The Doctrine Of The Mean


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However, the primary objection returns to the question of whether this broader guidance or outlining of a process is sufficiently useful. One might object for example that even if one was to accept that Aristotle does provide a process i. In response to this, we can point out that in fact, we do have quite a clear sense of what constitutes excessive or deficient passions.


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So even if we cannot exactly quantify these different states, there does seem to be a meaningful sense in which we can distinguish them. This is a different objection to the circularity problem because it is an empirical, rather than conceptual issue. We cannot know what a virtuous action is if we are not already virtuous because it requires something which I do not have and yet cannot acquire without knowing what it is, not because the definition is circular.

The implication of this objection is that it suggests that for some people, being virtuous is unattainable because they can never acquire the practical wisdom necessary to interpret the doctrine of the mean. This is apparently unappealing because we want to think of moral goodness as being a possibility for all people.

The Doctrine of the Mean

Furthermore, it would be a significant weakness of the theory if it could only provide guidance to those who already know how to act in a morally right way. There are two lines of response to such an objection. On the one hand, we could bite the bullet and accept that for some people, who have been brought up wrongly with the wrong habits and traits of character, virtue actually is unattainable. Arguably, the foundation of Aristotelian ethics is its emphasis on personal development of character. To claim that some people cannot change their character would be to undermine these core tenets.

Therefore, a better response is to point out that practical wisdom is not an all or nothing kind of capacity. We can become more virtuous through developing our appreciation and understanding of virtue and performing virtuous acts. It is important to note that one can do an act that is in accordance with virtue and the doctrine of the mean etc.

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So, in response to the objection that the doctrine of the mean and practical wisdom only provides guidance to the already virtuous, we can respond adequately that people can learn over time to be virtuous and develop the practical wisdom necessary to interpret the doctrine of the mean through doing acts that are in accordance with virtue, even if they do not yet understand what it is to be virtuous.

After all, practical wisdom, as its name suggests, is acquired from experience. The doctrine of the mean and accompanying practical wisdom provide a clear method through which we can come to realise moral virtues through meaningful personal experience that forces us to take responsibility of our own moral decision-making. Related Papers. By Fortunatus Nnadi.

Aristotle's doctrine of the mean

On this account, the superior man does not wait till he sees things, to be cautious, nor till he hears things, to be apprehensive. There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute. Therefore the superior man is watchful over himself, when he is alone. This Equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this Harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue. Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.

In the way of the superior man there are four things, to not one of which have I as yet attained. Earnest in practicing the ordinary virtues, and careful in speaking about them, if, in his practice, he has anything defective, the superior man dares not but exert himself; and if, in his words, he has any excess, he dares not allow himself such license.

Thus his words have respect to his actions, and his actions have respect to his words; is it not just an entire sincerity which marks the superior man? The superior man does what is proper to the station in which he is; he does not desire to go beyond this.

In a position of wealth and honor, he does what is proper to a position of wealth and honor. In a poor and low position, he does what is proper to a poor and low position. Situated among barbarous tribes, he does what is proper to a situation among barbarous tribes. In a position of sorrow and difficulty, he does what is proper to a position of sorrow and difficulty. The superior man can find himself in no situation in which he is not himself. In a high situation, he does not treat with contempt his inferiors.

In a low situation, he does not court the favor of his superiors.

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The Doctrine of the Mean by Confucius

He rectifies himself, and seeks for nothing from others, so that he has no dissatisfactions. He does not murmur against Heaven, nor grumble against men. Such behaviour conforms to the laws of nature, is the distinctive mark of the superior individual, and is the essence of true orthodoxy. Coming events:. Table of Contents The Doctrine of the Mean. Note: also known as Zhongyong.

中庸 / The Doctrine of the Mean

Zhong Yong, Chapter 1 , translated by James Legge. The Doctrine of the Mean , translated by James Legge, The Doctrine of the Mean , translated by A.

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The Doctrine Of The Mean The Doctrine Of The Mean
The Doctrine Of The Mean The Doctrine Of The Mean
The Doctrine Of The Mean The Doctrine Of The Mean
The Doctrine Of The Mean The Doctrine Of The Mean

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