Without leaving Voltaire behind, I turn to virtue, moral good.
To agree on a virtue (or what is virtuous) is to first establish a moral base, a firm and even fixed measure of good.
In the realm of relevance, moral and good behavior is more diverse, divided and even devalued; whereas, amid the absolutes, is there less…disagreement?
An agreeable virtue is compassion, considered the opposite of cruelty; but then, is cruelty always bad, immoral.
Can one be cruel to be kind?
Is it cruel to lie to or about someone on the premise that you’re trying to protect them, to spare them from something worse?
When is lying justified, right and even a good thing?
Cruel behavior is much more often bad, even immoral; it is about self-adulation or satisfaction, whatever said or intended. Cruelty usual begins with the abuse of power.
Abuse is always a bad thing unless the power behind it is able to cover it up or mask it as something opposite cruelty (e.g. denial of a lie by once again lying).
On the other side, compassion is about giving (away), caring for others—even above your own wants, needs.
Control of power and, at times, deferment or even surrender of power is an act of compassion.
Voltaire seems to hold that good or even moral virtues are not exclusive to Christ; that one is capable of virtuous behavior outside of the influence and even intervention of Christianity. Can he be right or justified in this belief?
We live in society; there is therefore nothing truly good for us but that which does good to society.
But is mankind virtuous separate of God’s influence, intervention?