness scientifically.
Before I jump to the scientific part, a quick review, in case you haven’t studied virtue before, of some of the great wisdom traditions of the world and the virtues that they suggest to you. We’ll start with vice because that’s the easiest for you to understand. All PUAs understand vice. By the way, I’ve been to the PUA world 12-something years, associated with it in some way. Over 90% of the friends I made through the PUA world have turned out to be quite vicious, vice-wise. They have vices. There’s very little virtue.
Our alliance, our friendship was literally an alliance. Once one of us is not useful to the other, then that would be the end of that alliance. That’s a very conditional friendship. Of course, we’re all acquaintances and friends still, but if you study virtue, and you study vice, you can see it happening. You can sense somebody’s virtue and vice, their level of this, how much they have it, how much you can trust them, how much you can open up to them, how much you can be vulnerable to them.
We’ll start with the vices. You probably heard of the Seven Deadly Sins. There’s a great movie called Seven: Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, very disturbing. Seven, classic movie. Don’t watch it while you’re eating. It’s really gross. That’s like one of those things where it’s an amazing movie but you don’t want to watch it again because it’s so disturbing. I keep trying to get my wife to see it and then I’m like, “I’m not going to watch it, though. You watch it.” And she won’t watch it. We’ll go over these.
Lust, greed, pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth. The movie Seven actually is a really great way to help you remember all of these. It will sear it into your memory. It’s really brutal. Anyway, there’s somebody who dies because he indulged in one of these vices, according to the psychopath who does this to them. He uses the vice to kill them. Anyway, you should see it. It’s pretty crazy. For gluttony, I can show this one. I think this is one of the first ones the detectives found. This incredibly obese man ate himself to death at gunpoint or something. He was just forced to eat and eat until his insides actually exploded. Next to him, they find his dead body with a huge table of food, and next to him is this gigantic trash can where he just kept vomiting, and the guy just kept making him eat. He died from gluttony.
You can imagine what the rest of these are. Lust is really disgusting. If I told it to you, you’d probably want to turn off this video if you’re watching or you want to walk out. It’s pretty gross. You will remember all of the seven deadly sins after that. So, these are seven deadly sins. Now, I’ve had to think, as a Christian theologian, philosopher, think deeply about the relationship between these seven deadly sins.
There is one sin that is the cardinal sin. It overshadows all the rest. In fact, the devil would prefer that you would give up one of the other sins if you adopted this one. If you only have this one, he’s fine with you not having any of the other six. This is a very common strategy in the fall of people, that they become teetotalers or something like that. They become very strict about denying themselves in these other areas, and then they take on this one vice.
What is the greatest sin? What is the greatest vice? Fall of the devil. This is the devil’s sin. This is I think from Dante. This is the fall of the devil from heaven because he deigned to challenge God or something like that. Anyway, he was cast out. It’s just a nice image here to get you to think about pride. Pride is a bizarre English word. It’s really hard to now use pride in any kind of meaningful way in discussions of vice because it’s just too common now. The word that I prefer is self-centeredness. The reason is because I’m heavily influenced from my Ph.D. studies. I did my Ph.D. and a lot of my subsequent publications in neo-Confucian philosophy. My favorite philosopher is Wang Yangming. He’s a 15th century philosopher.
His main thing that he was attacking was self-centeredness, si u. Si as in selfish, u is desires or emotions. The desire for the self. So, self-centeredness is actually very perniciously evil. It is at the root of psychopathy. Maybe this will make it more obvious. Robert here, one of the foremost researchers in psychopathy, here he goes, “Language and words for psychopaths are only word deep; there is no emotional coloring behind it. A psychopath can use a word like ‘I love you’ but it means nothing more to him than if he said, ‘I’ll have a cup of coffee.'”
In other words, he’s using whatever he can to get what he wants. That’s a lot of people. I’m not saying they’re all psychopaths, but the closer you get to a psychopath… Because it’s a continuum, right? The more psychopathic traits you have, the more psychopathic you are. In terms of just the way society has gone, once you jettison morality, and you haven’t thought about why, what you should replace it with, and instead you just go about your life… That’s like everybody, right? You probably haven’t done a course on morality at any [INAUDIBLE 00:37:11]. Most of the world hasn’t.
What do you do though? But you have a job? How did you choose that job? Did you think about good or evil, right or wrong or bad about it? No, you got a job to make some money. Why do you need money? So you can buy shit. What shit? Food, clothes, pleasure. Now, you’ve probably found me because you were having trouble with women. Why? Why do you need women? “Oh, because I have desires. I have these carnal desires and I want to use it. So, give me, David, give me you. I want to suck your brain, David, so I can go and fuck someone. I want to suck and fuck. I want to suck your brain, David, so I can fuck some women.”
They never stop to ask about good and evil. Is there a comeuppance? And a lot of them, because they didn’t study morality, it’s not even an issue for them because no one wanted to ask you about these, because there’s no more church, there’s no more institutions. Fuck it all. Hey, I’m anti-church, too. I don’t go to church. I’m not saying you should go to church, I’m saying you should think about the questions that church fucking asks you. What is good? What is evil? What is right? What is wrong, and why should I even associate myself with you? You’re just using my brain. “Ouch, it hurts.” You’re just trying to get stuff from me. And you think, “Hey, David, this is fair. This is life.” Well, you’re right. This is life.
So, one day, I will eat you because I can’t trust you. So, in America, I would be packing. I would definitely be concealed carry because I can’t trust people there unless I got something on them. I got their insurance policy, I got their money, I got their daughter, I got their son, I got their kids; I got something on them. I can trust them. They won’t pull a gun on me and just steal my shit. But a lot of people, especially in big cities in America, you got to watch out. They could mug you. You could be standing on the side of the street, and bam. By the time you figure it out, you report it to the police, you’re done already. It’s red in tooth and claw.
But I would prefer to be in a society where I don’t have to worry about that. What happened in 2001? People had to worry about that. Before 2001, they were just blindly going around. Their biggest problem was the stock market. Now, our problems are that the guy next to you could just open up that gun in the movie theater. I mean, this happens like once in a blue moon, right? But you’re thinking about it now, and what have you done to protect yourself? Nothing, because it’s evolution. You’ve trusted them. You’re driving down the street and some psychopath could just veer off of one little painted line and kill you. It doesn’t take much to be a suicide killer. I mean, you know, just plow into them.
We’re just trusting each other, but most of society has not asked about why. What’s the basis of that trust? So, don’t be stupid, pack a gun. Don’t be stupid, learn how to fight. Don’t be stupid, learn how to defend your family and your loved ones. But wouldn’t it be great in a society where you didn’t have to? Unfortunately, you have to. This is the society now. They don’t give a fuck. Seven deadly sins all over the place. “Yeah, let’s have some more.” The bad part is it was so hard to find this image. When you Google seven deadly sins, all you see are cartoons because there’s like anime after anime. I think there’s an anime called Seven Deadly Sins. I had to put in ‘seven deadly sins theology’ or ‘seven deadly sins Catholicism’ to find this. It still wasn’t the stained glass thing I was looking for.
