In Book 2 of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics the idea of virtues, specifically virtues of characters, is discussed. Aristotle proposes the concept of the “mean” to describe what kind of state virtues fall under. This passage was especially intriguing to me since it can still relate to aspects of the modern day world.
Aristotle states that both the excess and deficiency of most things are detrimental to the possessor. For example, it is not beneficial to be too proud, or else you are arrogant; however, having no pride leaves you in a state of self-loathing. Therefore one must aim to find the balance between these two contraries – one must find the perfect amount of pride. This is the same for almost all other virtues of character. Aristotle states that in order to be virtuous one must find the intermediate state, an intermediate state that applies to each individual’s situation, and habituate themselves to become proficient in these virtues.
In the Ethics Aristotle outlines a life of moderation that he believes will lead to happiness. While reading this passage I was awed by how similar Aristotle’s claims sounded to modern day sayings. We hear time and time again that “moderation is key” in all aspects of life. This connection made this passage rather easy to understand and gave it another layer of meaning. In addition, by making this connection we can see that Aristotle’s ideas are not just ones of the past but can be applied to current situations as well.