Doctrine of the Mean

Doctrine of the Mean

Can we achieve happiness trough eating the right amount of Mars bars?
Aristoteles’ “doctrine of the mean” being tested

In his book “Ethics” Aristoteles asks how men can achieve real happiness “eudaimonia” which he refers to as “end pursued in itself” because it is more complete and superior than anything else which humans pursue only as mean to an end. In his eyes, true happiness can only be achieved by being the best human being one can be. In order to become “happy” you have to be virtuous and excellent. He explains with his “doctrine of the mean” ,which says that you should seek the medium level of consuming and behaving in your life, the way we can live virtuously and thereby achieve real happiness.

In the following I will question if human beings (I allow myself the freedom to exchange “men” to “human beings” in my whole paper - though Aristoteles wouldn’t agree with that) will become “happy” by following Aristoteles’ “doctrine of the mean”.

Having thought critically about this claim I want to oppose it to a certain extent. Many situtations and experiences show that humans can’t be really “happy” with choosing a medium level of consumption and behaving, but rather often strive for more. What was once to them the medium level or moderate state is after they achieved it no longer satisfying and doesn’t make them happy anymore. Then there will be another moderate state to them. Is this new moderate state now extreme compared to the first one or is it moderate because the standards have changed? If humans would really be “happy” with their moderate state why would they always desire something else? Now, if we only become “happy” by striving for something bigger and even then this state of happiness doesn’t last because we will have desire for a new desire that makes us “happy” , this would object Aristoteles’ way of achieving “eudaimonia”. However, this argument also leads to the question if happiness can last at all or if we can...

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