People are just going to trivialize it. We do that all the time. “It’s cool, man. We go clubbing. We do a joint. No big deal, right? I’m there. It’s cool. We can do a song about lust and how cool it is because fuck that, I want to lust. Yeah, we’re going to glorify all that shit.” And then don’t complain when you get fucked over. Just be wise, man. Just be wise. So, we’ll get to that in the virtue section. But psychopaths, the closer you get to a psychopath, and the more you embrace the sins, the closer you’re getting to a psychopathy where you don’t care, there’s no compassion, there’s no fellow feeling, it’s just like I’m going to get whatever I want. What happens in a love relationship, there.
There’s actually, the theory goes, and the more you study psychopathy, they can’t actually love. That’s the tragedy, the great tragedy. Not even of a psychopath, because we think of them as killers and all of that, but people who are like psychopaths but don’t have malicious intent, like a sociopath. Like, the way they made Sherlock Holmes look in the TV show with the guy who played Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch. Great TV show. I loved that, but he’s a sociopath, and he’s like, “I’m a sociopath.” But he’s not a psychopath. He’s not going to go out and purposely harm people and get off on that, but he’s a sociopath.
The closer, you get narcissistic disorders, you get histrionic disorders, bipolar, borderline… Bipolar is much further this way, but borderline disorders. All of these various gradations of the lack of fellow feeling are getting you closer and closer to psychopathy. The closer you get to psychopathy, the less you can feel love. Relationships with cluster B disorders are going to be like this. So, what you’ll see sometimes is guys in relationships and they’re just trying to control the woman. You can see this in the various groups that we manage. “She is going out and I don’t like it,” or “She’s doing this with this other guy and I don’t like it.”
They never ask the right and wrong, good and evil. They just ask, “How can I control her?” Why should we help you do that? Why shouldn’t we help her be free of you, or why should we have either? Because both of you are equally bad, equally evil. It’s basically a psychopath asking me, “How can I play this puppet better? I want to make her come to my house. How do I do that? I want to pull this string. David, where’s the textbook on that? Where’s the video course? I need that module. I need a module on how to turn her on, which is this string. It’s not working very well, David. Show me how to use this string.” They never stop to ask, “What’s going to happen once you have all this control, you fucking psychopath Joker? What’s going to happen?”
Is there any love there? No. Well, that’s the theory. They actually can never experience that because it’s all about them, their selves, their acquisition of power, their acquisition of sex, their acquisition of pleasure. How do we get rid of this? Let’s say that you agree, “Alright, this seems really bad. I don’t want to have to be on guard all the time, defending myself all the time. I don’t want to have to be the gorilla looking out or the monkey looking out for the chimpanzees killing me all the time. I want to be smart enough that I can avoid that, but I would like to be in a society and to be with friends, real friends, who won’t backstab me just because they can get something from me. What can I do about that, David?”
Well, then I say, “Wonderful. Welcome to my world. This is the world that I’ve inhabited since at least the age of 11 when I was reading theology and philosophy books for fun. I was a big nerd. Of course, that probably because I was very alone most of the time. All they wrote about was this exact question, “How do you become a good person? How do you have a good life?” Not a life full of sex, money, power, and drugs, but a good life. At the end of this, we’ll ask, why would you want a good life? Hopefully, it’s obvious, but maybe it’s not and I agree that it’s not obvious.
The first step is you can follow the vices. For each vice, there is a corresponding virtue. You can see these are the theological vices and virtues. I just take these because, as examples, we can insert whatever from whatever tradition or whatever — if you’ve already thought about this and you can think — if you’ve already got your own list of vices and virtues, great. Just see how they match up. They match up. If you want to decrease the lust in your life, you can increase the chastity in your life, et cetera. Gluttony and temperance. I’m going to be diving into four virtues that will counteract almost all the vices including pride, the self, the excessive focus on the self.
Before I move on for the pride, the excessive focus on the self is at the root of the psychopathy, the cluster B disorders. It’s the caring so much about yourself, about what other people think of you. Here’s an interesting thing that’s happened recently. Meditation has become this huge thing. Mindfulness has become this huge thing. They’re taken from the Buddhist tradition and the early Hindu Vedic tradition. And in both of those traditions, especially the Buddhist tradition, there is a denial of the self, especially the Buddhist tradition, where you’re supposed to take on these practices so that you’re not focused on the self anymore, you’re not attached. You get rid of your attachments. There’s anatman. These are all key concepts in Buddhism.
The west repackaged it and said, “Hey, you should do all these so you can help yourself.” It becomes a self-help thing. An excessive focus on you and your self-aggrandizement, your acquisition of further power in your life. It’s you, you, you. You might think, “David, yeah, it’s fucking obvious. Yeah, it’s me, me, me. What’s your problem with this?” This is a really, really important question. The reason why the neo-Confucians focus so much on the self and the world focused on the self is that that was at the root, not just of problems between you and others, but problems in yourself, problems in yourself. The self-conflicts, the inner conflicts between the warring parts that you have, the part of you like that devil on one side, the angel on the other, or it could just be the warrior in you versus the one who wants the comfort in you, all of that’s rooted in the breakage of the self because of the excessive focus on the self.
Once you take your mind off of yourself and you focus on something else greater than yourself, hopefully greater, but even if you focus on something else, things go a lot smoother. This is, by the way, also the key to achieving the Flow state. If you focus on yourself, you’ll never achieve Flow. If you focus on yourself, like, “How am I doing right now? How do I look? Do I feel significant?” or any kind of ‘do I’ questions will undermine your Flow. You’ll be taken right out of Flow. Vice and virtue.
We introduce you now to virtue ethics. This is a major field in the study of ethics or moral philosophy. As I was preparing the slides, I was like, “This is going to be pretty heavy, I think.” So, let’s put a joke here. “Of the seven virtues of the samurai, the greatest is… devotion to all things samurai! I could be bothered learning the other six virtues.” Of course, like in Musashi Miyamoto and all of these great traditions, they all have their own virtues. If you ask Bruce Lee, he’d come up with a list of virtues, too. It’s true that I went, as a kid, to taekwondo class. At the beginning of every class, we had to read out the creed, beginning and end. I don’t remember all of the character traits that we were supposed to recite, but one of them was perseverance and discipline.
