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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Oh for Bush to find Sophrosyne

Webster’s defines this ancient Greek term as: "moderation; discretion; prudence,".

But that doesn’t really get to the essence nor the importance of this ancient Greek idea. The absence of this idea in today’s’ world, particularly in politics today, seeds our downward spiral to a rigid thoughtless society of lemmings.

To give a better sense of the gravity of this “idea loss” let me quote the editors of The Collected Dialogues of Plato (Princeton University Press, 1989),

The truth is that this quality, this sophrosyne, which to the Greeks was an ideal second to none in importance, is not among our ideals. We have lost the conception of it. Enough is said about it in Greek literature for us to be able to describe it in some fashion, but we cannot give it a name. It was the spirit behind the two great Delphic sayings, "Know thyself" and "Nothing in excess." Arrogance, insolent self-assertion, was the quality most despised by the Greeks. Sophrosyne was the exact opposite. It meant accepting the bounds which excellence lays down for human nature, restraining impulses to unrestricted freedom, to all excess, obeying the inner laws of harmony and proportion.

Can we find this again?
Is anyone even looking for it?