Intellectual Virtues

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Good thinkers and learners have several personal traits in common, all of which assist in their cogent thinking and efficient learning, and philosophers and educators are beginning to identify these.

While each learner is unique and possesses these virtues to varied degrees, and while these dispositions are evidenced in myriad ways by different individuals in distinct contexts, nonetheless the nine intellectual virtues identified by philosopher Jason Baehr in his 2015 book, Cultivating Good Minds, together assist in developing the truth-seeking, “life-long learner” that so many of our schools espouse as the ultimate goal.   The nine intellectual virtues include:

  • Curiosity
  • Intellectual Humility
  • Intellectual Autonomy
  • Attentiveness
  • Intellectual Carefulness
  • Intellectual Thoroughness
  • Open-mindedness
  • Intellectual Courage
  • Intellectual Tenacity

Knowing more about the intellectual virtues and the best ways to develop them within our students helps educators plan opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate these virtues regularly, increasing their presence within students’ mindsets and attitudes, and affecting their resulting behavior.  These co-cognitive attributes are dispositions distinct from a person’s knowledge, skills, or abilities.  But when our schools and classrooms value and cultivate the intellectual virtues, students become more motivated to think and learn.  By developing these personal traits, teachers spark students’ internal desire to learn, which, in turn, assists in further cognitive development to transform the student into a powerful thinker or learner over time.

Professor Jason Baehr teaches at Loyola Marymount University, and his book, Cultivating Good Minds: A Philosophical & Practical Guide to Educating for Intellectual Virtues, is available for download at the link provided.  Also, the Intellectual Virtues website is full of articles, video, and helpful information to assist educators to cultivate intellectual virtues within their students and themselves!

What will this site do to proliferate this tool?

At this site, we plan to provide educators with blog posts, articles, interviews, videos, and linked resources to share this important idea in the context of several other tools that achieve the same ends:  to serve the purpose of education Plato’s allegory illustrates.

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