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  • 1109bEditor’s Note Link 30(III. 1) Since, then, excellence has to do with affections and actions, and in
  • Link 31response to what people do that is voluntary we praise and censure them,
  • Link 32whereas in response to what is counter-voluntary we feel sympathy for them,
  • pg 123Editor’s Note33and sometimes even pity, those inquiring into the subject of excellence must
  • Link 34presumably determine the boundaries of the voluntary and the counter-
  • Link 35voluntary; and to do so is also useful for those framing laws, when it comes to
  • 36fixing honours and methods of forcible correction. The counter-voluntary,
  • 1110a Link 1then, seems to be what comes about by force or because of ignorance; and
  • Link what comes about by force seems to be that of which the origin is external,
  • i.e. such that the person acting, or the person having something done to him,
  • Link contributes nothing, as for example if a wind were to carry him somewhere,
  • or human agents who had him in their power. As for what is done because of
  • Link 5fear of greater evils, or because something fine is at stake (suppose, for
  • Link example, that a tyrant gave one orders to do something shameful, when he
  • had one's parents and children in his power, and they would be kept alive if
  • Link one did as ordered, but put to death if not)—such cases make one doubt
  • Link whether they are voluntary or counter-voluntary. Something of this sort also
  • arises when it comes to throwing things overboard in a storm: no one throws
  • 10goods away voluntarily, if it is just a matter of throwing it away, whereas if it is
  • Editor’s Note Link a condition of saving oneself and the rest of what is on board, any sensible
  • Link person would do it. Such actions, then, are mixed, but they look as if they
  • Link belong more to the class of the voluntary, for the actions in question are
  • Link desired at the time of acting, and the end for which actions are done varies
  • with the occasion; so we must assign both 'voluntary' and 'counter-
  • Link 15voluntary', too, with reference to the time when one acts. And a person acts
  • Editor’s Notevoluntarily in the cases in question; for in fact in actions of this sort the origin
  • Editor’s Note Link of his moving the instrumental parts is in himself, and if the origin of some-
  • Link thing is in himself, it depends on himself whether he does that thing or not.
  • Link Doing such things, then, is voluntary, but just in themselves they are presum-
  • ably counter-voluntary; for no one would choose anything of this sort for
  • Link 20itself. And for actions of this sort, people are sometimes even praised, i.e.
  • Link whenever they put up with something shameful or painful in exchange for
  • Link great and fine consequences, while if they do it in exchange for what is neither
  • Link great nor fine, we censure them; for putting up with the most shameful things
  • Link as a condition of getting something not at all fine, or something only moder-
  • ately so, is a vile person's behaviour. In some cases it is not praise we accord
  • someone, but sympathy—cases where a person does the sorts of things one
  • Link 25shouldn't do because of what is such as to over-extend the natural capacity of
  • Editor’s Note Link 26human beings—what no one could withstand. But perhaps in some cases
  • 27there is no such thing as 'being constrained', but one should rather accept the
  • 28most agonizing death: the things that 'constrained' Euripides' Alcmaeon to
  • 29commit matricide are plainly ludicrous. But it is sometimes hard to make out
  • 30what sort of thing to choose in exchange for what, and what to put up with in
  • 31exchange for what—and harder still to abide by what one has determined, for
  • 32mostly what we are expecting in such cases is something painful, and what we
  • 33are being constrained to do is shameful, which is why there is praising and
  • pg 1241110b Link 1censuring in the case of those who have or have not been constrained. What
  • kinds of things, then, should we say are forced? Or is it that things are
  • Link unqualifiedly forced if their cause lies in the externals, and the agent contrib-
  • utes nothing, whereas ones which, considered in themselves, are counter-
  • voluntary but desirable on this occasion and in exchange for these particular
  • Link 5results, given that the origin is in the agent—these are counter-voluntary
  • considered in themselves, but on this occasion and in exchange for these
  • particular results, they are voluntary? And they look more like things that are
  • voluntary; for actions are located among particulars, and these are voluntary.
  • Link But as to what sorts of things one should choose in return for what, it is not
  • easy to supply an answer, for there are many differences among particular
  • 10situations. If someone were to say that pleasant things and fine things force us,
  • on the grounds that they constrain us, and are external, he will get the result
  • Link that everything is forced; for these two things motivate everything everyone
  • Editor’s Notedoes. And those who are forced, and act counter-voluntarily, are distressed at
  • what they do, whereas those who act because of what is pleasant and fine do
  • so with pleasure. It is ludicrous too to put the responsibility on external
  • objects, rather than on oneself for falling an easy victim to such things, and to
  • Link 15put it on oneself for fine things, but on the objects that please for shameful
  • ones.
  • What comes about by force, then, appears to be that of which the origin is
  • Link external, with the person forced contributing nothing. What comes about
  • Editor’s Notebecause of ignorance, for its part, is all non-voluntary, whereas being counter-
  • voluntary belongs to what causes the agent pain and involves regret; for the
  • Link 20person who has done whatever it is because of ignorance, if he feels nothing
  • Editor’s Noteby way of discomfort at his action, has not acted voluntarily, in so far as it was
  • something he didn't know he was doing, but he has not acted counter-
  • Editor’s Notevoluntarily either, in so far as he is not distressed at it. What comes about
  • Editor’s Note Link because of ignorance, then, seems to fall into two types: someone who feels
  • regret seems to have acted counter-voluntarily, while the one who does not
  • feel regret—well, since he is distinct from the other person, let him be 'non-
  • voluntary'; for since he is different, it is better that he should have a name to
  • Link 25himself. Acting because of ignorance also appears to be distinct from acting in
  • ignorance; for the person who acts while drunk or angry does not seem to act
  • Editor’s Notebecause of ignorance but because of one of the things just mentioned,
  • Link though not knowing what he is doing, but in ignorance of it. Now it is true
  • that every worthless person is ignorant of what one should do and what one
  • should abstain from, and it is because of this sort of mistake that there come
  • 30to be unjust people, and bad people in general; but 'counter-voluntary' is not
  • Editor’s Note Link 31meant to cover the case where someone is ignorant of what is to his
  • Link 32advantage—for ignorance in decision-making is not a cause of something's
  • Link 33being counter-voluntary; rather, it is a cause of worthlessness, nor is ignor-
  • 34ance at the level of the universal a cause of the counter-voluntary (people are
  • pg 12535censured for that sort of ignorance), but rather ignorance at the level of
  • 1111a1particular things, which are where action is located and what action is about.
  • For both pity and sympathy depend on particulars; it is the person who is in
  • Link ignorance of one of these that acts counter-voluntarily. Perhaps, then, it is no
  • bad thing to determine what these particular factors are, and how many they
  • are. So: there is the matter of who is acting, what he is doing, in relation to
  • 5what or affecting what, sometimes also with what (as for example with a tool),
  • Editor’s Notewhat the action is for (e.g. saving someone), and how it is done (e.g. gently or
  • vigorously). Now no one, unless he were mad, could be ignorant of all of
  • Link these things, and neither, clearly, could anyone be ignorant of the person
  • acting; for how could that be, given that it is himself? But someone might be
  • ignorant of what he is doing, as when people say 'it just came out', in conver-
  • Editor’s Note Link 10sation, or 'I didn't know the subject was prohibited', as Aeschylus said about
  • the Mysteries, or 'I let it off when I meant to demonstrate it', as the man said
  • who let off the catapult. And someone might also think her son to be one of
  • Editor’s Notethe enemy, as Merope did, and that the spear had a button on the end of it
  • when it did not, or that the stone was a pumice stone; and one might give
  • someone a drink to save him but end up killing him, and mean to give
  • 15someone a touch, as in sparring, but land a blow on him instead. Given, then,
  • that ignorance is possible in relation to all these factors, in which action is
  • located, it seems that the person who was ignorant of any one of these things
  • has acted counter-voluntarily, and most of all if the ignorance is related to the
  • things that most determine the nature of the action; and these are what things
  • are affected and what the action is for. In the case, then, of what is said to be
  • 20counter-voluntary on the basis of this sort of ignorance, the action must in
  • addition cause distress to the agent and involve regret.
  • Link So, given that 'counter-voluntary' applies to what comes about by force and
  • what comes about because of ignorance, the voluntary would seem to be that
  • Link of which the origin is in oneself, when one knows the particular factors
  • that constitute the location of action. For presumably it is not right to say that
  • Editor’s Note Link 25things done because of temper or appetite are counter-voluntary. For in the
  • Editor’s Note Link 26first place none of the other animals will act voluntarily, nor will children; and
  • 27secondly, is nothing we do because of appetite and temper done voluntarily, or
  • 28are the fine things done voluntarily and the shameful ones counter-
  • 29voluntarily? Or is that ridiculous, given that one and the same thing is the
  • Link 30cause in all cases? One would think it strange to assert that things we should
  • 31desire are counter-voluntary; and one should be angry at certain things and
  • 32have an appetite for certain things, like health and learning. The counter-
  • 33voluntary also seems to be distressful, whereas what falls under appetite
  • 34seems to be pleasant. Again, what difference is there, in respect of counter-
  • 35voluntariness, between things we get wrong through acting in accordance
  • 36with rational calculation, and those we get wrong through temper? For both
  • 1111b Link 1are to be avoided, but the non-rational affections seem to be no less typical of
  • pg 1262human nature, so that actions deriving from temper and appetite will belong
  • 3to human beings too. Strange, then, to count these things as counter-voluntary.