We had 10-year-old kids all saying this in unison. Those were the days. I don’t think you do that anymore, right? Now, it’s like, how do I break this guy’s arm? Teach me how to do that. There’s no tradition anymore. What we’ve lost with that is an understanding of why we’re doing it in the first place. Because if we don’t know why we’re doing it in the first place, we’re just actually relating to each other like this. And right now, you can’t eat me; that’s why you’re not eating me, if there’s no morality. Otherwise, why wouldn’t you?
We now move to the four cardinal virtues: temperance, prudence, fortitude, and justice. I’m going to say a few words about each of these as suggestions for you to think about as perhaps being the sort of virtues that you might want to take on. I guess we’ll do them in this order. Actually, let’s go with prudence first. Prudence or phronesis is practical wisdom. It’s the injunction to be as wise as serpents but as innocent as stubs. But the wise as serpents part, that’s the prudence part, so that you know if there’s a predator or a vampire that you’re dealing with. You don’t go blindly, ignorantly about sticking your neck out for people to cut it.
You can protect yourself and your loved ones. You’re prudent. You have practical wisdom. This is a virtue, learning this, learning the ways of the world, not being naive about how the rest of the world works, about how sexual mating happens, about the sexual politics; about the way of the world, money, power, guns, these sorts of things. You want to think about that, prudence. That’s prudence. That’s an important thing. So, in the left, the social justice warriors, they don’t value prudence. They get mad when you’re too prudent. They’re like, “Yeah, that’s the way of the world, but that’s bad. That’s wrong. Why do you know that? The fact that you even know that proves that you have privilege and you should apologize for this privilege.”
If you keep following this down the line, you have old style Maoism. You drag them before the kangaroo courts. That’s prudence. You got to know the reality, have a really good grasp of how the game is played so you don’t fall victim to it. That’s a pretty good think to that. That’s a virtue. That’s something you should encourage in yourself and in your children. You should be looking for those you associate with. Are they naive? Do they value naiveté as a kind of misguided innocence? Alright, what about temperance? Temperance is, in the old days, associated with drinking, unfortunately.
But it’s not just drinking, it’s anything. You can have the same relation that an alcoholic has to an alcohol as to anything. You can have that with sex, with deriving significance from ego stroking, from anything that would be… Especially with narcissistic goals, but anything. It could also just be food. Whatever it is that you have an excessive attachment to is temperance. How do you counteract this? Modesty, moderateness. We have gluttony and moderatio. That’s the Latin. Temperance, being able to say no to it. So, if you ever feel like you’re controlled by anything, try to fast from that thing, to not be controlled by anything that you don’t decide to be controlled by. That’s a virtue.
That was considered a virtue for thousands of years. Now, there are very few people that consider this a virtue. One example, actually, of someone who does is Jocko Willink, discipline equals freedom is one of his catchphrases. The Navy SEAL. They’re used to saying no to a heck of a lot of things. I think his Instagram feed is just his watch at 4:30 a.m. He just takes a shot of the time he wakes up every day. He’s got a lot of temperance, at least in the physical. Probably, in the other areas, I don’t know him that way. Temperance, how can you cultivate that in yourself? How can you encourage that in yourself?
The third is fortitude, fortitude in this sense… By the way, these aren’t Christian virtues, per se. These are taken out of Plato, as The Republic, and then they were adopted by Augustine, and Aquinas, and adopted by the Christian tradition. The Christians then added three or five more theological virtues to these virtues, but these are the basic virtues. So, fortitude is basically like guts. Do you have the courage? Are you able to step up in the face of fear? That’s a virtue. That’s something that you should cultivate in yourself, fortitude. Are you looking for people with that? Finally, we have justice. This is usually cashed out, in this context, as fairness, a sense of fairness.
Justice, as fairness, is generally not anything that’s prized. It’s not something that’s prized in the modern world. Why? Let’s say you have an advantage over someone else and you just take it. Why do we make it fair play for the monkey? Why would you do that? We’re trying to kill and eat the monkey. Why would we make it fair? That seems wrong to them. They’ll just take it and eat it. That’s why I say that they’re evil. That’s a vice, and I can’t trust them because they’re just going to wait until I turn my back and then they’ll bite me. I’m not surprised when they do because I understand them. I understand their vice.
Another thing about understanding vice is understanding your own shadow, your own dark side, what you are capable of doing, that you could go back to your animal nature, that what’s natural is not what’s good. I could write a whole book about that, the movement towards natural as being a good thing. Actually, we will get into that in the debate between Mencius and Xunzi. I’ll leave that for when we get there. And so, justice is fairness. Think about that, fairness as a virtue. Due process, not the kangaroo courts of #MeToo. Now, we move out of the western tradition to the Confucian tradition. These are the Confucian virtues out of the analects.
Mencius, who is the next generation after Confucius, took the first four and talked about them in terms of sprouts. I’ll get into that in a second, but we can just go over what these are real quick. Ren, that’s the first one, it’s humanness. It’s a horrible translation. Humane-ness maybe. It’s often translated as benevolence, but ren is… You can see the etymology. The graticule as a person, a man, like a person, human, so it’s got two lines this way, and then there’s two. The feeling of your other, your fellow feeling as philosophers call that, that you can enter into understanding; you can empathize with the other person, you have that feeling with them.
The scholars translated that as, you feel the humanity in the other, humane-ness. Benevolence is also another way to put it. These are all really deep. You can write an entire book on each of these. In fact, there have been books written on each of these. So, I’m going just at the surface, scratching the surface of all of these. Righteousness is more like rightness, yi. It’s often translated also as justice. Basically, it’s setting things in their proper place, rightness. Again, a lot of it is similar with justice.
Li, and this is the most interesting one. This is the one that’s missing from the western virtues. Li is a very interesting term from the Chinese. It means ritual, rights. And you’d think, why would that ever be in a list of virtues, that you go through the motions of these rituals? If there was a ritual around drinking tea, it could be like this, like this, and then you’d pick it up. And when you put it down, you turn it to [INAUDIBLE 00:58:31] over, right? That’s not a real ritual, by the way. But in fact, we actually have plenty of rituals, still. In Thailand, we bow like this. When we meet, we shake hands. Sometimes, we hug. These are all rituals.
We say hello, and you say hello back. I expect if you don’t, then it’s like a snub. These are all rituals. They only make sense within the context of ritual. If you ever want to feel the power of ritual, just stick your hand out, or have someone stick their hand out to you, and you can feel that the polite thing that you’re trained to do is to do this and meet their hand. Because you would have to force yourself not to because you’re trained by ritual. Why is ritual important as a virtue, though? This just seems like manners. Well, it’s not, because it’s actually much deeper.
What ritual does is it shapes your character. The things that you do either physically or verbally actually affect how you feel and think. The ancients understood this. This is why they had the marches, and these grand displays of pageantry in front of the emperor all through history. Because if you could get the subjects to engage in an orderly display, that means you have order in this country, in this kingdom, in this state or whatever it is that you have power over. That means that you can get shit done, for one. It also means that there’s something you can count on to make the relationship between people go smoothly.
