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Headword: Aretê
Adler number: alpha,3830
Translated headword: arete, excellence, virtue
Vetting Status: high
[Arete is][1] a harmonious disposition and it is choice-worthy in itself, not because of any fear, hope, or any external thing. And happiness lies in virtue, too, since it is a state of mind which is made for the harmony of one's whole life. But [when] the rational animal is perverted, [it is] sometimes because of the deceptiveness of external occupations, sometimes because of the insistence of companions. For nature provides uncorrupted inclinations. And virtue is something perfect,[2] such as a statue.[3] Virtue is also either non-intellectual, like health, or intellectual, like prudence. And the virtues that are based on theoretical principles are both scientific and theoretical, like prudence and justice. But those virtues which are regarded as coextensive with those which are based on theoretical principles are nonintellectual, like health and strength. For it occurs that health follows on and is coextensive to imprudence, which is intellectual, as strength comes from the construction of a vault.[4] Those virtues are called "non-intellectual" because they do not require assent but supervene, like health and courage.[5] A proof that virtue exists is the fact that Diogenes and Antisthenes, Socrates, and their followers were able to make moral progress. And vice also exists, because it is the opposite to virtue; virtue is also teachable and this is obvious because of the fact that base people become good. There are two virtues, theoretical and practical.[6] But some [say] three -- logical, physical, ethical -- and the followers of Posidonius [say] four, and others [say] more,[7] and others [say] one: prudence.[8] The primary virtues are courage, prudence, justice, temperance; and in addition to these, there are other virtues subordinated to them: magnanimity, continence, endurance, insight, soundness of judgment. It occurs analogously in the case of vices.
And the one who is virtuous must have both theory and practice of what should be done.[9] And what should be done includes what should be chosen, endured, maintained, and distributed; so that if he does some things by way of choosing, and others by way of enduring, and others by way of maintaining, he is prudent and courageous and just and temperate. And each virtue is marked by reference to a particular subject; for instance, courage with regard to what should be endured, prudence with regard to what should be done, what not done and what is neither. Similarly the other virtues are concerned with the things which are appropriate to them.
Virtue is the best condition/state, or a condition/state out of which the very thing it is is [realized] best, and which provides the appropriate activities in the best way.[10]
Virtue [is] in accordance with nature, vice contrary to nature.
[Note] that not every virtue is knowledge. For one kind of virtue is intellectual, another ethical.[11] The ethical virtues do not have their essence in knowledge.[12]
The Stoics maintain that between virtue and vice there is no intermediate, but the Peripatetics say that moral progress is an intermediate. For the Stoics say that a piece of wood, for example, must be either straight or crooked, so a person is either just or unjust, not more just or more unjust. The same thing occurs in the case of the other virtues too.[13]
The political virtues set us in order and make us better people, for they delimit and measure our appetites and, in general, measure our emotional states and remove our false opinions. And generally they do so due to something better [contained in them], and because of limiting [our appetites] and being beyond what is without measure and limitless.
Plato elsewhere names the political virtues "purifications."[14]
[There are] 4 virtues. Soundness of judgment and sagacity follow on prudence, good order and decorum follow on temperance, equability and considerateness follow on justice, constancy and vigor follow on courage.[15]
Greek Original:
Aretê: diathesis homologoumenê kai autê di' autên ousa hairetê, ou dia tina phobon ê elpida ê ti tôn exôthen: en autêi te estin eudaimonia, hate ousêi psuchêi pepoiêmenêi pros tên homologian pantos biou. kai diastrephesthai de to logikon zôion, hote men dia tas tôn exôthen pragmateiôn pithanotêtas, hote de dia tên katêchêsin tôn sunontôn: epei hê phusis aphormas didôsin adiastrophous. hê aretê de teleios estin, hôsper andrias: kai ê atheôrêtos, hôsper hugeia: ê theôrêmatikê, hôs phronêsis. kai epistêmonikai men eisi kai theôrêmatikai hai echousai sustasin ek theôrêmatôn, hôs phronêsis kai dikaiosunê: atheôrêtoi de hai kata parektasin theôroumenai tais ek tôn theôrêmatôn sunestêkuiais, kathaper hugeia kai ischus. têi gar aphrosunêi tetheôrêmenêi huparchousêi sumbainei akolouthein kai parekteinesthai tên hugeian, kathaper tês psalidos oikodomiai tên ischun epiginesthai. kalountai de atheôrêtoi, hoti mê echousi sunkatatheseis, all' epiginontai, hôs hugeia kai andreia. tekmêrion de tou huparktên einai tên aretên, to genesthai ek prokopês tous peri Sôkratên, Diogenên, Antisthenên. einai de kai tên kakian huparktên dia to antikeisthai têi aretêi. didaktên te einai tên aretên, kai dêlon ek tou ginesthai agathous ek phaulôn. eisi de duo aretai, theôrêtikê kai praktikê. hoi de g#, logikên, phusikên, êthikên, hoi de peri Poseidônion d#, hoi de pleionas, hoi de mian, tên phronêsin. prôtas de