As virtue and wickedness consist not in passion, but in action; so neither do true good or evil of a reasonable charitable man consist in passion, but in operation and action.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Ninth Book, XIV.)
Just as we derive virtue through action, so should we audit a person’s excellences and failures through their actions.
It’s awfully tricky to disambiguate my intention with the action I’ve performed. One neat exercise I’ve made use of is trying to view myself in the third person: trying to objectively understand what actions I’ve performed—without delving into the internal feelings I possessed. Thinking about things in this way helps me gain a truer understanding of the actions I’ve committed. In the third person view, it becomes easier to evaluate whether I believe them to be good or evil.
It’s simple to justify actions I’ve committed by claiming I was well-intentioned. This may may be true in most cases, but it’s also an easy way to evade responsibility.