Aristotle’s definition of virtue (The golden mean or golden middle way)

All human possibilities derive from the one and only central ability, the possibility of human knowledge. Human wisdom is connected to human virtue, in which we find the highest human potential.

Virtue is knowledge and study, and it is the theoretical study of the man who wants to acquire it, which Aristotle calls “the process of attention” “contemplation”, is the highest human possibility and bliss.

It is guided by a clear priority of the mind and the intellect that dominates over the other principles that essentially define the world and moral eudaimonism, that is, the philosophical theory according to which eudaimonism is the supreme good, which must be sought each man, however, differs in the moral concept of virtue with the idea of morality.

Virtues by nature do not exist in us, but man may naturally become susceptible to virtues, but he can perfect them only by the process of moral ethos.

The intellectual and moral virtues represent the species of the essence of virtue, that is, the pursuit of the different functions of the soul, a concept that enters in various ways both in the Platonic dialogues and in the Aristotelian view.

Eudaimonia, which is also the final goal of scientific research according to the teacher Aristotle, includes the Divine (demon), the idea of the soul.

Virtue needs systematic study as far as its meaning is concerned and essentially requires practical ability and clear fundamental knowledge in the subject of philosophy. We can conclude after all this, that virtue is divided into one part in the part of determining happiness and in the other it is partly intellectual and moral. Intellectual virtue is fostered by teaching and requires experience and time. Moral virtue is the result of ethics.

Well, the search of our grandfather Aristotle is theoretical as well as practical, that is, the highest purpose of his research is how man can become better and more virtuous.

He achieves this by the rule of the mean, but a mean that is necessarily relevant for every human existence and is determined by the logic and wisdom of the individual.

Aristotle’s definition of virtue “as a mean between two extremes” is relative and fluid – as is the very nature of moral science – and does not capture the pure essence of the concept of virtue. It determines on a practical level how to achieve it, but attributes to it the opportunistic character of each time environment in which it is pursued and from which it derives at the same time.

*The golden mean or the golden middle way is the desired middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of lack or apathy. It has appeared in Greek thought at least since the Delphic saying “Μηδέν ἄγαν – nothing in excess” was discussed in Plato’s Philibo. Aristotle analyzed the golden mean in Nicomachean Ethics Book II: That the virtues of character can be described as means. It was then emphasized in Aristotelian Virtue of ethics.

  1. Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition.