Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Arête, Eudemonia and Ritual

I’ve written several times about arête (excellence) and eudemonia (well-being). Being excellent at what you do leads to well-being. But to achieve these things you have to practice – i.e. ritual (and you really can’t be good at something unless you like it).

The word “eudemonia” made it into the Declaration of Independence as “the pursuit of happiness.” That means this entire country as founded on “the pursuit of happiness.” Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So what we’ve got is ritual leading to excellence leading to well-being. These things have been known for thousands of years.

Going to school is a ritual. It’s not a good ritual for almost all, but it is a ritual – you can practice all you want but you’re not going to get good at it except for the few who like it. So is going to church a ritual.

I remember when my niece was about three years old she would every night make sure all the doors were locked. I just smiled. It was her ritual. It made her feel better to keep the monsters out.

I remember not very much minding school when I was in grade school. Middle school, especially seventh-grade, was a kind of hell, though. High school was sort of a prison for us except for partying on weekends, which was a blast – and it was a weekend ritual with us.

The athletes in high school got all the attention and appreciation (I personally didn’t want any of those things from the public). Even then I knew the athletes practiced a lot, got good at what they were doing, and then played their games in public – and it was a ritual for huge crowds to show up at their games.

Societies are made up of shared rituals. If you don’t have shared rituals you don’t have a culture. The United States is originally founded on the smallest government possible and the biggest shared culture possible. The Founding Fathers were convinced that led to the most well-being for the most people.

This is why “multicultural” societies don’t work. You end up with a bunch of societies with different rituals and beliefs trying to share the same land. It never works. It never will. It always leads to conflict, sometimes massive.

Some immigrants want a big government – they think it’s going to take care of them and increase their well-being. Unfortunately even some deluded Americans believe this.

All these things are about morals – maybe “qualities” is a better word. Ritual leading to excellence leading to eudemonia is supposed to be the most moral thing – the highest quality of life.

These things aren’t taught anymore, if they ever were. That’s a shame.


Roman Lance said...

Once, decades ago, we Catholics had the rituals presented in the Latin Mass and we had an excellent Catholic Culture. Then they gave us a new ritual called the Novus Ordo Missae and we have been suffering it's effects ever since.

No more excellent Catholic Culture, just handshake hootenannies and sentimental tripe from the pulpit about being "nice" to each other.

It seems we now have nothing but feminist nuns, self-declared homosexual priests, failed marriages, and moronic Catholics who think there are space aliens whipping around the universe.

it's all very depressing.

Unknown said...

Good article Ubob, very true, most people do not understand ritual - you get it.

RomanLance: You understand that is why they changed your ritual - to take away the power. The time has come for catholics, (or forgive me, I can only speak for myself) to step away from the hierarchy, and reconstitute the church.