  • Editor’s Note Link 4(III. 2) Now that the voluntary and the counter-voluntary have been defined,
  • Link 5the next task is to discuss decision; for decision seems to be something highly
  • Editor’s Note Link 6germane to excellence, and to indicate the differences between people's char-
  • Editor’s Note Link 7acters more than actions do. Decision, then, is clearly something voluntary,
  • Link 8but is not the same thing as the voluntary, for the voluntary is a wider type:
  • Link 9the voluntary is shared in by both children and the other animals, whereas
  • Editor’s Note Link 10decision is not, and things done on the spur of the moment we say are
  • Link 11voluntary, but not done from decision. Those who say that it is appetite,
  • Link 12temper, or wish, or a sort of judgement seem not to be correct. For decision is
  • Editor’s Note Link 13not something shared by non-rational creatures, whereas appetite and temper
  • 14are. And the person without self-control acts from appetite, but not from
  • Link 15decision; conversely the self-controlled person acts from decision, but not
  • Editor’s Notefrom appetite. Next, appetite goes contrary to decision, whereas appetite does
  • not go contrary to appetite. Again, we have appetite for what is pleasant and
  • Link what brings pain, whereas decision is neither for what is painful nor for what
  • Editor’s Note Link is pleasant. Still less is decision temper; for things we do because of temper
  • seem least to be from decision. And yet neither, for that matter, is it wish,
  • Link 20although it appears quite closely related to it; for there is no decision for
  • Link 21impossible things, and if someone were to say he was deciding on one of
  • Editor’s Note22these, he would be taken for an idiot—whereas there is wish for the impos-
  • 23sible8 as e.g. for immortality. And there is wish also in relation to the sorts of
  • Editor’s Note24things that could in no way be brought about by one's own agency, as for
  • 25example that a particular actor or athlete should win; whereas no one decides
  • Editor’s Note Link on things of this sort, only on those one thinks could come about by one's
  • Link own agency. Further, wish is more for the end, whereas decision is about what
  • forwards the end, as e.g. we wish to be healthy, whereas we decide on the
  • things through which we shall be healthy, and we wish to be happy, and say
  • that we wish it, whereas it is out of keeping to say 'we decide to be happy'; for
  • Link 30generally decision appears to be about things that depend on us. It will not,
  • Link 31then, be judgement either; for judgement seems to be about anything, and no
  • 32less about the eternal and the impossible than about the things that depend on
  • Link 33us; and we divide judgements into false and true, not into bad and good,
  • 1112aEditor’s Note1whereas decisions we divide more in the latter way. So perhaps no one even
  • claims that decision is the same thing as judgement in general. But neither
  • Link should it be identified with a certain kind of judgement; for what makes us
  • people of a certain quality is deciding for, not making judgements about,
  • good things or bad ones. And we form a decision to take or avoid some such
  • thing, whereas we make a judgement about what it is, or to whom it is of
  • 1112apg 127Editor’s Note5advantage, or how; we certainly do not 'make a judgement' to take or avoid
  • Link something. Again, decision is praised more by reference to its being for what it
  • Link should be, or to its being correctly made, whereas judgement is praised by
  • reference to how true it is. Again, decision is for what we most know to be
  • good, whereas we make judgements about what we do not know at all to be
  • good; and it seems that those who make the best decisions and those who
  • 10make the best judgements are not the same people—but rather that some
  • people make better judgements, but because they are bad choose things other
  • than those they should. If there is judgement preceding the decision, or
  • following it, this makes no difference; for we are not considering that point,
  • Link but rather whether decision is the same thing as a certain kind of judgement.
  • What then, or what sort of thing, is it, since it is none of the things we have
  • mentioned? Well, it is clearly something voluntary, but the voluntary is not all
  • Editor’s Note Link 15a matter of decision. So is it, at any rate, what has been reached by prior
  • Editor’s Note Link deliberation? In favour of this view is that decision is accompanied by reason-
  • ing and thought—and even the name indicates that what we decide to do is
  • Editor’s Notechosen before other things.
  • (III. 3) Do people deliberate about everything, and is everything an object
  • of deliberation, or are there some things about which there is no deliberation?
  • 20Presumably one should say 'object of deliberation' with reference not to what
  • an idiot or a madman might deliberate about, but to what a sane person
  • would. Well, no one deliberates about eternal things, as for example about the
  • universe or about the fact that the diameter and side of a square are incom-
  • mensurable. But for that matter neither does anyone deliberate about things
  • which involve change, but which always occur in the same pattern, whether
  • 25from necessity, or indeed by nature, or through some other cause (e.g. turn-
  • Editor’s Note Link 26ings and risings of celestial bodies); nor about things that happen sometimes
  • 27one way, sometimes another, like droughts and rainstorms; nor about things
  • Link 28that happen from chance, like discovering a cache of treasure. But there is no
  • 29deliberation, either, about all human affairs, as for example no Spartan delib-
  • Link 30erates about how Scythians might best manage themselves politically—for
  • Link 31none of these things will come about through our agency. What we do
  • 32deliberate about are the things that depend on us and are doable; and these are
  • 33in fact what is left once we have been through the rest. For the causes of
  • Link 34things seem to be nature, and necessity, and chance, and then, in addition to
  • 35these, intelligence and everything that occurs through human agency; and
  • 36among human beings, each group deliberates about what is doable through
  • 1112b Link 1their own agency. And in relation to those forms of knowledge that are precise
  • Editor’s Note Link and self-contained, there is no deliberation, as e.g. with writing (for we are not
  • Link in two minds about how to write); but those things that come about through
  • Link us, but not in the same way on every occasion—these are the things we
  • deliberate about, as e.g. we do about things falling within the spheres of
  • pg 1281112b5medicine and business, and in relation to navigational expertise more than to
  • that of athletic training, to the degree that the former has been less precisely
  • Link worked out, and again deliberation is involved similarly in the remaining
  • Link cases, but more, too, in relation to productive than to other forms of know-
  • ledge, for we are more in two minds about the productive forms. Deliber-
  • ation, then, occurs where things happen in a certain way for the most part,
  • but where it is unclear how they will in fact fall out; and where the outcome is
  • 10indeterminate. For large projects, we get people to provide us with advice,
  • Link because we do not believe we have the capacity ourselves to see our way
  • Link through. But we deliberate, not about ends, but about what forwards those
  • Editor’s Note Link ends. For a doctor does not deliberate about whether he'll make his patients
  • Link healthy, nor a public speaker about whether he'll persuade his audience, nor a
  • political expert about whether he'll bring about good government—and nei-
  • Link 15ther do any of the others deliberate about the end, but rather they take the
  • Link end for granted and examine how and by what means it will come about; and
  • Link if it appears as coming about by more than one means, they look to see
  • through which of them it will happen most easily and best, whereas if it is
  • Editor’s Notebrought to completion by one means only, they look to see how it will come
  • about through this, and through what means that will come about, until they
  • Link 20arrive at the first cause, which comes last in the process of discovery. For the
  • 21person who deliberates seems to investigate and to analyse in the way we have
  • Link 22said, as if with a diagram (and while not all investigation appears to be
  • 23deliberation, as e.g. mathematical investigations are not, all deliberation is
  • Link 24investigation); and what is last in the analysis seems to be first in the process of
  • 25things' coming about. And if people encounter an impossibility, they desist, as
  • Link e.g. if money is needed, and there is no possibility of providing it; while if it
  • Link appears possible, they set about acting. Things are possible that might come
  • about through our agency; for what comes about through our friends in a way
  • comes about through us, since the origin of it is in us. What is sought is
  • sometimes the tools for what is to be done, sometimes how they are to be
  • Editor’s Noteused; and similarly in the other cases too, what is sought is sometimes the
  • Editor’s Notething to do the job with, sometimes how it is to be done or by what means. It
  • Link seems, then, as has been said, that a human being is the origin of his actions;
  • Editor’s Noteand that his deliberation is about those things that are doable by him, while
  • Editor’s Notehis actions are for the sake of other things—for it will not be the end that is
  • deliberated about but the things that forward ends. So there will not be
  • 1113a1deliberation about particulars either, as e.g. about whether this is a loaf, or
  • Editor’s Note Link whether it has been cooked as it should; for these belong to the sphere of
  • perception. And if a person deliberates at every point, he will go on for ever.
