The premise of the Aristotelian Mean is that virtue is situated between vices of deficiency and vices of excess:
Deficiency (vice) – Mean (virtue) – Excess (vice)
This is obviously at odds with many of our popular ethical views which see minute traces of some character traits as slippery slopes directly into the most abhorrent vices, and virtues as qualities that grow more valuable as they grow more extreme.
For a long time, I’ve viewed borderline and autism as existing on a continuum. This smuggles some assumptions into the problem that may obstruct some productive possibilities.
I am wondering if there might be something to be gained through approaching these two conditions as independent. This is especially important in these times, where it seems that we are plagued with simultaneous autism-like and borderline-like on a mass scale. (To be fully open about it, I believe the dominant ideology of the professional class effects these conditions in the class as a collective. If you happen to be a progressivist and feel confused or angry — or as you put it when diagnosing others if you are feeling some class fragility or class rage — that might because I’m prodding at your condition as well as refusing to honor your class privilege of unilaterally determining who gets to critique whom.)
I am experimenting with two new candidate means that seem intuitively to be the two means in play: integrity on one hand, and empathy on the other.
I believe borderline is the DSMification of integrity deficit, and autism of empathy deficit.
The formulation of the problem then is:
(Integrity Deficiency) — Integrity – (Integrity Excess)
(Empathy Deficiency) — Empathy — (Empathy Excess)
I am looking for just the right words:
- Integrity deficiency (anomie? akrasia? decadence? borderline? …?)
- Integrity excess (dogmatism? closedness? fundamentalism? absolutism? …?)
- Empathy deficiency (solipsism? sociopathy? autism? …?)
- Empathy excess (selflessness? codependence? decenteredness? hyperempathy? …?)
Perhaps it is so hard to find a word for vicious empathy excess because our culture views excessive empathy as a virtue.