ART & ORGANISM
The Golden Mean
“Appearing in Greek thought at least as early as the Delphic Maxim nothing to excess and emphasized in later Aristotelian philosophy, the golden mean or golden middle way is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.
- (For example, in the Aristotelian view, courage is a virtue, but if taken to excess would manifest as recklessness, and, in deficiency, cowardice. … To the Greek mentality, it was an attribute of beauty. Ancient Greeks believed that there is a close association in mathematics between beauty and truth.” (Wikipedia) And see Aristotle’s “Doctrine of the Man,” explicated by in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Kraut 2018)
- CHANGE — there are countless everyday microstressors that keep us balanced, maintaining homeostasis — but the “subclinical stress” they can invoke when sufficiently accumulated can make us more susceptible to acute stressors. That is, all change evokes more-or-less of a stress response (to real or perceived inability to meet biological needs) which can at its extreme seem an existential threat.
- For example, “In the course of centuries the naïve self-love of men has had to submit to two major blows at the hands of science. The first was when they learnt that our earth was not the centre of the universe but only a tiny fragment of a cosmic system of scarcely imaginable vastness… the second blow fell when biological research destroyed man’s supposedly privileged place in creation and proved his descent from the animal kingdom and his ineradicable animal nature… But human megalomania will have suffered its third and most wounding blow from the psychological research of the present time which seeks to prove to the ego that it is not even master in its own house, but must content itself with scanty information of what is going on unconsciously in its mind.” — Sigmund Freud (1916. Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalyis (1916), in James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1963), Vol. 16, 284-5.) (from ORICL lecture on “Science and Spirituality”)
EXAMPLE from INDIVIDUATION and SOCIALIZATION:
- “There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. We surely remember (we cannot escape) the insights of The Golden Mean — which is true of sociality, as most other things:
- “As he approached his twenty-sixth birthday, Delacroix began to formulate what would become a defining concern of his youth and one of increasing urgency for us today, amid our age of exponentially swelling social demands and distractions — the challenge of mediating between the allure of social life and the “fertile solitude” necessary for creative work, which Hemingway grimly extolled in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.” (from Brain Pickings, which also engages Adam Phillips observations of the needs for and dangers of solitude)”