  • Link What we deliberate about and what we decide on are the same, except that
  • what is decided on is, as such, something definite; for it is what has been
  • 5selected as a result of deliberation that is 'decided on'. For each person ceases
  • 6to investigate how he will act, at whatever moment he brings the origin of the
  • pg 1297action back to himself, and to the leading part of himself; for this is the part
  • Editor’s Note8that decides. This is clear also from those ancient forms of government that
  • Link 9Homer used to represent in his poems: the kings would announce to the
  • Editor’s Note Link 10people what they had decided. Given that what is decided on is an object of
  • Link deliberation and desire among the things that depend on us, decision too will
  • Link be deliberational desire for things that depend on us; for it is through having
  • selected on the basis of having deliberated that we desire in accordance with
  • our deliberation. Let this, then, stand as our outline treatment of decision—
  • both of what sorts of things it has to do with, and of the fact that what we
  • decide about are the things that forward our ends.
  • Editor’s Note Link 15(III. 4) That wish is for the end, we have already said; but to some it seems to
  • be for the good, whereas to others it seems to be for the apparent good. The
  • Link consequence, for those who say that the object of 9 wish is the good, is that
  • what the person making an incorrect choice wishes for is not wished for (for if
  • Link 20it is wished for, it will also be good; but in fact it may have been bad); while for
  • Link those who say that the apparent good is wished for, the consequence is that
  • Link there is nothing naturally wished for, only what seems an object of wish to
  • Link each particular person; and different things appear so to different people,
  • Link perhaps even contrary ones. But if, then, we are not content with these views,
  • should we say that the good is without qualification and in truth the object of
  • wish, whereas what appears good to a given person is the object of wish for
  • Link 25that person? We shall then be saying that for the person of excellence the
  • 26object of wish is the one that is truly so, whereas for the bad person it is as
  • Editor’s Note27chance will have it, just as on the physical level too the things that are truly
  • 28healthful are healthful for people in good condition, whereas a different set of
  • Link 29things is healthful for those that are diseased; and similarly too with bitter,
  • Link 30sweet, hot, heavy, and every other sort of thing; for the good person dis-
  • Link 31criminates correctly in every set of circumstances, and in every set of circum-
  • Link 32stances what is true is apparent to him. For each disposition has its own
  • Link 33corresponding range of fine things and pleasant things, and presumably what
  • 34most distinguishes the good person is his ability to see what is true in every set
  • 35of circumstances, being like a carpenter's rule or measure for them. But most
  • 36people are deceived, and the deception seems to come about because of
  • 1113b1pleasure; for it appears a good thing when it is not. So they choose what is
  • Link 2pleasant as something good, and they avoid pain as something bad.
  • Editor’s Note Link 3(III. 5) Given, then, that what is wished for is the end, while what we deliber-
  • Link 4ate about and decide on are the things that forward the end, the actions
  • 5relating to the latter will be based on decision and voluntary. But the activities
  • Link 6that constitute the excellences are concerned with these. Excellence too, then,
  • pg 130 Link 7depends on us, and similarly badness as well. For when acting depends on us,
  • Link 8not acting does so too, and when saying no does so, saying yes does too; so
  • 9that if acting, when it is a fine thing to act, depends on us, not acting also
  • Link 10depends on us when it is shameful not to act, and if not acting, when it is a
  • Link 11fine thing not to act, depends on us, acting when it is a shameful thing to act
  • Editor’s Note12also depends on us. But if it depends on us to do fine things and shameful
  • Link 13things, and similarly not to do them too, and this, it is agreed, is what it is to
  • Editor’s Note Link 14be, respectively, a good person and a bad one, then being decent people, and
  • 15being worthless ones, will depend on us.10 To say that no one is vicious volun-
  • 16tarily, or counter-voluntarily blessed with happiness, looks false in one way,
  • Editor’s Note Link 17true in another; for no one is blessed counter-voluntarily, but badness is some-
  • 18thing voluntary. Or should one dispute what has just been said—should one
  • Link 19say that a human being is not an origin, or begetter, of his actions as he is of
  • Link 20children? But if he obviously is, and we are unable to trace actions back to
  • Link origins beyond their origins in us, then, in so far as they are things that have
  • their origins in us, they themselves, too, depend on us and are voluntary.
  • Link Testimony to this effect seems to be provided by the practice both of different
  • Link sorts of private groups and of lawgivers themselves; for they forcibly correct
  • and impose penalties on wrongdoers, provided they did not act under force,
  • 25or because of ignorance for which they are not themselves responsible, while
  • 26they honour those who perform fine actions, in order to encourage the latter
  • 27and put a stop to the former. By contrast no one encourages us to do the
  • 28things that neither depend on us nor are voluntary, on the assumption that
  • 29nothing is gained by getting someone persuaded not to become hot, or feel
  • Link 30pain, or hunger, or anything of this sort; we shall be affected just the same. In
  • Editor’s Note Link fact ignorance itself constitutes grounds for penal correction, if the agent
  • Link seems to be responsible for his ignorance—as when penalties are doubled for
  • Link people acting while drunk; for the origin is in the agent; it was in his power
  • not to get drunk, which was cause of his ignorance. And they correct people
  • who are ignorant of something laid down in the laws—one of the things one
  • 1114a Link 1should know, which are not difficult either; and similarly too in the other cases
  • Link 2where people seem to be ignorant through carelessness, on the grounds that it
  • Link 3depended on them not to be ignorant; for it was in their power to take the
  • Link 4appropriate care. But perhaps the agent is the kind of person not to take care?
  • 5But we are ourselves responsible for having become this sort of person, by
  • living slackly, and for being unjust or self-indulgent, in the first case by treating
  • Link people badly, in the second by passing our time in drinking and that sort of
  • thing; for it is the sort of activity we display in each kind of thing that gives us
  • Link the corresponding character. This is clear from those who practise for any sort
  • of competition or performance: they go on and on actually doing whatever it
  • is. So only a thoroughly stupid person could fail to know that the dispositions
  • 1114apg 131 Link 10come about as a result of the sort of activity we display in relation to each
  • Editor’s Note Link kind of thing. But again it runs counter to reason to suppose that the person
  • Link engaged in unjust action does not wish to be unjust, or that the person
  • Link engaged in self-indulgent action does not wish to be self-indulgent. But if
  • Link someone does, not in ignorance, the things that will result in his being unjust,
  • he will be unjust voluntarily—and yet he will not stop being unjust, and be
  • Editor’s Note Link 15just, merely if he wishes it. For no more will the sick person be healthy merely
  • for wishing it; and it may be that he is ill voluntarily, by living a life in weak-
  • willed disobedience to his doctors. Previously, then, he had the option not to
  • Link be ill, but once he has let himself go, he no longer has it, any more than it is
  • Link possible for him to retrieve a stone after it has left his hand; but all the same it
  • depended on him that it was thrown, for the origin of it was in him. So too at
  • 20the beginning the unjust person and the self-indulgent one had the option not
  • Link to become like that, and hence they are voluntarily unjust and self-indulgent;
  • Editor’s Notebut once they have become like that, it is no longer possible for them not to
  • be. Not only are bad states of the soul voluntary, but with some people those
  • of the body are so too, and these people too we blame; for while no one
  • blames those who are naturally ugly, we do blame those who are ugly through
  • 25lack of training and through neglect. Similarly with physical weakness, and
  • disability; for no one would find fault with someone born blind, or blind as a
  • result of disease or a blow—one would rather pity him; whereas everyone
  • would blame someone whose blindness resulted from drunkenness or some
  • other form of self-indulgence. As for bad physical states, then, for those that
  • depend on us people find fault with us, whereas for those that do not depend
  • 30on us they do not. But if this is so, in the other cases too the bad states that
  • Link 31people get blamed for will be ones that depend on us. Suppose someone said
  • 32that while every one of us aims at what appears to us good, we are not in
  • 1114b Link 1control of the appearance, but rather the sort of person each of us is, what-
  • ever that may be, determines how the end, too, appears to him. Well, if each
  • of us is himself somehow responsible for causing his disposition in himself, he
  • will also be somehow responsible for the appearance in question. If he is not
  • somehow responsible for his disposition, no one is responsible for its being the
  • case that he himself does bad things; he does these things because of ignor-
  • Link 5ance of the end, thinking that by means of them he will get what is best. In
  • Link 6this case aiming at the end will not be self-chosen, but one must be born with
  • 7the capacity for a kind of sight by which to discriminate well and choose what
  • Link 8is truly good, and the person who has this capacity by nature will be the one
  • 9who counts as 'naturally well endowed'; for it is the greatest and finest of
  • Link 10things, and something it will not be possible to get from anyone else, or to
  • Editor’s Note Link 11learn from anyone—rather, one will have it in just the form in which it was
  • 12born in one, and to have been born well and beautifully endowed in this
  • 13respect will be to be naturally well endowed in the full and true sense. If, then,
  • 14all this is true, how will excellence be any more voluntary than badness? For
  • pg 132whether the end appears to us by nature, or however its appearance is to be
  • explained, it appears and is fixed in the same way for both, i.e. the good
  • 15person and the bad one, and since they act by referring everything else to the
  • Link end, the same explanation—whatever it is—will apply to their action.