Otherwise, without ritual, you’d just evolve into… I’m going to keep back to this wonderful image, into this. But rituals helps you not to do that, so that the more powerful man bows to the weaker one, and they have a sense of fair play. If you’re going to go into a BJJ match with this person, you’d make it competitive. There’s no bullies. That’s another thing about justice and fairness. Fair play, anti-bullying, otherwise you have a culture of bullies, and you always have to wait till the teacher shows up to break it up, or you have to wait until the cops show up to prevent the bullies from taking advantage of the weaker. Without that, if you just let the bullies bully and they win, would you want to live in a world like that? Sometimes, the bullies take power and they become king. That’s a shitty world if there’s no goodness there.
All of these things were instituted, these virtues, to prevent those things, to prevent us from devolving into the animals. That’s li. And zhi is knowledge. That’s pretty obvious. This is a lot more like prudence there. That one is more obvious, but I’ve written an entire paper just on the virtue of zhi in the analects. If you ever want to read that, virtue epistemology, I’ve written a paper on it. Of course, xi, which is integrity. This is a really beautiful Chinese character, because you have the person on the left radical, and then you have the character for word. So, you’re a man or person of your word.
That’s integrity, person of your word. You know what helps prevents us from devolving not just into bullies but also cheats, and liars, and deceivers, and manipulators? What prevents that? Well, the virtue of integrity, of being a person of your word. Unfortunately, I’m that way to a fault. Just recently, I just paid an extra $45 to a company that I didn’t need to, because my credit card got changed, and they had my old card. They screwed me over, in a way. I actually wrote them a strong-worded email, but at the end, I said, “But because I’m a person of my word, I will call you, go through considerable trouble to call you in your central standard time and tell you my credit card number so you can charge me for something I never received because I’m a person of my word.”
That’s just something that I want to live up to because that’s something that I know every little bit contributes to your character. And any time you deviate from it degrades your character. Every little bit. This is true in Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism, every tradition. Every little bit. Integrity is one of those things. If you say something and then you don’t do it, especially when it’s important to the other person, you’ve just already eroded your virtue. When you have to get good at night clubs and this sort of thing, you got to throw all this out the window. Otherwise, you’re not going to have any friends. I mean, you’re like, “Dude, are you a man of your word?” None of them are. They’re kind of campy.
The night club is a lot closer to this, and guys will only be your friend until the girl gets in the way, and now you’re competing about some girl, and then he back stabs you, doesn’t give a fuck, because now he’s in the cool table. You know a real friend when he actually disadvantages himself, or hurts himself in some way to help you out, and doesn’t keep it over your head the whole time. I mean, these are things you got to think about. Otherwise, it’s like this. Don’t get surprised when you lose a bunch of times or you get hit so bad you can’t recover.
That’s part of the reason why prudence is always in a list of virtues. Because no matter how good you are as a dove, you’re going to meet some damn hawks. If you don’t know your game theory, you’re going to lose. So, to a hawk, you don’t present as a dove. Prudence, zhi. Knowledge, of course, you’re looking for people who have these traits and ally with them, because then you can relax, then you don’t always have to be on your edge, checking your back all the time, looking for a Iago. You guys know Othello, right?
And finally, we come to a wonderful debate that I spent in my professorship, entire graduate seminar, exploring with my students: The debate between Mengzi and Xunzi. This is also parallel to the new Confucian tradition, in case you know it, the debate between Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming. I’m introducing these in case you decide that you would be interested in them and you can do some more reading.
Now, you might be wondering, “How do I cultivate these virtues?” What’s interesting is… I take the example from the Confucian tradition here, but this debate has been played out in all of the western traditions. It’s very clear here in the Confucian tradition. It’s also what I used to get good at anything, including picking up chicks back in the day, 12 years ago, and without understanding it. I just thought that’s how everybody gets good at stuff. I found out many years later that most people are completely ignorant of this and they just go through the motions, whatever their teacher assigns them. They do the homework and they think they should magically get better. They don’t understand how getting better actually works, the process of getting better at something.
It’s the same as the process of getting more virtue in your life, becoming more virtuous. There’s a moving presentation of this, depiction of it in, of all movies, Star Wars: Episode III, where Anakin becomes Darth Vader. It’s start with those little things. And you understand them, too, like, “Oh, I feel for Anakin. Why is Yoda such a jerk?” or whatever, right? “Why is Mace Windu such a hardass? Can’t they be softer on him?” And they get to the end, and then Obi-Wan Kenobi’s got to chop up his legs. Oh, shit, right? And then at the very end, he gets to redeem himself, Episode VI. It’s part of this whole process.
The same process that you’ve used to become a good person, you can use to make somebody or yourself into an evil person. You can go either way. We all have that in us. Some are born with a proclivity towards one or the other, especially psychopaths, the theory goes, but you can move either way, especially if you put effort into it and you put your mind to it. There are two different ways of approaching this. You can think about which one you like better. Mengzi believed that we are, at heart, good. We are born good. The joke in Chinese philosophy circles, it’s a really nerdy joke, is all the professors who have daughters are Mengzians, and all the ones with sons are Xunzians.
Because Xunzi said, “Human nature is bad.” So, you notice this when they pop out of the womb and the boys just create chaos. They’re just throwing things around. They’re always very aggressive. The girls are sweet, they just sit there, and they’ll play quietly with toys, with their dolls or whatever. This is completely caricature, but maybe that’ll help you understand the difference. So, Mengzi believes that we are born good, xin shang, human nature is good, shang. We’re born with proclivities towards goodness. Mengzi called that the Four Sprouts.
We are all born with seeds of these virtues. He specifically looked at the first four. We have these seeds of virtue, that we have a tendency towards fellow feeling, humaneness. And he uses an example of, if you see a child fall into a well, or you hear a child fall into a well, won’t you feel like your immediate reaction is to go and help? That’s what dogs do. They’re really awesome. Dogs kick ass, they’re better than humans. Some humans are like, “Eh, that child.” In fact, one guy I follow on Instagram, John Danaher, he’s one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu coaches in the world. He’s got a great Instagram. He writes these essays on every post.
One of the posts is him at a subway platform in New York like this, and he’s like, “How far we’ve come. 10 years ago, I was standing on this platform,” like a times were hard back then kind of story. But then he said, “And there was a guy standing at the edge of the tracks, and the train had to stop and wait for him. He was literally standing looking down.” And all these New Yorkers were like, “Come on, move or jump, man. Move or jump.” And he jumped, and then the whole subway car was silent.
