Classical Virtue Triad

Bonum – Goodness

Verum – True

Pulchrum – Beauty

Those are the tree founding virtues which was founded long time ago in Greek culture and yet still relevant today.

Goodness lies in the realm of Ethics. Oftentimes it is related with how one individual interacts with another. Therefore it is also one of the basic of the Triad as it is also the foundation of peace – something which all aspire. Golden Rule is established clearly on this realm.

True lies in the realm of Science. It might not be as simple as Goodness since it involves more rigor. However, it is  the most over-focused triad – especially in the loci of Monotheistic religions. It all seems to be about what’s relative and what’s absolute.

Nonetheless, it is the foundation of a Just and Stable society. A society which the people inside mistrust one another and is unable differentiate a criminal and an innocent is clearly doomed.

Beauty lies in the realm of Aesthetic. This is the most overlooked component – often being downplayed by True. Contrariwise to True which has its methods, Beauty is straightforwardly relative and often involves a great deal of abstract depth of thinking, which not all wants to bother.

Appreciating what’s beautiful often takes time. Just like one needs to get used to a work of art or a relationship to see the beauty of it.

Furthermore, the pedagogical stance held by most education system around the world have downplayed the importance of teaching Beauty to the young. Just as Educator Howard Garner say in one of his books:

I wish there were more focus on the arts and on beauty-both in the traditional sense of beauty and in the more expanded and individualized sense …. Alas, unless national and international priorities change radically, much of arts education is likely to occur at home, after school, or on weekends-if it is to occur at all.

It is however, the foundational component for a growing society. Beauty is closely related with Creativity – one of the hallmarks of mankind. Things are changing rapidly and our inability to cope with it have taken a great deal of progress.  It is as important as Goodness and True.

All in All, the three of them must be taken as one. You can’t simply downturn one over the other. Just like Western Culture overemphasize True at the cost of other two, and Eastern Culture overemphasize Good at the cost of other two, you must be genuine and detached enough to seeing the triad as one.

The good thing is that we’re now living in Postmodern era. East and West are now in an equal stance unlike the imbalance in previous Modern era.

Taking the triad as a tool to see the world in a balanced way is one of the hallmarks of a wise man. Though some of the values have changed drastically (esp. Beauty) it is still a handy tool.

Sapere Aude!!!


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