  • Link Whether, then, it is not by nature that the end appears to each person in
  • Editor’s Notewhatever form it does, but this is also to an extent under his control, or
  • whether the end is natural, but because the good person acts voluntarily in all
  • other respects, his excellence is voluntary—in either case badness too will be
  • Link 20no less voluntary; for 'through him' applies to the bad person too, in respect
  • Link of his actions even if not of his end. If, then, as people say, the excellences are
  • Editor’s Notevoluntary (for we ourselves are partly responsible, in a way, for our disposi-
  • Editor’s Note Link tions, and it is by virtue of being people of a certain sort that we suppose the
  • 25end to be of a certain sort), bad states too will be voluntary; for they come
  • about in a similar way.
  • So now we have discussed the excellences in a general way, giving an
  • outline of their genus, i.e. that they are intermediates, and that they are
  • dispositions; saying that the kinds of things by which they come about are the
  • kinds they dispose us to do, i.e. in accordance with themselves; that they
  • depend on us and are voluntary; and that they relate to actions that are such as
  • 30the correct prescription lays down. (But actions and dispositions are not vol-
  • 31untary in the same sort of way; for we are in control of our actions from
  • 32beginning to end, because we know the particulars involved, whereas we only
  • 1115a Link 1control the beginning of our dispositions, and the process of incrementation
  • Link is not something we are aware of in its particulars, any more than we are
  • when we are becoming ill; but because it depended on us either to react to
  • Editor’s Note Link things in such-and-such a way, or not in that way—this makes them volun-
  • tary.) Now let us pick up our subject again and discuss each of the excellences
  • individually, saying what they are, what things they relate to, and how; and it
  • will be clear, too, at the same time, how many they are.
  • 5First, let us discuss courage.
  • Editor’s Note(III. 6) Well, that it is an intermediate state relating to fearing and being bold
  • has already become apparent; and clearly, what we fear are fearsome things,
  • Editor’s Noteand these are, broadly speaking, bad things—which is why people define fear
  • Link 10itself as expectation of what is bad. Now we fear all bad things, e.g. loss of
  • reputation, poverty, disease, friendlessness, death; but courage seems not to be
  • Link to do with all of them, since there are some things which we actually should
  • fear, and fearing them is a fine thing, while not fearing them is shameful, e.g.
  • loss of reputation, for someone who fears this is a decent person and has a
  • sense of shame, whereas the one who does not fear it is shameless. But some
  • 15do call the latter person courageous, in a transferred sense; for he has a certain
  • Link resemblance to the courageous person, in so far as the courageous person too
  • Editor’s Note Link is in a sense fearless. On the other hand there is presumably no requirement
  • pg 133 Link on one to fear poverty, or disease, or in general the sorts of things not due to
  • Link badness, or to one's own agency. But neither is the person who is fearless
  • about these things courageous, although we do call him, too, courageous,
  • 20picking out a resemblance; for some people who are cowardly in face of the
  • Link 21dangers of war are open-handed, and so altogether bold when it comes to
  • Editor’s Note Link 22losing money. Nor, then, is a person cowardly if he fears assault on his chil-
  • Editor’s Note Link 23dren and wife, or fears grudging ill will, or anything like that; nor is he
  • 24courageous if he is bold when facing a whipping. So what sorts of fearsome
  • Link 25things is the courageous person courageous about? Or is it the greatest of
  • Editor’s Note Link them? No one, after all, is better at withstanding what is frightening. And the
  • most fearsome thing is death; for it is an end, and there seems to be nothing
  • any longer for the dead person that is either good or bad. But neither would
  • courage seem to have to do with death under any set of circumstances: e.g.
  • death at sea, or from illness of some sort. Death under what circumstances,
  • 30then? Or is it under the finest? Such deaths are deaths in war; for then
  • 31the danger is greatest and finest. In agreement with these conclusions are the
  • 32honours accorded in cities, and where there are monarchs in power. In the
  • Link 33primary sense, then, the courageous person will be said to be the one who is
  • 34fearless about a fine death, or about sudden situations that threaten death; and
  • Link 35those that occur in war are mostly of this sort. Of course the courageous
  • 1115b Link 1person is fearless on the sea too, and when affected by disease, but not in the
  • 2way people familiar with the sea are: whereas others have given up hope of
  • Editor’s Note Link 3survival and find this sort of death hard to stomach, these are optimistic
  • 4because of their experience. Again, the situations in which people really show
  • Link 5courage are those in which one can put up a fight, or, if that fails, the death is
  • a fine one; and neither feature obtains when one perishes in situations like the
  • Link ones just described.
  • (III. 7) What is fearsome is not the same for everyone; but there is a sort of
  • Link thing we say it is actually beyond human capacity to endure. This, then, is
  • fearsome to everyone—everyone, that is, who has any intelligence; but the
  • things that are within the capacity of human beings differ in magnitude, i.e. in
  • 10being more fearsome or less, and similarly too with the things that make for
  • Link boldness. But the courageous person is as unshakeable as a human being can
  • Link be. So he will be afraid of those sorts of things too, but he will withstand
  • Link them in the way one should, and following the correct prescription, for the
  • sake of achieving what is fine; for this is what excellence aims at. But one can
  • fear these things more and one can fear them less, and in addition one can fear
  • 15the sorts of things that are not fearsome as if they were. Of the ways people
  • 16go wrong in these cases, one occurs because they fear what one shouldn't,
  • Link 17another because they don't fear in the way one should, another because they
  • 18don't fear when one should, or something else of this sort; and similarly, too,
  • 19with the things that make for boldness. So the person who withstands and
  • pg 134fears the things one should and for the end one should, and in the way and
  • when one should, and is bold in a similar way, is courageous; for the courage-
  • Editor’s Note20ous person feels and acts as the occasion merits, and following the correct
  • Link prescription, however it may direct him. But in every case, an activity's end is
  • the one that accords with the corresponding disposition. This, then, holds for
  • Link the courageous person too. Now, courage is something fine.11 So the end, too,
  • Link is such, since each thing is distinguished by its end. So it is for the sake of
  • achieving the fine that the courageous person stands firm and acts in those
  • ways that accord with courage. Of those who go to excess, the person who
  • Editor’s Note25exceeds in fearlessness is nameless (we have said in our earlier discussions that
  • Link 26many qualities are nameless), but he would be some sort of madman, or
  • 27someone immune to pain, if he feared nothing, not even an earthquake or
  • Link 28stormwaters—like Celts, as people say; whereas the person who goes to
  • Link 29excess in being bold about what is fearsome is rash. The rash person seems
  • 30also to be an impostor, and to be the sort of person who pretends to courage;
  • at any rate he wishes to appear to be as the courageous person actually is in
  • relation to the fearsome, and so mimics him in those situations in which he
  • can. Hence most rash people in fact combine rashness with cowardice, for
  • while they brazen it out in circumstances that allow it, they do not withstand
  • what is actually fearsome. The person who goes to excess in fearing, on the
  • Link 35other hand, is cowardly; for he fears the sorts of things one shouldn't and in a
  • 36way one shouldn't, and every other feature of this sort goes along with his
  • 1116a1disposition. He is deficient, as well, in boldness, but the excess in the distress
  • 2he experiences is the more obvious. The coward, then, is a kind of person
  • 3who lacks hope, because he is afraid about everything. The brave man is in the
  • Link 4contrary condition; for someone who keeps up hope has a bold attitude. So
  • 5the cowardly person, the rash one, and the courageous one all have to do with
  • the same things, but relate to them in different ways; for the first two display
  • excess and deficiency, whereas the third is in an intermediate condition, and is
  • as one should be. Again, rash people are impetuous, and for all their willing-
  • ness in advance of the dangers they pull back when the dangers arrive; cour-
  • ageous people by contrast are energetic when it comes to doing things but are
  • Link 10quiet beforehand. As has been said, then, courage is an intermediate state
  • Link relating to things that make for boldness and things that make for fear, in the
  • circumstances we have stated, and it makes its choice and stands firm because
  • Link doing so is fine, or because not doing so is shameful. Dying to escape from
  • poverty, or sexual passion, or something painful, is not a feature of courage
  • but rather of cowardice; for it is softness to run away from things because they
  • Editor’s Note Link 15are burdensome, and the person in this case accepts death not because it is a
  • fine thing to do, but because he is running away from something bad.
  • Link What courage is, then, is something like this;
  • pg 135 Link (III. 8) but there are also other 'courages', so called, which take five forms.
  • First there is the 'civic' kind—for this has the greatest resemblance to real
  • courage. For citizens seem to withstand the dangers facing them because of
  • the penalties inflicted by the laws' and people's reproaches, and because of
  • 20the honours; and it is because of this that the most courageous peoples seem
  • 21to be those among whom cowards are dishonoured and the courageous
  • 22honoured. Individuals of this sort one finds portrayed by Homer too, e.g.
  • Editor’s Note23Diomedes and Hector—as in

  • 24               Polydamas will be first to lay up disgrace against me,

  •                For one day Hector will speak out among the Trojans, and say
  • Link                'By me was the son of Tydeus …'.

  • Editor’s Note Link This 'courage' has the greatest resemblance to the one described before
  • because it comes about through excellence; for it comes about through shame
  • and through desire for what is fine (because for honour), and in order to
  • 30escape reproach, because that is something shameful. One might also put in
  • Link the same category those acting under constraint from their commanders; but
  • these are inferior, to the extent that they do it not through shame but through
  • fear, and in order to escape not what is shameful, but what is painful—for the
  • Editor’s Noteones applying the constraint have control over them, just like Hector:

  • But any man I find cowering, away from the battle,
  • 35               Make no mistake—he will be meat for the dogs.

