Sophrosyne: The Greatest Virtue

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.

  1. One can practise mindful moderation and avoid indulging in unnecessary consumerism. One trick is to delay any purchase for a few days/weeks and then reconsider the decision.
  2. Practise journaling, meditation and breathwork to consciously cultivate a calm mind in this chaotic world.
  3. Practise self-awareness and self-control to consciously build up self-governance and being in charge of your own life.

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What is sophrosyne?

Sophrosyne is an ancient word. Sophrosyne comes from ancient Greek σωφροσύνη (sōphrosúnē, “soundness of mind, temperance, prudence”), based on σῶς (sôs, “safe, sound”) and φρήν (phrḗn, “mind”).

In The Republic , Plato wrote: “Sophrosyne controls our penchant for concupiscence.”

Sophrosyne: the art of mindful moderation

nesslabs.com

If virtue leads to a life well lived

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.

The fast track to a life well lived is feeling grateful - David DeSteno | Aeon Ideas

aeon.co

The cardinal virtues of Greek philosophy and their benefits

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:

  • Temperance
  • Fortitude
  • Prudence
  • Justice

The Four Cardinal Virtues

medium.com

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