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In "ancient Greek philosophy, especially that of "Aristotle, the golden mean or golden middle way or Goldilocks Theory is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. For example, in the Aristotelian view, "courage is a virtue, but if taken to excess would manifest as "recklessness, and, in deficiency, "cowardice.

To the Greek mentality, it was an attribute of beauty. Both ancients and moderns believed that there is a close association in mathematics between "beauty and "truth. The Greeks believed there to be three "ingredients" to beauty: "symmetry, "proportion, and "harmony. Beauty was an object of love and something that was to be imitated and reproduced in their lives, architecture, education ("paideia), and politics. They judged life by this mentality.

Contents

History[edit]

Western philosophy[edit]

Crete[edit]

The earliest representation of this idea in culture is probably in the mythological "Cretan tale of "Daedalus and "Icarus. Daedalus, a famous artist of his time, built feathered wings for himself and his son so that they might escape the clutches of "King Minos. Daedalus warns his beloved son whom he loved so much to "fly the middle course", between the sea spray and the sun's heat. Icarus did not heed his father; he flew up and up until the sun melted the wax off his wings. For not heeding the middle course, he fell into the sea and drowned.

Delphi[edit]

Another early elaboration is the "Doric saying carved on the front of the temple at "Delphi: "Nothing in Excess" (""Meden Agan").

Pythagoreans[edit]

The first work on the golden mean is sometimes attributed to "Theano, wife of "Pythagoras.[1]

Cleobulus[edit]

To "Cleobulus is attributed the maxim: Mέτρον ἄριστον "Moderation is best" [1]

Socrates[edit]

"Socrates teaches that a man "must know how to choose the mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possible."[2]

In education, Socrates asks us to consider the effect of either an exclusive devotion to gymnastics or an exclusive devotion to music. It either "produced a temper of hardness and ferocity, (or) the other of softness and "effeminacy."["citation needed] Having both qualities, he believed, produces harmony; i.e., beauty and goodness.["citation needed] He additionally stresses the importance of mathematics in education for the understanding of beauty and truth.["citation needed]

Plato[edit]

Proportion's relation to beauty and goodness is stressed throughout "Plato's dialogues, particularly in the "Republic and "Philebus. He writes:

SOCRATES: That any kind of mixture that does not in some way or other possess measure of the nature of proportion will necessarily corrupt its ingredients and most of all itself. For there would be no blending in such a case at all but really an unconnected medley, the ruin of whatever happens to be contained in it.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: But now we notice that the force of the good has taken up refuge in an alliance with the nature of the beautiful. For measure and proportion manifest themselves in all areas of beauty and virtue.

PROTARCHUS: Undeniably.

SOCRATES: But we said that truth is also inclined along with them in our mixture?

PROTARCHUS: Indeed.

SOCRATES: Well, then, if we cannot capture the good in one form, we will have to take hold of it in a conjunction of three: beauty, proportion and truth. Let us affirm that these should by right be treated as a unity and be held responsible for what is in the mixture, for goodness is what makes the mixture good in itself.

(Phlb. 64d–65a)

In the "Laws, Plato applies this principle to electing a government in the ideal state: "Conducted in this way, the election will strike a mean between monarchy and democracy …"

Aristotle[edit]

In the "Eudemian Ethics, "Aristotle writes on the virtues. Aristotle’s theory on virtue ethics is one that does not see a person’s actions as a reflection of their ethics but rather looks into the character of a person as the reason behind their ethics. His constant phrase is, "… is the Middle state between …". His psychology of the soul and its virtues is based on the golden mean between the extremes. In the Politics, Aristotle criticizes the Spartan Polity by critiquing the disproportionate elements of the constitution; e.g., they trained the men and not the women, and they trained for war but not peace. This disharmony produced difficulties which he elaborates on in his work. See also the "discussion in the Nicomachean Ethics of the golden mean, and "Aristotelian ethics in general.

Eastern philosophy[edit]

"Gautama Buddha (fl. 6th century BC) taught of the "Middle Way, a path between the extremes of religious asceticism and worldly self-indulgence.

"Confucius in "The Analects,[3] written through the "Warring States period of "Ancient China (c. 479 BC – 221 BC), taught excess is similar to deficiency. A way of living in the mean is the "way of Zhongyong.

"Zhuangzi was the "Tao's most famous commentator (369–286 BC).[4]

"Tiruvalluvar (2nd century BC and the 8th century AD; date disputed) in his "Tirukkural of the "Sangam period of "Tamizhagam writes of the "middle state which is to preserve equity. He emphasises this principle and suggests that the two ways of preserving equity is to be impartial and avoid excess. "Parimelazhagar was the historical commentator of the "Tirukkural.

Judaism[edit]

"Rambam in "Mishneh Torah attributes this method to the first scholars ("Chazal), and to "Abraham. Indeed, a similar concept exists even in the "Rabbinic literature, "Tosefta and the "Yerushalmi. "Yitzhak Arama finds references even in the "Bible.

Ahead of the times "Rambam, 1133-1204 AD (probably due to "Plato's and "Aristotle’s engagement with "Ethics), determined that a person has to take care of his soul as well as his body, and just as a person who is sick in his body turns to the doctor, a person who has mental illness needs to go to the doctor of the soul, which is, according to him, the philosopher or the sage. "Rambam opposed the "deterministic approach, arguing that a person has "free will and the ability to change its properties.

Christianity[edit]

"Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic philosopher, in his Summa Theologica, Question 64 of the Prima Secundæ Partis, argues that Christian morality is consistent with the mean. He observes: "evil consists in discordance from their rule or measure. Now this may happen either by their exceeding the measure or by their falling short of it;...Therefore it is evident that moral virtue observes the mean."

Islam[edit]

Islam promotes the golden mean in many instances. The Quran states an example in finance, in that a person should not spend all he makes as not to be caught needing, and not to be stingy as to not live a comfortable life. Muhammad also had a saying "خير الأمور أوسطها" meaning the best choice is the middle ground/golden mean one. In Quran (Chapter 'The Cow', verse number 143) it is said that, "We have made you a balanced, moderate nation".

Quran quotes the example of two groups of people, calling one of them extremely greedy (Chasing the wealth of the world) in Chapter 'The Cow' verse 96 and to the others as inventors of monasticism (over-zealousness in religion) in Chapter Al-Hadeed verse number 27. Islam councils its followers to abstain from both these paths of extremities and adopt moderation in chasing the world and practicing religion alike.

Modernity[edit]

"Jacques Maritain, throughout his Introduction to Philosophy (1930),[5] uses the idea of the golden mean to place Aristotelian-Thomist philosophy between the deficiencies and extremes of other philosophers and systems.

Quotations[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lynn M. Osen (1975). Women in Mathematics. MIT Press. "ISBN "978-0-262-65009-0. 
  2. ^ Plato, "Republic 10.619a
  3. ^ Confucius (2006). The Analects. Filiquarian Publishing, LLC. "ISBN "978-1-59986-974-2. 
  4. ^ "Watts, Alan with "Huan, Al Chungliang (1975). Tao: The Watercourse Way. Pantheon Books. "ISBN "0-394-73311-8. 
  5. ^ Jacques Maritain (2005) [1st ed. 1930]. Introduction to Philosophy. Continuum. "ISBN "0-8264-7717-8. 

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

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