The Ancient Greeks were some of the first to study how to ‘guide their lives’ which was the initial focus of philosophy.
This subject was first propounded by Pythagoras who defined a philosopher as: “one who is attempting to find out.”
He attempted to find out the causes and general principles of the knowledge of the universe (the ultimate truths).
This led to the adoption of the term philosophy as a ‘lover of wisdom’ and spawned the Golden Age of ancient Greece, a period of over 500 years during which the Greek nation was at its peak of power, glory and reputation.
(Gk: philos – loving + sophos – wise)
Such luminaries as Socrates (Socratic sect,) Plato (Academic sect,) Aristotle (Peripatetic sect,) Diogenes (Cynic sect,) Zeno of Tarsus (Eleatic sect,) Epicurus (Epicurean sect,) Zeno (Stoic sect,) Arcesilaus and Carneades (Skeptic sect) and of course Pythagoras himself (Italic sect) all flourished during this period.
The information contained in this site is based on the wisdom of these great philosophers. Although this data is nearly 2500 years old, it has stood the test of time, and is as relevant now as it was back in the days of ancient Greece.
The Paragon Health Centre focuses on one of these philosophers in particular- Aristotle.
His life and works are briefly covered in the following You Tube clips.
During the Golden Age , the mental faculties of many wise men were applied to the existing truths of the day to see if they stood up to more intense scrutiny. Those that did not were dissected to see if greater or more accurate truths could be revealed or whether the data should be discarded altogether.
This method of empirical reasoning, based on experiences and practical observations of phenomena in the physical universe also formed the backbone of Aristotle’s research.
(Gk: emperikos – experience, skilled)
His system of investigation of analysing facts is now commonly referred to as the dialectic method of correct reasoning (logic).
Perhaps one question, more than any other, was the object of the study of all these philosophers.
That question was: What is truth?
Plato conceded that we could only know truth “if we sublimate our minds to their original purity.”
Even in the days of Ancient Greece there were those who viewed the potential to find the ultimate truth as a positive endeavour and there were sceptics who considered it was impossible to discover.
Arcesilaus stated that “man’s understanding is not capable of knowing the truth” and Carneades concluded that “our physical senses are inadequate to help us in that investigation.”
The Paragon Arete Character Development workshop:
The Paragon system basis its search for truth on one of Aristotle’s most workable datums:
“Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids.”
In Aristotle’s time, the established definition of social conduct was a more-or-less black and white proposition.
Black is a sin and white is a virtue.
This didn’t leave much wiggle room for a grey area.
Aristotle proposed that we are all basically good (virtuous), but temptations can cause us to stray from an honest path. These character flaws, (defects) if not corrected, may eventually lead to long term patterns of negative conduct (vices.)
In other words, what course of action you choose, dictates how much stress (or lack of it) you experience.
Mental strength could be defined as a system of ‘guiding life’ and is based on the power of the mind.
The ancient Greeks concluded that an action is right in so far as it is virtuous and promotes happiness and that being of good moral character (arete) is a necessity to the development of a stress-free life.
This gave rise to the philosophical definition of ‘utility’ as being the effort to achieve the greatest happiness or benefit for the greatest number.
On this premise, they did not envisage that happiness could be reached by a person who is constantly involved in corruption or unethical conduct.
“Knowledge is the condition of knowing, virtue is the condition of being and utility is the condition of doing.” Socrates.
Definition of defect:
Aristotle further defined a defect as either an excess or a deficiency.
For example, we see an actor in a film and admire their skills and physical appearance. This then inspires us to become an actor ourselves, an appropriate and positive reaction > admiration (called an ‘arete’ by Aristotle).
Excess: Some fans however may take this adulation to extreme, becoming besotted by the actor’s every move. They may plaster their walls with photos of their stars and follow them 24/7 on social media and every concert or film they perform (excess defect).
The ultimate eccentric could even become a stalker (vice.)
Deficiency: On the other hand, some followers may see the skills and beauty of their icons as completely unattainable and give up their dream of ever becoming an actor (defect of deficiency.)
Heaven forbid they might even take up a profession as a film critic (vice - joke!!)
Life is a matter of conscious decision:
One of the maxims in the Paragon Arete system is: Life is a matter of conscious decision.
This guiding principle is used to assist a person to decide if there could have been a more virtuous conclusion (arete) between the two extremes of excess and deficiency. If so this new decision is adopted as a more logical action to deal with similar situations in the future.
The Teleology Chart: ©
Various tools developed for the Paragon Arete system are used during the workshop or order to combat stress, the primary one being the Teleology Chart.
Teleology means ‘having an end in mind.’
(Gk: telos – end, ology – doctrine of)
The Chart is based on a book by Aristotle called Nicomachean Ethics (EN) and works on the principle that living a virtuous life results in long term happiness.
The chart uses the ‘Doctrine of the Mean’ as a method of finding the middle line (arete) to provide an optimum solution where negative behaviour (defect) is creating mental stress.
Aristotle’s original works contained 11 aretes with their attendant defects, but in the Paragon Arete workshop this has been expanded to include 7 prime aretes and 35 sub-aretes which are shown in the Teleology Chart.
Ø See the article on the Teleology Chart in this site
Stress is one of the main factors that dictate the direction in which you guide your life and many people have suffered from and / or continue to struggle from mental stress.
Social media, pressure from work and financial difficulties, domestic conflicts, physical debility, and a host of other influences and the emotional responses elicited as a result of these conflicts dictate the potential amount of defective behaviour that may result.
EQ – MQ:
We have come a long way since the days of Ancient Greece and nowadays many psychometric tests have been developed as a means to identify the effects of stress on daily life.
Well known examples include IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and more recently that of EQ (Emotional Quotient).
The Paragon Arete system uses Aristotle’s teleological approach to calculate the connection between EQ and MQ (Moral Quotient).
Ø See the article on EQ – MQ in this site.
Focus on MQ stabilises EQ and brings about a state of mental and emotional composure.
The Paragon Arete Character Development workshop has been established to assist an individual in applying the arete/defect technique (called techne) to investigate previous areas where a defect was employed and come to a self-determined decision on how to replace the defect with an arete.
The end in mind of the workshop is: living a virtuous life with the goal of long-term happiness.
Ø See section Paragon Arete Character Development workshop for more details