Virtue signaling

子張問士:「何如斯可謂之達矣?」子曰:「何哉?爾所謂達者!」子張對曰:「在邦必聞,在家必聞。」子曰:「是聞也,非達也。夫達也者,質直而好義,察言而觀色,慮以下人;在邦必達,在家必達。夫聞也者:色取仁而行違,居之不疑;在邦必聞,在家必聞。」
Zizhang asked: “When is it possible to say that someone has achieved success?” Confucius said: “It depends on what you mean by achieving success.” Zizhang replied: “To be recognized in public and private life.” Confucius said: “That is celebrity, not success. A man who has achieved success is straightforward by nature and loves what is right. He listens to what others have to say, observes their moods and expressions, and is respectful to others. Such a man is sure to be successful in his public and private life. A man seeking celebrity puts on an ostentatious display of virtue while behaving in the opposite way free of any self-doubt. He will definitely achieve recognition in both his public and private life.”

I don’t think I’d ever heard the phrase “virtue signaling” until this year. As Confucius points out in this passage it’s not exactly a new phenomenon, but it’s definitely one that’s proliferated thanks to how easy it is do using social media.

The phrase “celebrity culture” has been around much longer of course, but for the very same reasons it too has continued to grow in leaps and bounds – almost to the extent that it is impossible to avoid.

Still, that is what I am resolving to do as 2016 looms. Let’s see how well that goes…..

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