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 ETHICS in plain language (book7.1)

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PostSubject: ETHICS in plain language (book7.1)   Wed 09 Jan 2008, 11:20 pm




19 March, 2000


Author: George Irbe


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ARISTOTLE'S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

Translators:

TI- Terence Irwin, Hackett Publishing Co.
1985
DR - David Ross, Oxford University Press 1980
JT - J.A.K. Thomson, Penguin Books 1955


BOOK 7


Text Remarks
[DR, JT, TI] The moral states to be avoided
are vice, incontinence and brutishness. The contraries of two of these are obvious: we
call one of them virtue and the other continence. The contrary to bestiality is most
suitably called virtue superior to us, a heroic, indeed divine, sort of virtue.
The moral states of virtue,
continence, and divine virtue have as their contraries vice, incontinence,
and bestiality.
[DR]
Both continence and endurance are thought to be included among things
good and praiseworthy, and both incontinence and softness among things
bad and blameworthy. The incontinent man, knowing that what he does is
bad, does it as a result of passion, while the continent man, knowing
that his appetites are bad, refuses on account of rational principle to
follow them. The temperate man all men call continent and disposed to
endurance. Men are said to be incontinent even with respect to anger,
honor, and gain.
Continence and steadfastness
have the undesirable contraries of incontinence and softness. The
incontinent man succumbs to his passions, the temperate man does not.
[JT] One can forgive a man for not standing
by his opinions in the face of powerful desires, but one cannot forgive wickedness or any
other culpable attitude. A temperate man will have neither excessive nor bad appetites.
The weakness of the incontinent
can be forgiven, but not deliberate wickedness.
[TI] The intemperate person acts on decision
when he is led on, since he thinks that it is right in every case to pursue the pleasant
thing at hand; but the incontinent person thinks it is wrong to pursue it, yet still
pursues it.
The intemperate man
believes that pursuit of pleasure is never wrong. The incontinent man knows it is
wrong but cannot resist it.
[DR] Since we use the word 'know' in two
senses (for both the man who has knowledge but is not using it and he who is using it are
said to know), it will make a difference whether, when a man does what he should not, he
has the knowledge but is not exercising it, or is exercising it; for the latter seems
strange, but not the former.
It is worse to act wrongly
after due deliberation of the act and its consequences than to commit it in an impetuous
manner
.
[DR] When the universal opinion is present
in us restraining us from tasting, and there is also the opinion that 'everything sweet is
pleasant', and that 'this is sweet' (now this is the opinion that is active), and when
appetite happens to be present in us, the one opinion bids us avoid the object, but
appetite leads us towards it (for it can move each of our bodily parts); so that it turns
out that a man behaves incontinently under the influence (in a sense) of a rule and an
opinion, and of one not contrary in itself, but only incidentally - for the appetite is
contrary, not the opinion - to the right rule.
Our appetites can tempt us
to go against our better judgment, making us behave incontinently.
[TI, DR, JT] Some sources of pleasure are
necessary; others are choiceworthy in themselves, but can be taken to excess. The
necessary ones are the bodily conditions, i.e. those that concern food, sexual
intercourse, and the bodily matters with which we defined self-indulgence and temperance
as being concerned. Other sources of pleasure are not necessary, but are choiceworthy in
themselves, e.g. victory, honor, wealth and similar good and pleasant things. Now those
who indulge to excess in this second class of pleasures, contrary to the right principle
within them, we do not call incontinent without qualification.
Enjoyment of the necessary bodily
pleasures can be temperate or self-indulgent. Incontinence in the pursuit of pleasures
of the ego is of a different kind.
[DR, JT] 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 [victory, honor, wealth] is so blamed. But in the case of bodily enjoyments,
which we hold to be the sphere of the temperate and licentious, the man who pursues
excessive pleasures and avoids excessive pains like hunger and thirst, heat and cold, and
all the discomforts of touch and taste, not from choice but in opposition to it and to his
reasoning, is described as incontinent without any added determinant.
Incontinence in bodily pleasures
is a vice, but not in the pursuit of pleasures of the ego. Lack of
self-discipline in curbing of excessive pursuit of pleasure and inordinate avoidance of
pain is incontinence pure and simple.
[DR] We group together the incontinent and
the self-indulgent, the continent and the temperate man. Some of them make a deliberate
choice while the others do not. We should describe as self-indulgent rather the man who
without appetite or with but a slight appetite pursues the excess of pleasure and avoids
moderate pains, than the man who does so because of his strong appetites.
The incontinent man is driven to
excess by an uncontrollable appetite. The self-indulgent man practices excess
deliberately
.







































_________________

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