  • 1116b1And those who issue orders and beat anyone who retreats are doing the same
  • Link thing, as are those who draw up their men in front of ditches or things of that
  • Link sort; for they are all using constraint. But one should not be courageous
  • Editor’s Note Link because of constraint; one should be courageous because it is fine to be so.
  • People also think of experience in each particular sphere as courage; this is
  • 5also why Socrates thought courage to be expert knowledge. There are differ-
  • Editor’s Noteent people like this in different spheres, but in the sphere of warfare it is the
  • soldiers; for there are many situations in war that contain nothing to be afraid
  • of, and soldiers have the best perspective on these; so they appear courageous,
  • because everyone else lacks the knowledge of what sorts of situations these
  • are. Again, their experience gives them the greatest ability to inflict damage
  • 10and avoid it themselves, since it gives them the ability to use weapons and
  • 11provides them with the kinds of weaponry that will have the greatest power,
  • 12both for inflicting damage and for avoiding it; so when they fight it is as if
  • 13armed men are fighting with unarmed ones, and trained athletes against non-
  • 14athletes, for in contests of this sort too it is not the most courageous people
  • Link 15that are the most effective fighters but those with the greatest strength and in
  • 16the best physical condition. But soldiers turn cowardly when the danger is
  • pg 13617extreme and they are at a disadvantage in terms of numbers and equipment;
  • 18for they are the first to run away, while the citizen elements stand and die
  • Editor’s Note19(which is what actually happened at the temple of Hermes). For to the latter,
  • 20running away is something shameful, and death is more desirable than saving
  • oneself in that sort of way; whereas the soldiers from the very beginning were
  • ready to face the dangers because they believed they had the advantage, and
  • Link once having seen they do not, they run away, because they fear death more
  • Link than the shameful. But the courageous person is not someone of this sort.
  • People also count temper as courage; for the courageous are thought also to
  • 25include people who act through temper, like wild animals that rush at the
  • 26people who have wounded them, because courageous people too are strong-
  • Editor’s Note27tempered; for temper especially strains to go out and meet dangers, which is
  • 28what explains Homer's 'he infused their temper with strength', 'aroused their
  • 29force and temper', 'and in his nostrils, bitter force', and 'his blood boiled'—all
  • Link 30such expressions seem to indicate the arousal and impulse of temper. Well
  • Link then, courageous people act because of the fine, and temper cooperates with
  • them; by contrast, the wild animals in question act because they are
  • distressed—after all, it is because they have been hit by a weapon, or because
  • they are frightened (since they do not approach if they have the cover of a
  • wood). That they are driven out by distress and temper and so impelled
  • 35towards the danger, without seeing in advance any of the frightening aspects
  • 36of the situation—that, then, does not make them courageous, since at that
  • 37rate even donkeys would be brave when they are hungry; after all beating
  • 1117a1them doesn't stop them from feeding. Adulterers too go through with many
  • Editor’s Notedaring things because of their appetite. But the 'courage' that comes about
  • Editor’s Note Link 5through temper does seem to be the most natural form, and to be courage
  • once the factors of decision and the end for the sake of which have been
  • added. Human beings too, then, are distressed when angry, and take pleasure
  • in retaliating; but people who fight from these motives are effective in fighting,
  • Link not courageous, since they do not fight because of the fine, or as the correct
  • prescription directs, but because of affection. But they do have something that
  • resembles courage. Nor, then, are people who act because they are optimistic
  • Link 10courageous, for they are bold in dangerous situations because they have
  • defeated many people and on many occasions; and while they are comparable
  • with the courageous, because both sorts of people are bold, courageous
  • people are bold because of the factors mentioned before, whereas optimistic
  • people are so because they think that they are strongest and that no harm will
  • come to them. (When people are getting drunk they behave in the same sort
  • 15of way—they become optimistic.) And whenever they find things not turning
  • 16out as they expect, they run away; but as we said, it is characteristic of the
  • Link 17courageous person to withstand those things that are and appear frightening
  • Link 18to human beings, because doing so is fine and not doing so is shameful. This is
  • Link 19why a person also seems more courageous if he is fearless and undisturbed in
  • 1117apg 137 Link 20the face of sudden fears than of ones that are foreseen; for it was more the
  • result of a disposition, in so far as it was less the result of preparation. For in
  • the case of what is clearly foreseen, one can decide also as a result of calcula-
  • Editor’s Notetion and reasoning about it; with what comes suddenly one decides according
  • to one's disposition. Another set of people who appear courageous are those
  • who act in ignorance, and they are not far removed from the optimistic sort,
  • but they are inferior to the extent that they have no expectations of them-
  • 25selves, whereas the others do. This is why the others stand firm for a time;
  • Editor’s Notewhereas if those who are deceived about the situation recognize that it is not
  • what they guessed it to be, they run away (which is what happened to the
  • Argives when they fell in with the Spartans, thinking they were Sicyonians).
  • Editor’s Note Link This, then, is our account of what sort of people the courageous are, and
  • those who seem courageous.
  • (III. 9) Now while courage has to do both with being bold and with fearing,
  • 30it does not have to do with the two things equally, but more with what is
  • fearsome; for the person who is undisturbed in face of fearsome things and is
  • Link in the condition one should be in relation to these is courageous, more than
  • Editor’s Note Link the person who is so in relation to the things that make for boldness. It is by
  • virtue of their withstanding what is painful, then, as has been said, that people
  • are called courageous. Hence courage is also something that brings pain with
  • Link 35it, and is justly an object of praise; for it is harder to withstand what is painful
  • 1117b Link 1than to hold back from what is pleasant. All the same, the end that accords
  • 2with courage would seem to be pleasant, but to be obscured by the circum-
  • 3stances, as also happens e.g. in athletic competitions; for to the boxers the
  • 4end—what they do it for, i.e. the wreath and the honours—is pleasant,
  • 5whereas being punched hurts them, given that they are made of flesh, and is
  • painful—and so is all the slogging; and because the painful aspects are many,
  • Link its small size appears to leave the end for which it is all done without anything
  • Link pleasant about it. If, then, it is like this with courage too, then while death and
  • Link wounds will be painful to the courageous person, and counter-voluntary, he
  • will withstand them because doing so is fine or because not doing so is
  • Link 10shameful. And the greater the extent to which he possesses excellence in its
  • 11entirety, and the happier he is, the more he will be pained at the prospect of
  • 12death; for to such a person, most of all, is living worth while, and this person
  • Link 13will knowingly be depriving himself of goods of the greatest kind, which is
  • Link 14something to be pained at. But he is no less courageous because of that, and
  • Editor’s Note Link 15perhaps even more courageous, because he chooses what is fine in war in
  • Link place of those other goods. So not all the excellences give rise to pleasant
  • activity, except to the extent that pleasant activity touches on the end itself.
  • But presumably it is perfectly possible that the most effective soldiers will not
  • be people of this sort, but rather the sort who while being less courageous
  • possess nothing else of value; for these people are ready to face dangers, and
  • pg 1381117b20put up their lives for sale for small profits. Let this much stand, then, as our
  • account of courage; and from what has been said, it is not difficult to grasp
  • what it is, at least in outline.
  • Editor’s Note Link (III. 10) After this excellence, let us discuss moderation; for these seem to be
  • 25the excellences of the non-rational parts. Well then, we have said that it is an
  • Editor’s Note26intermediate state relating to pleasures (for it relates less, and not in the same
  • 27way, to pains); and self-indulgence too appears in the same context. So let us
  • 28now determine what sorts of pleasures it relates to. Let there be a distinction,
  • Link 29then, between pleasures of the soul, like love of honour and love of learning,
  • 30and those of the body—since each of these two, the lover of honour and the
  • 31lover of learning, delights in what he is a lover of without his body being
  • 32affected at all, but rather his mind. People concerned with pleasures of this
  • 33sort are not called either moderate or self-indulgent. Nor, similarly, are those
  • 34who are concerned with the other non-bodily pleasures: if people love stories,
  • 35are always telling how something happened, and spend their days on matters
  • 1118a Link 1of no consequence, we call them chatterers, not self-indulgent; nor do we call
  • 2someone self-indulgent if he is distressed about money or friends. It will be to
  • 3the pleasures of the body that moderation relates—but not all of these, either;
  • 4for those who enjoy what comes to us through sight, e.g. colours, shapes, or
  • 5painting, are not said to be either moderate or self-indulgent; yet it would
  • 6seem possible in these cases too to take pleasure as one should, or excessively
  • 7or deficiently. Similarly too in the field of hearing: no one calls self-indulgent
  • 8those who find inordinate enjoyment in singing or drama, or moderate those
  • 9who enjoy them in the way one should. Nor are these terms applied when it
  • Editor’s Note10comes to smells, except incidentally; for we do not call people self-indulgent
  • who enjoy smells of apples, roses, or incense, but rather ones who enjoy
  • Editor’s Note Link smells of perfumes or tasty dishes; for the self-indulgent do enjoy these,
  • because through them they are reminded of the objects of their appetites.
