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Temperance (virtue)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Temperance is defined as moderation or voluntary

self-restraint.[1] It is typically described in terms of what an
individual voluntarily refrains from doing.[2] This includes
restraint from retaliation in the form of non-violence and
forgiveness, restraint from arrogance in the form of humility
and modesty, restraint from excesses such as splurging now in
the form of prudence, and restraint from excessive anger or
craving for something in the form of calmness and

1 Overview
Temperantia, by Luca Giordano
2 Historical, religious, and philosophical perspectives
2.1 Buddhism
2.2 Hinduism
2.3 Greek civilization
2.4 Christianity
3 Contemporary organizations
4 See also
5 References

Temperance has been described as a virtue by religious thinkers, philosophers, and more recently,
psychologists, particularly in the positive psychology movement. In classical iconography, the
virtue is often depicted as a woman holding two vessels transferring water from one to another. It
was one of the cardinal virtues in western thought found in Greek philosophy and Christianity, as
well as eastern traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

Temperance is one of the six virtues in the positive psychology classification, included with
wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, and transcendence.[3] It is generally characterized as the
control over excess, and expressed through characteristics such as chastity, modesty, humility,
self-regulation, forgiveness and mercy; each of these involves restraining an excess of some
impulse, such as sexual desire, vanity, or anger.

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Temperance (virtue) - Wikipedia

Historical, religious, and philosophical perspectives

Themes of temperance can be seen across cultures and time, as
illustrated here.


Temperance is an essential part of the Eightfold Path. The third

and fifth of the five precepts (paca-sila) reflect values of
temperance: "misconduct concerning sense pleasures" and
drunkenness are to be avoided.[4]


The concept of dama (Sanskrit: ) in Hinduism is equivalent

to temperance. It is sometimes written as damah (Sanskrit:
).[5][6] The word dama, and Sanskrit derivative words based
on it, connote the concepts of self-control and self-restraint.
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, in verse 5.2.3, states that three
characteristics of a good, developed person are self-restraint
(damah), compassion and love for all sentinent life (daya), and
Representation of temperance
charity (daana).[7] In Hinduism literature dedicated to yoga, (painted wood sculpture, dated
self-restraint is expounded with the concept of yamas (Sanskrit:
1683, which covers the shrine of
).[8] According to asampad, self-restraint (dama) is one of the baptismal church Breton
the six cardinal virtues.[9] Commana in France).
Temperance foot tips over a jug
The list of virtues that constitute a moral life evolve in vedas
of wine, and presents a pitcher of
and upanishads. Over time, new virtues were conceptualized
and added, some replaced, others merged. For example,
Manusamhita initially listed ten virtues necessary for a human
being to live a dharmic (moral) life: Dhriti (courage), Kshama (forgiveness), Dama (temperance),
Asteya (Non-covetousness/Non-stealing), Saucha (purity), Indriyani-graha (control of senses), dhi
(reflective prudence), vidya (wisdom), satyam (truthfulness), akrodha (free from anger). In later
verses this list was reduced to five virtues by the same scholar, by merging and creating a more
broader concept. The shorter list of virtues became: Ahimsa (Non-violence), Dama (temperance),
Asteya (Non-covetousness/Non-stealing), Saucha (purity), Satyam (truthfulness).[10][11] This trend
of evolving concepts continue in classical Sanskrit literature, Dama with Ahimsa and few other
virtues present in the evolving list of virtues necessary for a moral life (dharma).[12][13]

Five types of self-restraints are considered essential for a moral and ethical life in Hindu
philosophy: one must refrain from any violence that causes injury to others, refrain from starting or
propagating deceit and falsehood, refrain from theft of other's property, refrain from sexually
cheating on one's partner, and refrain from avarice.[8][14] The scope of self-restraint includes one's

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Temperance (virtue) - Wikipedia

action, the words one speaks or writes, and in one's thoughts. The necessity for temperance is
explained as preventing bad karma which sooner or later haunts and returns to the unrestrained.
[15][16] The theological need for self-restraint is also explained as reigning in the damaging effect of

one's action on others, as hurting another is hurting oneself because all life is one.[14][17]

Greek civilization

The Greek definition of temperance translates to moderation in

action, thought, or feeling; restraint." Temperance is a major
Athenian virtue, as advocated by Plato; self-restraint
(sphrosune) is one of his four core virtues of the ideal city, and
echoed by Aristotle. According to Aristotle, temperance is a
mean with regard to pleasures.[18] In Charmides, one of
Platos early dialogues, the one who possessed sophrosune is
defined in four ways: (1) one who has quietness, (2) one who
has modesty, (3) one who does his own business, and (4) one
who knows himself. Plato quickly dismisses the three first
definitions and argues against (4) that if sophrosune would
have been only the property of knowing what one knows or not,
then it would be useless without knowledge about other matters.

