April 11, 2019

For the ancient greeks the most noble of all things, which man could attain, was virtue, for it makes him a demigod. The virtuous man is the one who is worthy of respect by all, the one which everybody loves and the one whom everyone wishes to hear speak. In order for man to be virtuous, he has to attain the qualities which constitute this nobleness. They are: - intelligence, courage, justice and temperance.


Under the term intellect we should understand man's capability to contemplate the true nature of things, or in other words - a well developed sense of understanding. Courage represents the faculty of man which thinks and acts independently of the circumstances - whether they are dangerous or seductive. Justice guards man from the path of ignorance. If man is unjust he will always strive to take advantage of everything and everyone around him when given the chance. When man does unjustice, he does it for two reasons. He either does not realize that he is being unjust, because of his incapability to put himself in the shoes of others, or he realizes his unjustice, but applies it anyway. In the second case man chooses to be unjust even though he is aware of what he is doing to the opposite person - here we once again see that such a man cannot be virtuous for he lacks courage. The lack of this quality is clearly visible, because of the fact that such a man has no courage to act according to his understanding, but rather ignores it and gives in to the temptation of being unjust.


The last of all virtuous qualities is temperance. It is that which separates the virtuous man from the two extreme characters. Temperance has to be present within every other quality of virtue in order for the person to be noble. It has to be present within the intellect, within the courage and within the justice. Its presence within the intellect means that man understands what is before him and can always make the right choice. The temperance of the wise man makes him say only as much as it is needed, and not as much as he knows. When temperance is present within the courage, man is capable of acting as much as he needs, depending on the circumstances, and not as much as he can. Courage without temperance, in one of its extremes, leads to irrational and hasty decisions, which often have bad consequences to both himself and those around him. In the other extreme end of courage lies cowardice and therefore remorse. Temperance within justice means that man knows when and how just he has to be. Justice by itself means that man should always give as much as he was given, and the reverse as well. If a friend of ours however, asks of us to store his weapons within our house, but wishes them back when he is in a state of clouded mind by anger, following our logic of justice, it is our duty to give back just as much as we were given. But temperance within justice means that we have the correct level of justice depending on the circumstances.


By what was said so far we conclude that all extremes of intellect, courage and justice are vices, while temperance is excellence. The virtuous man then, should be the best version of what he is made to be. Meaning, every thing in the world has different qualities which it must develop fully in order to fulfill its end, or in other words - to become what it was made to be and become noble. A tree is noble when it is fertile, because that is its function - to beget fruits, therefore when its products are abundant and of the highest quality we say that the tree has reached its end for it has developed its qualities to their perfection, thus becoming virtuous. Man, unlike all other beings, is a creature capable of reason, therefore in order for him to become virtuous he has to find what is true in a world where all truths are only but half-truths determined by the individual perspective. Since this task is tricky and complex, the common man gives up the search of his nobleness and lives from cradle to grave trying to attain temporary things regardless of the price he has to pay, namely to remain ignorant towards the truth, towards his intellect's capability and towards all other inherent, within every man qualities, which when are found, transform one's life from a constant chaos of tides carrying good and bad moments into a life filled with understanding, happiness, love and peace.


The four qualities of virtue are interwined into one another and cannot exist as separate. For example, is it not true that the human body has its needs, impulses and instincts, which have the capability to influence the intellect? And isn't it true that the intellect is a separate faculty, which is independent of the bodily needs, impulses and insticts? Regardless of the situation man falls into, he will ever find himself between the choices of listening to what his body wants ("run, eat, act, etc."), or to use his reason with the purpose of making a rational decision. Therefore the intelligent and wise man is the one who is managed by his intellect, and not by his body, for the intellect is rational and the body irrational - deprived of reason. When man manages himself by his intellect in every situation, do we not say that such a man is also courageous, for he stays true to what he believes in to be virtuous, regardless of the situation in which he is in and regardless of what his body tells him? We also have said that a wise man always uses his intelligence as much as he should, and not as much as he can, therefore one who gives in to all kinds of temptations we cannot call wise or courageous; we also cannot call him temperate for he has let himself fall into one of the two extremes - he is a coward who failed to be courageous (true to his intellect) in a situation of temptation or fear. So far we have said that if man is not wise he cannot be courageous and he cannot be temperate as well. Therefore the intemperate man is also unjust for he will always strive towards one of the extremes, namely the temptation of taking advatange of others.

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