Last week I talked about the Logos or “That which gives order to the universe.” We talked about how it was necessary that Truth flows from the Creator God.
Today, we’ll talk about the Way- or what Aristotle and Confucius call the Mean. We’ll talk about how we can know there is a proper way of acting in the world that can be understood through reason.
“Excellence, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean, relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it.”
The mean is the right course to take that is not too extreme in either direction. It is the walking of a tight rope with disaster on either side. It is the proper ethical response to a given situation.
Just as you can only use the pythagorean theorem on a right-angled triangle, you can only act courageously or piously to a situation that allows you to do so. Acting pious when you should be courageous is not the proper response- and therefore not within the mean.
To be able to act within the mean requires that you understand the situation you’re in and know enough to have the proper response to the given situation. One must be educated in the Truth and work with others to test out their reasoning. They must understand the virtues and vices and how to apply them. Plus, one must have practiced virtue to be prepared when a situation arises.
“What Heaven has conferred is called The Nature; an accordance with this nature is called The Path of duty; the regulation of this path is called Instruction.” – Confucius
The only limiting factor with this understanding of ethics, that is fairly comprehensive, is that it can only see the value of ethical action through a lifetime. It doesn’t account for the ripple through generations- or the echo in eternity.