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Nicomachean Ethics   


with the qualification 'in respect of money, gain, honour, or
anger',-not simply incontinent, on the ground that they are different
from incontinent people and are called incontinent by reason of a
resemblance. (Compare the case of Anthropos (Man), who won a contest
at the Olympic games; in his case the general definition of man
differed little from the definition peculiar to him, but yet it was
different.) This is shown by the fact that incontinence either without
qualification or in respect of some particular bodily pleasure is
blamed not only as a fault but as a kind of vice, while none of the
people who are incontinent in these other respects is so blamed.
But (b) of the people who are incontinent with respect to bodily
enjoyments, with which we say the temperate and the self-indulgent man
are concerned, he who pursues the excesses of things pleasant-and
shuns those of things painful, of hunger and thirst and heat and cold
and all the objects of touch and taste-not by choice but contrary to
his choice and his judgement, is called incontinent, not with the
qualification 'in respect of this or that', e.g. of anger, but just
simply. This is confirmed by the fact that men are called 'soft' with
regard to these pleasures, but not with regard to any of the others.
And for this reason we group together the incontinent and the
self-indulgent, the continent and the temperate man-but not any of
these other types-because they are concerned somehow with the same
pleasures and pains; but though these are concerned with the same
objects, they are not similarly related to them, but some of them make
a deliberate choice while the others do not.
This is why we should describe as self-indulgent rather the man who
without appetite or with but a slight appetite pursues the excesses of
pleasure and avoids moderate pains, than the man who does so because
of his strong appetites; for what would the former do, if he had in
addition a vigorous appetite, and a violent pain at the lack of the
'necessary' objects?
Now of appetites and pleasures some belong to the class of things
generically noble and good-for some pleasant things are by nature
worthy of choice, while others are contrary to these, and others are
intermediate, to adopt our previous distinction-e.g. wealth, gain,
victory, honour. And with reference to all objects whether of this or
of the intermediate kind men are not blamed for being affected by
them, for desiring and loving them, but for doing so in a certain way,
i.e. for going to excess. (This is why all those who contrary to the
rule either are mastered by or pursue one of the objects which are
naturally noble and good, e.g. those who busy themselves more than
they ought about honour or about children and parents, (are not
wicked); for these too are good, and those who busy themselves about
them are praised; but yet there is an excess even in them-if like
Niobe one were to fight even against the gods, or were to be as much
devoted to one's father as Satyrus nicknamed 'the filial', who was
thought to be very silly on this point.) There is no wickedness, then,
with regard to these objects, for the reason named, viz. because each
of them is by nature a thing worthy of choice for its own sake; yet
excesses in respect of them are bad and to be avoided. Similarly there
is no incontinence with regard to them; for incontinence is not only
to be avoided but is also a thing worthy of blame; but owing to a
similarity in the state of feeling people apply the name incontinence,
adding in each case what it is in respect of, as we may describe as a
bad doctor or a bad actor one whom we should not call bad, simply. As,
then, in this case we do not apply the term without qualification
because each of these conditions is no shadness but only analogous to
it, so it is clear that in the other case also that alone must be
taken to be incontinence and continence which is concerned with the
same objects as temperance and self-indulgence, but we apply the term
to anger by virtue of a resemblance; and this is why we say with a
qualification 'incontinent in respect of anger' as we say 'incontinent
in respect of honour, or of gain'.
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