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Aristotle places great emphasis on the moral virtue of temperance in relation to the nature of states of character. In his examination to achieve true temperance Aristotle asserts, “The general account being of this nature, the account of particular cases is yet more lacking in exactness; for they don not follow under any art or precept, but the agents themselves must in each case consider what is appropriate to the occasion” (-1104a9). He believes that we achieve our own good will, but attaining the good isn’t an exact science, it isn’t precise like math or physics. However, he still attempts to arrive to a definition of true temperance.
In defining true temperance Aristotle speaks about human function. He says the enjoyment of pleasure is reasonable and the abstention of pleasure as unreasonable. He says true virtue lies between Self-indulgence and abstention. Therefore, temperance represents the mean lying between excess and abstention. He doesn’t concern himself with a uniform rule, but with something all humans have in common allowing us to act accordingly.
In book two of the ethics Aristotle concerns himself with three objects of choice: the noble, the useful, and the pleasant, as well as three objects of avoidance: the base, the harmful, and the painful. These objects motivate one to act or avoid any action. Most people avoid the painful and choose the pleasure, which Aristotle believes is in accordance with virtue. However, continuing to choose pleasure over pain leads to self-indulgence. Therefore, how must one attain the mean?
Aristotle declares, “[to achieve virtue and temperance] that the intermediate state in all things is to be praised, but that we must incline sometimes toward the excess, sometimes toward the deficiency; for so shall we most easily hit the mean and what is right” (1109b28). I agree with Aristotle’s statement affirming that in order to reach the mean, humans must at times pu...
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