The Cardinal Virtue of Prudence by Thomas S. Buchanan

The Cardinal Virtue of Prudence

The simple acquire folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
—Proverbs 14:18

Although most people have heard of the seven deadly sins, fewer people are familiar with that other list: the seven great virtues. The virtues can be divided into two groups: the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity) and the four cardinal virtues (justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude). Although the list of the seven virtues is first found among the writings of Ambrose and Augustine, the list of the cardinal virtues wasn’t their creation; it was mentioned centuries before by Aristotle and Plato and represents the classical mind on what constitutes a virtuous man.

The cardinal virtues are not, I believe, what most Americans would think of if asked to define the four fundamental characteristics of a virtuous person. They are, in a sad sense, the antithesis of modern virtues. For example, consider the cardinal virtue of prudence.

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!


personal subscriptions

Purchase Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


RENEW your print/online
subscription

Purchase
Online Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!


RENEW your online subscription

gift subscriptions

GIVE Print &
Online Subscription

Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!


RENEW your gift subscription

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

kindle subscription

OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)

Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.


more from the online archives

14.2—March 2001

The God of Princes

on the Political Use of Religion by Wilfred M. McClay

32.1—January/February 2019

Schools of Impiety

The Diabolical Failure of Leaders in the Present Crises by James M. Kushiner

20.8—October 2007

Aliens in Zion

on Why I Can’t Be Just Another Earthman by Louis Markos

00