  • 15One will see other people too, when they are hungry, enjoying the smells of
  • Link 16food, but to enjoy such things is characteristic of the self-indulgent person; for
  • 17in his case these are objects of appetite. Pleasure does not occur from these
  • Link 18senses among other animals either except incidentally. For again, it is not
  • 19the scent of the hares that the hunting-dogs enjoy, but consuming them—the
  • Link 20scent just told the dogs the hares were there; nor is it the ox's lowing that the
  • 21lion enjoys, but rather eating it up, and he merely sensed through the lowing
  • Editor’s Note22that the ox was nearby, so appearing to enjoy the sound itself; similarly, what
  • Link 23pleases him is not the sight of 'a stag or a goat running wild', but that he is to
  • 24get a meal. Moderation and self-indulgence relate to the sorts of pleasures
  • Editor’s Note25that are shared in by all the other animals too, which is why they appear
  • Link slavish and bestial; and these are touch and taste. But the extent to which they
  • Link involve taste, too, is little or nothing; for it is the function of taste to tell one
  • Link flavour from another, as people do when approving wines or preparing tasty
  • 1118apg 139 Link 30dishes; but what people, or at least the self-indulgent sort, really get pleasure
  • Editor’s Note Link 31from is not this but rather the consumption involved, which comes about
  • Link 32wholly by means of touch, whether it is a matter of eating or of drinking or
  • 33so-called 'venery'. This is why a certain individual, a gourmandizer, actually
  • 34prayed for a throat longer than a crane's—so showing that it was the sense of
  • 1118b1touch that he enjoyed. The sense, then, that is the most widely shared is the
  • Link 2one connected with self-indulgence, which would justly seem a matter for
  • 3reproach because it belongs to us not in so far as we are human beings but in
  • Link 4so far as we are animals. To take enjoyment in such things, then, and to be
  • 5attached to them more than anything, is bestial. For the touch-related pleas-
  • 6ures most appropriate to free men lie outside the sphere of self-indulgence,
  • 7e.g. the ones in gymnasia produced through rubbing and warming; for the
  • Editor’s Note Link 8touching that is characteristic of the self-indulgent person has to do not with
  • 9the whole of the body but only with certain parts of it.
  • (III. 11) Of the appetites, some seem to be shared, others peculiar and
  • Editor’s Note10acquired: so e.g. the appetite for nourishment is natural to us, since everyone
  • Editor’s Note Link has an appetite for nourishment when they lack it, dry or liquid, or sometimes
  • both; and for 'bed', in Homer's phrase, when one is young and in one's
  • physical prime; but as for the appetite for this or that sort of food, not
  • everyone has that—or an appetite for the same people. Hence it appears to be
  • peculiar to us. All the same, it does have an element of the natural about it,
  • since different things are pleasant for different individuals, and everyone gets
  • 15more pleasure from certain things than from just anything. With the natural
  • 16appetites, then, few people get things wrong, and only in one direction, that
  • 17of excess; for eating or drinking whatever is to hand until one is overfull is to
  • Link 18exceed the natural limit in quantity, since the object of natural desire is
  • 19replenishment of the lack. (That is why these people are said to have 'belly-
  • 20lust'—because they fill their belly more than is necessary. Those who are
  • excessively slavish become people of this sort.) With the kinds of pleasures
  • peculiar to us, on the other hand, many people get things wrong, and there
  • are many ways of doing so. For given that people are called lovers of such-
  • and-such either because they enjoy the sorts of things one shouldn't, or
  • because they enjoy things more than most people do, or because they don't
  • enjoy them in the way one should—well, the self-indulgent go to excess in all
  • Link 25respects; for they too enjoy some things one shouldn't (being ones they should
  • hate), and if there are some things of the sort in question that one should
  • enjoy, they enjoy them more than one should and more than most people do.
  • Excess in relation to pleasures, then, is clearly self-indulgence and a matter for
  • 30censure; as for pains, the moderate person does not get his name for with-
  • 31standing them, as the courageous person does, nor the self-indulgent person
  • Link 32for not withstanding them—rather, the self-indulgent person is so called for
  • 33being more distressed than one should be at not getting what is pleasant (the
  • pg 140 Link 34pain, too, is caused for him by the pleasure), and the moderate person for not
  • 1119a Link 1being distressed at its absence and for holding back from the pleasant. So the
  • self-indulgent person, for his part, has an appetite for any pleasant things, or
  • Link for the most pleasant, and he is driven by his appetite so as to choose these
  • Link instead of anything else; this is why he is distressed both when he fails to get
  • them and when he has the appetite for them—since the appetite is accom-
  • 5panied by pain, though it seems a strange thing to be pained because of
  • Link 6pleasure. People who are defective in relation to pleasures and enjoy them less
  • 7than one should hardly occur; for to be insensate like this is not human—all
  • 8the other animals too, after all, make distinctions between foods, and enjoy
  • Link 9some but not others. If there is someone to whom nothing is pleasant, and
  • 10nothing is preferable to anything else, he would be a long way from being
  • human; and there is no name for him, because of the fact that he hardly
  • Link occurs. As for the moderate person, he is in an intermediate state in these
  • respects; for neither does he take pleasure in the things the self-indulgent
  • Link person most enjoys, which actually disgust him, nor in general does he enjoy
  • the things one shouldn't, or get intense enjoyment from anything of this sort,
  • nor is he distressed at their absence—and neither does he have an appetite for
  • 15them, or only a sober one, and not more than one should, or on the sort of
  • Link 16occasion when one shouldn't, or generally anything of that sort. But such
  • 17things as conduce to health or fitness and are pleasant he will desire moder-
  • Link 18ately and in the way one should, as he will any other pleasures if they do not
  • 19impede these, or are not contrary to what is fine, or not beyond his means. For
  • 20someone disregarding these conditions is fonder of such pleasures than they
  • Editor’s Note Link deserve; and the moderate person is not of this sort, but as the correct
  • prescription lays down.
  • Link (III. 12) Self-indulgence looks more like a voluntary thing than cowardice
  • does. For self-indulgence comes about because of pleasure, cowardice because
  • of pain, and of these the one is something one chooses, the other something
  • avoided; and while pain puts things out of joint and even destroys the natural
  • state of the person who has it, pleasure does nothing of the sort. So self-
  • Link 25indulgence is a more voluntary thing. Hence it is also more a matter for
  • reproach; for it is also easier to acquire the habit of resisting pleasures, since
  • Editor’s Notethere are many such things in one's life, and the occasions for habituation are
  • without danger, whereas with fearsome things it is the reverse. But the dis-
  • position of cowardice would seem to be voluntary in a way in which particu-
  • lar acts of cowardice are not; for it is in itself painless, whereas they put things
  • 30out of joint, through pain, even to the extent of causing the throwing down of
  • 31weapons and the other sorts of disgraceful behaviour—which is why they also
  • 32seem to be forced. For the self-indulgent person it is the reverse: the particular
  • Editor’s Note Link 33acts seem voluntary, because they accord with his appetite and desire,
  • 34while the thing as a whole appears less so, for no one has an appetite to be
  • pg 141self-indulgent. The term 'indulgence' is one we also apply to the ways children
  • 1119b1go wrong, for these have a certain resemblance to self-indulgence. Which is
  • 2called after which makes no difference for present purposes, but clearly the
  • Link 3later is called after the earlier. Nor does the transfer of usage seem inappropri-
  • 4ate; for least to be indulged is the part of us that not only desires shameful
  • 5things but can become big, and this characteristic belongs to appetite, and to
  • the child, above all—since children too live according to appetite, and the
  • Link desire for the pleasant is strongest in them. If, then, whatever desires shameful
  • things is not ready to obey and under the control of the ruling element, it will
  • grow and grow, for the desire for the pleasant is insatiable and indiscriminate,
  • in a mindless person, and the activity of his appetite augments his congenital
  • Link 10tendency; and if his appetites are strong and vigorous, they knock out his
  • Link capacity for rational calculation as well. This is why they should be moderate
  • and few, and offer no opposition to rational prescription (which is the sort of
  • thing we mean by 'ready to obey' and 'not indulged'); for12 just as a child should
  • conduct himself in accordance with what the slave in charge of him tells him
  • to do, so too the appetitive in us should conduct itself in accordance with
  • Link 15what reason prescribes. Hence in the moderate person the appetitive should
  • Editor’s Note Link 16be in harmony with reason; for the fine is goal for both, and the moderate
  • person has appetite for the things one should, in the way one should, and
  • when—which is what the rational prescription also lays down. Let this, then,
  • be our account of moderation.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
III 1–5, 1109b30–1115a5
Voluntary action and its conditions (1, 1109b30–1111b3); decision (2, 1111b4–1112a17); deliberation and decision (3, 1112a18–1113a14); wish (4, 1113a15–b2); whether we become ethically good or bad depends on us (5, 1113b3–1114b25); summary, and transition to next subject (1114b26–1115a5).
