Ritual, Virtue, and Human Flourishing: Rites as Bearers of Meaning

  • H. Tristram EngelhardtJrEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture book series (PSCC, volume 21)


Ritual is one of the foundations of virtue. This chapter will explore how different categories of ritual nurture virtue and support a culture. Moreover, ritual orients the participants to ultimate meaning. Because different systems of ritual are tied to different and competing cultural frameworks, the culture wars (political, social, and cultural struggles to define the public space) manifest themselves in ritual wars. The culture wars are in great measure about which rituals should define public interactions and the public space. Rituals can reach beyond a particular time and beyond a local community. Rituals expand the present into the past and to the future. Ritual functions as a primary source of education concerning the metaphysical, moral, and social commitments of a culture). In addition, rituals are performative acts. Rituals create social roles, and embed persons in socially established roles. They emphasize the appropriate scope of particular social roles. This chapter contends that rituals when rightly ordered sustain the moral life.


Ritual Christianity Virtue Culture Wars Public Space Morality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Baylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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