ABC's RN The Minefield - Unfashionable Virtues: Steadfastness
This week we continue with our exploration of certain character traits and moral habits, once deemed central to the good life, but that have now fallen out of favour.
Steadfastness is, without doubt, one of the most complex and contentious of virtues. The word suggests constancy or even fidelity – a consistency of character and commitment to the pursuit of the good over time.
But for Aristotle, steadfastness is also closely related to friendship. So villains, thieves and knaves cannot really be friends because their relationships are ones of convenience or utility; their desires are self-seeking and so their relationships can only ever be transactional. The problem is, for Aristotle friendship can only take place among equals; it is a way of preserving the unity and stability of a fairly homogenous society.
Today, can steadfastness come to represent a more dynamic form of commitment to a common cause, through which diverse forms of political friendship can emerge? And how can one sustain such constancy when our media-saturated culture and our fetishisation of choice encourage an absence of lasting commitments, short-termism and transactional relationships?
You can listen to the podcast on ABC’s Radio National The Minefield