Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“Aristotelian and Buddhist ethics are alike formally: each advocates moderation”. Discuss.

Topic : Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of Family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

7.  “Aristotelian and Buddhist ethics are alike formally: each advocates moderation”. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon Publications

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of Aristotelian and Buddhist ethics.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain how Aristotelian and Buddhist ethics both are alike and advocate moderation.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define each of the types – Aristotelian and Buddhist ethics.

Body:

According to Aristotle Happiness exits in the rational exercise of the soul’s faculties in conformity with the virtues such as courage, justice, temperance, benevolence, and prudence.

Aristotle argues that virtue is achieved by maintaining the Mean, which is the balance between two excesses.

Aristotle’s doctrine of the Mean is reminiscent of Buddha’s Middle Path.

Aristotle doctrine of virtue is “golden mean”. Courage, for example, is a mean regarding the feeling of fear, between the deficiency of rashness (too little fear) and the excess of cowardice (too much fear). Justice is a mean between getting or giving too much and getting or giving too little. Benevolence is a mean between giving to people who don’t deserve it and not giving to anyone at all.

Similarly Buddhism aims not to eradicate all feeling but to liberate it from its attachment to false values. He gave the concept of the Middle Way, a path between the extremes of religious asceticism and worldly self-indulgence to move away from false values.

Conclusion:

Conclude that Aristotle and the Buddha reached very similar conclusions as to how we should conduct our lives, if we wish to find happiness and fulfillment as human beings.  However, for Aristotle the mean was a method of achieving virtue, but for Buddha the Middle Path referred to a peaceful way of life which negotiated the extremes of harsh asceticism and sensual pleasure seeking.