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Aristotle and The Golden Mean

Prepared By: Muhammad Hassan

Aristotle, 384-322 B.C.

Studied 20 years with Plato at The
Academy, starting at age 17.
Born to Nicomachus, a physician, in
Founded his own school the Lyceum,
known as Peripatetic (walking place).

He tutored Alexander the Great when
Alexander was a young teen.
Aristotle was charged with impiety in
Athens, and left to live in Chalcis, in the
eastern Agean sea, and established a new
school on the island of Lesbos, teaching
women philosophy.

Aristotle preferred the physical, concrete,
material world, and the senses.
Biology was his primary subject.
Truth for Aristotle is changing, imperfect,
and living.
Aristotle is called The Father of Science.

Humans are political and social beings.
Moral action is possible only in society and
community of our fellow humans.
To be human is to live with other humans,
and interaction.
The idea of goodness is part of everyday,
practical activity of human life.

Aristotles approach is teleological, which
means the connection between right action
and the result or end of right action.
The good, is that which everything aims
in art and science.
All of our actions have goals or aims.
The end goal for humans is happiness.

Happiness is an end in itself, never chosen
as a means to something else.
Happiness is practical, understandable.
Happiness is final, self sufficient.
Happiness is both particular and universal.

Ideas, concepts, or forms do not exist
outside of material objects.
Knowledge can be found in the world of the
senses, natural world, physical/material
The unity of matter and the forms.
Ideas cannot transcend matter.

1. Principles and theories knowledge of
quality. (Abstract, universal)
2. Causality why something happens
(Scientific) explains
3. Senses and Experiences particular,
concrete, immediate

The world is constantly in a state of flux,
Change is a natural process and product of
life. Everything is in process of becoming
and dying.

There are 4 causes:
Formal what a thing is
Material that of which it is made
Efficient how and why it is made
Final teleos the end purpose or goal
For Aristotle there is no first mover or creator
Morality is developed out of everyday life.

Happiness is an activity of the soul in accordance
to reason. Actualizing your highest potential for
good using reason
The soul is your mind or psyche
Two parts to the soul: rational and irrational
Irrational: nutrition, growth, common to all
species animalistic: connected with the body
Rational: seeks the best, obeys principles, self
control, self discipline reason, humanity:mind

Virtue: actualizing your highest potential
for good using reason; deliberate choice in
accordance with the mean; virtue is
excellence, the best, the highest
There is deliberate choice which implies
human responsibility

2 types of virtue: Moral and intellectual
Moral Virtue: habits developed out of our
nature through living life; adaptations:
learn to do by doing: the practical everyday
world; The mean between two extremes,
habitual choice of actions between two
vices: excess and deficiency

The Golden Mean is the mean between two
extremes, may be relative for each
Society sets our mean, by use of the law.
Acts which have no mean and are
intrinsically bad in and of themselves:
Spite, Envy, adultery, murder, theft, lying

Intellectual virtue: philosophic
contemplation & wisdom, thinking,
knowledge, takes time, experience
A good life is a happy life, a good person is
a morally virtuous person
The ultimate life is happy, moral, and

Aristotle recognizes deliberate choice in humans,
which puts responsibility on humanity.
There are voluntary and involuntary acts.
Voluntary acts are acts based on deliberate choice
and total human responsibility.
Involuntary acts are acts from ignorance, poor
teaching, external compulsion, or avoidance of a
greater evil.

2 types of acts/choices:
Instrumental acts done as a means for
other ends, externalized
Intrinsic acts done for their own sake,

Aristotles Golden Mean

EXCESS____mean________ DEFICIENCY
moral virtue
Honor/Vanity_proper pride__humility
Give $_______liberality_____take $
Easy going_temperate__irascible/hot temper

the right action at the right time, to the
right person for the right reason This is
knowing when you are morally virtuous