In Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle discusses the Golden Mean, the mid-ground between deficiency and excess. For example, in social intercourse, the mean is wit, the deficiency boorishness, and the excess buffoonery. He believes virtue to be in-between the two extremes, and by living the mean we will become virtuous and good people. He admits that acting as the mean suggests is incredibly difficult, and it is easy to slip from the mean into excess or deficiency, since sometimes they are closely related. The question that must follow is whether the mean is always the good thing, or whether excess or deficiency is at times necessary or good. Is the mean the right thing to act upon, or does it breed mediocrity?
When you wake up each morning, do you feel alive? Do you think to yourself that what you are going to do today is going to make you feel alive, or is it going to make you feel dead? Are you having near-life experiences, are you constantly in a state of near-death? Now and again we must ask ourselves if what we are doing makes us feel alive. If it isn’t, it’s not worth it. You and I don’t exist so that we can live each day as walking dead. There are things which make us feel alive, which take us to pinnacle of existence itself. Now and again we may find ourselves in a near-life experience, as mentioned before, and the experience may be one of great intensity and vigour, reminding us of the power of existence. It is not easy to know what makes us feel alive, yet we must try things out to see whether they bring us experiences that are worthwhile. Nietzsche said that ‘the devotion of the greatest is to encounter risk and danger, and play dice for death.’ If we want to be alive rather than dead, we must be willing to risk things, even ourselves. A simple but powerful question we can ask ourselves is ‘how can I make today more alive?’ Near-life experiences can be gotten from even the most boring tasks of daily life. To do this though, we must be willing to risk ourselves.
What would a life without philosophy be like? Perhaps, at a glance, normal. But a further look would reveal that a life without philosophy is that of an animal. Philosophy is inevitable in human life. We all have our ways of acting, our ways of dealing with problems, our views on the world, existence, God. We all have opinions. How we live our life, that is what philosophy is all about. Not only how we live our lives, but why, also. We all have our own philosophy, each one’s different, greatly or slightly, to the next. Even though some philosophies may be better than others, more sensible, reasonable, and well-thought out, we all have one. But the question which has been asked for many thousands of years now is: what is the best philosophy? Perhaps there isn’t one. Perhaps there is. The point here, though, is that a life without philosophy is not possible. That is the magnitude of its importance.