Chapter

Virtue is a Mean

W.F.R. Hardie

in Aristotle's Ethical Theory

Second edition

Published in print January 1980 | ISBN: 9780198246329
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680953 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198246329.003.0007
Virtue is a Mean

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This chapter describes what sort of state virtue is. Aristotle's answer is that it is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us and determined by a rational principle, the principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. The discussion looks further on in the EN for much of the explanation needed. Commentators and critics have had a great deal to say about and around this celebrated doctrine. Aristotle's view that moderation is good, and excess to be avoided, had been anticipated by popular morality and by poets as well as by Plato. The concept of a mathematical mean, especially if allowed to expand to cover any quantitative rule or formula, has many applications in the philosophy of Aristotle himself and of his predecessors.

Keywords: physical bodies; choice; Nicomachean Ethics; popular morality; Plato; mathematical mean

Chapter.  9510 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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