John Danaher was like, “It’s amazing how when you confront the things that you callously say, how it shames everybody.” It was like, “Fucking John Danaher. I just come here for BJJ advice, man, and you give me this deep shit.” That’s a lot of the world now. It’s cool to look at somebody about to jump from a fucking bridge. Like, “Come on, man. Get out of the fucking way. I got shit to do. Jump, man. Get some balls and jump.” Well, that’s because you lack ren, humaneness, like the first virtue.
Mencius said that we all have it, that’s why they all stayed silent after. Because if you didn’t have it, you didn’t have the sprout, you’d be like, “Great, he’s jumped. Can we go now?” But you feel it because you had it. That’s Mencius’ argument. You have that in you. You’ve just not let that sprout grow. The idea is, when we’re born, we’re like little sprouts, little pieces of grass, and you have to water it, you have to give it the right conditions. You got to give it sunlight, water, all that, and it will grow. But if you grow the seedling in denuded ground, or I think the example he gave was a mountain that had been burned down and you try to plant in barren soil, then it won’t work.
If you take a good human being, and beat the shit out of him, and put him in a horrible environment, they’re going to come out evil. That makes sense. It wasn’t that human nature is good and always will be good, it’s that you start off with the proclivities, the movement towards goodness. That’s Mengzi. Now, Xunzi, which is one generation after Mengzi, said, “No, actually, just look at our world. How can you tell that these people are good? No, we have the raw stuff, but it’s largely inert. It’s not moving in any direction. You have to shape it.”
And so, he’s the first person in Chinese history to come up with the concept of artifice, or the creation of stuff. This is where we get to the discussion about whether what’s natural is good. You see that a lot now. That’s all Whole Foods, this billion-dollar company. That’s their motto, right? It’s organic, it’s natural. That’s good. Everything is about the more natural it gets, the more good it has. We move back to natural diets and all this stuff. But actually, this is quite ridiculous. No one ever wants to go back to the time before air conditioning, especially in Singapore. What’s natural is no air conditioning. What’s natural is you’re fucking naked.
Maybe some of you will like that. You’re like, “Oh yeah, here we go.” I don’t know. But what’s natural is you got to hunt your food. What’s natural is you don’t got a bed, you got to sleep on some grass. That’s natural. You want to go back to the state of nature? And of course, in enlightenment, there was some who learned about… They’re using this as an ideal to hold up, like the state of nature, right? But it’s ridiculous. I mean, all of these innovations are not natural that have made life better. More comfortable, at least, medical advances, et cetera. These are all good. That’s not natural. A lot of what we should give thanks for is not natural. This room that we’re in, this technology that we’re using, the very ways that you’re watching this or listening to this, being here, these aren’t natural. These are all a result of what Xinzu would call artifice. They’re artificial but they are good.
Human nature is like a piece of wood that’s all curled up like you would chop off a tree. And if you want to make something of it, you’ve got to carve it. You got to do some work on it. You got to make it into something. He talked about how to take a warped piece of wood and straighten it. That’s the process of making somebody into a good person. So, either way, the result is the same. You have some awesome thing at the end, right? The question is, where did you start off with? Did you believe that we start off with some goodness in us, and we have to encourage those tendencies? Great. I’m all for it.
But maybe you think, “No, there’s no goodness.” And this is Jordan Peterson’s view. “Life is suffering. Life is hard. We’re shitty stuff, and you have to do this, you got to take on responsibility. You got to make something of yourself. Wipe the Cheetos dust off your chest and get out of your parent’s basement. Now, you’ve done it. Great, so you’ve made something out of yourself. That’s the Xunzian view.
Jordan Peterson is a Xunzian. Either way, this is just a debate that works out towards cultivating your intuitions or cultivating a good character so that the end product is a good human being. One thing I forgot to mention is, the reason you may not have heard of virtue ethics is because even though virtue ethics is the oldest ethical philosophy tradition… I mean, I’m citing shit from the 500 BC, right? Of course, Aristotle, from around that time as well, Buddha, these were all virtue ethicists. In the enlightenment, the normative ethics took a different turn and it moved into consequences. It evaluated the right and wrong based of the consequence of an act. Here, you get trolley problem stuff. This is what still a lot of Western ethicists do. They debate the consequences of something.
These are consequentialists. They’re the ones who think consequences dictate whether something is good or bad, or right or wrong, I mean. Another one is deontologists. They are the ones who look at rules, generally speaking. This is very complex. I’m just scratching the surface, but it’s rules and consequences. That’s what a lot of the enlightenment tradition move towards. That has not helped anybody at all. That’s how you figure out your laws, but it’s not going to make a society where you have good people. Here’s another example making it your character rather than just your actions or whether you follow certain rules. Think about a great golfer.
Everybody could hit a hole-in-one eventually as a fluke. You could get it into the hole, yeah. But a professional golfer like Tiger Woods has his whole being, his mannerism, his movements, trained so that you can get that ball in the hole. There’s a difference between somebody who is untrained and does it versus someone who does it because that’s who he has trained to become, to be a great golfer, versus the guy who hits it and gets it right but as a fluke. That’s why character is so important. That’s why if you just see somebody behaving because they’re following some rule, because if they didn’t follow the rule, they’d get punished, don’t trust that guy. That’s most of the world. That’s how Singapore runs.
Whenever you’re flying in Singapore, what do they do? By law, they’re told to tell you the drug offenses and punishable by death. Like, okay, I’m not going to use drugs. Got it, got it. It’s not because they think drugs are bad. It’s not because there’s a character trait towards it, it’s because it’s forced. They might have a character trait for it but that’s not because of the announcement of the law. The law might move you towards that direction and that’s a good thing. But if the only reason you’re doing it is to avoid punishment, then you’re not a good person. You’re just a coward. Either way, a virtuous person won’t do it just because it’s a fucking rule. They want to know why. What’s behind this rule? What’s consistent with who I am?
You get back to Mengzi and Xunzi. The view of human nature, I went into that, good and bad. There are metaphors for cultivation. One is a natural metaphor of sprouts, that you give it the right environment and it’ll naturally grow, and the other is it’s not the environment that matters as much as the effort that you put into it, the deliberate effort. They both have the importance of ritual. This is really important, because ritual just because means what you do with your body. Your face voice, your body, the practice that you engage in when you practice. I love the way that great actors talk about their technique. They talk about, even DiCaprio to prepare for Aviator got an acting coach, even after he’s done all these amazing movies.
I remember watching an interview where they asked him, “You’ve done so much already. Why would you need a coach?” He’s like,
Everyone could improve their techniques. He’s talking about how this coach came in and he’s telling him right away, “Okay, you’re behind the wheel of this airplane.” I don’t know if they call it a wheel or not. “Okay, it’s going down, go!” He’s like, “Wait, hold on. I got to warm up. I got to get into it.” He’s like, “No, just don’t warm up. Just go!” He’s like, “Okay, here we go.” Sounds awesome because he’s focusing on the technique, the practice of it. It’s something that you do every day, all the time.
