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Character vs Sense of Life

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“Character” means a man’s nature or identity insofar as this is shaped by the moral values he accepts and automatizes. By “moral values” I mean values which are volitionally chosen, and which are fundamental, i.e., shape the whole course of a man’s action, not merely a specialized, delimited area of his life . . . . So a man’s character is, in effect, his moral essence—his self-made identity as expressed in the principles he lives by.


Leonard Peikoff
The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series, Lecture 2
A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and of existence. It sets the nature of a man’s emotional responses and the essence of his character.
Long before he is old enough to grasp such a concept as metaphysics, man makes choices, forms value-judgments, experiences emotions and acquires a certain implicit view of life. Every choice and value-judgment implies some estimate of himself and of the world around him—most particularly, of his capacity to deal with the world. He may draw conscious conclusions, which may be true or false; or he may remain mentally passive and merely react to events (i.e., merely feel). Whatever the case may be, his subconscious mechanism sums up his psychological activities, integrating his conclusions, reactions or evasions into an emotional sum that establishes a habitual pattern and becomes his automatic response to the world around him. What began as a series of single, discrete conclusions (or evasions) about his own particular problems, becomes a generalized feeling about existence, an implicit metaphysics with the compelling motivational power of a constant, basic emotion—an emotion which is part of all his other emotions and underlies all his experiences. This is a sense of life.



“Philosophy and Sense of Life,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 25
I'm unsure how to distinguish between the two. I'm thinking character is subsumed by sense of life since sense of life may include factors not relevant to your volitional choices such as environment.


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Sense of life is likely more of a passive component: how a man sees the world and his interaction with it.  "Sense" implies an input or means of "viewing" or contemplating.


Character although there is the passive component of how a man sees himself, is more active, and deals with something a man introspectively participates in, choice of principles and values.  It is also more akin to "nature" or "identity", i.e. what a man IS, and as a result likely to do.


These two are of course closely intertwined, but a man with a strong principled character can still have a sense of life which is for lack of a better term is "pessimistic" and a person whose sense of life is more on the sunny side can still be unprincipled.

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