Essay about Aristorle: The Power Of The Intermediate

Essay about Aristorle: The Power Of The Intermediate

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Everyone has strengths and weaknesses (things that people consider themselves to have an excess or deficiency of) and attempt to clearly define them. But rarely do people think about their “intermediates.” To Aristotle, the human characteristics that are possessed in a mean, or in an average amount, are where the true virtues lie. In order to truly utilize a virtue, there is a sort of balance that needs to be reached through good reasoning from practical wisdom.
Virtue requires choices to be made about personal characteristics; every virtue can be excessive or scarce depending on the choices made by an individual. The choices that an individual makes are based on personal reasoning. Personal reasoning comes from practical wisdom, which allows a person to act with the true knowledge of what is good or bad for a human being. So when a person is able to use practical wisdom and personal reasoning to make choices that are valid and logical, then the mean of a characteristic can be obtained and considered a virtue. The mean of a characteristic is a balance between the excess and deficiency of the trait, and it is in this average state that it becomes a virtue.
But, there are some actions that do not have a mean. They are blatantly bad, and never considered a virtue, so they do not have any sort of excess, deficiency, or mean because they shouldn’t be done at all. “…for all of these and suchlike things imply by their names that they are themselves bad, and not the excesses or deficiencies of them (1107a13-14).” Some examples of actions that do not have a mean are theft, jealousy, adultery, and malice. There is no such thing as being too jealous or not jealous enough, and thus there is not an average or right amount of jealousy to ha...


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...rned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by reason, and by that reason by which the mean of practical wisdom would determine it (1106b37-1107a2).” Although the mean is comparative to what an individual believes, it is not the complete definition of the mean. A person has to take into consideration what a person of complete practical wisdom would believe to be the mean, and this involves questioning personal motives and thought processes. Everyone has to be open to constructive criticism, and not consider personal judgment and reasoning to be flawless. Accept that everyone’s ruling is susceptible to error, and this takes an individual one step closer to truly using the reasoning of absolute practical wisdom.



Works Cited

Aristotle, W. D. Ross, and Lesley Brown. The Nicomachean Ethics.
Oxford University Press, 2009.

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