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Nicomachean Ethics   


There are also means in the passions and concerned with the passions;
since shame is not a virtue, and yet praise is extended to the modest
man. For even in these matters one man is said to be intermediate, and
another to exceed, as for instance the bashful man who is ashamed of
everything; while he who falls short or is not ashamed of anything at
all is shameless, and the intermediate person is modest. Righteous
indignation is a mean between envy and spite, and these states are
concerned with the pain and pleasure that are felt at the fortunes of
our neighbours; the man who is characterized by righteous indignation
is pained at undeserved good fortune, the envious man, going beyond
him, is pained at all good fortune, and the spiteful man falls so far
short of being pained that he even rejoices. But these states there
will be an opportunity of describing elsewhere; with regard to
justice, since it has not one simple meaning, we shall, after
describing the other states, distinguish its two kinds and say how
each of them is a mean; and similarly we shall treat also of the
rational virtues.
8
There are three kinds of disposition, then, two of them vices,
involving excess and deficiency respectively, and one a virtue, viz.
the mean, and all are in a sense opposed to all; for the extreme
states are contrary both to the intermediate state and to each other,
and the intermediate to the extremes; as the equal is greater
relatively to the less, less relatively to the greater, so the middle
states are excessive relatively to the deficiencies, deficient
relatively to the excesses, both in passions and in actions. For the
brave man appears rash relatively to the coward, and cowardly
relatively to the rash man; and similarly the temperate man appears
self-indulgent relatively to the insensible man, insensible relatively
to the self-indulgent, and the liberal man prodigal relatively to the
mean man, mean relatively to the prodigal. Hence also the people at
the extremes push the intermediate man each over to the other, and the
brave man is called rash by the coward, cowardly by the rash man, and
correspondingly in the other cases.
These states being thus opposed to one another, the greatest
contrariety is that of the extremes to each other, rather than to the
intermediate; for these are further from each other than from the
intermediate, as the great is further from the small and the small
from the great than both are from the equal. Again, to the
intermediate some extremes show a certain likeness, as that of
rashness to courage and that of prodigality to liberality; but the
extremes show the greatest unlikeness to each other; now contraries
are defined as the things that are furthest from each other, so that
things that are further apart are more contrary.
To the mean in some cases the deficiency, in some the excess is more
opposed; e.g. it is not rashness, which is an excess, but cowardice,
which is a deficiency, that is more opposed to courage, and not
insensibility, which is a deficiency, but self-indulgence, which is an
excess, that is more opposed to temperance. This happens from two
reasons, one being drawn from the thing itself; for because one
extreme is nearer and liker to the intermediate, we oppose not this
but rather its contrary to the intermediate. E.g. since rashness is
thought liker and nearer to courage, and cowardice more unlike, we
oppose rather the latter to courage; for things that are further from
the intermediate are thought more contrary to it. This, then, is one
cause, drawn from the thing itself; another is drawn from ourselves;
for the things to which we ourselves more naturally tend seem more
contrary to the intermediate. For instance, we ourselves tend more
naturally to pleasures, and hence are more easily carried away towards
self-indulgence than towards propriety. We describe as contrary to the
mean, then, rather the directions in which we more often go to great
lengths; and therefore self-indulgence, which is an excess, is the
more contrary to temperance.
9

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