Are virtues and character the same thing? If not how would they differ

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    Dec 4, 2019 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


Virtues (like grace) are accidental qualities of the soul. They can be gained or loss, just like the redness of an apple can be gained or lost.

Characters are indelible marks (cf. the OED's etymology for "character").

Bernard Wuellner, S.J., gives these definition in his Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy p. 323:

virtue, n. 1. a good operative habit in man; an operative habit perfect­ ing rational powers so that they act according to the rule of reason; a human habit that makes its possessor good and his work good. The point of human control of the virtue should be noticed, as in the case of HABIT.

and p. 49:

character, n. the habitual moral vir­tues and vices of a person, founded on his dispositions and together dis­tinguishing his moral personality; in­tegration of a person's nature and nurture in his habits and the expres­sion of these in his living.

"Virtue" comes from vir (man) or vis (strength). Character means a stamp or mark.

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