Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Two vices for every virtue

Since a skill (virtue) involves hitting the middle ground, there are two extremes that it avoids: excess and deficiency. These two extremes are called 'vices', so there are two for every virtue/skill. For instance, being courageous involves knowing when to stand up to the danger, and when to flee. But if I run to face every danger, then I have an excess of fearlessness, and that makes me rash. So rashness is a vice with respect to courage. Similarly, if I run from every sign of danger, then I have too little fearlessness, and that makes me a coward. So being a coward is a vice with respect to courage as well. For every skill, there are two vices: one involving excess (too much), the other involving deficiency (too little).

No comments: