The Natural Balance of Honour
The personal virtue of honour, and the cultivation of wu-wei, are
– together – a practical, a living, manifestation of our
understanding and appreciation of the numinous; of how to live, to
behave, as empathy intimates we can or should in order to avoid
committing the folly, the error, of ὕβρις, in order not to cause
suffering, and in order to re-present, to acquire, ἁρμονίη.
For personal honour is essentially a presencing, a grounding, of
ψυχή – of Life, of our φύσις  – occurring when
the insight (the knowing) of a developed empathy inclines us
toward a compassion that is, of necessity, balanced by σωφρονεῖν 
and in accord with δίκη. 
This balancing of compassion – of the need not to cause suffering
– by σωφρονεῖν and δίκη is perhaps most obvious on that particular
occasion when it may be judged necessary to cause suffering to
another human being. That is, in honourable self-defence. For it
is natural – part of our reasoned, fair, just, human nature – to
defend ourselves when attacked and (in the immediacy of the
personal moment) to valorously, with chivalry, act in defence of
someone close-by who is unfairly attacked or dishonourably
threatened or is being bullied by others, and to thus employ, if
our personal judgement of the circumstances deem it necessary,
This use of force is, importantly, crucially, restricted – by the
individual nature of our judgement, and by the individual nature
of our authority – to such personal situations of immediate
self-defence and of valorous defence of others, and cannot be
extended beyond that, for to so extend it, or attempt to extend it
beyond the immediacy of the personal moment of an existing
physical threat, is an arrogant presumption – an act of ὕβρις –
which negates the fair, the human, presumption of innocence of
those we do not personally know, we have no empathic knowledge of,
and who present no direct, immediate, personal, threat to us or to
others nearby us.
Such personal self-defence and such valorous defence of another
in a personal situation are in effect a means to restore the
natural balance which the unfair, the dishonourable, behaviour of
others upsets. That is, such defence fairly, justly, and naturally
in the immediacy of the moment corrects their error of ὕβρις
resulting from their bad (their rotten) φύσις; a rotten character
evident in their lack of the virtue, the skill, of σωφρονεῖν. For
had they possessed that virtue, and if their character was not
bad, they would not have undertaken such a dishonourable attack.
Extract from The Numinous
Balance of Honour in The Way of Pathei-Mathos – A
Philosophical Compendiary. 2012
Appendix: Some Definitions
It would perhaps be useful to give definitions of some of the terms
used since such definitions (and etymologies, if applicable) might
help to avoid confusion and mis-understandings in respect of my use
of those terms.
The English word compassion dates from around 1340 CE and in its
original sense (the sense meant in my writings) the word means benignity
. Hence, by compassion is meant being kindly
disposed toward and/or feeling a sympathy with someone (or some
living being) affected by pain/suffering/grief or who is enduring
The word compassion is derived from com, meaning
together-with, combined with pati, meaning
to-suffer/to-endure, and thus useful synonyms for compassion, in
this original sense, are compassivity and benignity.
The English word honour dates from around 1200 CE, deriving from the
Latin honorem (meaning refined, grace, beauty) via the Old
French (and thence Anglo-Norman) onor/onur. By the term
honour I mean an instinct for and an adherence to what is fair,
dignified, and valourous. An honourable person is thus refined: that
is, they are noble and hence distinguished by virtue of their
character, which is one of manners, fairness, natural dignity, and
In respect of early usage of the term, two quotes may be of
interest. The first, from c. 1393 CE, is taken from a poem, in
Middle English, by John Gower:
And riht in such a maner wise
The second is from several centuries later:
Sche bad thei scholde hire don servise,
So that Achilles underfongeth
As to a yong ladi belongeth
Honour, servise and reverence. 
" Honour - as something distinct from mere probity, and
which supposes in gentlemen a stronger abhorrence of perfidy,
falsehood, or cowardice, and a more elevated and delicate sense of
the dignity of virtue, than are usually found in vulgar minds." 
Etymologically, this fairly recent English word, used to translate
the German Einfühlung, derives, via the late Latin sympathia,
from the Greek συμπάθεια - συμπαθής - and is thus formed from the
prefix σύν (sym) together with παθ- [root of πάθος] meaning enduring/suffering,
feeling: πάσχειν, to endure/suffer.
In my writings, empathy - ἐμπάθεια - is used to describe a
particular and natural human faculty: that is, a noble intuition
about another human being or another living being. When empathy is
developed and used, as envisaged by my 'philosophy of
pathei-mathos', it is a specific and extended type of συμπάθεια.
That is, it is a type of and a means to knowing and understanding
another human being and/or other living beings - and thus differs in
nature from compassion.
Wu-wei is a Taoist term used in The Way of Pathei-Mathos/The
Numinous Way to refer to a personal 'letting-be' deriving from a
feeling, a knowing, that an essential part of wisdom is cultivation
of an interior personal balance and which cultivation requires
acceptance that one must work with, or employ, things according to
their nature, their φύσις, for to do otherwise is incorrect, and
inclines us toward, or is, being excessive – that is, toward the
error, the unbalance, that is hubris, an error often manifest in
personal arrogance, excessive personal pride, and insolence - that
is, a disrespect for the numinous.
In practice, the knowledge, the understanding, the intuition, the
insight that is wu-wei is a knowledge, an understanding, that can be
acquired from empathy, πάθει μάθος, and by a knowing of and an
appreciation of the numinous.
 In respect of φύσις, see my brief essay Toward Understanding Physis.
 I use σωφρονεῖν (sophronein) in preference to σωφροσύνη
(sophrosyne) since sophrosyne has acquired an English
interpretation – "soundness of mind, moderation" – which in my
view distorts the meaning of the original Greek. As with my use of
Greek terms such as πάθει μάθος (pathei-mathos) I use σωφρονεῖν in
an Anglicized manner with there thus being no necessity to employ
 Depending on context, δίκη could be the
judgement of an individual (or Judgement personified), or the
natural and the necessary balance, or the
correct/customary/ancestral way, or what is expected due to
custom, or what is considered correct and natural, and so on. The
sense of δίκη as one's ancestral customs is evident, for example,
in Homer (Odyssey, III, 244).
 The word benignity derives from the Latin benignitatem
and the sense imputed by the word is of a kind, compassionate,
well-mannered character, disposition, or deed. It came into
English usage around the same time as compassion; for example, the
word occurs in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde [ii. 483]
written around 1374 CE.
 John Gower, Confessio Amantis. Liber Quintus vv.
2997-3001 [Macaulay, G.C., ed. The Works of John Gower.
Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1901]
 George Lyttelton. History of the Life of Henry the Second.
London, Printed for J. Dodsley. M DCC LXXV II  (A new ed.,
cor.) vol 3, p.178