Image Courtesy of The Catholic University of America
By Anna Harvey
Shortly before John and Jeanne Garvey’s departure from campus, the former university president gave one final gift to the University community. On Friday, July 1, 2022, the former CUA president launched his book “The Virtues,” named after the popular course he taught annually to Honors freshmen.
“The book is written for a particular audience: undergraduates and their parents,” Garvey said in an interview with the National Catholic Register. “And so I hope people read this and think, ‘I admire people who exemplify the virtues. I admire people who act like that.’”
Similar to his academic course, Garvey discusses in-depth each of the virtues: the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity; the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude; and a host of other “little virtues” to help one live a fruitful life.
“The intellectual life depends on the moral life,” Garvey writes. “Without virtue we cannot sustain the practices necessary for advanced learning. In fact, without virtue, it’s hard to see what the purpose of the university is. Learning begins with love (for the truth). If we don’t have that, it’s hard to know why we would bother with education at all.”
Throughout the book, Garvey uses his analysis of the virtues to give insight into current challenges faced by Catholic higher education institutions. In his analysis of docility, he rebuffs a current trend in academia toward “skepticism and deconstruction”, urging students instead to choose quality professors.
In his interview with National Catholic Register, Garvey states that rather than simply providing an education, mainstream colleges imbue their students with certain moral theories about modern crises, rather than studying the virtues as a way to pursue goodness. He additionally said that his goal in writing the book was for philosophical material to become more accessible for readers.
“I want to talk that way about the virtues so that people will really get engrossed in them and feel like virtue matters to them because it’s real,” Garvey said.