Three modes of principledness

Being principled means that you prioritize certain moral values over your own immediate personal interests.

There are at least three motivational modes of principledness.

Let’s call the first altruistic, the second virtuous and the third magnanimous.

The altruistically motivated person treats principles as something beyond self, apart from one’s own being. He sets aside his selfish needs, in order to dedicate himself to something higher than himself.

The virtuously motivated person treats principles as qualifications of excellence. He follows principles to cultivate his best self.

The magnanimously motivated person treats principle as a condition for membership in higher-order selves. By committing to principles and being faithful to them, one enters into relationships with others who honor the same principles, and participates in transcendent selves, for example, a marriage or a friendship or a community of faith.

Identity comes from higher-order selves, within which we participate, to whom we belong.

What identitarians call “identity” is just social category. It is no wonder that identity is an issue for them. They do not know what identity is or how a sense of identity is developed. Everything they do to solve the problem exacerbates it.

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