Editor’s Note
III 1, 1109b30–1111b3
Preamble on the voluntary and the counter-voluntary (1109b30–1110a1); force (1110a1–3); duress ('constraint') and hard choices (1110a4–b9); we are not 'forced' by pleasant things or fine things (1110b9–17); ignorance, with and without regret (1110b18–24); acting because of ignorance versus acting in ignorance (1110b24–1111a2); different cases of acting because of ignorance (1111a3–21); summary on voluntary and counter-voluntary action (1111a22–4); actions done from appetite and temper are no less voluntary than actions based on reason (1111a24–b3).
Editor’s Note
1109b33 sympathy [sungnōmē] i.e. readiness to see the case from the agent's point of view. Appeals to this attitude can be of two types, which Ar. does not distinguish: (a) when the agent defends an apparently wrong-headed or disgraceful action by trying to show that under the circumstances it was right, reasonable, acceptable, etc.; and (b) when he or she admits wrongdoing but asks for leniency because of mitigating circumstances, such as provocation, duress, etc.
Editor’s Note
1110a11 mixed i.e. there is ground for calling them 'counter-voluntary' and ground for calling them 'voluntary'.
Editor’s Note
1110a16 the instrumental [organika] parts i.e. the parts of the body that we move at will in carrying out actions. Ar. conceives of voluntary movement as the natural mode of functioning for animals, and parts like legs and wings as natural instruments for the purpose.
Editor’s Note
1110a17–18 if the origin [archē] of something is in himself, it depends on himself whether he does that thing or not (a) Some commentators object that natural physical processes which we cannot control have their origin in the organism. But by 'in him' Ar. may mean 'in him as a rational or potentially rational individual'. Cf. 3, 1112a32–3, where man and nature (which includes human biological nature) are contrasted as distinct types of cause. (b) Ar. does not allow here for the fact that I may be in charge of what I do under one description, not under another. It may be that, under threat, I cannot control whether I give the tyrant the information he wants, even though it is by my own controlled movements that I do things (arriving at a meeting, speaking) that constitute passing the information. Here, Ar. assumes that because these movements are voluntary, my giving the tyrant the information is voluntary too; but see EE ii. 8, 1225a12–13, for a more nuanced view.
Editor’s Note
1110a26 But perhaps in some cases there is no such thing as 'being constrained' i.e. one cannot get off the hook by pleading that one was under extraordinary pressure. Ar. does not distinguish citing extraordinary pressure as (1) justification where the subject admits responsibility, from citing it as (2) a mitigating circumstance where the subject admits responsibility for wrongdoing. And here he does not recognize extraordinary pressure as (3) grounds for judging what happened counter-voluntary. Apparently Alcmaeon murdered his mother in order to avoid his father's curse. Ar. will not accept that the paternal threat made matricide (1) right, or (2) excusable, or (3) counter-voluntary. Against (3): Alcmaeon himself was the source of his action; against (2): since killing the mother and accepting the father's curse are each, taken by itself, humanly unbearable (so that considering either of them against a background of normal alternatives, one is certain that one would not do it unless literally forced or because of ignorance), it does not make sense to do one of them voluntarily and then claim that one was constrained to do it because the other was unbearable.
Editor’s Note
1110b13–14 It is ludicrous … to put the responsibility on external objects, rather than on oneself for falling an easy victim to such things See 5, 1113b3–1114b25, where he will argue that character is a voluntary acquisition.
Editor’s Note
1110b19 regret [metameleia] Not 'remorse' or 'repentance', since the agent is innocent of wrongdoing. However, his or her regret is not a bystander's sadness that the accident happened; it is regret at having caused it. ('Metameleia' does sometimes mean remorse or repentance; it never means a bystander's sadness.)
Editor’s Note
1110b21–2 but he has not acted counter-voluntarily [akōn] either, in so far as he is not distressed at it Here akōn applies retrospectively, in view of the subject's regret. Logically, Ar. ought in the same sense to say that an agent who acts through ignorance but is later pleased at what he has effected is 'voluntary' (hekōn) in relation to it; but this would have been too paradoxical.
Editor’s Note
1110b23–4 let him be 'non-voluntary'; for since he is different, it is better that he should have a name to himself This appears to contradict line 18, where everything done because of ignorance is said to be not voluntary. But what 18 denies is the relation to the action (namely, responsibility for it) that would have obtained (absent force) at the time of acting had the person not acted through ignorance; whereas lines 23–4 mark the retrospective contrast between those who regret and those who do not, both having acted because of ignorance.
Editor’s Note
1110b24–5 Acting because of ignorance also appears to be distinct from acting in ignorance These are labels for acting from inadequate information versus acting from a perspective distorted by intoxication, rage, or badness of character. The fact that Ar. treats these three together may, but need not, suggest that he sees bad people as acting in a daze or a haze. In any case, even the drunken and the angry may have a clear grasp of the aspects of the situation that matter to them; but the wrong aspects matter or they matter in the wrong way.
Editor’s Note
1110b27 but because of one of the things just mentioned i.e. drunkenness or anger. The argument is: to say that someone acted because of ignorance sounds like an excuse; but if the ignorance is due to drunkenness or rage, then it is more accurate to go to the prior cause and say they acted because of it — which no longer sounds like an excuse.
Editor’s Note
1110b31–2 ignorance in decision-making [prohairesis] … ignorance at the level of the universal Both ways of characterizing the state of one who has wrong values, wrong priorities. On the meaning of 'decision' in Ar., see Introduction, pp. 42–3. Since this sort of ignorance does not normally give rise to distress about the action, one might have expected Ar. to deny that it makes an action non-voluntary, not counter-voluntary. But he must be thinking of Plato, who held that 'no one acts unjustly except counter-voluntarily' (akōn) (Laws ix, 860d).
Editor’s Note
1111a6–7 no one, unless he were mad It is remarkable that Ar. mentions insanity but does not stop to discuss its implications for the ascription of voluntary agency (cf. 3, 1112a20). (However, at v. 8, 1136a6–9 he says that actions done from pathological feelings are counter-voluntary. At vii. 5, 1148b15–1149a20 he considers pathological pleasures; and at vii. 6, 1149b34 he says summarily that the insane lack reasoning and decision.)
Editor’s Note
1111a10 as Aeschylus said about the Mysteries i.e. the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Editor’s Note
1111a13 pumice stone Porous and lightweight.
Editor’s Note
1111a25 temper or appetite i.e. non-rational impulses.
Editor’s Note
1111a26 none of the other animals will act [praxei] voluntarily, nor will children It is crucial that voluntary action is open to children, who do not count as rational. Children develop good character through being encouraged to do and refrain from certain things, and encouragement implies that they are aware of what they do so far as they see it as what is encouraged, and that the movements are their own response, not forced. In implying that they act only from non-rational impulse, Ar. does not mean that children cannot reason at all, only that they cannot yet conduct their lives by reason.
Editor’s Note
III 2, 1111b4–1112a17
Decision (prohairesis)—what it is not (1111b4–1112a13); decision is reached through deliberation (1112a13–17). The discussion of decision in this and the next chapter fills out Ar.'s formula for character-traits as 'dispositions issuing in decisions' (ii. 6, 1106b36; 4, 1105a31–3; 5, 1106a3–4).
Editor’s Note
1111b6 and to indicate the differences between people's characters more than actions do This is because an Aristotelian decision is not a detached conclusion of deliberation, but encapsulates all the reasons and priorities informing the conclusion.
Editor’s Note
1111b7–8 Decision, then, is clearly something voluntary, but is not the same thing as the voluntary, for the voluntary is a wider type (a) By 'decision is voluntary' he means 'what is decided-for is voluntary'. (b) Although deciding agents are a subdivision of voluntary agents, Ar.'s discussions of the voluntary and of decision take opposite perspectives. As voluntary, actions were considered as deeds done (iii. 1); as subjects of decision they will be considered prospectively.
Editor’s Note
1111b10–11 Those who say that it is appetite, temper, or wish, or a sort of judgement … (a) Appetite (epithumia), temper (thumos), and wish (boulēsis) are the three types of desire (orexis). An appetite is an impulse towards the pleasant or away from the painful. Temper, which often takes the form of anger (orgē) in response to aggression or insult, is a pre-rational concern for one's worth and for its being recognized and respected. (This includes concern for other things and other people in so far as one's sense of one's own worth is bound up with them.) Both these types of desire tend to be aroused by present objects and to issue in immediate action. Wish has for its object something judged good, and not immediately attainable (so that reason is necessary to form the initial judgement and to reason out means to the end) or not attainable at all. (b) The thinkers referred to here would not have used 'prohairesis', which becomes a philosophically significant term only with Ar. He means that they proposed one of the four items as immediate source of rational action.
Editor’s Note
1111b13–14 the person without self-control acts from appetite, but not from decision On lack of self-control, see vii. 1–10 (1145a15–1152a36).
Editor’s Note
1111b16 appetite goes contrary to decision, whereas appetite does not go contrary to appetite Having an appetite for X is compatible with deciding for not-X, but not with having an appetite for not-X (cf. Metaph. iv. 3, 1005b29–30, on the contrariety of believing p and believing not-p).
