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Based on the Republic by Plato excellence in the individual is determined mainly by society on the whole.

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Introduction

Based on the Republic by Plato excellence in the individual is determined mainly by society on the whole. In earlier times mainly the individual decided excellence. It was the hero's role to decide what qualities should be attributed to excellence. In Homer's Odyssey it is Odysseus' job to define what makes up excellence. He led his troops in battle lending Courage to the cast. He showed cunning and wisdom in his ability to defeat the suitors and return to his rightful place on the throne. Agamemnon contributes much like Odysseus in that he respected tradition by resisting stepping on the red carpet. He defines excellence as being aware of one's own ar�te making certain that there is a clear distinction between honor and arrogance. Over the years the roles these hero's play have changed and to a great extent the virtues they represent have been altered as well. The Republic is one of the first examples we have of society determining what is good for the people. ...read more.

Middle

There will be in the city little disease and few lawsuits. But care must be taken to hold the balance between music and gymnastics: excess in the former leads to effeminacy, and excess in the later to harshness." (Republic, 119) The training of the mind and the body are seen as equally important in Socrates' eyes. He says, "... Gymnastics is as much a part of the souls education as music is, and the noblest natures, at once brave and wise, require a harmonious blend of the two." (Republic, 119). Socrates likens man's excellence to the picture of a city. He does this in order to help those around him understand the concept. In Socrates ideal city there are three classes into which all the population is divided: the workers, the military fighters, and the guardians. This final group represents the most well bred members of society. They excel in everything they do and thus represent the highest qualities of man. ...read more.

Conclusion

Take for instance the virtue of Justice. It is believed to be an essential part of the superior human, but just what is justice? This along with justice is often decided by the personality and few people feel the same way in every situation. While it is true that a number of virtues such as Courage, Temperance, and Wisdom hold true even today, we are constantly redefining our explanation. As we can see, over time, people's description of excellence is altered such as was Odesseus'. What people once viewed as heroic; treatchery, murder, cunning, and revenge, are now frowned upon. In the end it comes down to the individual. Did they influence people to think outside what is perceived as the normal sphere of knowledge? Have they contributed to society or are they simply living their lives? Do they understand the true meaning of distinction or have they merely blended in? These are all questions we must ask before we can truly decide what it means to achieve excellence. Bumgardner 1 ...read more.

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