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The doctrine of the mean in Aristotle's ethical and political theory

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the exposition of the doctrine of the mean in the ethical treatises and to determine the role and scope of mesotes within Aristotle's ethical and political theory. The examination of mesotes will reveal the strong connections, for Aristotle, between man, the city, experience, prudence, excellence and eudaimonia. Ultimately, the doctrine of the mean is, in the words of L.W. Rosenfield, an ‘analytical concept’, a component instrumental to Aristotle's theory. Moreover, Aristotle's ethical and political theory is in accordance with the prescriptions of the doctrine of the mean. This is shown through an examination of the thesis, structure and main examples of the Politics, all of which are manifestations of Aristotle's recommendations in his exposition of the doctrine of the mean.
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Keywords: Aristotle; Eudaimonia; Eudemian Ethics; Mean; Mesotes; Nicomachean Ethics; Politics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Politics, New York University, 715 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, USA. Email:[email protected]

Publication date: 01 March 1999

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