Now, the technique of being a good person, you never rest from that. The moment you’re awake, and maybe even while you’re sleeping for all we know, but the moment you’re awake, you’re already practicing either moving towards becoming a more good person or a more evil person, a more bad person. Which is it going to be? And for many of us, it’s been like this and maybe downwards, maybe upwards. Who knows? But are you doing it deliberately? Is it a practice? Ritual is to help you do that. So in ritual, you go through the emotions that will force you into taking on the characters you want. A great example, again, is Jocko which his Instagram feed where he takes a photo of his watch every morning, usually like 4:30 or 4:00 a.m. that guy wakes up.
And it’s a ritual. It’s a ritual to reinforce the life and the character that he wants to have, that he wants to be. In either case, you get to it by the ritual of, in the case of Mengzi, getting into the sunlight, getting the right watering, and getting the right soil conditions and all of that as an example. What would that be in your life? The conditions of your life. It could even be like your bed, but also your home, the people that you associate with, who you see on a day-to-day basis, who you hang out with regularly, your peer group, et cetera, what you do for a living. How does that make you into a person who is more good, building your character? That would all be under Mengzi’s thing. He’s looking for the rituals that you’re going through in your life.
Are you just coming home and downing a whole bottle of whiskey to drown your damn sorrows? That’s a bad ritual. That will guarantee that something else happens to you, that’s very bad. The same with Xunzi. Xunzi’s big, big on ritual. In fact, even the shaping of the wood is a ritual. Repeated movement over and over, that creates the good character and knowing the good. Well, moral epistemology, I’ll skip that for now. But if you want to read more about moral epistemology, I’ve written an entire awesome paper on virtue epistemology, in case you want to know.
Now, there’s a word that I think is the most useful for this. I first learned it as a Ph.D. student from the top professors in the world in Chinese philosophy debating this, and there was a word that kept coming up as a model, like the framework, by which they describe all of these theories in Asian philosophy, and Aristotle, early-Greek, theories of how to be a good person. It’s a word that I use just like I thought everyone knew it. I think most of you know it but just in case, I’m just going to go through real quick here: moral connoisseurship.
To be a connoisseur is to have well-developed tastes. We talked about this a little bit. I tease some of you yesterday. So, developing your taste, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what character is about. So, you’re wondering, how can I… I get this all the time now because I’ve been harping on, “She cheated on you, you idiot. You should’ve figured it out.” I don’t say ‘you idiot’, but ‘You got to learn.’ He’s like, “How can I tell if she’s good or bad?” I’m like, “What? You can’t tell Thanos versus…” I don’t know. I guess some people would be like, “Thanos is a good guy.” I know a lot of girls like Loki because they’re warped, you know? They like that bad boy. But then again, if Thor’s going through the motions, immature Thor… But anyway, I digress, because Avengers preview just came out yesterday. I think I watched it seven times last night.
Connoisseurship, where was I going? Oh, right. So, a lot of people, they can’t tell the difference between good or bad or they can’t tell when somebody is trending towards good or evil. The reason why this is so worrying is because if they can’t tell it in somebody else, they can’t tell it themselves. That’s why I know they haven’t been thinking about it. They haven’t been asking themselves on a day-to-day basis, “Should I take this job? Will it make me a better person?” No, they’re taking the fucking job because it’ll make them some fucking moolah, man.
And if they could bend over backwards, and take it up the ass, and get even more money, they would, but no one is offering them that job. But they would. A lot of dudes, they’d be prostitutes to hot women. They’d do it. I mean, you imagine I get paid to have sex with a hot woman? What the hell? I’ll do it. But you know, women are like, “Oh man, I can have sex with a not disgusting guy and get paid X amount of money” and they still wouldn’t do it. So, they’ve been forced since young to think about how to deal with these sexual advances, but most dudes have not. They haven’t had to wrestle with good or evil because they didn’t have the freedom to be either. They just follow the rules. They live in mom and dad’s house, mom and dad’s rules, then they go to college, they start fucking around.
They start doing all this dangerous stuff. Well, if you’re adventurous, unless you’re super controlled by your parents, and you’re full of fear, and then you just stay at home and don’t do anything. I get that, too, a lot of that. Anyway, now, at some adult point, you ask yourself, “What is goodness? How can I elevate that in my life? How can I encourage more of that in my life?” Okay, now you’re at this life. It’s the same as appreciating art. If you haven’t developed your tastes, the more you develop your tastes in one area, the easier it is to develop your taste in other areas. Morality is a taste. You develop a taste for it. That’s why you’re blind to it. That’s why the average person who walks into an art gallery can’t tell.
Like me, I can’t fucking tell me an art gallery. I mean, one of my dissertation committee members was the main guy in art history. I had to sit in on some undergrad classes. So, I learned some stuff about Chinese art, and most of it was just the history of it. I can’t tell the difference between a replica and the real thing. I wouldn’t know. I’m sure I really want to have the freedom to do that maybe when I’m older and actually take a proper art appreciation class. It also applies to jazz. That was the first thing that I had to learn as a connoisseur.
First of all, I love the sound. I love the whole culture around it when I was like 12 years old, really got into it. That’s what got me into saxophone, and I pursued that seriously. Like, an hour and a half, two hours a day practicing. At that age, that’s quite excessive, and I got really good at it. And I found that very few people could understand jazz. What I was hearing, they weren’t hearing, and then I need somebody who is far more advanced than me, and they were telling what they’re hearing and I’m like, “Wait, play that back because I didn’t hear that.” And then I hear it. There’s this one time in Montreal, this big jazz fan. He didn’t play instruments. He was just a fan so I was really shocked.
My favorite CD, popped it in, Joshua Redman, it was on his second album, Wish, and there was this part where in this song was this beautifully lyrical song. It’s just instruments. And then the drummer goes bonk, bonk, and doesn’t touch those again. And he’s like, “Oh, that was just beautiful.” I’m like, “What?” And I played it back, like, “Oh, shit. I miss that.” And then there’s another thing that the drummer was doing. At that point, he went bonk, bonk and didn’t touch that instrument again, that percussion instrument. I was like, “Damn, that guy brought in that just to place those two notes that time.” That guy picked it up. I didn’t pick it up.
I listened to that song so many times before and I didn’t pick that up. And there are so many other things. Like, he’s showing me the harmonies, like, man, there’s so much complexity there that I was just like, “Yeah, that was a good song” versus understanding what’s really there. The more you listen, the more educated you get, the more you know what to listen for. When you’re playing, here’s another example of how you develop your connoisseurship: When you’re playing in the middle of the jazz band, it is really fucking hard to hear all the instruments, to listen, to pay attention. You hear, you get to beat, the beat’s there, you know the bassist has land it down but you don’t really pay attention to the bassist if you’re the instrumentals.
