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Views of character development are shaped to some extent by the view that is held of the nature of human beings. If one considers humans to have a split self, as marked, for example, by the dichotomy between reason and desire or emotion, then character development is viewed as enhancing the capacities of reason to control the wayward passions, as Plato held. Some have the view that punishing unruly emotions and training reasoning with rules and willpower is the route to good character. But these are misleading beliefs; harsh approaches are more likely to mar character than form it. Although it is true that self-control is necessary for the ethical life, well-constructed emotions are actually foundational for adaptive responses. Under normal (optimal) conditions for development, ...

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