Do you want to achieve excellence in a field? If so, this short article is for you. The topic of achieving excellence is not an esoteric one, it is all about habits that you need to incorporate in your life. We will let you know some important guidelines right here right now from the best teacher, Artistotle. This will allow you to truly understand what excellence is all about.
Excellent is a Habit
According to Aristotle (read his complete works here: link) we become what we do on a regular basis. This is something that we need to take into consideration if we want to achieve excellence in anything we do these days. If you experience a higher sense of motivation and drive in your work and life, you will reap the rewards down the line. Making a high level of productivity a habit and you will truly have the upper hand.
Falling short of your potential is not something that you should encourage in your life, and that is something that you need to keep in mind as much as you can too.
It is somewhat difficult for some people to develop new habits. You need to get out of your comfort zone as soon as you can so you can move to the next level in your life. Doing this will allow you to truly get a lot of rewards down the line. Make excellence a habit. Incorporate it into your daily habits, and you will see wonderful things happening in your life right away too.
Try to do the best job that you can do every single day of the day, and you will experience amazing things in your career.
Doing the Action
You have to work hard to incorporate excellence into your daily routines. Action is what will create what you want. If you want to become a generous person, practice that. If you want to save money so you can invest in your future, do that as soon as possible. Do not even think that you are going to become an excellent musician if you do not practice on a regular basis. You might sing very well today but tomorrow that might not be the case. You have to understand this if you are to become a successful musician, for instance.
Excellence is Life
Moral virtue is the first step to living a life of excellence. Your ethics and morals must be excellent so you can build your life over the best possible foundation. Do not believe anyone who says that morals are not something important in your life. Happiness is an important part of your life, and that is something that you need to achieve. Do not forget to mix experience and theory with your habits. If you want to become the best golf player, you have to study the best books about it and practice like crazy.
We have talked about what excellence entails so you can truly know a thing or two about it. Aristotle said that you have to incorporate this habit into your daily life so you can see what you can do. This habit can truly become something great for you. We cannot stress enough the fact that excellence is a habit. There is something that you need to bear in mind when it comes to excellence. The first thing is that you need to develop this habit yourself. You should do it yourself because no one else will do it for you. Action is an important part of developing the habit of excellence in your life. Do this and you can change your life for the better down the line. Make excellence an important part of your life and you will see something beautiful each day.
Practical Morality with the subtitle: Or, a guide to men and manners. This is Jordan B. Peterson style moral advice for the youth back in 1848. It was written by Lord Chesterfield as advice to his son on how to behave in the world, and certainly on how not to behave. A large part of the book is amusing descriptions of bad behavior, bad habits, and sorry situations people will get entangled in when not knowing correct manners. Here is some from the chapter of the book on awkwardness:
When an awkward fellow first comes into a room, it is highly probable that his sword gets between his legs and throws him down, or makes him stumble at least; when he has recovered this accident, he goes and places himself in the very place of the whole room where he should not; there he soon lets his hat fall down, and in taking it up again, throws down his cane; in recovering his cane his hat falls the second time; so that he is a quarter of an hour before he is in order again. If he drinks tea or coffee, he certainly scalds his mouth and lets either the cup or the saucer fall and spills the tea or coffee in his breeches. At dinner his awkwardness distinguishes itself particularly, as he has more to do; there he holds his knife, fork, and spoon, differently from other people; eats with his knife to the great danger of his mouth, picks his teeth with his fork, and puts his spoon, which has been in his throat, twenty times, into the dishes again.
The book has a second part Maxims and Moral Reflections written by Duke De La Rochefoucault. This part is a collection of many short verses, such as:
Had we no faults ourselves, we should take less
pleasure in observing those of others.
Envy is destroyed by true friendship and coquetry
by true love.
Download the free PDF e-book here (291 pages/17MB):
On august 27, 1928, a number of the largest and most powerful nations signed a pact that declared that they condemned recourse to war for the settlement of international differences, and renounced it as an instrument of national policy. The world had just witnessed the horrors of the WWI and it was clear that war would never lead to anything. In this book by Gerald Vann published in 1939, modern warfare is described as stripped of all its romantic glamour. With the flow of information through modern communication, the horrors of war will make it increasingly difficult to initiate war, the author reasons. The disadvantages of going to war will be so overwhelming, that overthrowing one’s own warmongering leader will always be preferable.
