Essay on Aristotle and the Doctrine of the Mean

Essay on Aristotle and the Doctrine of the Mean

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Aristotle and the Doctrine of the Mean


Aristotle seeks flourishing happiness in life. He believes that this can be achieved for each individual through the embracement of virtues. Aristotle believes that virtues are the mean of two vices. This is the basis of the Aristotelian “Doctrine of the Mean”. This paper will explore the basis of the Doctrine of the Mean, its connections to Eudaimonia, and its success or lack thereof.

Eudaimonia is a Greek word whose meaning can be translated several ways. These include happiness, the success of life’s activities, prosperity, and the act of the thriving. Eudaimonia is used as a noun. The roots of the word’s meaning are found in its parts. “Eu” signifies connotations such as “well” in Greek. “Daimon” is the Greek word for spirit; Modern English has evolved this term into “Demon”. “Ia” is merely the inflective ending found in the Greek language. By examining the structure of the word it can be seen why there are so many interpretations of the term, which in its literal translation means “well-spirit”, a foggy definition at best. For the purpose of this paper the definition of Eudaimonia which is most commonly associated with Aristotle will be used:

Eudaimonia – a broad notion of happiness that suggests prospering and flourishing.

To Aristotle, Eudaimonia is really the synergy of both well feeling and well acting; you act well because you feel well and the opposite is true as well. The concept of Eudaimonia is about feeling good because you have acted well. It is like the “warm glow” one gets from volunteering or even simply from doing a job well. Aristotle would not be opposed to this “warm glow”, however, Aristotle was not a Hedonist. Hed...


... middle of paper ...


...tics of the soul and a flourishing happiness known as Eudaimonia.


Aristotle has presented for humanity in the Doctrine of the Mean a formulaic route by which the ultimate goal of Eudaimonia can be reached. The route itself includes several steps, each dependent on the one before it. What is made clear by the theory is that without virtue humanity is doomed to fail in its pursuit of Eudaimonia. In all, Aristotle makes a compelling case, he presents the facts well and proves as much as can reasonably be proved in the area of study he discusses. I do not know if his theories are right or wrong; I will tell you when I reach Eudaimonia.



Works Cited

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, in A. I. Melden, ed., Ethical Theories 2nd Edition. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1957)

Dictionary: http://www.dictionary.com. (Lexico LLC., 2002)

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