Integrity

 

Integrity (noun):

1.   the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

2.   the state of being whole and undivided.  

3.   the condition of being unified or sound in construction.

 

Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.  

Jesus – Matthew 23:26-28

 

Above all, with integrity comes simplicity and confidence.  You can act with force and strength, you can be straightforward and look people in the eye.  

 

What is integrity?  

Commitment to morality

 

To have integrity is to have unconditional and steady commitment to moral values and obligations.  For such a person, the fundamental question whether to conduct life on the plane of self-concern or of moral seriousness has been decisively resolved, though particular life situations will doubtless continue to put that commitment to strenuous test.  This moral commitment becomes a crucial component in his or her sense of identity as a person: it confers a unity (integration) of character, and even a simplicity upon the man or woman of integrity.  What integrity cannot guarantee is the soundness of the value-judgements themselves, which form the core of that person’s commitment.  

Professor R W Hepburn, University of Edinburgh (Oxford Companion to Philosophy)

 

Integrity implies “wholeness” in the sense that the different parts of something “agree with” each other; they “fit together”.  There is no one part that does not fit together with all the rest.  The different parts are consistent with each other.  This is also a property of physical reality.  As Judge Judy says, if something doesn’t make sense, it probably isn’t true.  

If someone has integrity, then it means that what they say, and what they do, match up.  

 

Moral consistency and firmness

Integrity means not saying one thing and doing another.  Integrity means sticking to your well-considered moral principles, even when it is difficult, or inconveniences you, and even when it goes unnoticed or is perhaps unpopular.  People who care about integrity usually do so because they care deeply about morality.  

 

The wise man is no longer wise, the just man no longer just, if he seek to carry his love for wisdom or virtue beyond that which is necessary.  

This is a subtle consideration of philosophy.  A man may both be too much in love with virtue, and be excessive in a just action.  Holy Writ agrees with this, Be not wiser than you should, but be soberly wise. — [St. Paul, Epistle to the Romans, xii. 3.]

 

Michel de Montaigne ― “On Moderation”

 

Not lying

Integrity means not lying at someone else’s expense.  In the definition of goodness, this is “selfishness”.  Usually, if you have to lie about something, you shouldn’t be doing it.  

Integrity means not pretending to be a good person when you’re not: being honest about your faults.  We pick up respect for admitting our mistakes and faults.  It is a strength to admit the truth.  

 

Questioning your own behaviour

People who think they are perfect, right about everything, and better than everyone else, can be very dangerous because they do not question whether they are living up to the high ideals they profess, and so are very likely to fall short without realising it.  No good comes of no good, and a small lapse in morality can easily spiral out of control with disastrous consequences.