When we measure physical quantities like length, we do so for a bigger purpose. For instance, when we measure the length of a pen, we do so to find out whether it can fit snugly into our hands when we write. When we measure the length of cells, we use it as an indicator for disease; if cells are found to grow beyond a certain natural length, we may consider it to be diseased or cancerous. Therefore, measurements are not an ends in itself. It is a means to an end, and this end is what we universally know and understand as Justice. When we say Justice, we mean it as the condition where things are in its proper place. For example, we measure the length of cells, so that we can find out whether that cell is within a certain proper length, and subsequently act accordingly; if they are within the normal range then we can advice the patient to maintain his health; if they are not within the normal range then we can prescribe some medicine or treatment to remedy the situation.
Likewise, when we measure spiritual qualities within ourselves, we do so for the purpose of creating Justice within ourselves. This means that there is always a proper way of thinking and acting and behaving; beyond this proper range of thinking and acting and behaving, we would consider this situation or circumstance as an absence of justice. In other words, this person is being unjust to himself.
Authoritative scholars of philosophy and psychology in the Islamic World have argued that the ways in which a human being thinks, acts and behaves are mediated by three things found in the human soul; desire, anger and intellect. The intellect guides the thinking and reflective processes that occur in a human being. Since the intellect is also capable of imagining wrong things as well as thinking in a false way or arriving at erroneous conclusions, in order for us to be just to the intellect and put things in the proper places in our own minds, we need the knowledge of the proper places of things. This knowledge is known as Wisdom. Wisdom is therefore required to do justice to our intellect. For example, one can have knowledge of financial mathematics, but if one uses this knowledge to cheat people, then one does not have wisdom pertaining to how to use that knowledge properly.
As for Desire, it is required for the survival of our biological selves; we desire food, sex and other things that we can also find in animal species. If our desires are not limited within a proper limit, they would be detrimental and unjust to the human being. For instance, if one does not measure and regulate his own desire to eat unhealthy food, he would expose himself to the risk of getting a heart attack and all other obesity-related diseases; this is injustice to his own soul. Therefore, to do justice to one’s desire, one needs Temperance. Temperance, also known to others as Moderation, is therefore another virtue required when we are talking about justice in the context of Desire.
Finally, our ways of thinking, acting and behaving are also mediated by Anger. With anger, we can either stand up to defend our loved ones and our own self-worth, or we can also use Anger to destroy our loved ones too. Anger therefore needs to be regulated and placed within its own proper limits, and doing the condition in which Anger is properly placed and regulated is known as Courage.
In conclusion, we realize that measurements are not an ends in themselves; it is a means to establish a condition known as justice. Just like how we measure the length of cells so that we can know whether they are cancerous or not and then act accordingly, our measurement of our own spiritual qualities serve to establish justice within our own souls. We need to measure and subsequently regulate our faculties of Anger, Desire and Intellect, so as to bring out Courage, Temperance and Wisdom, with the final objective of establishing Justice within ourselves. This is what is known as the Cardinal Virtues, and this is what proper education should address.