Here we mark the hierarchical ordering of virtues and goods. We are interested in production of both.
In 4.1 we distinguished between virtue (moral good) and goods (material good). We noted some of distinguishable characteristics between the two. Below a table of difference. But first, the similarities: neither virtue nor goods are given. They must be produced. Either can be given away voluntarily. Both are necessary for life (but there is equivocation here in the meaning of “life”. More soon. But, difference:
|Excess possible||No excess possible|
|Theft possible||No theft possible|
|Can be the effect of evil||Cannot be the effect of evil|
|Can be the cause of evil||Cannot be the cause of evil|
Now, for the hierarchy. The Puritanical Libertarian asserts that virtue is better than goods. Why?
Earthly life (which is the only life the Puritanical Libertarian has familiarity with) is impossible without goods. Goods are in this sense necessary. But, earthly life is not enough. Such was a crumb of the meaning in the sage Socrates’ famous statement that the unexamined life is not worth living. Life is not enough. It must be good. What makes life worth it?
Life is always worth it for someone. That one is either in good condition or not. And I no longer refer to the body of the one. I refer to the quality of choice in the allocation and distribution of energy of which that one is the prime mover or the first cause.
Note, there can either be great fortune or not. This is not fully in the control of one. But virtue is that which either makes goods most secure and enjoyable or that which makes ill fortune bearable.
Note, there are certain means that are out for the Puritanical Libertarian. He will not initiate aggression against others. But forget the rules for a moment. What is the source of the breach of the sacred code? It is nothing more than untreated, ill-treated, savage, monstrous (may I move on?) feeling. There are certain ways of approaching this life that are not worth it. The choice of those ways shows the chooser of those ways to be full of darkness and death even while living.
Thus, to be prepared for the uncontrollable, the “emergency” (as the thuggish mafia like coercive institutions the tentacles of which stretch uninvited into far too much of material life constancy proclaim when they want to take more), the crisis, this is best. To examine, this is is best. To live or die well, this is best.
In one sense it all feels too easy, too “duh, why are we lingering on this hierarchical point?”. Yes dear reader. Why? Because the human animal is forgetful and easily distracted. Because even now boredom, fidgetiness, interest in what I want rather than what is best creeps. There is nothing better than the continual reminder to the self: “Virtue first. Goods second. Always in that order. Never not in that order.” This assertion is cheap when instantiated in sound. It is expensive (valuable) when instantiated in soul. Forget the former. Go for the latter. Resolve to intend first and foremost to produce contemplation, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, patience, endurance, compassion (properly understood).
Next? Good news. (Gospel). It turns out that once the soul turns its own orientation toward virtue the only way to get to it is through the operation in this earthly life. And so, the training field for virtue is the same as the region in which goods are produced! This is good news. I need not resign myself to the monastic club over there. No. You can join the monastic club (the club of the builders of virtue) right here! Right there! Right where you are. The great gift (grace) is before you. It is the opportunity to produce. It is too much.
For now? Repeat: virtue first. Goods second. Always and never not in that order.