Excellence is not a static term. It does not commemorate a one-time arrival at some exalted place. It is dynamic and requires constant use. Excellence is not a single act--it is a habit. It is what we repeatedly do in all facets of our lives. Excellence is not merely having intelligence, but exercising it. It is the healthy muscle that results from the daily workout of our mental and physical faculties. Excellence is a state of mind, an attitude, revealed in a passionate impatience with mediocrity. It is the continuous reaching, beyond the easy grasp, for the best within us. Excellence breeds self-esteem, self-respect and self-confidence. The road along the journey of "excellence" may be adorned with token symbols--emblems, prizes, certificates, plaques, little bronze statues, and even $$$--but ultimately, excellence is its own reward! Excellence should begin early and become a cherished lifetime companion!
"Excellence is an art won
by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or
excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We
are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Excellences to pursue according to Paul Kurtz, emeritus professor of philosophy at SUNY Buffalo: "good health, self control and moderation, self respect and self-esteem, high motivation, the capacity for love, caring for other sentient beings, a commitment to beloved causes, a sense of joi de vivre, a quest to achieve and to create, a generalized goodwill toward others and oneself, the use of reason, courage ('the audacity to succeed'), altruism, the mitigation of suffering and sorrow, and empathy for others."
"Let the love of learning rule humanity"
Filosoφíα - Philosophía. The first word of the motto literally means "love of wisdom" or "love of knowledge and wisdom," a Greek word compounded from phílosmeaning "loving" or "friendly" and sophía meaning "wisdom." However, for historical reasons, the Society uses the phrase "love of learning" out of respect for the founders' English version of the motto that seems to have preceded the Greek version. As the founders probably intended to emphasize the value of what is gained through the process of learning and not merely the process itself, the original translator (Professor J. H. Huddilston of the University of Maine) apparently usedphilosophía rather than philomátheia, the more common way of rendering "love of learning" in Greek (see Plato's Republic 499e for a nearly synonymous use of both terms). The 6th century B.C. Greek sage Pythagoras is traditionally credited with coining the term philosophía. Pythagoras modestly refused to call himself "wise" as some others did, preferring "lover of wisdom." Pythagorean doctrines had a strong influence on Plato, who in the Republic criticizes the claims of the sophists ("wise ones") but advocates the idea of lovers of wisdom (philósophoi) as rulers of society.
Kratgítw - Krateíto.The second word of the motto is a verb in the imperative mood, meaning "Let...rule." As a strong imperative, it is an exhortation to action, not merely a hope or wish, hence "let" is used rather than "may." The basic meaning of the word is the exertion of power and control, derived from the noun krátos, meaning "strength" or "might." Krátos is also a source of the terms "democracy" (rule of the people) and "aristocracy" (rule of the noble). According to Dr. Edward Schriver, author of the 1972 history of the Society (... in pursuit of excellence The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi 1897-1971, p. 10), the original version of the Greek motto was PhilosophíaKrateî Photôn (then translated as "The love of learning rules all mankind"). He notes (p. 21) that this claim was called a "barefaced lie" in 1962 by Joseph Wood Krutch, who had been initiated years earlier at the University of Tennessee. Others, agreeing in the wake of World War II that the world was in fact often ruled by selfishness, brutality, irrationality, and a greed for power, changed krateî to Krateíto and the English "rules" to "Let... rule" at the 1969 Special Convention in Los Angeles.
Fwtwn - Photôn. The third word appears in classical Greek poetry and drama (e.g., in Euripides) with the meaning of "mortals" in contrast to the gods or the "immortals." The 1995 St. Louis Convention changed the official wording from "mankind" to "humanity" on the grounds that the term "mankind" had come to have sexist connotations alien to the historically inclusive ideals of Phi Kappa Phi.