On integrity


Integrity (Latin: integritas) connotes a sense of wholeness, of all parts coming together beautifully and completely. And the lack of integrity? That is nothing but the feeling of coming undone, of being out-of-joint and self-divided.

In “Integrity and Wholeness,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 27.1 (2010), John Cottingham writes that someone who has a “certain psychological wholeness” has “an understanding of the significance of all her various goals and desires, and the true place of each in her overall life-plan — how they fit in with her sense of who she really is.” In the conclusion, he observes, “Integrity is perhaps the hardest virtue to achieve – striving to make sure that all parts of our outlook fit together, that there are no hidden projections or self-deceptions distorting our attitudes.”

Hypothesis: A workable philosophy of life (chapter 2 of my book manuscript) must contain two ingredients:

  1. Moral and intellectual maturity: Examining one’s life is like growing up.
  2. Integrity: Living well entails discovering how one’s basic desires and projects hang together. (Shall we call this a beautiful soul?)

Question: Grant that 1. and 2. are necessary conditions–are they sufficient?

Application: Philosophical counseling should focus its attention on 1. and 2.