The piano, he’s laying down the chords. You’re listening for your cue to come in, and then boom. And your instrument is so much louder than everyone else, it takes years for a guy to be able to play while listening. That’s why the monitors are so important, so you can hear what everyone else is doing. You got to respond to them. That’s fucking hard, opening your ears. It’s years and years of practice, and experience, and attunement, and just, play it again, play it again, play it again, listen deeper, listen deeper, listen deeper.
I wanted to bring this one to you for connoisseurship. Think of an acquired taste that you acquired. That means at the beginning, you didn’t like it. The more you got into it, you really liked it. Almost all tastes that people are really obsessed about, really love, are acquired tastes. Most of you grew up in Asia, I didn’t. My first time trying sushi, I was 11 and I hated it. It’s slimy, it’s raw, it’s gross. I was 11, so this was 1987. 1987, there’s no sushi restaurants in Toronto, maybe two or three. No one ate sushi, but we were in Japan with the family.
And [INAUDIBLE 01:26:35], uncle or somebody, he gave us the sashimi, us kids, with a fucking green thing. I tasted the green thing and I’m like, “Oh god.” And then my older sister didn’t see me do that, and like, “Hey, this is coleslaw” like in KFC, right? You get that green shit. It’s coleslaw. And she’s like, “Oh.” And she takes this spoon and gets it in, like, “Ahh!” She runs to the toilet and I was like, “Yeah!” My parents still that story to this day. Sorry, Mel. Anyway… I was playing around with wasabi, but I couldn’t stomach that stuff.
But then three years later, it was my favorite food. Seriously, if I had to splurge, my parents say Japanese, I’m like, “Yes, we’re going for sushi!” It’s the best stuff ever. I hated it at first. Jazz is going to be one of those things. If you go deeper and deeper, you’ll appreciate it and it’ll be one of your favorite things. I think that if you want to be comfortable in upper crust society, because a lot of you guys are looking to how to elevate your lifestyle, how to meet attractive women. Wine tasting is really easy, and awesome, and fun to do.
You can get a wine tasting class for like $30 and they give you a flight of wines. There’s somebody telling you what notes you’re supposed to pick up on. You swish it around in your mouth. You stick your nose in that baby and you awaken your tongue and your nose. You get two senses in one. A lot of the other connoisseurships are just one sense. So, food appreciation, wine appreciation, whiskeys, gins, whatever. It happens to be alcohol because people like that, but it could be anything. It could be any kind of food, any kind of taste. These are all analogies. They’re just like analogous to morality. I’m not actually telling you to become a wine taster or anything.
You can do coffee. That’s fun, too. Whatever it is, I’m not telling you to do it, I’m just saying the more connoisseurship you develop in your life, the easier it will be for you to understand how to develop a taste for morality, to be able to see it clearer, and to appreciate it when you see it; to be able to pick it out of the environment of the reality. The neo-Confucian philosopher Wang Yangming, my favorite, used to say it like this, that the morally good person sees reality differently. He’ll approach some moral quandary, a man has beaten his wise or something, and the Neanderthal, the barbarian comes and just sees a man beating his wife.
And then Tony Robbins or whatever, right, the moral connoisseur comes and sees, “Hold on, what’s happening? Let’s stop this. What’s this about?” and goes deeper, and is able to discern more, maybe immediately discern it, and be able to pick out, to see the moral principles in the situation. That’s something you train your eye for. I mean, morality is your eyes, your ears, your senses, your heart, everything. Moral connoisseurship is the way, that you’re trying to develop your intuitions, your senses, your attunement to it, your awareness of good and evil, of when somebody is acting out of virtue versus just doing it because they’re forced to do it.
The reason why this is so important to you… You might ask, “Why should I be good?” That’s one of those Philosophy 101 questions. “Why be good?” Because if after all, if I’m good, and then all that happens is I get eaten, that’s no good. I don’t want to be eaten, so why be good? Because that looks like I’m just becoming a weak dove. Of course, I’ve already partly addressed that by prudence and knowledge here. But more importantly, it’s for your sake internally. Aristotle said in Nicomachean Ethics: For to constitute happiness, the well-being, like flourishing, there must be as we have said, completely virtue and a complete life.
You can only find happiness, fulfillment, well-being, flourishing, with virtue. Why is that? Well, I’ve already introduced it here, that the psychopath doesn’t actually love. He’s not able to feel that. Because in order to feel love, you have to feel vulnerability. You have to be able to feel your pain. Otherwise, all you’re doing is relating to other people like this, and then there’s only gradations of this. “Am I a good puppet master or a poor puppet master? David, teach me to be a better puppet master.”
I was always wondering, for so many years, why do I have this ah feeling whenever I get those types of questions? It’s because they’re asking me to help them be more evil. They’re using me to make them more evil. That’s when I realized, “Oh, well, that’s why I’m resisting this, and I will say no anymore. No, I will not give you Limitless. The only people who get to have Limitless, you have to buy the whole thing.” That’s like when Neil Strauss, he should’ve said, when they interview or asked him, “Do you want to take back the things you did? Do you regret writing The Game?” He’s like, “No. It’s something that I did in the past. It’d be out there.”
But the interviewer said, “Would you suggest that you packaged The Game with the truth?” He’s like, “Yeah, okay.” That’s what you should do. That’s what I would do now. If you are going to use those tools which is going to increase your prudence, you better fucking have the other virtues, or now I’ve just equipped Hitler. You know what I mean? I’ve just made a person better at deceiving and manipulating others. Virtues are the only way to find love, because somebody who is only vicious can’t actually love. Well, how does this link up to science? So, our lives are like pretty crappy in general. I agree with Jordan Peterson on this. Our lives are much more comfortable because of technology like air conditioning, but I don’t know how much air conditioning has actually improved to happiness in people.
I think people were equally happy before air conditioning, but you can’t go backwards, right? Now that you’ve got air conditioning, you can’t go back. But remember the days before? I know you guys have relatives in Singapore who lived before air conditioning. Air conditioning was so expensive you can only have it at the office, but you’re still happy. You could still find love, you still had kids and did all that stuff. Not you, but your parents or whatever. Well, this is the trajectory of life: you’re born and you die. In the middle, you hope to have some fun, and then you hope to have enough money that you can keep yourself alive and survive before you naturally die. That’s life, right?
And life would be better if there was someone else to share it, wouldn’t it? Especially if you have an amazing life. If you have a shitty life, then maybe it’s best to be by yourself. But I don’t know, maybe if you were stuck in jail for 50 years, it’d be better to have a roommate. I don’t know. I haven’t thought enough about that particular. But things are going great, everything is even better when it’s shared. You got something good. You got a great suite. Who needs three bathrooms in a hotel? You could shit in one, pee in another, put your stuff on the other one, but you have someone else, it’s so much more fun. You’re sharing it. Sharing it doubles or actually compounds your happiness.
