Wisdom and Social Justice


  Wisdom and Social Justice

We have a moral obligation to help those in need, just as we have a responsibility to improve our own quality of life. But what are the best ways to do so? Should you focus on making money to buy more material items? Or should you donate money and time instead? These questions get at the heart of wisdom and social justice.

As we discuss below, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone has different values that lead them towards different answers — their own personal take on how they can contribute positively to society and make progress toward solving larger problems. And each person has their own unique combination of values that influences how they make decisions.

As it happens, the majority of people fall into one of three categories: materialists, virtue ethicists or communitarians. These three personas make up about 95 percent of the population. The remaining five percent fall into a fourth category: the enlightened, who have greater access to information and understanding that some other groups lack.

These four groups can be sorted according to how well they combine the two main approaches to social justice: materialism and virtue ethics. Three out of four people fall under one persona or another; so in practice they can be represented by a fairly simple pie chart or spectrum (or else by a grid with four columns).

Materialists tend to rely on paying their way or making money. They focus on the material world and see their job as earning a good living. They place a lot of emphasis on themselves, especially what they own and how much they make.

Virtue ethicists also focus on the material world, but these people often put more emphasis on personal virtues than in material wealth. For instance, working hard usually comes before making money. And these people often want to share what they’ve earned with others in order to perform their duties toward society as well as themselves. On the other hand, virtue ethicists emphasize the importance of feeling good after work instead of making money.

When it comes to social justice, virtue ethicists tend to support social institutions that will help people, like the redistribution of wealth and fair wages. They also place a lot of importance on the personal virtues necessary for making those goals. For instance, they’re willing to take on added debt for their own education in order to better themselves professionally, while materialists are more concerned with saving money for future security. So again, these two personalities present a fairly simple pie chart or spectrum.

Communitarians also tend to pay attention to both material and personal life and measure success in terms of these two areas simultaneously. They work on creating a better society for everyone and they’re concerned with how to improve their own quality of life. Because materialists focus more on the world that can be seen and communitarians are more mindful of others, these two groups often mix well together and form an overlapping middle.

As for the enlightened, most of them tend to fall into the virtue ethicist category. Although they often don’t see themselves as part of a social group and are less focused on helping others, they still believe that it’s important to get involved in improving society. They look more toward community and social responsibility, and thus fall under this category. They also tend to think about how their actions fit into ongoing projects and efforts. Indeed, a lot of enlightened citizens often have high political aspirations to improve society.

Meanwhile, as we mentioned, the remaining five percent of people don’t fit into any of these categories. Instead, they tend to see the world much more holistically and with a higher degree of focus on thinking about their own experiences. Thus most members of this group would fall into the enlightened category.

As we said earlier, these four personality groups make up about 95 percent of the population. So the vast majority of people fall into one of these four categories, and it’s important for each group to know how it stacks up against the rest.

Interestingly, very few people fit perfectly into any one category; they usually fall along the spectrum between them. However, there are also many exceptions. Each personality rests on a series of underlying values that you need to examine more closely if you want your life to reflect your personal values and character as well as your priorities.

For instance, communitarians tend to focus on helping others in some way and often show compassion for those in need. They also tend to show a wider range of virtues than other groups, including faith, hope, charity and empathy. This means that communitarians tend to be less focused on material possessions, and so they often live in a more comfortable state without worrying about their overall wealth.

On the other hand, the enlightened (who are usually virtue ethicists) tend to focus more on how they can contribute to society as a whole or toward specific goals like political reform or social justice. They’re also less concerned with materialism because they’re often focused on higher concerns.

Virtue ethicists tend to be guided by values such as kindness, wisdom, courage and faith. They often try to lead an exemplary life and they’re most likely to show a wide range of virtues in their daily lives. These people typically also live in a more comfortable state because they focus on their own personal growth. Indeed, virtue ethicists are less interested in material wealth and more concerned with following their own path and finding a way forward that can improve both society and themselves.

Meanwhile materialists tend to focus on money, possessions and the comfort that comes from having it all.


So, again, we’ve come to the end of our analysis. And it is here that our final question arises: What does it all mean? Why is this important?

If you’re a communitarian type, why bother seeking enlightenment if you already have a job and a comfortable life? Why try to change society when you want peace, security and prosperity for yourself and those around you? Well, what do you get out of living the good life alone? The answer is that we must not accept contentment as the only way to live. We must reach beyond ourselves. People with striving tendencies usually end up feeling dissatisfied with their accomplishments and life in general.

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