Morality and War describes a moral foundation for conflict solving in the modern world – just before the world went into a even more terrifying war. From the book:
There is nothing romantic about war to-day; and it is evidence alike of the power of propaganda and of the ability of human beings to close their eyes to realities that it should still be possible to think that there is. For the civilized man, war is simply the last repellent resort when all civilized means have failed. He will accept it therefore as he would accept any other unwelcome but necessary task ; hut he will refuse to shroud its realities in a mist of false pageantry ; and he will refuse to surrender his personality to the depersonalizing influences which it may unleash. Civilized society will not admit the notion that war is a biological necessity. To be civilized means precisely to have achieved control of the instincts. The aggressive instincts which may indeed find an outlet in war, need not do so ; and it is part of the evolution of the human personality to ensure that they shall not. War is only permissible, we remind ourselves, as an instrument rationally employed for the enforcing of law ; that result cannot be achieved by a war which is simply a sub-human surrender to uncontrolled biological urges. The days have gone by when war might be extolled as the sport of kings.
Download the free PDF e-book here (83 pages/4.4MB):
The Third Morality is a work by Gerald Heard, first published in 1937, now in the Public Domain. Heard was a modern philosopher and author of more than 20 books. He was a close friend of Aldous Huxley and a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Heard, among other spectacular activities, formed an informal research group to look into developing group-mindedness or group communications. The members of this group later became some early developers of the computer industry in California. One of Gerald Heard main interests was morality and The Third Morality is his take on modern morality. From the book:
This book is called the third Morality because in man’s history he has had three main moralities, three general ideas of conduct based on the three world-pictures he has so far made. The first world-picture, and its resultant morality, was Anthropomorphism, the belief that the universe was the expression of individual persons, and then of one such supreme person. The second world-picture was Mechanomorphism, the belief that the universe could be explained as a huge machine. Men have tried to act on that-for as you believe things to be, so you must try to behave but it has never worked. You cannot make a true morality from the belief that the universe is nothing but a machine.
Nevertheless, until this generation, Mechanomorphism has been the accepted world-picture, even among the religious, and the majority of men today are trying still to act in accordance with that picture, because they are sure that it is true. This attempt so to act-however inconsistent and however unethical must then be classified as the Second Morality. It is a Morality which has never really succeeded in functioning, but it must be recognized as a phase. The Third Morality is the gradually defining impress which is to-day beginning to be made by the third world-picture, that world-picture which is now taking the place of Mechanomorphism. The following essay attempts to trace in outline the conduct indicated to us by this third world-picture, that conduct which must finally take form as the Third Morality.
The New Morality is written by Durant Drake and published back in 1929. For long I have thought about posting Public Domain books here on the ethic and moral topics. I have collected a small library of books of high quality, and here is the first one on the series.
Durant Drake was concerned about the problem of happiness and morality. He understood “the new morality” as the consciously aim to secure the maximum of attainable happiness for mankind, much as other philosophers defines utilitarianism. In this book he outlines “the new morality” has been a concept in the entire history of ideas, but only espoused by a few since the great thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Morever, Drake draws lines to our genetics and the animal kingdom to find the roots for our moral behavior. From the book:
Why should we be moral? What is the good of morality? No questions that could be asked touch us more closely. And while few have been given more confused and confliaing replies, few are really capable of simpler and more certain answer. The first point to note is the discovery by genetic psychology that human morality has its roots far back in the lives of our pre-human ancestors. It is the product, as are our instincts and bodily organs, of millions of years of natural selection. And since this stern process results, in general, in the survival of the fittest structures, and types of behaviour, we may be pretty sure, a priori, that morality, like our various bodily organs, has survived, persisted, developed because of its usefulness.
Download the free PDF e-book here (375 pages/15.2MB):
The Buddhist believe in Karma as a guiding principle. Morality in Buddhism is derived from the Karma-law that describes that your every action has an invisible karmic attachment that will affect you in the future.
Morality in Buddhism: According to the Buddhist moral worldview, your actions will stick to you like glue, and it will do so for all your incarnations. This is the reason some are born in unfortunate situations. Dalai Lama was once asked why he meditated.
For the Buddhist morality is the way to handle karma in daily life. Different sects have their different guidelines, but in general morality in Buddhism is connected to the idea that all life is connected, and that the faith of life is same no matter if you are a butterfly, a tree or a monk. This faith is connected to the concept of non-duality (advaita) which states that the feeling we all have that we are separate, individual beings is at a more divine level just an illusion. We actually all are the same, we are one.
