Aristotle defines mean as being a moral virtue, which involves two vices. One virtue is the excess while the other virtue is the deficiency. He goes ahead to say that being mean falls in the middle or the intermediate, and it brings out its appeal in passion and in actions (Aristotle, 1999).
How can we reach mean?
To arrive at the mean requires one to be in the middle of the vices. That is between excess and deficiency. For instance, arriving at the middle involves doing the right thing to the right person at the right time and to the appropriate extent. It is vital to note that doing an act in the right manner and the right motive is a hard task, which is considered noble (Aristotle, 1999).
Arriving at a middle ground of how to do a thing in the right way one must not contradict to the act. Aristotle points out that certain traits such as doing evil are unavoidable and therefore, people must avoid the extreme of doing such evils. Aristotle argues that such deeds must be maintained at a desirable and acceptable level. This is the level that Aristotle refers to as the mean (Aristotle, 1999). It is therefore evident that the mean level can only be attained by limiting pleasure. Deficiency, on the other hand, refers to the limit that is acceptable as a deviation from what is good. Aristotle argues that a little deviation is acceptable lest one of blamed by society for their behaviors. However, it is critical to note that logic and reason are applied to determine the level at which an individual starts to deviate to the extreme (Aristotle, 1999).
Aristotle’s advice is that people must always try and act at the mean level. It is critical to avoid the extremes since they lead to evil. He also advises that people should avoid deficiencies in behaviour since they lead to little or no good. It is vital to note that being virtuous only works at the mean level, and it, therefore, should be observed.
- Aristotle. (1999). Nicomachean ethics. Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications.