A Response to Leopold's Description

The passage shows how different aspects of virtue connect. Patience is part intellectual virtue, part moral virtue and part physical virtue, as it is portrayed here. The humility which allows Leopold to lie down in the muck unselfconsciously is a moral virtue, but humble recognition of our own ignorance is also a key intellectual virtue, as Socrates so often reminds us (see also William Beebe’s description of the ideal naturalist quoted earlier). Humility also makes possible Leopold’s aesthetic appreciation of the grace of the yellow-leg, and in his recognition of the beauty of the yellow-leg’s natural “poetry,” we see the genesis of his recognition of its intrinsic value. The passage also shows that virtues can be put to diverse and complementary uses. The patience and persistence needed to explore the marsh are also needed to write a compelling account of the experience for his readers. Many revisions were made to this narrative which reads so effortlessly, just as many trips to the marsh were necessary for Leopold to see the grebes so closely and to appreciate all the rest of what he saw. Presumably patience and persistence were also needed to teach his classes at the university, raise his children, wrangle with politicians and bureaucrats, and do the many other things that Leopold did so well during the course of his life.


Cafaro sees a great deal of virtue in a naturalist's description of getting muddy to witness nature and appreciate it.

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 The Naturalist’s Virtues
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Cafaro, Philip , The Naturalist’s Virtues, Philosophy in the Contemporary World, Volume 8 Number 2 Fall-Winter 2001, Department of Philosophy, Colorado State Univ, Retrieved on 2011-06-10
Folksonomies: virtue naturalism naturalist


10 JUN 2011

 Examples of Naturalist Virtues in Action

The Efforts and Rewards of Naturalism > Conclusion > A Response to Leopold\'s Description
Cafaro sees a great deal of virtue in Leopold's description of the lengths gone to in order to witness and appreciate nature, especially the humility required for such an act.