Once this concept is accepted it is easy to understand the behaviour of devoted Buddhist’s. They are acting nice to you, not to please a God or because they fear the laws, but because they see themselves as being inseparable from what you are in your essence. Hurting someone, stealing, lying etc. is essentially harming yourself.
The Noble Eightfold Path
However, having experienced this full insight in your own life is not for everybody. It takes practice, devotion, and meditation. For the layman Buddhist, there is a set of eight rules to follow. The rules are called the Noble Eightfold Path:
Right Samadhi or meditation
Practicing this will lead to the end of all suffering and the end the cycle of rebirths, which is equal to attaining Nirvana. The virtues 3, 4 and 5 are sometimes called the Moral Virtues since they describe how to behave in everyday life.
The Noble Eightfold Path is the basis of a number of other concepts typically associated with Buddhism. For instance, non-violence (ahimsa) and vegetarianism.
“Excellence and quality is not an act it is a habit” – To achieve excellence it is important to nurture your habits.
Do you want to make a change or maybe excellence in a certain fiels? – Then You need to start with habits that you need to incorporate into your life.
Throughout the ages of mankind, there have been many deep thinkers. Some have been known more than others and have become household names. Socrates was one of the Giants in this category. He left behind many ideas and teachings that are still at work today, helping shape our Western society as well.
“Excellence and quality is not an act it is a habit!”
The philosopher under fire
It’s always easy to go back and look at the thoughts and ideas of past generations with disagreement. For many reasons but mainly because as time changes so do we, so do our ideas. This can become a paradox of sorts as we now see with this famous quote he left us. Even though it is now widely thought of as untrue it still remains a part of large religions, philosophies, and teachings.
With the broad philosophical strokes painted by our genius’s of thought, it can be easy to misunderstand their original meaning.
Meaning is what it really comes down to if validity is questioned. The controversial quote has definitely reached this point, so now we ask: What did he mean?
What is a life worth living?
What does anyone of us really know? Honestly? Do we know that the sun will rise tomorrow? Or that the oceans will stay put?
The word “know” is difficult to wrestle with sometimes and tends to be thrown around…
The past is easier to deal with though, for instance: I know that I woke up yesterday. So to find out the context of Socrates’s “unexamined life” quote we need to know him and his ideals as closely as possible.
Unfortunately, he left zero written teachings behind, so we turn to his students: Plato and Aristotle.
After looking at what they left behind we quickly see that these two students adopted very similar thoughts on life. They both believed in virtue, truth, knowledge and ethical behavior. They also placed immense importance on one of their teachers’ most famous answers: “know thyself!”
Is this so different from the quote that clearly tells us to examine our lives? No.
Then why is one accepted and the other under fire? It is very simple and comes down to the last part of his quote.
When he says “life is not worth living”. People thought this was an arrogant statement given that we are so diverse.
I have always wondered at the quote “knowledge is power”. Why not “the application of knowledge is power”.
Knowledge is useless unless you use it, so what is knowledge without application? Well, I think Socrates would disagree with me for a very important reason.
Knowledge is a powerful thing in itself only because as conscious beings knowledge becomes part of who we are. It becomes ingrained in us on a level hard to comprehend.
When I say knowledge I mean true knowledge, not the fact that we read a book and believe some of what it says.
True knowledge is special, and I think Socrates wanted us to understand that.
When we gain knowledge it becomes a new part of us, we become something more. If this is the case, what would you want to understand most of all?
Ourselves? That seems to be a good place to start.
A point of reference
Imagine this: You are born just as you were before but on a different Earth. The two Piles of the earth are the exact same except for one thing.
The new one has no light at all. No sun, fire, light bulbs, or any way to see anything. If this happened to ask yourself, what would you call the darkness?
Nothing, everything, it would just be. Simply because there is no point of reference to distinguish its existence.
There is no opposite and there is nowhere to start.
Final words on excellence in life
Unless we examine who we are, examine our lives, we lose our point of reference.
We will go through life blind, deaf, and hardly with any real understanding of this controlled chaos we call life.
I think that our late Greek Philosopher wanted us to enjoy our lives. And maybe, just maybe, when we get to the point in which we know ourselves something amazing will be born. Maybe we will agree with Socrates.
Maybe we will wish we had all done it sooner.
Moral virtue is the first step to living a life of true excellence. Your ethics and morals must be excellent so you can build your life over the best possible foundation. Do not believe anyone who says that morals are not something important in your life.
Happiness is an important part of your life, and that is something that you need to achieve. Do not forget to mix experience and theory with your habits.
