Master Virtues

IVA’s Nine Master Virtues

Intellectual virtues are the personal qualities of a good thinker or learner. At IVA, we focus on promoting and fostering nine master virtues: curiosity, intellectual humility, intellectual autonomy, attentiveness, intellectual carefulness, intellectual thoroughness, open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and intellectual perseverance.

These virtues fall into three categories, corresponding to three stages or dimensions of learning: getting the learning process started and headed in the right direction; making the learning process go well; and overcoming challenges to productive learning.

Below are brief definitions and "slogans" for each of IVA's master virtues:

Getting Started

1. Curiosity: a disposition to wonder, ponder, and ask why. A thirst for understanding and a desire to explore. Slogan: Ask questions!

2. Intellectual humility: a willingness to own up to one’s intellectual limitations and mistakes. Unconcerned with intellectual status or prestige. Slogan: Admit what you don't know!

3. Intellectual autonomy: a capacity for active, self-directed thinking. An ability to think and reason for oneself. Slogan: Think for yourself! 

Executing Well

4. Attentiveness: a readiness to be “personally present” in the learning process. Keeps distractions at bay. Strives to be mindful and engaged. Slogan: Look and listen!

5. Intellectual carefulness: a disposition to notice and avoid intellectual pitfalls and mistakes. Strives for accuracy. Slogan: Avoid errors!

6. Intellectual thoroughness: a disposition to seek and provide explanations. Unsatisfied with mere appearances or easy answers. Probes for deeper meaning and understanding. Slogan: Go deep!

Handling Challenges

7. Open-mindedness: an ability to think outside the box. Gives a fair and honest hearing to competing perspectives. Slogan: Think outside the box!

8. Intellectual courage: a readiness to persist in thinking or communicating in the face of fear, including fear of embarrassment or failure. Slogan: Take risks!

9. Intellectual tenacity: a willingness to embrace intellectual challenge and struggle. Keeps its “eyes on the prize” and doesn’t give up. Slogan: Embrace struggle!