AristotleAristotle, (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher

Aristotle Quote

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

~ Aristotle

Misattributed to Aristotle. Actually a quote from Will Durant in The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (1926), Ch. II: Aristotle and Greek Science; part VII: Ethics and the Nature of Happiness. The misattribution is from taking Durant's summation of Aristotle's ideas as being the words of Aristotle himself.

Ratings and Comments

andi, bakersfield, ca

fake it 'til you make it

Mike, Norwalk

It's obvious, Aristotle had a sense of humor. The habitual growth of government is anything but excellence.

warren, olathe

Its obvious that he was not speaking of government.

Me Again
  • Reply
    Me Again    6/11/08

    10,000 stars for this quote.

    Greg, Chichester

    Profound but not, I think, in the way he intended. It reminds me of another quote one of you may have heard "a man's charecter is revealed in what he does when no one is looking."

    • Reply
    RobertSRQ    6/11/08

    It's as obvious as it is... and he certainly knew about excellence; Plato's student and Alexander's tutor

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      RobertSRQ    6/11/08

      "The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out." -- Baron Thomas Babington Macauley, English historian and statesman (1800-1859)

      • Reply
        RobertSRQ    6/11/08

        "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit"

        Jack, Green, OH

        It's like judging a politician in his campaigning mode for his long-standing, habitual mode. Difficult, if not impossible, as they can be two different people. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) comes to mind.

        Ken, Allyn, WA

        I intend to do excellent things on a regular basis. That's just as good, isn't it?

        Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

        We admire those who do their thing consistently. Roy Rodgers did not become King by sloughing off from day to day. And sports people that keep it up into their 40's usually get my admiration. Blanda, etcetera. Frank Sinatra said it all when he sang "do be do be do". And Frank gets cudos for consistently doing his thing.

        • Reply
          Anonymous    5/4/10

          what does this quote mean?

          Patrick Henry, Red Hill

          We are what we repeatedly think.

          Excellence, then, is not an act but an informed by Virtue thought, practically expressed.

          Ronw13, OR
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          Ronw13, OR    6/4/18

          " Tired of the Senates barren brawl,
          An hour with silence we prefer,
          Where statelier rise the woods than all
          Yon towers of talk at Westminster.
          Let this man prate and that man plot,
          On fame or place or title bent:
          The votes of veering crowds are not
          The things that are more excellent.

          To dress, to call, to dine, to break
          No cannon of the social code,
          The little laws that lacqueys make,
          The futile decalogue of Mode,-
          How many a soul for these things lives,
          With pious passion, grave intent !
          While Nature careless-handed gives
          The things that are more excellent.

          The grace of friendship - mind and heart
          Linked with their fellow heart and mind;
          The gains of science, gifts of art:
          The sense of oneness with our kind;
          The thirst to know and understand-
          A large and liberal discontent:
          These are the goods in life's rich hand,
          The things that are more excellent."
          William Watson 1858-1935
          Aristotle found himself at odds with Plato, over that which "good is", and its source of inspiration,
          Areistotle siding with democracy at odds with Platonian Republicanism. As can be seen playing out today on the world stage.


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