Sophrosyne: The Greatest Virtue
Sophrosyne is the epitome of the most desirable traits of one’s mind and character. It is defined by ancient Greeks as the greatest virtue, describing a sound mind, refined character, self-control, temperance and moderation.
Today’s complicated and often chaotic world requires a person to shun the hubris mindset (extreme pride, arrogance and self-confidence) and move towards sophrosyne. This fourth cardinal virtue is the union of self-knowledge and self-restraint.
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Sophrosyne is a way to feel more in control of one’s emotions, leading a life of moderation, calm and self-control.
How do we become virtuous?
Virtue comes from living an examined life - one where deep deliberation leads to holding on to noble qualities such as honesty and generosity, regardless of how difficult it can be to do them.
While one can take the time to pursue virtue deliberately, Cicero states that by cultivating gratitude, other virtues will grow.
Whenever we lie, cheat, steal, take the easy way out, or ignore others in need, life is immediately easier for us. But after a while, these things weigh on our consciences.
If you choose the virtuous path in each of these situations, you live without regret, with purity, and with good intentions. There is nothing freer than that.
These virtues are regarded by many different philosophers to be the basis for living a good and righteous life:
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