Doctrine of the Mean

A few months ago, in my Orthodoxy 101 class, we discussed Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean.” I immediately felt attached to the framework, as I tend towards moderation. In Aristotle’s conception, the golden mean is avoiding the extremes of any given characteristic.

A common example given to explain the doctrine of the mean is the virtue of courage, which is seen as being balanced between the feelings of fear and confidence. Too much confidence could lead to reckless actions; too much fear could lead to cowardice. An individual who has mastered the virtue of courage is said to be one who avoids both extremes.

In the middle of the two extremes, you get a virtue and on the two opposite ends you have vices. Austin Kleon’s conversation with a friend about stoicism led to a discussion of the Aristotelian philosophy (also shared by Chinese philosophers). Kleon then made a zine about the concept. The illustrations are charming and descriptive.

The Golden MeanThe Golden Mean