7 Minute Miles

The Excellence of Arete

Posted Sunday, November 29th, 2020 07:51 pm GMT -5 in History, Mini Posts, Personal, Schools

Back in high school, I loved studying history. Richard Demers was my favorite teacher, leading such courses as Ancient Civilizations, Western Civilizations and American Experience as part of Central’s Quest program. As I mentioned on my biography page, I took eight semesters of history, along with one independent study about the history of classical music. His euphemism for tests, OTEs (“opportunities to excel”), is something most of my high school classmates will recall fondly. They were always very difficult, but I’m grateful that grading on a curve was a thing back then.

Another concept that Mr. Demers taught in “Ancient Civ” was the Greek notion “excellence of body, excellence of mind.” This resonated deeply with me, but Google has not located authoritative references for this saying that I clearly remember (perhaps the Mandela Effect is in play?). The closest I’ve found is the Greek term arete (not to be confused with mountaineering’s sharp ridge separating two cirques or glacial valleys in mountainous regions). This line in the arete Wikipedia page jumped out at me:

It was commonly believed that the mind, body, and soul each had to be developed and prepared for a man to live a life of arete.

While I don’t recall the word arete being used by Demers, I do remember him discussing the concepts of paideia and the education of the aristocracy. It seems there is much more to learn about these concepts from Aristotle and Plato – perhaps some light reading for the long Minnesota winter?

Originally published by DK on November 29, 2020 at 7:51 pm
 

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