Everything in moderation?

I have always hated the admonition to “take all things in moderation.” (For one thing, it gets some of its zing from its seeming paradox (Even the tendency to moderate!?), a gimmick that annoys me.) It reminds me of the cosmological principle in astronomy, aka the principle of mediocrity, which is basically that nothing is special and if things start to look like they might be different in one part of the universe than another, you are probably missing something.

The thing about the Golden Mean and the Cosmological Principle is that the advice doesn’t give you the tools to know how to apply it. What does moderate mean? Does it mean taking centrist political positions? What if the “left” and “right” positions aren’t equidistant from a reasonable one? Why this conflation of moderate with reasonable??? At least the Cosmological Principle is based on observing the universe. I see no reason to believe that the range of human opinion and behaviors is centered on the correct positions.

I accept the Golden Mean as an epistemic humility thing. I do not accept it as actual wisdom about what the best thing is to do.



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