University President John Garvey's new book, "The Virtues," makes the case for the importance of moral formation in the intellectual life of colleges and universities. "The Virtues" is available from CUA Press and Amazon.
Though President Garvey treats each virtue individually, a common thread unites his reflections. "The intellectual life depends on the moral life," Garvey writes. "Without virtue we cannot sustain the practices necessary for advanced learning. In fact, without virtue, it's hard to see what the purpose of the university is. Learning begins with love (for the truth). If we don't have that, it's hard to know why we would bother with education at all."
Following Catholic tradition, "The Virtues" places the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love at the center of the moral life, and the cardinal virtues — justice, temperance, fortitude, and prudence — with them. Alongside these major virtues, Garvey considers a collection of "little virtues," habits like humility, modesty, and gentleness that assist and accompany us in small but important ways on the path to goodness.
In his reflection on docility Garvey laments the trend in academia toward skepticism and deconstruction, and encourages the quality of being "teachable." He continues, "We all have a lot to learn. Don't be such a skeptic that you set to one side the accumulated wisdom of the world. Just be careful in choosing your teachers."
Throughout his more than 40 years in academia, Garvey has reflected on the relationship between intellectual and moral formation, especially in Catholic higher education. For 12 years as the President of The Catholic University of America, he made the cultivation of moral virtue a central theme on campus, highlighting its significance across all aspects of University culture, from University policy to campus architecture. "The Virtues" is a culmination of this work and invites its readers, especially students, to appreciate that the cultivation of virtue is indispensable to success, academic or otherwise, and more importantly, essential to their ultimate aim, a life well lived.
"During his presidency, President Garvey frequently urged students to strive to lead virtuous lives. CUA Press is delighted to publish his book 'The Virtues,' which distills his thoughts and imparts his wisdom to readers of all ages, cultures, backgrounds, and generations," said Trevor Lipscombe, director of Catholic University of America Press. "Inside St. Paul's Cathedral in London is an inscription, in Latin, 'If you seek his monument, look around you' -- a reference to its architect, Sir Christopher Wren. If you seek to find President Garvey's legacy, it is contained within the pages of his book."