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  • Writer's pictureMateusz Zalewski-Grzelak

Enclave of Value: Patterns in defence of Arete

The character sows the destiny, the discipline mends the behavior, the daimon directs to the epitome of the arete, because it is to be understood with this high muse.

What is the real value of virtue? Is the golden chain of virtue equal to the iron chain of vice, which is internally empty and contains no essential dharmas? Is it merely a social construct that is completely relative? What is the value of virtue in the modern world.

Aretology deals with such questions. In nihilism, such values are completely overridden; in aspects of the sociology of ignorance, values are mere automatisms inculcated into society by socialization through mentors and peers throughout history and the mutability of the history of ideas in the noosphere. Even if we were to take the wisest man who could bridge the ancient past and modern times, and get him with his great historical insight into causality to tell us what is of value, he would not pull universal laws out of a hat. Aretological instincts depend on stability, wisdom, discernment, and good judgment in every situation and event forever linked to the human environment and the personal characteristics of the observer of thought, speech, and action. Deriving virtues from observations and internalizing them is reasonable, but is not it a struggle against adversity that creates an asylum of values that hardly anyone can relate to? "If you pitch your song too high, no one will follow you," were the words of Du Fu.

There is not a single man who is coherent, understandable and rock solid in his insistence to be noble. This is because nobility is forever linked to a set of practiced virtues and a love of great beauty and reverence that transcends the land of men. Most of us may have the image of a "knight in shining armor" in our minds, implying that virtue is devalued in modern times. Rather, imagine an ordinary person who overcomes his weaknesses and endures great turmoil to excel and absorb those hard-won essences. This is not stupidity, but a deep understanding, a profound essence, a gravity of barely surviving things, the lightness, subtlety, kindness and grace outward, the resolute diamond carrying the imperial obsidian sword hidden.

As a utilitarian aretologist, I consider virtue to be the social logoi unit of a healthy society, just as a family is an anthropological unit. It is the atmospheric nod to humanity in its refinement. It is the turn to excellence that is no longer to be found in this world that tries to deceive us by saying, "Such and such was never there, history is always now."

As a metaphysician, I find that the gigantomachy of virtues is a process of searching for a key to the divine, a homoiosis theio. What virtues, you ask? The daimon and ethos are different for each man and woman and are ultimately measured by objective, transcendent laws, but we have no direct access to this world, we can derive approximations based on ideas and experienced revelations. Where wisdom and laws of nature, Earth and men are approached, the Divine land of notions tends to unfold, too. Gods do not contradict nature, they further its hypostasis. It is a process of constant interpretation, a hypophetic "hermeneuien". After all, it is a cosmos and not a chaos. As for the nature of the lion, its lionlessness, is a Ding-an-Sich, but it is different for each lion. What belongs to the nature of man is his humanity, but it is different in every man - vibrations of bestiality and idyll follow, but ultimately this is necessary to distill what is of use and "ipsa vene bibendi", drink your own poison to heal yourself as if you were taking a spagyric medicine.

Do not think of virtue as a "boastful thing, a thing of impractical fools," for now every thief, scoundrel, and swindler will cry out, "Loser, fool," and will use the first attempt to use his cunning in stealing as proof. This is a society of high-ranking cheats, scoundrels and thieves that are institutionalized, only the petty criminals are relegated to the courts and prisons, there is a general social acceptance of many behaviors that are contrary to the interests of a reasonable society.

Why should we ever engage in noble enterprises when any thief can rob us of our possessions, any swindler can slander our reputation and good name, any scoundrel can plot against us. There remains something of psychological transparency. When you are drawn into vice, you build a behavioral identity based on the same premises as the adaptive swindler. In fact, you have much to gain in this way - from a purely materialistic point of view, it is smarter to be a great, uncaught criminal than a decent human being. From the big picture point of view, it's better to work towards the tip, but if most people's insight ends at the tip of their nose, what are we talking about? They are like market women, incessantly twittering rubbish, thinking they are engaged in something very, very important.

Only people who openly act upon their gigantomachy tower above the rest in practice. The gigantomachy of those in power, of those who rule over people, is greater than that of monks. That is why one so often finds petty crooks in government, whose ineptitude is masked by psychopathic self-delusions, lies, and the persistent fear that they will be confronted, stripped of their trappings, the charm of status, tested and condemned, a true gigantomachy would tear them to shreds. A magician who fights against perversities, deviations and vices is in a lonely position, but in a more honest one - because he is alone with the alone, as the Sufi saying goes - with the deserts and the gods.

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