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The Golden Mean

In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.

A little background: Although I am doing a Computer Engineering course, our institute (like many others) gives us the option of selecting a Humanities subject to complete our credits. I have chosen Theory and Practice of Engineering Ethics as mine. It’s more of a meta-ethics course rather than Engineering Ethics. It was in this class that I first came across the philosophy of The Golden Mean.

Although this concept mainly applied to virtues (for example, courage in excess can transform into recklessness and lack of it can be cowardice), I wonder if we can extend it to humans, in general.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been really troubled by how average I am. I wouldn’t really call it an inferiority complex, because it isn’t that – it’s basically a problem with being average.

Of course, nobody wants to be at the bottom. So I don’t need to elaborate on why being at the bottom is undesirable.

It’s the top that confuses me. We all have dreams, we all want to achieve something huge in life. So do I.
However, in reality, very few achieve that big thing – being at the top of the ladder in some or the other field. And doesn’t that fit with the concept of the golden mean? It isn’t desirable. Being at the top, being too good – it’s harmful. Maybe this is just a way to soothe myself, but maybe it actually is true. It’s supposed to be common knowledge that too much of anything, anything in the whole wide world, is not good. Haven’t we read one too many stories about how success ruined a person?

It’s time to accept it. Perhaps being average is the best for most of us.

And after all, if there weren’t average people, who would appreciate the above average ones?

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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Random


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