Aristotle’s Golden Mean is a concept from ethics that suggests that the virtuous path in life lies between two extremes. On one side is excess, and on the other side is deficiency. The Golden Mean represents the middle ground between these two extremesFor example, if we consider the virtue of courage, Aristotle would say that the courageous path lies between the two extremes of rashness and cowardice.
A person who is too rash might put themselves in unnecessary danger, while a person who is too cowardly might never take any risks at all. The courageous person strikes a balance between these two extremes.
In general, Aristotle believed that virtues like courage, temperance, and wisdom could be understood as Golden Means between different extremes. Striking the right balance between these extremes is what allows us to live virtuous lives.
Of course, finding the Golden Mean can be difficult. We might not always know when we’ve gone too far in one direction or another. However, Aristotle believed that through logic and reason, we can learn to find the mean and live virtuous lives.
Aristotle regarded ethics to be a “practical rather than theoretical study” (Aristotle on Virtue). He taught that the goal of virtue is to seek for the proper balance between extremes-the mean between excess and deficiency. The Golden Mean, as it came to be known, was created to assist people in determining which states of character are good. Rather than overreacting or under reacting, virtuous individuals feel and act appropriately in response to events.
Aristotle believed that cultivating virtues allows people to become better citizens and live happier lives. He also thought that the Golden Mean was a valuable tool for decision making because it helped individuals to find balance and avoid extremes.
The Golden Mean is not about moderation in all things but rather it is finding the appropriate moderate response to any situation. For example, Aristotle believed that courage is the mean between two extremes- cowardice and recklessness. A courageous person is someone who feels fear when they should but does not allow their fear to control them or prevent them from taking action.
Finding the virtue or mean between two extremes can be difficult and it is not always clear what the appropriate response should be. However, Aristotle believed that the Golden Mean was a valuable tool for making ethical decisions and living a virtuous life.
As a result, he came to the conclusion that as humans, we have particular human functions that must be placed in the middle of reason and passion. In order for individuals to be happy in life, good character or moral virtue must be achieved, and only by means of the Golden Mean can one’s soul be happy. The mean includes three essential components that help it “golden.” First, the individual must be in an equilibrium state.
Second, this mean is not necessarily the same for everyone—it differs from person to person. Finally, and most importantly, the Golden Mean is something that must be consciously chosen. Aristotle believed that humans are unique in our ability to reason, and it is through the use of reason that we can find the middle ground between two extremes.
The Golden Mean is often thought of as a “happy medium” but it is so much more than that. It requires a level of self-awareness and control that not everyone is capable of. For Aristotle, the Golden Mean was the key to a good life and virtuous character.
A person’s character is neither excessive nor lacking. Equilibrium consists of making correct judgments at the proper moments in the appropriate conditions. The second aspect is to establish that equilibrium around the individual, rather than the group as a whole. “Aristotle’s ethics are not a one-size-fits-all system; what he is searching for is the mean that is good for a specific person” (New World Encyclopedia).
Aristotle first began discussing the Golden Mean in his work Nicomachean Ethics. In this book, Aristotle argues that there are two types of virtue: moral and intellectual. Moral virtues are those that pertain to our character, such as courage, temperance, and generosity. Intellectual virtues are those that have to do with our thought process, such as wisdom and understanding.
Each of these virtues can be either extreme or deficient. For example, someone who is overly generous is considered wasteful, while someone who isn’t generous enough is stingy. Similarly, someone who is too courageous might be foolhardy, while someone who isn’t courageous enough might be a coward. The key is to find the middle ground, the Golden Mean, between these two extremes.
It’s important to note that Aristotle believed that the Golden Mean wasn’t a static state; rather, it was something that you had to actively strive for. This is because he believed that humans are constantly moving towards either one extreme or the other. For example, a cowardly person might become more courageous over time, or a generous person might become more stingy. It’s up to each individual to actively work towards the Golden Mean and resist the temptation to veer towards one extreme or the other.
Aristotle’s Golden Mean has been a influential concept throughout history. Many thinkers have discussed and expanded upon his ideas, and the Golden Mean continues to be relevant today. So next time you’re trying to make a decision, ask yourself: what would the Golden Mean be in this situation?
All of us have different needs and desires, and these may or may not be met by the same thing. Every person is unique, therefore their mean should be based on one’s own self. The third aspect is that each virtue should occupy a middle ground between two vices. Virtue, like the mean, is balanced between two vices.
The mean is the average of two extremes. The virtue then would be what falls in between the two vices. Let’s take the example of courage. The vice of cowardice would be staying away from danger because one is too afraid. The other vice would be rashness, which is acting without thinking and running into danger. Courage then, is acting with bravery but not to the point where it becomes recklessness.
Aristotle believed that every action should have a purpose and that there are different types of actions (or “means”). He further believes that some actions are good while others are bad. So, if we take his philosophy and apply it to modern day life, it would look something like this:
Every action has a purpose.
Some actions are good while others are bad.
To find the mean, we must first understand the extremes.
The virtue then is what falls in between those two extremes.
Aristotle’s Golden Mean can be applied to different areas of life such as work, school, relationships, and decision-making. It is a philosophy that teaches us to find balance in our lives and to avoid either extreme. The Golden Mean is not about always being in the middle but rather finding the appropriate middle for each situation.
For example, if you are working on a project and you want to find the perfect balance of effort, you would ask yourself how much effort is too little and how much is too much. The answer to that question will be different for every person and every situation.
Aristotle’s Golden Mean is a philosophy that can be used to help us make better decisions, find balance in our lives, and live a more fulfilling life.