Friday, May 16, 2003

The Golden Mean(1)

Some months ago, my cousin asked me about the application of the golden rule or the place of the mean point in cases like telling the truth; that according to this rule we should find what is between lying and telling the truth and tell that. I had read about it but didn’t have my book here with me, like lots of others that I left behind in Iran. I borrowed the same book some days ago from library, so here it is from “The Story of Philosophy” of Will Durant:

The chief condition of happiness, then, barring certain physical pre-requisites, is the life of reason—the specific glory and power of man. Virtue, or rather excellence, will depend on clear judgment, self-control, symmetry of desire, artistry of means, it is not the possession of the simple man, nor the gift of innocent intent, but the achievement of experience in the fully developed man. Yet there is a road to it, a guide to excellence, which may save many detours and delays: it is the middle way, the golden mean. The qualities of character can be arranged in triads, in each of which the first and last qualities will be extremes and vices, and the middle quality a virtue or an excellence. So between cowardice and rashness is courage; between stinginess and extravagance is liberality; between sloth and greed is ambition; between humility and pride is modesty, between secrecy and loquacity, honesty; between moroseness and buffoonery, good humor; between quarrelsomeness and flattery, friendship; between Hamlet’s indecisiveness and Quixote’s impulsiveness is self-control.
“Right,” then in ethics or conduct, is not different from “right” in mathematics or engineering; it means correct, fit, what works bet to the best result.

(Posted by Farid)

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