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Nicomachean Ethics   


(1) Some things are pleasant by nature, and of these (a) some are so
without qualification, and (b) others are so with reference to
particular classes either of animals or of men; while (2) others are
not pleasant by nature, but (a) some of them become so by reason of
injuries to the system, and (b) others by reason of acquired habits,
and (c) others by reason of originally bad natures. This being so, it
is possible with regard to each of the latter kinds to discover
similar states of character to those recognized with regard to the
former; I mean (A) the brutish states, as in the case of the female
who, they say, rips open pregnant women and devours the infants, or of
the things in which some of the tribes about the Black Sea that have
gone savage are said to delight-in raw meat or in human flesh, or in
lending their children to one another to feast upon-or of the story
told of Phalaris.
These states are brutish, but (B) others arise as a result of disease
(or, in some cases, of madness, as with the man who sacrificed and ate
his mother, or with the slave who ate the liver of his fellow), and
others are morbid states (C) resulting from custom, e.g. the habit of
plucking out the hair or of gnawing the nails, or even coals or earth,
and in addition to these paederasty; for these arise in some by nature
and in others, as in those who have been the victims of lust from
childhood, from habit.
Now those in whom nature is the cause of such a state no one would
call incontinent, any more than one would apply the epithet to women
because of the passive part they play in copulation; nor would one
apply it to those who are in a morbid condition as a result of habit.
To have these various types of habit is beyond the limits of vice, as
brutishness is too; for a man who has them to master or be mastered by
them is not simple (continence or) incontinence but that which is so
by analogy, as the man who is in this condition in respect of fits of
anger is to be called incontinent in respect of that feeling but not
incontinent simply. For every excessive state whether of folly, of
cowardice, of self-indulgence, or of bad temper, is either brutish or
morbid; the man who is by nature apt to fear everything, even the
squeak of a mouse, is cowardly with a brutish cowardice, while the man
who feared a weasel did so in consequence of disease; and of foolish
people those who by nature are thoughtless and live by their senses
alone are brutish, like some races of the distant barbarians, while
those who are so as a result of disease (e.g. of epilepsy) or of
madness are morbid. Of these characteristics it is possible to have
some only at times, and not to be mastered by them. e.g. Phalaris may
have restrained a desire to eat the flesh of a child or an appetite
for unnatural sexual pleasure; but it is also possible to be mastered,
not merely to have the feelings. Thus, as the wickedness which is on
the human level is called wickedness simply, while that which is not
is called wickedness not simply but with the qualification 'brutish'
or 'morbid', in the same way it is plain that some incontinence is
brutish and some morbid, while only that which corresponds to human
self-indulgence is incontinence simply.
That incontinence and continence, then, are concerned only with the
same objects as selfindulgence and temperance and that what is
concerned with other objects is a type distinct from incontinence, and
called incontinence by a metaphor and not simply, is plain.
6
That incontinence in respect of anger is less disgraceful than that in
respect of the appetites is what we will now proceed to see. (1) Anger
seems to listen to argument to some extent, but to mishear it, as do
hasty servants who run out before they have heard the whole of what
one says, and then muddle the order, or as dogs bark if there is but a
knock at the door, before looking to see if it is a friend; so anger
by reason of the warmth and hastiness of its nature, though it hears,
does not hear an order, and springs to take revenge. For argument or
imagination informs us that we have been insulted or slighted, and
anger, reasoning as it were that anything like this must be fought

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