Thursday, May 2, 2013
Excellence: The Terminology of Stoicism
As Needleman and Piazza note in their book The Essential Marcus Aurelius, the word "excellence" is used to translate the Greek word aretē, and "[m]ost translators have carried over the Latin equivalent virtus into the English 'virtue.' But that word has too much of a strictly moral connotation. We must remember that even well into the philosophical age, the Greek word retained its original functional meaning. A chair possesses aretē when it is well built, thus performing its function well. This word applies to human beings in the same manner. Therefore, we possess aretē when we are living up to our human and moral potential, for which we were made."