Single Idea 5838

[catalogued under 22. Metaethics / B. Value / 2. Values / b. Successful function]

Full Idea

A dung-basket is fine, and a golden shield contemptible, if the one is finely and the other badly constructed for carrying out its function.

Gist of Idea

A well-made dung basket is fine, and a badly-made gold shield is base, because of function


report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Xenophon - Memorabilia of Socrates 3.8.6

Book Reference

Xenophon: 'Conversations of Socrates', ed/tr. Waterfield,R/Tredennick,H. [Penguin 1990], p.159

A Reaction

This is the basis of a key idea in Aristotle, that virtue (or excellence) arises directly from function. I think it is the most important idea in virtue theory, and seems to have struck most Greeks as being self-evident.