Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

Search:

Or browse the dictionary by selecting a letter!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

GOLDEN MEAN

The virtue of choosing the midpoint between excess and defect in action. This midpoint is determined by reason guided by the intellectual virtue of prudence. Based on Aristotle, the golden mean assumes that too much or too little of anything, whether food, sleep, or exercise, hurts the body and the right balance promotes bodily health, so excess or defect in the habits of the soul harms the moral health of the soul because "virtue stands in the middle." Thus courage is a mean between cowardice and rashness, and generosity between stinginess and prodigality.

To be noted, however, is that the golden mean refers to the virtue objectively, as midway between opposite extremes. Subjectively a person should practice a given virtue not moderately but fully. A judge must go all out for justice, though justice itself is a mean between lenience and severity; the witness must be exactly truthful, but truthfulness itself is a mean between exaggeration and understatement.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Denial of Service Attack: Success! 19 hours ago
Federal debt as a social-justice concern 21 hours ago
Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle December 18
Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed December 18
The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? December 18

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17