Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “The Golden Mean-Best Way to Happiness” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “The Golden Mean-Best Way to Happiness” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Passages with Solved Precis

It came to Aristotle clearly enough that above all questions of the physical world there loomed the question of questions—what is the best life? — what is life’s supreme good?—what is virtue ?—How shall we find happiness and fulfillment?

He is realistically simple in his ethics. His scientific training keeps him from the preachment of superhuman ideals and empty counsels of perfection. Aristotle begins by frankly recognizing that the aim of life is not goodness for its own sake, but happiness. “For we choose happiness for itself, and never with a view to anything further; whereas we choose honour, pleasure, Intellect   because we believe that through them we shall be made happy.” But he realizes that to call happiness the supreme goc d is a mere truism; What is wanted is some clearer account of the nature of happiness, and the way to it. He hopes to find this way by asking wherein man differs from other beings; and by presuming that man’s happiness will lie in the full functioning of this specifically human quality. Now the peculiar excellence of man is his specifically human quality. Now the surpasses and rules all other forms of life; and as the growth of this faculty has given him his supremacy, so, we may presume, its development will give him fulfilment and happiness.

The chief condition of happiness, then, barring certain physical prerequisites, is the life of reason—the specific glory and power of man. Virtue, or rather excellence, will depend in clear judgement, self-control, symmetry of desire, artistry of means; it is not the possession of the simple man, nor the gift of innocent intent, but the achievement of experience in the fully developed man. Yet there is a road to it, a guide to excellence, which may save many detours and delays: it is the middle way, the golden mean. The qualities and character can be arranged in triads in each of which the first and the last qualities wilt be, extremes and vices, and the middle quality a virtue or an excellence. So between cowardice and rashness is courage; between stinginess and extravagance is liberality; between sloth and greed is ambition; between humility and pride is modesty; between secrecy and loquacity, honesty; between moroseness and buffoonery, good humour; between quarrelsomeness and flattery, friendship; between Hamlet’s indecisiveness and Quixote’s impulsiveness is self-control. “Right” then, in ethics or conduct is not different from “right” in mathematics or engineering; it means correct, fit, what works best to the best result.

The golden mean, however, is not, like the mathematical mean, an e) act average of two precisely calculable extremes; it fluctuates \ ✓ith the collateral circumstances of each situation, and discovers itself only to mature and flexible reason. Excellence is an art we n by training and habituation; we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because w3 have acted rightly; ‘these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions’: we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: ‘the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a compete life;…. for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy’.

Youth is the age of extremes: ‘if the young commit a fault it is always on the side of excess arid exaggeration’. The great difficulty of youth (and of many of youth’s elders) is to get out of one extreme without falling into the opposite. Unconscious extremists look upon the golden mean as the greatest vice; they ‘expel towards each other the man in the middle position; the brave man is called rash by the coward, and cowardly by the rash man.’

It is obvious that this doctrine of the mean is the formulation of a characteristic attitude which appears in almost every system of Greek philosophy. Plato had it in mind when he called virtue harmonious action; Socrates when he identified virtue with knowledge. Perhaps as Nietzsche claims, these were attempts of the Greek to check their own violence and impulsiveness of character; more truly, they reflected the Greek feeling that passions are not of themselves vices, but” the raw material of both vice and virtue, accordingly as they function in excess and disproportion, or in measure and harmony.

But the golden mean, says our matter-of-fact philosopher, is not all of the secret of happiness. We must have, too, a fair degree of worldly goods: poverty makes one stingy and grasping; while possessions give one that freedom from care and greed which is the source of aristocratic ease and charm. The noblest of these external aids to happiness is friendship. Indeed, friendship is more necessary to the happy than to the unhappy; for happiness is multiplied by being shared. It is more important than justice: for ‘when men are friends, justice is unnecessary; but when men are just, friendship is still a boon’. ‘A friend is one soul in two bodies.’ Yet friendship implies few friends rather than many; he who has many friends has no friend’; and ‘to be a friend to many people in the way of perfect friendship is impossible’. Fine friendship requires duration rather than fitful intensity; and this implies stability of character; it is to altered character that we must attribute the dissolving kaleidoscope of friendship. And friendship requires equality; for gratitude gives it at best a slippery base. ‘Benefactors are commonly held to have more friendship for the objects of their kindness than these for them’. Aristotle prefers to believe that the greater tenderness of the benefactor is to be explained on the analogy of the artist’s affection for his work, or the mother’s for her child. We love that which we have made.

And yet, though external goods and relationships are necessary to happiness, its essence remains within us, in rounded knowledge and clarity of soul. Surely sense pleasure is not the way, that toad is a circle. Nor can a political career be the ‘May; for therein we walk subject to the whims of the people; and nothing is so fickle as the crowd. No, happiness must be a pleasure of the mind; and we may trust it only when it comes from the pursuit or the capture of truth. The operation of the intellect aims at no end beyond itself, and finds in itself the pleasure which stimulates it to further operation; and since the attributes of self-sufficiency, unweariedness, and capacity for rest…plainly belong to this occupation, in it must lie perfect happiness’.


The Golden Mean-Best Way to Happiness

According to Aristotle the most important question in the physical world was the search for happiness. He was not an idealist preaching impossible ideals and counsels of perfection. His scientific training made him a realist who believed that happiness was the aim of life and every activity and even ethics was subordinate to it. He tries to explore the nature of happiness and explains it by differentiating man from other animals in that he possesses the thinking faculty by which he masters the earth and surpasses all living beings and its development will give him fulfilment and happiness.

The chief condition of happiness is the life of reason which is man’s glory and power, and the way to it is the golden mean. Courage, liberality, ambition, modesty, honesty good humour, friendship and self-control are all qualities expressive of the golden mean since they avoid extremes and conduce to the best result. This golden mean is not rigid but changes with every situation, is discoverable to mature reason and is learnt by training and habituation. Excellence is not an act but a habit of action, a continuous effort and the working of the soul for a complete life.

Youth is the period of extremes when the golden mean is scorned and the brave man is condemned both by the rash and the cowardly. The philosophy of the golden mean was propounded by the Greeks, Plato identifying it with virtue and Socrates with knowledge. It was meant to check the Greeks’ own impulsiveness of character. For them vice lay in excess and disproportion.

Golden mean, however, is not sufficient for happiness. Worldly possessions are also necessary as they confer ease and charm. Friendship is the best asset as it increases happiness. But friends should be few. Enduring friendship requires stability of character and equality. But in spite of these the essence of happiness lies in rounded knowledge and clarity of soul. Politics is not necessary as it depends on the public which is fickle. True happiness comes from within as the qualities of self-sufficiency, unweariedness and capacity for test belong to the mind.


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