Sunday, March 1, 2009

Aurea Mediocritas

Aurea Mediocritas = the golden mean

It is not the same thing as being in the middle. Rather, it is the point between excess and deficiency.

It's one of the benefits of a liberal education that I have some inkling about this. More significantly, a liberal education is one that incorporates a healthy sampling of all necessary domains of knowledge -- e.g. literature, mathematics, history, science. To specialize in one to the point of excluding another creates an imbalance in the excess/deficiency schema.

The rule holds in the moral domain as well. For instance, it is possible to fail morally by an excess of anger, and it is possible to fail morally by a deficiency of anger -- e.g. to be a witness to a criminal or perverse act and shrug it off as "none of my business." One can also fall short in the matter of obedience due a superior -- by deficiency, such as an employee failing to do what his boss directs, or by excess, which is the sin of servility (i.e. an order is not an order after all).

To recognize the golden mean between an excess and deficiency of anger or an excess and deficiency of obedience requires acknowledgment of an objective standard.

Lack of objective standards = extremism

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