If you want to become the best golf player, you have to study the best books about it and practice like crazy.
We have talked about what excellence entails so you can truly know a thing or two about it. Aristotle said that you have to incorporate this habit into your daily life so you can see what you can do. This habit can truly become something great for you.
We cannot stress enough the fact that excellence is a habit and you should do it yourself because no one else will do it for you.
In essence, there exists “haves” and the “have-nots” in each society, with others exhibiting vast discrepancies between the splendidly rich and the dirt-poor, and while others have differences not closely as great.
Can a Society Exist Without Culture?
To give a proper response to this, one will need to craft an open definition of the term culture.
While at this, culture in social sciences implies everything about the human society that transcends down not in biological aspects.
Moreover, culture runs down from art to food to the government to the hunting techniques. Ostensibly, the only exceptional things that are not culture-related are biological things such as the fact that humans die and also that women give birth to new humans.
From a deeper perspective, if we view culture in a more precise way, then we can understand why culture is essential for societal progress.
Without the aspect of culture, there would be no society
Again, devoid of culture, people would turn out to be animals, moving along and doing things based on the human instinct, which transcends down biologically.
In simple terms, the only culture can have an absolute capacity of creating a society with different traditions, customs, and values.
Reflecting on Society and Culture
Each society has an aspect of religion. In other cases, this implies severe laws enforced by influential clerics while in other cases it implies a free spirituality sense with which religious leaders only serving as helpful leaders.
Culture being an age-old concept tracing back to Ancient Greece and Rome, one can, for instance, learn that a person’s reputation is tethered to society or city of origin, which in most cases was applied directly as a last name, for instance, the Athenian Lawmaker.
Going deeper, Socrates, for instance, had an accusation from a jury of undesirably persuading the youth of Athens. He opted for his penalty over exile since the latter would have uncovered him of his entire Athenian citizenship, an aspect considered to be an integral part of his respective culture and identity.
He sought posterity to understand and remind him as an Athenian or Greek philosopher, but not an individual who resulted in assimilation by a different culture while in exile.
Contemporary, we tend to emphasize the individual place of origin, society, and culture to which one belongs as a matter of priority to identify and help understand them.
In other words, culture is primarily what holds a given society together and acts as a sort of reference point in any given society. Here, without culture then a “society” cannot stand to be a society yet.
Relationship between Culture and Society
Society and culture are very much co-existent.
Surprisingly, one cannot exist without the presence of the other. Culture and society comprise some mutual fundamentals even though the two may not be similar or identical, the crucial variance is that society comprises people while culture entails knowledge, customs, ideas, traditions, beliefs, folkways, skills, institutions, artifacts and organizations.
Interestingly, society is a combination of people with diverse cultures. Conversely, culture deals with the language, food, behaviors, and activities of specific people within an environmental aspect.
Society is mainly a group of individuals existing collectively while culture is essentially anything subsequently made of the aforementioned people. Notably, culture is seen as an institution that attracts cohesion and endurance.
It may have a pool of diverse meanings and relationships but it forms population traits and behavior, beliefs and values.
On the deep side, the relationship among the two is consequently very much extant with culture affecting ways in which the people respond to thoughts and changes while the society being more or less the “external structure”.
No culture! No society!
Retrospectively, through culture, one can express personal uniqueness in all human life aspects, like beliefs, food, schooling as well as sports among many.
On the flip side, any human being in existence in a given society, then this society comprises its culture and values, thus for each human being is a cultural being.
Culture – A Culprit that Divides the Society
Whereas serving to unite people, culture also serves, adversely as a division tool on the same lines. In harmony, a universal union surpasses thousands of limited cultures as they attract redundancy.
We may no longer have the desire to extricate our human selves in a superior means through customs, religions and or languages, while our traditions and customs celebrate our human differences.
Final Words on Society and Culture Co-Existence
To sum up, it’s always a fact! Any given or existent society cannot function without the aspect of culture. The aspect of anarchy is perhaps the closest we as a race could get devoid of culture, and since there is no assembly of people that has upheld simply anarchy for a protracted expanse of time, anarchy is therefore impossible.
In other words, America has a culture. Southern America does too. Other nations have culture too. Subsequently, every humans’ collections have a need or desire to endure some kind of order, which again necessitates culture.
Ultimately, culture is not a fix and rigid tool but rather it is a way of operating in a specific condition so that if an individual faces isolation from his or her main culture, then one would certainly subsist with his or her own culture.
