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Nicomachean Ethics   

against, boils up straightway; while appetite, if argument or
perception merely says that an object is pleasant, springs to the
enjoyment of it. Therefore anger obeys the argument in a sense, but
appetite does not. It is therefore more disgraceful; for the man who
is incontinent in respect of anger is in a sense conquered by
argument, while the other is conquered by appetite and not by
(2) Further, we pardon people more easily for following natural
desires, since we pardon them more easily for following such appetites
as are common to all men, and in so far as they are common; now anger
and bad temper are more natural than the appetites for excess, i.e.
for unnecessary objects. Take for instance the man who defended
himself on the charge of striking his father by saying 'yes, but he
struck his father, and he struck his, and' (pointing to his child)
'this boy will strike me when he is a man; it runs in the family'; or
the man who when he was being dragged along by his son bade him stop
at the doorway, since he himself had dragged his father only as far as
(2) Further, those who are more given to plotting against others are
more criminal. Now a passionate man is not given to plotting, nor is
anger itself-it is open; but the nature of appetite is illustrated by
what the poets call Aphrodite, 'guile-weaving daughter of Cyprus', and
by Homer's words about her 'embroidered girdle':
And the whisper of wooing is there,
Whose subtlety stealeth the wits of the wise, how prudent soe'er.
Therefore if this form of incontinence is more criminal and
disgraceful than that in respect of anger, it is both incontinence
without qualification and in a sense vice.
(4) Further, no one commits wanton outrage with a feeling of pain, but
every one who acts in anger acts with pain, while the man who commits
outrage acts with pleasure. If, then, those acts at which it is most
just to be angry are more criminal than others, the incontinence which
is due to appetite is the more criminal; for there is no wanton
outrage involved in anger.
Plainly, then, the incontinence concerned with appetite is more
disgraceful than that concerned with anger, and continence and
incontinence are concerned with bodily appetites and pleasures; but we
must grasp the differences among the latter themselves. For, as has
been said at the beginning, some are human and natural both in kind
and in magnitude, others are brutish, and others are due to organic
injuries and diseases. Only with the first of these are temperance and
self-indulgence concerned; this is why we call the lower animals
neither temperate nor self-indulgent except by a metaphor, and only if
some one race of animals exceeds another as a whole in wantonness,
destructiveness, and omnivorous greed; these have no power of choice
or calculation, but they are departures from the natural norm, as,
among men, madmen are. Now brutishness is a less evil than vice,
though more alarming; for it is not that the better part has been
perverted, as in man,-they have no better part. Thus it is like
comparing a lifeless thing with a living in respect of badness; for
the badness of that which has no originative source of movement is
always less hurtful, and reason is an originative source. Thus it is
like comparing injustice in the abstract with an unjust man. Each is
in some sense worse; for a bad man will do ten thousand times as much
evil as a brute.
With regard to the pleasures and pains and appetites and aversions
arising through touch and taste, to which both self-indulgence and
temperance were formerly narrowed down, it possible to be in such a
state as to be defeated even by those of them which most people
master, or to master even those by which most people are defeated;
among these possibilities, those relating to pleasures are
incontinence and continence, those relating to pains softness and
endurance. The state of most people is intermediate, even if they lean

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