#bgblur, #feature {background-image: url(../resources/banner8r.jpg); }

Sorin Sabou

Letter to the Romans, Nicomachean Ethics, and more

Aristotle's Golden Mean Theory

The 'Golden Mean' theory is about intermediacy. Someone ought to choose 'not the excess nor the defect' (NE VI.1). Choosing what is equally removed from the two opposite is a 'just action' (NE V.5). Someones' activity has to be marked by this standard found 'between excess and defect' (NE VI.1) A virtue is 'a mean state,' (NE, 1106.3) 'a settled disposition of the mind' (NE, 1106.15) between two vices; it avoids to 'fall short of or exceed what is right' (NE, 1106.15).
The examples of some particular vices given by Aristotle are as follows (his detailed analysis is given in NE, 1107.1-14): courage is the mean between fear and confidence, temperance is the mean between pleasures and pains, liberality is the mean between giving and getting money, and the greatness of soul is the mean between honor and dishonor. Truthfulness is the mean in respect of truth, wittiness is the mean in respect of pleasantness, and friendliness is the mean in respect of general pleasantness in life.
Even if there are areas in which this ethical theory cannot be applied ('intellectual contemplation', cf. Russell, 2009) I commend it for its advantages. The practical virtues are seen, according to Aristotle's theory, as balanced, evaluated, and solid. It is doable when people are self-critical, wise, and interested in the general good of society.

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. http://www.classics.mit.edu//Aristotle/nicomachean.html
Russell, Bertrand. History of Western Philosophy. London and New York, Routlege. 2009.
blog comments powered by Disqus