"The Lesser Of Two Evils"

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Context: In illustrating the golden mean, the path between two extremes of excesses and defects, Aristotle plots a course which allows for choices. He says "not everybody can find the center of a circle, but only someone who knows geometry." So it is with men: not everyone is perfect or does the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. Cicero several centuries later states that "of two evils, the least should be chosen." Chaucer advises "of harmes two, the lesse is for to chese," while Thomas à Kempis urges: "Of two evils the less is always to be chosen."

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Hence the first rule in aiming at the mean is to avoid that extreme which is more opposed to the mean, as Calypso advises:Steer the ship clear of yonder spray and surge. For of the two extremes one is a more serious error than the other. Hence, inasmuch as to hit the mean extremely well is difficult, the second best way to sail, as the saying goes, is to take the least of the evils; and the best way to do this will be the way we enjoin.

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