Temperance, Abstinence & Gluttony

How’s that title for showcasing three of the homeliest words in the English language? A couple of days ago, Alec sent me a Facebook message that read:

Today I was in philosophy class and they defined temperance as the mean between abstinence and gluttony. I thought of you and had to share this“.

First of all, I don’t know how to feel about the fact I was “thought of”, when the subjects of “temperance, abstinence and gluttony” were discussed (good, I think). Second, this is the kind of quote that gets my ears smoking – I’ve been thinking of it off and on since Alec sent it. It makes me question the dictionary (a grounding staple in my life) because Merriam-Webster defines “temperance” as: “the practice of drinking little or no alcohol”. It is natural to think that temperance and abstinence are synonymous, right?

In Right and Reason: Ethics Based on the Teachings of Aristotle & St. Thomas, “temperance” is said to regulate “the appetite in the use of sensible pleasure. It moderates our two drives, toward self-preservation and race-preservation, and thus acts as a curb on excessive indulgence in food and drink and in the use of sex. It’s opposed vices are gluttony and lust. Temperance does not mean total abstinence. There are some persons who find that any indulgence leads to temptation they cannot overcome, and for these total abstinence is the only cure [that would be me]; others for higher motives and for their spiritual perfection voluntarily give up some otherwise legitimate pleasures…the habit of doing this is temperance.”

The mean between abstinence and gluttony? So temperance is like limbo? And what about the Temperance Movement? (Can you tell what kind of student I was?)

I guess I have to change my slogan from Temperance in a Tipsy World to Abstinence in a Tipsy World? It doesn’t have the same sweet ring, does it?

All this talk of temperance made me remember a post I did on Gluttony a while back. Grab yourself a big ole sausage biscuit and read on:

Oh My God! Am I a Glutton?

Today I’m not drinking because I am abstaining from gluttonous behaviors…

How come you’re not drinking?