To cut perfectly is the arete of the knife (the art of a knife is to cut perfectly, the quality of a knife in its highest state is the ability to cut perfectly). Evil intentions and the pursuit of material possessions at the expense of others were the lowest kinds of these tiers, and the pursuit of excellence was the highest. The less remembered Isocrates (circa 350 BC) describes arete as “an education that cultivated the whole man, preparing him for political, intellectual, and moral leadership,”(Proussis p.56). In Greek it is αρετη stylized ἀρετή. Plato considered arete separate from goodness, and the other virtues. In many ways arete can be thought of as virtue itself, thus many simply use “moral virtue,” or just “virtue,” as a placeholder in English. Arete is to all things what the philosopher king is to the state, a representation of a balance of the ideal forms manifesting in the highest form. Or, it can be understood in Plato’s Republic, where the ends of that whole theory of the ideal state describes “the arete of the state.”. The Mona Lisa is an example of excellence; Plato would have considered Socrates’ teachings to have excellence, and something simple like the act of helping an old lady cross the street can be said to have excellence. Instead, it refers to fundamental moral virtue all authority figures (the state, church, society, schools, and other “elders”) should seek to exemplify and teach the next generation, specifically those expected to have influence. Greek alphabet list

TIP: With this in mind, Plato’s Republic is all about the arete of the state and soul. See our, The Equal Rights Amendment Was Never Ratified, There is Already a Wall Between the U.S. and Mexico, There are Elections Each Year in the United States, Democrats are Responsible for Trump’s Immigration Policy, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Died on July 4th 1826, Different Branches of the Military Use Different Battle Cries, Deductive Logic by St. George William Joseph Stock Explained, Friedrich A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom Explained, Capital in the Twenty-First Century By Thomas Piketty Explained, Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth Explained and Annotated, Lincoln’s Letter to Joshua Speed on Slavery and Know-Nothings Annotated and Explained, Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man Under Socialism Explained, The Main Differences Between Trump, Biden, and Bernie On HealthCare, Capitalism Works Because Capital is a Built in Incentive, Why People Call Left-Wingers “Commies” as an Insult, Forget Savings Accounts, You Can Get a Better Return With Funds, The Philosophy Behind the Types of Governments, Plato. If the soul is in perfect balance, then this is the arete of the soul. This can be understood well via Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Theory of the Forms, where the true forms are the arete of the forms. Heracles chose to follow the path of Arete. Below we look at how the term evolved in meaning from Homer to Aristotle. This page was last edited on 19 July 2020, at 06:37. Or, in terms of moral theory, “the aristocracy of virtues” works well. Below are some different ways to understand arete.

The meaning of the word changes depending on what it describes since everything has its own peculiar excellence; the arete of a man is different from the arete of a horse. TIP: The term can be stylized as Arête, Areté, or Arete. However, even Plato himself says that arete is not something that can be agreed upon.


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