Christianity Figure of Temperance from

Digges memorial by Nicholas
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, temperance is prolific. The Old Stone, St. Mary's Church,
Testament emphasizes temperance as a core virtue, as evidenced Chilham
in both Solomon's Book of Proverbs and in the Ten
Commandments, with its admonitions against adultery and
covetousness. The New Testament does so as well, with forgiveness being central to theology and
self-control being one of the Fruits of the Spirit.[18] With regard to Christian theology, the word
temperance is used by the King James Version in Galatians 5:23 for the Greek word
(enkrateia), which means self-control or discipline (Strong's Concordance, 1466). Thomas Aquinas
promoted Plato's original virtues in addition to several others.

Within the Christian church Temperance is a virtue akin to self-control. It is applied to all areas of
life. It can especially be viewed in practice among sects like the Amish, Old Order Mennonites, and
Conservative Mennonites. In the Christian religion, temperance is a virtue that moderates attraction
and desire for pleasure and provides balance in the use of created goods. St. Thomas calls it a
disposition of the mind which binds the passions,.[18] Temperance is believed to combat the sin
of gluttony. Temperance is commonly broken down into four main strengths: forgiveness, humility,
prudence, and self-regulation.

Contemporary organizations

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Temperance (virtue) - Wikipedia

Values of temperance are still advocated by more modern sources such as the Boy Scouts, William
Bennett, and Ben Franklin [19] Philosophy has contributed a number of lessons to the study of traits,
particularly in its study of injunctions and its listing and organizing of virtues.

See also

Wikiquote has
quotations related to:
Aparigraha Temperance
Seven Deadly Sins Wikimedia Commons
Seven Heavenly Virtues has media related to
Sophrosyne Temperance.
Temperance movement

1. Green, Joel (2011). Dictionary of scripture and 7. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (
ethics. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic. /stream
p. 769. ISBN 978-0-8010-3406-0. /Brihadaranyaka.Upanishad.Shankara.Bhashya.
2. Schwarzer, Ralf (2012). Personality, human by.Swami.Madhavananda#page/n843/mode
development, and culture : international /2up), Translator: S Madhavananda, page 816,
perspectives on psychological science. Hove: For discussion: pages 814-821; Quote -
Psychology. pp. 127129. " ", translation:
ISBN 978-0-415-65080-9. Learn three cardinal virtues - temperance,
3. Peterson, Christopher (2004). Character charity and compassion for all life."
strengths and virtues a handbook and 8. James Lochtefeld, The Illustrated Encyclopedia
classification. Washington, DC New York: of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing New York,
American Psychological Association Oxford ISBN 0-8239-2287-1, see article on Yama, page
University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-516701-6. 777
4. Harvey, P. (1990). An introduction to 9. Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary,
Buddhism: Teaching, history and practices. France (
Cambridge, England: Cambridge University /DICO/31.html#dama), this reference is in
Press. french; see explanation under the term dama:
5. Sanskrit translations for Self-Control contrle de ses passions
( 10. Gupta, B. (2006). BHAGAVAD GT AS
/index.php?tinput=self-control) English- DUTY AND VIRTUE ETHICS. Journal of
Sanskrit Dictionary, Germany Religious Ethics, 34(3), 373-395.
6. Sanskrit Words ( 11. Mohapatra & Mohapatra, Hinduism: Analytical
/dict/dictall_unic.html); See dama and damah Study, ISBN 978-8170993889; see pages 37-40
12. Comparative Religion, Kedar Nath Tiwari,
ISBN 81-208-0294-2; see page 33-34

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Temperance (virtue) - Wikipedia

13. Bailey, G. (1983). Puranic notes: reflections on 17. Sturgess, Stephen (2013), The Yoga Book: A
the myth of sukesin. South Asia: Journal of Practical Guide to Self-realization, Watkins
South Asian Studies, 6(2), 46-61. Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84293-034-2, see
14. Heim, M. (2005), Differentiations in Hindu Chapter 2
ethics, in William Schweiker (Editor), The 18. Niemiec, R. M. (2013). VIA character
Blackwell companion to religious ethics, ISBN strengths: Research and practice (The first 10
0-631-21634-0, Chapter 35, pp 341-354 years). In H. H. Knoop & A. Delle Fave (Eds.),
15. Rao, G. H. (1926), The Basis of Hindu Ethics, Well-being and cultures: Perspectives on
International Journal of Ethics, 37(1), pp 19-35 positive psychology (pp. 11-30). New York:
16. Hindrey, Roderick (1978), Comparative ethics Springer.
in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, Motilal 19. Peterson & Seligman 2004, M.E.P. (2004).
Banarsidass Publications, ISBN 81-208-0866-5 Character strengths and virtues: A handbook
and classification. Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association.

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