andreian, phronêsin, dikaiosunên, sôphrosunên, tas de loipas hupotetagmenas tautais, megalopsuchian, enkrateian, karterian, anchinoian, euboulian. analogoi de kai hai kakiai. ton de enareton chrê theôrêtikon einai kai praktikon poiêteôn. ta de poiêtea kai hairetea esti kai hupomenetea kai emmenetea, hôste einai ta men hairetôs poiein, ta de hupomonêtikôs, ta de emmenetikôs, phronimos te esti kai andreios kai dikaios kai sôphrôn. kephalaiousthai de hekastên tôn aretôn peri ti idion kephalaion, hoion tên andreian peri ta hupomenetea, tên phronêsin peri ta poiêtea kai mê kai oudetera: homoiôs kai tas allas peri ta oikeia trepesthai. aretê de esti beltistê hexis, ê hexis aph' hês auto te to hou estin ariston esti kai tas energeias tas oikeias arista apodidôsin. aretê kata phusin: kakia para phusin. hoti ou pasa aretê epistêmê: esti gar hê men dianoêtikê, hê de êthikê: hai de êthikai ouk echousin en têi gnôsei to einai. hoti phasin hoi Stôïkoi mêden metaxu einai aretês kai kakias, hoi de Peripatêtikoi metaxu legousin einai tên prokopên. hôs gar dein phasin hoi Stôïkoi ê streblon einai xulon ê orthon, houtôs ê dikaion ê adikon, oute dikaioteron, oute adikôteron: kai epi tôn allôn homoiôs. hoti hai politikai aretai katakosmousin hêmas kai ameinous poiousin, horizousai kai metrousai tas epithumias, kai holôs ta pathê metrousai, kai pseudeis doxas aphairousai, tôi holôs ameinoni kai tôi hôristhai kai tôn ametrôn kai aoristôn exô einai. tas de politikas aretas ho Platôn allachou katharseis legei. d# aretai. hoti hepetai têi phronêsei euboulia kai sunesis, têi de sôphrosunêi eutaxia kai kosmiotês, têi de dikaiosunêi isotês kai eugnômosunê, têi de andreiai aparallaxia kai eutonia.
See also alpha 3831, alpha 3832.
[1] This opening material (up to "in the case of vices) follows, in a general way, the account of Stoic ethics in Diogenes Laertius 7.89-93. (For some significant difference see the notes below.) Virtue is the soul (psyche) or rather "the commanding part of the soul" disposed in a certain manner (see Plutarch, Moralia 441C-D).
[2] Or "complete".
[3] The Diogenes Laertius version is clearer: "generically, virtue is in anything (following Marcovich's text [1999], ad locum) a certain perfection (or completion; teleiosis), such as of a statue" (7.90).
[4] This line has an error. The argument makes sense only if we read "prudence", not "imprudence": either, with Diogenes Laertius' text, swfrosu/nh|, or, with Demetrius Chalcocondyles' editio princeps (1499), eu)frosu/nh|. Health and strength are non-intellectual virtues, so it does not make sense to say that health follows on imprudence; and, what is more, imprudence is a vice, not a virtue.
[5] Once more, the sense is better in Diogenes Laertius' version: "they do not require assent but supervene even in respect of the base people" (7.91). This passage, which says that health is a virtue (even though a non-intellectual one), is in conflict with the supposedly orthodox Stoic thesis on virtue, for if health is a virtue it must be a good. But health appears in all the lists of indifferents (adiaphora), things which are neutral insofar as they are neither good nor bad and, consequently, they contribute neither to happiness nor to unhappiness.
[6] This, as Diogenes Laertius reports, is Panaetius' doctrine (7.92).
[7] The disciples of the Stoics Cleanthes, Chrysippus and Antipater (Diogenes Laertius 7.92).
[8] The Stoic Apollophanes, disciple of Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school.
[9] That is, he should know what is to be done and be able to put it into practice. This and the following lines reproduce, with some changes, Diogenes Laertius 7.126.
[10] Alexander of Aphrodisias, Commentaries on Aristotle's Topics 144.26-27 Wallies.
[11] For this distinction see Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 2.1.
[12] From Alexander of Aphrodisias, Commentaries on Aristotle's Topics 139.19-21 Wallies.
[13] Diogenes Laertius 7.127.
[14] cf. Plotinus, Enneads (Henry [below] p.157 n.2).
[15] Diogenes Laertius 7.126.
J. Annas, The Morality of Happiness (Oxford 1993)
J.M. Cooper, Reason and Emotion. Essays on Ancient Moral Psychology and Ethical Theory (Princeton 1999)
P. Henry, "Suidas, Le Larousse et le Littré de l'antiquité grecque." Les Etudes classiques (1937): 155-62
A.M. Ioppolo, Aristone di Chio e lo stoicismo antico (Naples 1980)
M.C. Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire. Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics (Princeton 1994)
Keywords: definition; ethics; philosophy
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 10 March 2000@19:26:17.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 24 August 2002@09:14:39.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 13 October 2005@08:10:51.
Catharine Roth (added note and bibliography, other cosmetics, modified status) on 22 May 2008@15:30:01.
David Whitehead (more notes; tweaks) on 23 May 2008@03:22:21.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation with the aid of Hicks' Loeb version) on 5 August 2008@17:44:52.
Catharine Roth (more of the same) on 7 August 2008@23:01:40.
Catharine Roth (expanded note 4) on 8 August 2008@13:55:00.
Catharine Roth (more tweaks) on 9 August 2008@01:04:35.
Catharine Roth (more tweaks; raised status) on 27 August 2008@00:19:26.
David Whitehead (x-ref; tweaked n.1; other tweaks and cosmetics) on 11 April 2012@07:25:53.
David Whitehead on 11 April 2012@07:27:31.
Catharine Roth (my typo) on 19 May 2015@01:04:03.


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