"Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points." ~D.T. Suzuki

Monday, May 9, 2016



The Truth Exposed - The Meaning Of Areté?

The Greek word areté refers to “excellence”
or “virtue” of any kind.
The Greeks used this word
to denote courage, strength,
and the need to live up to one’s full potential.

In its time areté was what all people aspired to.
“What moves the Greek warrior to deeds of heroism,”

Kitto comments, “is not a sense of duty as we understand it
 — duty towards others: it is rather duty towards himself.

He strives after that which we translate ‘virtue’ but is in Greek arête, ‘excellence’ … we shall have much to say about arête.

It runs through Greek life.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Arête implies a respect of the wholeness
or oneness of life,
 and a consequent dislike of specialization.
 it implies a contempt for efficiency
 or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency which exists not
 in one department of life
but in life itself.”

The Choice of Heracles
(Cacia and Arete),
by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609), 
Italian Baroque painter

In a fable related by Xenophon,
Arete (Virtue) and Cacia (Vice)
offered Heracles the choice
between a life of valour
and one of luxury.

:"There is a tale that Arete (Virtue) dwells on un-climbable rocks and close to the gods tends a holy place; she may not be seen by the eyes of all mortals, but only by him on whom distressing sweat comes from within, the one who reaches the peak of manliness."

Simonides, Fragment 579
(trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III)
(Greek lyric C6th to 5th B.C.) “

“Then Phaedrus feels a tugging to read the passage again,
and he does so and then…
what’s this?!…
’That which we translate ‘virtue’ but is in Greek ‘excellence.’

Kitto had more to say about this
 arête of the ancient Greeks.
 ‘When we meet arête in Plato,’ he said,
we translate it ‘virtue’
and consequently
miss all the flavor of it.

at least in modern English,
is almost entirely a moral word;
arête on the other hand, is used indifferently in all the categories,
and simply means excellence”

© 2016 MU-Peter Shimon

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