Aristotle: Above the Mean

Aristotle: Above the Mean

Length: 1196 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

Aristotle: Above the Mean


     With the strict oppression of thought by religion and government in the 2nd century B.C.E., it’s a surprise in itself that Aristotle, a man with such revolutionary thoughts and ideas was able to let his thinking be known to the entire world (as it was known back then). It is therefore even more surprising that his idea’s have survived these many centuries though books, a medium of writing that has a notorious reputation of being burned when something in its contents doesn’t match the current beliefs of the established system of government or the church. We can certainly all be thankful that his idea’s have survived thus far because of the tremendous impact that they have had on thought, government, and the way of life throughout the entire world in general. Aristotle was a revolutionary thinker whose ideas have no rival from anyone in his own school of thought.
     In book Two of Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle lets out arguably some of his best work. The idea that in life, people shouldn’t strive to be the best, but instead aim for the middle, or the mean as Aristotle calls it, was something new and innovative not only then, but even to some people today. He further backs his assumption up by supplying more than enough examples. To start out, Aristotle first defines what is “good” and what is “bad”. He does this by providing examples of several things that have both a good side along with a bad side. One example he gives is lawmakers. A lawmaker can have a positive effect on society or a negative one. Judging by the effect his laws have on the people, he is then determined to be either a bad lawmaker or a good one. Moreover, the lawmakers themselves have the power of making people into either good or bad citizens. This is done by instilling either good or bad habits into the citizens through the legislation that the lawmakers pass (Pg. 99). This once again, in turn, dictates whether the lawmakers themselves are good or bad lawmakers. Aristotle’s idea of this is (to use a cliché) is “Right on the money”. Even in today’s world, people are judged by their actions. That is to say, if someone does something good in their life, they are considered a good person, conversely, if a person is known for a failure, the people around them regard that person as a failure; or as Aristotle would simply put it, “bad”.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Aristotle: Above the Mean." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=53834>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Aristotle 's Doctrine Of The Mean Essay

- Aristotle’s “doctrine of the mean,” I believe, may shed some light on the nature of moral virtues (virtues of character). The doctrine of the mean can tell us some things about moral virtues, but I would also that the doctrine of the mean ultimately creates a rather unhelpful and overly simplistic concept of morality. More than anything, I think the doctrine of the mean tells us more about Aristotle than the nature of moral virtues. First, we should define the terms we are discussing. When Aristotle talked about “moral virtue,” he considered it a state of character— character as opposed to “virtues of intellect” (which Aristotle also talked about)....   [tags: Ethics, Virtue, Courage, Virtue ethics]

Research Papers
1067 words (3 pages)

Why Aristotle 's Virtue Ethics Essay

- Explaining Aristotle 's Virtue Ethics In Aristotle 's Nicomachean Ethics, the basic idea of virtue ethics is established. The most important points are that every action and decision that humans make is aimed at achieving the good or as Aristotle 's writes, “Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at the good... (Aristotle 1094a). Aristotle further explains that this good aimed for is happiness. For Aristotle, happiness is defined as “an activity of soul in accordance with complete excellence......   [tags: Virtue, Ethics, Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics]

Research Papers
1636 words (4.7 pages)

Essay about The Doctrine of the Mean in Aristotles Politics

- The Doctrine of the Mean in Aristotle’s Politics. Examining the texts of Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” and “Politics” side by side, one is bound to find parallels between his reasoning with regard to the individual and to the state. In “Nicomachean Ethics” Aristotle discusses happiness, virtue, and the good life on an individual level and lays out necessary provisions for the good life of a person. He maintains that virtue is a necessary element of happiness: a man will be happy if he has virtues of justice, courage, and temperance, each constituting a balance between the extremes....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
2162 words (6.2 pages)

Human Function: Aristotle’s Basis for Ethical Value Essay

- Human Function: Aristotle’s Basis for Ethical Value I. Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics Depend on the Human Function Aristotle presents a system of virtue ethics in Nicomachean Ethics. This work presents a prescriptive theory with the aim of showing how humans may reach a proper state of happiness in which the natural human end is fulfilled. This end is regarded as an end in itself to which subordinate ends are related. This master end itself is understood as a type of activity rather than a state that can be achieved with a limited series of actions, and this activity is described as a general practice of acting well in accord with reason....   [tags: Philosophy Aristotle]

Research Papers
3579 words (10.2 pages)

Essay about Aristotle: Ethics and the Virtues

- Aristotle's ethics consist of a form of virtue ethics, in which the ethical action is that which properly complies with virtue(s) by finding the mean within each particular one. Aristotle outlines two types of virtues: moral/character virtues and intellectual virtues. Though similar to, and inspired by, Plato and Socrates’ ethics, Aristotle's ethical account differs in some areas. Aristotle, a student of Plato, is known for his contributions in many fields of philosophy, ethics being one of the most prominent....   [tags: Virtue Ethics, Nicomachean Ethics]

Research Papers
2252 words (6.4 pages)

Essay about The Doctrine Of The Mean

- The Doctrine of The Mean is the Aristotelian writing of virtues, of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle explains virtue as the excellence and the good of the character, in reflection to the good or the virtues of an action: “So virtue is a purposive disposition, lying in a mean that is relative to us and determined by a rational principle, and by that which a prudent man would use to determine it. It is a mean between two kinds of vice, one of excess and the other of deficiency…” Here Aristotle gives us an outline of his provisional explanation for virtue; where you would find virtue, and its dependency on the situation....   [tags: Ethics, Morality, Virtue, Justice]

