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this being determined by principle, that is,1 as the prudent man would determine it. [16]

And it is a mean state between two vices, one of excess and one of defect. Furthermore, it is a mean state in that whereas the vices either fall short of or exceed what is right in feelings and in actions, virtue ascertains and adopts the mean. [17] Hence while in respect of its substance and the definition that states what it really is in essence virtue is the observance of the mean, in point of excellence and rightness it is an extreme.2 [18]

Not every action or emotion however admits of the observance of a due mean. Indeed the very names of some directly imply evil, for instance malice,3 shamelessness, envy, and, of actions, adultery, theft, murder. All these and similar actions and feelings are blamed as being bad in themselves; it is not the excess or deficiency of them that we blame. It is impossible therefore ever to go right in regard to them—one must always be wrong; nor does right or wrong in their case depend on the circumstances, for instance, whether one commits adultery with the right woman, at the right time, and in the right manner; the mere commission of any of them is wrong. [19] One might as well suppose there could be a due mean and excess and deficiency in acts of injustice or cowardice or profligacy, which would imply that one could have a medium amount of excess and of deficiency, an excessive amount of excess and a deficient amount of deficiency. [20] But just as there can be no excess or deficiency in temperance and justice because the mean is in a sense an extreme,4 so there can be no observance of the mean nor excess nor deficiency in the corresponding vicious acts mentioned above, but however they are committed, they are wrong; since, to put it in general terms, there is no such thing as observing a mean in excess or deficiency, nor as exceeding or falling short in the observance of a mean.7.

We must not however rest content with stating this general definition, but must show that it applies to the particular virtues. In practical philosophy, although universal principles have a wider application,5 those covering a particular part of the field possess a higher degree of truth; because conduct deals with particular facts, and our theories are bound to accord with these.

Let us then take the particular virtues from the diagram.6 [2]

The observance of the mean in fear and confidence is Courage.

1 A variant reading gives ‘determined by principle, or whatever we like to call that by which the prudent man would determine it’ (vide Taylor, Aristotle, p. 77).

2 Cf. 3.4.8.

3 See 7.15. The word means ‘delight at another's misfortune’, Schadenfreude.

4 See 6.17 above.

5 Or ‘have a wider acceptance.’

6 Here apparently the lecturer displayed a table of virtues (like the one in Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1220b 37), exhibiting each as a mean between two vices of excess and defect in respect of a certain class of action or feeling. This is developed in detail in Bk. 3. 6-end and Bk. 4.

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