aretae

<ethics> the Greek word for "excellence" or "virtue". For the Greeks, this was not limited to human beings. A guitar, for example, has its arete'' in producing harmonious music, just as a hammer has its excellence or virtue in pounding nails into wood well. So, too, the virtue of an Olympic swimmer is in swimming well, and the virtue of a national leader lies in motivating people to work for the common good.

<2001-03-26>

[Ethics Glossary]

<virtue, ancient philosophy, ethics, excellence, habitus>, <viciuos, Plato, Aristotle, utilitarianism, stoicism, Epicure>, <happiness, wisdom, deontology, empiricism>, Greek word for unique excellence or skill of any sort; hence, especially, moral virtue. Socrates supposed that aretae can be identified with knowledge of the good, but Plato distinguished four distinct virtues as crucial components of the perfect state or person. Aristotle maintained that moral aretae is invariably found as the mean between vicious extremes. Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967).

[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]

<2001-11-16>

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