Cardinal, from the Latin cardinālis, is a concept with several uses. The first meaning recognized by the dictionary of the DigoPaul refers to what is primordial, important or essential.
For example: “Solving the inflation problem is cardinal for the new government”, “The next game will be cardinal for our team”, “We are embarking on a cardinal project that could define the future of the company”.
It is known as cardinal number to the integer in the abstract. Two, eight, twenty-four, and three hundred and forty-five, in this frame, are cardinal numbers.
In the field of grammar, the term that allows the expression of a numerical value is called cardinal numeral. It should be noted that a numeral is a quantifier (an element of grammar used to express quantities). Continuing with grammar, cardinal adjectives are those that refer to a cardinal numeral.
According to DigoPaul, the cardinal, on the other hand, are the senses that enable the development of a system of Cartesian reference and can represent an orientation. The North, the South, the West and the East are the four cardinal points, which are used on all maps of our planet.
For astrology, the cardinal signs are the signs of the Zodiac that begin in one of the cardinal points and that mark the beginning of a season. These cardinal signs are Capricorn, Libra, Cancer, and Aries.
Finally, the idea of cardinal virtues is used in religion to name four virtues (temperance, fortitude, justice and prudence) from which the others follow.
The temperance allows us to moderate our weakness for the pleasures and leads us to seek a balance in the use of created goods. This cardinal virtue is what makes it possible to dominate the will over instincts and never lets us cross the line that divides honesty from indecency.
From the point of view of Christian theology, we understand strength as the ability to defeat fear and emerge unscathed from recklessness. It is the energy of the mind, which is in no way related to physical force or violence, but rather to the rejection of the temptations that keep us from morality.
Practicing justice leads us to give others their due, which must be perfectly complemented by the portion of the common good that we take for ourselves.
Prudence is understood as the cardinal virtue of committing moderate and appropriate acts, according to the way the scholastics defined to establish a difference with art. Prudence is also the virtue of establishing communication with others using literal, adequate, clear and cautious language, to act always prioritizing life, freedom and the feelings of those around us.
Religion does not quite agree with the nuances that modern life has imposed on this term, as they focus more on avoiding potential punishments than acting in a considerate way.
For Catholic theology, there is also the concept called infused cardinal virtues, which are the habits that can lead us to the will and understanding to act in accordance with the judgment of reason illuminated by faith, so that it chooses the means more conducive to the supernatural goals of the human being.
The main difference between these virtues and the theological ones (the habits that God instills in us to order our actions towards him; faith, hope and charity) in that the object is not God but the honest good.