This is clearly something that tugs at us more. And you already know this. I don’t have to repeat the inner child work, why we have a need for love and connection, why that’s built into us as Homo sapiens. You can intuitively understand why this is a more meaningful and full life than just you by yourself growing old and dying. Hopefully, you get that. But even better than that, especially from… Now, we bring the science in. Well, this can be explained by science as well, but we bring the evolution in.
From an evolutionary perspective, this is a failure. Why? Just from evolution. It’s not a failure from any other perspective. But from evolution, it means they didn’t pass down their genes. The only purpose of our bodies, from a biological perspective, is as a vehicle to pass on our genes. What’s interesting too is your life is happier with a family. And the Asians are like, “Yeah! That’s what we’ve been saying for thousands of years.” It’s interesting, because to come to grips with that, in terms with that as a western-educated person, that the family unit… Whatever benefits the family unit will benefit your happiness.
Now, you might think that’s stupid, that makes us… Well, think about those sci-fi movies where they take babies and put them in a school, like they do with the X-Men, the movie coming up. Supposedly, that’s better for the kid. You can teach them stuff. You can turn them into soldiers. You can do whatever you want with them. There’s no family there to mess with them. You can brainwash the fuck out of them. And they’re awesome, they’re super soldier and all this shit, right? You can do that. Do you want to be that kid? I know some of you would be like, “Yeah, I want to be a fucking super soldier. Make me into Black Widow.” That’s what they do with Black Widow. “I’ll be a Black Widow, sure.” But you don’t actually want the bad stuff.
Wouldn’t it be better if Black Widow could’ve been Black Widow and had a family? She would say yes because she once swam with the Hulk. Oh man, such a nerd with Avengers. I’m trying to not get into that. Okay, so your life is qualitatively better as a family, but also from an evolutionary perspective, it’s superior. That’s why all of virtue is actually evolutionarily better. Having a virtuous life, being a person of good character… And it shouldn’t matter to a person of good character, by the way. So, if you’re a person of good character or trending that way, this is not a motivation for you to continue being a person of good character. You should be a person of good character because it’s good, not because it gets you ahead in the evolutionary game or race. But it does, that’s the science part.
Why is that a good thing? Why be good? Generally, the people who ask that are these types of people who are like trying to just get ahead. They just want to get ahead. More money, more bitches, more cars; they want to get ahead, whatever it takes. They’ll do it. They’re like, “Why should I be a good person?” Well, this isn’t supposed to motivate you to be a good person, but from a science perspective, the reason is because a good person will raise a happy family, and a happy family is the key to all the good stuff.
You could beat your kids, I guess, and force them into slavery of some kind, and they’ll probably get knocked up and have more kids, right? I guess you can perpetuate the cycle of red in tooth and claw. I mean, you could be raised in a society like this and still have babies. But life is so much better, and the science has proven you’ll live a longer life if you have love in your life. You’ll live a longer life, and a more meaningful, fulfilled life because you have lots of positive emotions instead of all that stress cortisol in your system eating away like acid, and if you’ve got love and happiness in your family situation among your loved ones.
This is, from the scientific perspective, why we have virtue. From an individualist perspective, you won’t get any of your emotional needs met without it. You’ll always just be empty. Think of a life that is lived to pursue the vices. That’s what actually a lot of guys who turn to pick-up stuff want. They’re like, “Make me more bad. I want to be the bad boy. Make me more bad. How do I swear more? How do I do all this other stuff more? I want to be a bad guy.” Okay, well, yeah, especially for night clubs and shit like that. You’ll be sexier, but you’re moving in this direction. You’re focusing excessively on yourself.
And maybe they were never actually good; they just sucked at being bad. So, they’re bad people who needed to learn how to be better at being bad. So, they were always self-centered. They just sucked at it. Now, you made them better devils. The research shows they actually can’t love, so maybe I should just give up. But I’m hoping that some of them, most of them are not actual psychopaths, it’s a pretty small part of the population, but they’re just naive. They don’t have the virtue of prudence, and so now, I have pulled back the veil and shown you what your life will be like pursuing the vices. You’ll be an empty one and a short one, generally, shorter one. You might still have a long evil life.
And you could have a short amazing life or a long amazing life. Either way, it’s going to be fucking amazing if you have love in it, full of love, full of goodness. And many of us struggle because of this, right? Because of some shit that happened to us when we were kids. But many of us struggle because we think that we won’t be happy unless we have some baller life. That’s probably the main benefit guys are looking for from a sales page, a PUA sales page, a baller life, the Dan Bilzerian life; bitches, and boats, and planes, and booze, and fancy clothes. I don’t know, lots of people kissing your ass. That’s what you’re all looking for.
I know that’s what people took away from that movie Crazy Rich Asians, a lot of them, drooling over that big house. Imagine if I were that rich, like you’re flying a suite on an airplane, ‘then life would be great’. No, you motherfucker, no. Life is great when you are virtuous. That’s what the philosophers have been saying for thousands of years. Now, of course, you can enter the fray and debate. That’s also what we’ve been doing for thousands of years. Unfortunately, in the past 20 years, that debate has stopped. The debate now is there is no good or evil, or right or wrong, or bad, and all this shit, it’s whatever you take it. So, don’t judge anyone. Don’t judge the psychopath. You don’t know what they’re… Of course, they do judge. I judge a lot, but it’s not up for debate.
So now, at least if we debate it, you’re on the right track. I propose to you that virtue is scientifically-proven, even just from logic, from what we know already from the science, to be beneficial in a great way to you as an individual and to your genes, your progeny. And to think again about, “Do you want to lead a life where you kick ass in the middle and then you die alone, or surrounded by people who don’t actually love you, but are just there because they’re like that Anna Nicole Smith scenario, I just use her as a funny example, waiting for you to die, or to have love, or even more, to have flourishing to prevent this from passing down to another generation?
The science is unequivocal on the number one secret to happiness, according to the 80+ year Harvard study led by Robert Waldinger is the quality of your relationships. That’s scientifically-proven, and it makes sense now if you look at this. You can’t have high quality relationships unless you have virtue, because otherwise, the only thing keeping you from turning into this in your relationships is that you got something on the other guy so he’s not going to backstab you yet. That’s not a great way to live; that’s a stressful way to live; that’s a hard way to live; that’s a brutish way to live.
I’m not saying I’m in any way virtuous. I would like to be more virtuous. Let’s put it there. So, I invite you also to embark, or you probably are already, to continue on your journey or accelerate your pace of becoming more virtuous by becoming a moral connoisseur.