The doctrine of the Mean ( by Aristotle)

In anything continuous and divisible,it`s possible
to take a part which is greater or less than,or equal
to ,the remainder;and that in relation either between
excess and deficiency;and I call mean in relation to the
thing whatever is equidistant from the extremes,which is one
and the same for everybody;but I call mean in relation
to us that which is neither excessive nor deficient,and this
is not one and the same for all.For example,if ten is ‘ many ‘and
‘two ‘few’of some quantity ,six is the mean if one takes it
in relation to the thing,because it exceeds the one number and
is exceeded by the other by the same amount;and this is the
mean by arithmetical reckoning.But the mean in relation to us
is not to be obtained in this way.Supposing that ten pounds of
food is large and two pounds a small allowance for an athlete,
it does not follow that the trainer will prescribe six pounds;
for even this is perhaps too much or too little for Milo²
but too much for one who is only beginning to train.
Similarly in the knowledgeable person avoids excess and
deficiency,but looks for the mean and choose it -not the mean
of the thing,but the mean relative to us.
If then , every science³ performs its function well only
when it observes the mean and refers its products
to it(which is why it is customary to say of well-executed
works that nothing can be added to them or
taken away ,the implication being that excess and deficiency
alike destroy perfection,while the mean
preserves it)if good craftsmen,as we hold,work with
the mean in view ;and if virtue,like nature ,is more
exact and more efficient than any art,it follows that
virtue aims to hit the mean.By virtue I mean moral
virtue since it is this that is concerned with feelings and
actions,and these involve excess,deficiency
and a mean.It is possible ,for example,to feel fear,confidence,
desire,anger.pity and pleasure and pain
generally,too much or too little;and both of these are wrong.
But to have these feelings at the right
motive and in the right way is to feel then to an intermediate,
that is to the best,degree;and this is
the mark of virtue.Similarly there are excess and deficiency
and a mean in the case of actions .But it is in the fields and feelings
that virtue operates ;and in them excess and deficiency are failings,whereas
the mean is praised and recognized as a success;and these
are both marks of virtue.Virtue,then,is a mean condition,in as much as
it aims at hitting the mean.Again,failure is possible in many ways
(for evil,as the Pythagoreans represented it ,is a form of the Unlimited,
and good of the Limited),
but success is only one.That is why the one the one is easy and
the other difficult;it is្easy to miss the target and difficult to hit it.Here,then
,is another reason why excess and deficiency fall under evil,
and the mean state under good;
For men are bad in countless ways,but good in only one
² : A prodigiously strong wrestler from Croton in S Italy.
³:He means pratical science,as is evident from the context.


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