If you are looking for the right balance between two extremes, it’s a worthwhile exercise to first think the thing through to its extremes.

For example, for lemonade (a mix of lemon and sugar water): think or try how it tastes with too much lemon, or too much sugar water, before deciding where in the middle is the right balance.

Another example in deciding how much to exercise: analyse what it would mean to do zero exercise or overexercise, to inform what is the right balance.

This concept of benefitting from the analysis of something to its extremes is described in another context as follows:

  • “not [aiming to] provide a precise description but… drawing out… to its logical consequences”
  • “analytically useful to express in extreme or pure form”
  • “makes sense… to present in stark or extreme terms… to see if [the subject] comes sufficiently close to the extreme form. This is preferable to constantly changing the definition”

Source: The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age