Research Papers
1351 words (3.9 pages)

Aristotle Between Aristotle And Hobbes Essay

- Aristotle and Hobbes have different views on what is good, which results in contrasting moral theories. These philosophers both have different views on what is good, how to act, and how to be. The way in which Aristotle defines happiness, is opposed in the views and beliefs of Hobbes. Aristotle believed that there was a final good and opposing him was the belief that Hobbes had which was that there was no final good. They both believed that being moral wasn’t only good for you but also good for others....   [tags: Ethics, Virtue, Plato, Nicomachean Ethics]

Research Papers
1190 words (3.4 pages)

Aristotle and Plato Essay

- Political society today, has taken many lessons from Plato and Aristotle’s political ideas. As was the case in Ancient Greece, there are many different political ideologies and regimes that will may serve the purpose for one society, but in another, could cause utter chaos. Aristotle attributed the need for there being a number of political regimes due to the fact that there are “many parts to a city.” (4.3.1) The many parts to a city that he was referring to, simply enforces the necessity of having different forms of office for each of these parts....   [tags: Government, Ancient Greece, Thinkers]

Research Papers
989 words (2.8 pages)

Aristotle's Happiness Essay

- With self-help books garnishing millions of dollars annually, it's no mystery that people have been looking for a "correct" way to live out their lives. This was as prevalent in ancient Greece as it is today. Aristotle had what he thought was an ideal activity for all those who wanted to live life to the fullest, be happy, and have purpose. Aristotle argues that the best and most satisfying activity is study on the grounds that it fulfills the requirements for happiness as an activity better than others....   [tags: Philosophy]

Research Papers
964 words (2.8 pages)

Aristotle Essays

- Aristotle      In our fast paced technologically advanced society today, our governments have evolved into supposedly well oiled machines effectively managing budgets, jails, militaries, as well as many other programs. Unfortunately, many of these governments are not as well organized, as they could be. Democratic countries like France, Germany, and even the United States have some very serious shortcomings to the way their governments are managed. These problems occur, many times at a very basic level, rather than at the minor details....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
1195 words (3.4 pages)

Related Searches

Applied to today’s standards, Aristotle’s ideas would be a great judge of character. This system could be used for a variety of things; anywhere from evaluating your friends, to hiring people at interviews, to even electing the President of the United States. Looking at the way Aristotle sees his system of judgment, there aren’t many things work with it. It is a very simple system where if someone does something well, they are rewarded for it by being seen as a successful person, where as if someone does something wrong, they are penalized by being looked at as a failure in that specific area.
     Another idea that is clearly defined is the idea of aiming for the mean. Aristotle conveys through his book that people shouldn’t strive to be the best, but they should completely give up on their endeavors either. Instead, they should aim for the middle, or the mean as he calls it. According to Aristotle, the mean is the best place to be because on one extreme, there is excess, where as on the other extreme, there lies deficiency. The mean would be located in the middle of the two. One of the examples that Aristotle gives would be courage. The man who shuns and fears everything and never stands his ground becomes a coward, whereas a man who knows no fear at all and goes to meet every danger becomes reckless (Pg. 200). Looking at this statement, anyone can see that Aristotle is right. As a matter of fact, this idea of aiming for the mean ties in with his notion of whether someone is either a good or bad person. This is because if someone is on either extreme, either deficiency or excess, they are seen as a failure or an “over-achiever”. Consequently, they are deemed a bad person by society. Conversely, if that same person is in the middle of the two extremes, they are seen as having done good and therefore are looked at as a good person. Again, such ideas would be good judges of character in determining the success of people and how able they are.
     A third important concept that Aristotle touches upon that ties in with both of the previously mentioned ideas is the fact that everything that anyone thinks of other people is relative. This is very important because when judging character, who is to say that one person is more correct than the other. Aristotle goes on to say that “the mean” is relative as well. This is because if one person is used to living a more lavish lifestyle that another, to that poorer person, it might seem that the later is living a life on the “excess” side. Likewise, the richer person will see and think that the poor man is living his life with deficiency. This again supports the idea that all things (not only Aristotle’s idea’s) are relative.
     Also, Aristotle covers on how to achieve this mean that he talks about. Obviously, throwing out ideas about some “mean” in one thing, but also explaining on how to achieve this state of virtue is completely different. After all, how good would all of these ideas be if there were no known ways of every achieving virtue via Aristotle’s mean? Aristotle says that it is nearly impossible to be aimed at exactly the “mean” and middle of anything. To go around this, he proposes that one should aim for the lesser of two evils. Meaning that if one is more tended to lean towards the deficiency side of the spectrum, as opposed to the excess extreme, then that person should be more cautions of acting in a deficient way than in excess. Therefore, that person will veer away from the deficient side, while still avoiding the excess as well. Through this, that person will inevitably end up in (or as close as possible) to mean.
     In summary, the ideas portrayed in the books of Aristotle have gone through history nearly unchanged. They have survived the book burnings of Aristotle’s time all the way through to the twentieth century. The idea’s themselves have been adapted by individuals to help them gain an insight on life and to lend a hand in living a life that is neither in excess or deficiency. Additionally, the ideas themselves, even though many centuries old, are not out of date or ineffective. They can still be used to judge character just as well today as they have throughout time. And although Aristotle advocates aiming for the mean, his own brilliance may even be in excess.









WORKS CITED

·     From Plato to Derrida, 4th Edition, Forrest E. Baird, Prentice Hall 2003
Return to 123HelpMe.com