Much of the history of philosophy is the history of ethics. From Plato to Satre, the great philosophers have returned to the central ethical questions of how we are to live good lives; how is it appropriate and virtuous for us to behave, both to ourselves and to other? In addressing these questions, Andre Comte Sponville returns to the mainstream of much of the Western philosophical tradition with an utterly original exploration of the timeless human virtues. "A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues" takes as its starting point eighteen human virtues ranging from politeness, prudence and humour to compassion, tolerance and love to help us understand what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live. Comte Sponville offers the reader both a thoughtful and accessible introduction to the history of Western ethics and an exploration of the ways in which the views and claims of the great philosophers can apply and fail to apply to our lives and our moral choices and decisions today.