This subsistent culture would again sound simple and noticeable that the same very different would coexist in his current culturally complex counterparts and since most humans create a culture and this culture, as a result, shapes the same human, this can be thought a comparison of mass of matter. Any time a matter gets formed it becomes an intrinsic property of mass.
Likewise, when a collection of humans gathers instinctively, a deliberate conscious culture is created. This collection of people does not invent a sort of culture but rather struggle and co-operate with the external physical world as a result of common behavior of dealing with the surroundings that seep into them.
Thus, it makes great sense that society cannot exist without culture since it’s like thinking matter without the aspect of the mass.
Throughout the history of Western Culture, philosophers have always associated the good, the beautiful, and the true. These elements are known as transcendentals of philosophy. Furthermore, these transcendentals lead to associating beauty and morality.
This association has roots dating back to Ancient Greek philosophers such as Parmenides, Socrates(as recorded by Plato), and Aristotle. Running through Medieval philosophy, as seen in the influence of St. Thomas Aquinas, reflected in the aesthetic musings of Kant, and even influencing later philosophers.
In fact, four branches of Western philosophy have developed to explore these fields.
Ethicsexplores issues of the good, the moral, and the just.
Aestheticsexamines the meaning of the beautiful.
Epistemologyand logic dissect various aspects of the truth.
The pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides is considered the “Father of Metaphysics” for being the first Western philosopher to explore that which constitutes and coincides with being itself. His considerations laid the groundwork for the development of Western philosophy.
Socrates, and his disciple, Plato, held with the prevailing wisdom that happiness, beauty, was the telos of morality, the end to which all virtue was directed.
To live a virtuous life, a moral life, was to attain the highest state of well-being.
In his Symposium, Plato defines beauty in terms of the order. It is an objective principle external to both the object and the perceiver. Simply put, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder.
Similarly, morality itself, virtue-based ethics, is objective. It is based on objective notions of what is good and what is just. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates demonstrates that it is always in one’s best interest to be just. Therefore, by extension, also striving to live the life of beauty.
Aristotle, while breaking with Platonic thoughts on many fronts, maintained the connection between beauty and morality.
His famous “golden mean” or “golden ratio” is applied to understandings of both beauty and morality. Both his Eudemian and Nichomachean Ethics speak of virtues as being lived in balance. An excess or deficiency of an otherwise virtuous behavior becomes a vice. An excess of courage, for example, is foolhardiness, whereas a deficiency of courage is cowardice.
Similarly, beauty is considered a physical manifestation of this golden mean. A beautiful object is an object in which all of its proportions are mathematically symmetrical. Thus, beauty and morality are measured by the same standard, albeit in different ways.
Influence of Plato and Aristotle to the concept of morality and beauty
The influences of both Plato and Aristotle continued to be felt throughout the Middle Ages. Beginning with the fall of the Roman Empire, and continuing through to the dawn of the Renaissance.
Throughout this period, the Roman Catholic Church dominated philosophical thought.
One of the most notable philosophers of this period was St. Thomas Aquinas. In his Magnus opus, the Summa Theologica, Aquinas describes beauty as “that which gives pleasure when seen.” Therefore, according to his thinking, beauty serves as a function of cognition, as it takes discernment to recognize what does or does not give pleasure.
The function of moral discernment is similar to the function of aesthetic discernment, in this view. Aquinas builds his definitions on Aristotelian grounds, although he puts a distinctly Christian spin on his exploration of morality vis-a-vis sin.
Kant solidified the connection between beauty and judgment
During the Age of Enlightenment, German philosopher Immanuel Kant further solidified the connection between beauty and moral judgment in his 1790 Critique of Judgement. Aesthetics is again linked with teleology.
Beauty is considered in terms of absolute standards, although it is separated from cognitive judgments that seek to ascribe moral valence to even a beautiful object. Similarly, in his 1785 Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant had previously established morality as being determined in absolute terms. It is clear to those who study Kant’s works that his absolutist methodology links both beauty and morality in a de facto association.
Modern-day phenomenologists, notably the “Father of Hermenuetics” Hans-Georg Gadamer, have continued to draw associations between beauty and morality in their works. The association of all that is moral, beautiful, and true, continues to be held as a standard for what it means to live a “good life.”
So, as a conclusion, we can see that morality and beauty have been going hand-in-hand since ancient Greek times. As a result, association so deeply entrenched in our philosophy that it continues to be revisited at every period of our philosophical development.
Shaping Your Moral Pathway – Books and blogs about morality and ethics