Editor’s Note
1111b16–17 appetite for what is pleasant and what brings pain i.e. these are its foci.
Editor’s Note
1111b19–20 And yet neither, for that matter, is it wish, although it appears quite closely related to it When the wish is attainable, effective deliberation converts it into a decision.
Editor’s Note
1111b22–3 immortality i.e. immunity from biological death.
Critical Apparatus
8 Reading ἐστὶ τῶν ἀδυνάτων‎ (1111b22).
Editor’s Note
1111b24 that a particular actor or athlete should win Dramas were staged in competition with each other at festivals.
Editor’s Note
1111b26–7 wish is more for the end [telos] whereas decision is about what forwards the end [ta pros to telos] The object of wish only becomes an end when one sets oneself to attain it, e.g. by deliberating. Thus when it is an end there is already consideration of means. But the original wish for that which then becomes an end is innocent of any thought of means, which are therefore the concern of something different, namely decision. But since nothing can be a means in the abstract, decision must always be about means-for-a-given-end.
Editor’s Note
1112a1 neither should it be identified with a certain kind of judgement [doxa] i.e. judgements or opinions about good or bad things as such.
Editor’s Note
1112a5–7 decision is praised more by reference to its being for what it should be, or to its being correctly made, whereas judgement is praised by reference to how true it is Elsewhere, however, he speaks of a good decision as 'truth' vi. 2, 1139a17–b5; cf. 5, 1140b5 and 20–1).
Editor’s Note
1112a15 So is it, at any rate, what has been reached by prior deliberation? Not a real question but the expression of Ar.'s view.
Editor’s Note
1112a16–17 even the name [prohairesis] indicates that what we decide to do is chosen [haireton] before [pro] other things This may mean 'in preference to alternative actions', or 'chosen in advance of action', or 'chosen (not as the end, but) as preceding realization of the end'. In any case deliberation is presupposed.
Editor’s Note
III 3, 1112a18–1113a14
The subject matter of deliberation (1112a18–b15); the process of deliberation (1112b15–1113a2); its termination in decision (1113a2–9); summary definition of decision (1113a9–14).
Editor’s Note
1112a26 sometimes one way, sometimes another i.e. sometimes it happens, sometimes not, in accordance with no rule.
Editor’s Note
1112b2 as e.g. with writing (for we are not in two minds about how to write) Apparently this refers to correct spelling, not formation of letters. A poor speller may of course be in two minds about what the correct spelling is of a certain word; but Ar.'s point is that we do not think that different spellings might each be good, and wonder which is right for the present occasion.
Editor’s Note
1112b13 a doctor does not deliberate about whether he'll make his patients healthy … (a) According to one interpretation, the point is that one cannot deliberate on whether to succeed in curing etc., since success does not depend entirely on the agent. But this does not give a contrast between end and steps towards it, since it is equally true that one cannot deliberate on whether to succeed in actually taking the steps, but only on whether one should try taking them. Alternatively and preferably, the point is that every process of deliberation presupposes, hence cannot itself establish, an end which sets the problem of means. (b) The examples suggest that just as the doctor as such necessarily aims to cure (though he may have to give up on curing a particular patient), so there is some one kind of end at which the human being as such necessarily aims. Presumably this is happiness. We should bear in mind that happiness, on Ar.'s own account of it, is not just an objective aimed at. For in so far as it consists in the activity of human excellence, including wisdom (phronēsis), the quality by which we deliberate well (vi. 5 and 9), the good person, even while deliberating, already instantiates happiness. At the same time, such an agent deliberates with the unattained purpose of discovering and then doing what is right for someone in his situation; so in so far as right action is central to excellent activity, he necessarily aims for the latter, and therefore for happiness (even if he does not know its Aristotelian definition). However, elsewhere Ar. seems to recognize that human deliberation generally focuses on some end more specific and contingent than happiness, one of many that we aim for at different times. (EE ii. 10, 1227a14–18, a passage reminiscent of NE iii. 3, 1113a6, says 'e.g. wealth, pleasure or anything else of the sort that happens to be our object'. See also the plural 'ends' at 1112b34.) The agent who deliberates so as to do what is right in this situation must also have some more specific end in view, or the starting point of his deliberation will be without content.
Editor’s Note
1112b19 the first cause A loaded phrase, signalling that, despite the inexactness of its subject matter, practical thinking is as much an exercise of reason as scientific thinking. The function of reason is to track down first causes (e.g. the basic constituents of a geometrical figure, as in the comparison which follows). It is not clear whether the reference here is to the action finally decided upon, or the final decision itself. Either can be considered the first cause (starting point) of the external process of realizing the end, and it would be quite Aristotelian not to make the distinction.
Editor’s Note
1112b30 similarly in the other cases too Presumably the reference is to the practical expertises used as illustrations at 1112b14. In so far as they each take account of considerations relevant to just one specific objective (this is true even of political expertise, mentioned at 14), their conclusions are not decisions strictly speaking. See Introduction, pp. 42–3.
Editor’s Note
1112b31 as has been said At 1112a33.
Editor’s Note
1112b33 actions are for the sake of other things 'Actions' here means what, through deliberation, you find out you should do, as distinct from the end which your deliberation has presupposed. Thus the end or its coming about appears here as other than the action. However, Ar. often speaks as if the entire project of attaining-end-Y-by-means-X is the action.
Editor’s Note
1112b34 So there will not be deliberation about particulars either i.e. the particular facts, which, like the end, are given. By comparison, even the most detailed plan of action is a universal in the sense of indeterminate, i.e. capable of alternative physical realizations until carried out. In NE vi. 7 Ar. links deliberation to particulars (1141b8–16), but there the contrast is with scientific reasoning about universal truths. The properly baked bread example suggests deliberation ending in a decision to eat something healthful; cf. the examples at vii. 3, 1147a25–33.
Editor’s Note
1113a2–3 What we deliberate about and what we decide on are the same Just as it is the same diagram unanalysed and analysed: 1112b20–1.
Editor’s Note
1113a8–9 the kings would announce to the people what they had decided i.e. the kings decided on their own. This is to establish that the part of us that decides is the part that rules, i.e. reason. This blocks any suggestion that practical reason is responsible only for framing universal ideals, and that day-to-day decisions spring from a humbler part of the soul.
Editor’s Note
1113a10–11 decision too will be deliberational desire [bouleutikē orexis] Not clear whether he means that it is wish (one of the three familiar kinds of desire; (2, 1111b11) that has been subjected to deliberation, or a new kind of desire that is formed through deliberation.
Editor’s Note
III 4, 1113a15–b2
Is wish for (a) the good or (b) the apparent good? (On the former position, cf. Plato, Gorgias 468d–e.) In the argument that ensues Ar. assumes (1) that if X is wished for, then X is an object of wish (boulēton), and (2) that being an object of wish entails being an object to be wished for. The Greek '-ēton' ending sanctions such a combination of, or ambiguity between, 'is φ‎-ed' and 'is to be φ‎-ed'. (a) Those who say that the good is the object of wish (which follows from saying that wish is for the good) face the problem that someone who chooses badly wishes for what is not an object of wish. (b) Those who say that the apparent good is the object of wish (which follows from saying that wish is for the apparent good) face the problem that there is no 'natural' object of wish, i.e. there is nothing such that to wish for something other than it is to wish wrongly. A modern philosopher would probably reply to (a) by pointing out that from the first-person perspective, wish is for the good, but that if we are describing someone else we may well say 'He or she wishes for what (only) appears good to him or her, but it isn't really good'. (Note that in such a case the modern philosopher would have to abandon one or other of Ar.'s two assumptions.) And the modern philosopher would probably reply to (b) by saying: 'To say that each person wishes for what appears good to him or her is not to imply that there is no real good. What appears good to some, is good, i.e. is the "natural" object of wish. Thus in this case, what is wished for is both what appears good, and what is good.' The modern replies show that each side of the original question has some truth in it. Predictably, Ar.'s treatment shows this too. But his treatment is different from the modern one. He says: 'The good is the object of wish (hence to be wished for) without qualification or tout court; what appears to So-and-So to be good is the object of wish (hence to be wished for) in relation to So-and-So' (1113a23–4). And it is characteristic of Ar. that instead of going on to explain the difference between the two parts of this claim in terms of the difference between first- and third-personal points of view, he goes on to explain it in terms of the difference between a subject in good, and another in bad, ethical condition. The good person's object of wish is the good, and the good is, without qualification, an object of wish; whereas the bad one's object of wish is the apparent good, and this is an object of wish in a qualified way, i.e. in relation to himself. Now, given that the bad person wishes for his object of wish, assumptions (1) and (2) above entail that Ar. cannot logically interpret 'it is an object of wish in relation to S' as meaning 'it appears to S to be an object of wish' (where this is consistent with: 'but really it isn't'). And it seems that Ar. does not interpret what we express as 'in relation to' (conveyed in Greek by the dative case) in this way. He draws a parallel with physically healthy and sick subjects in a way that suggests that what the bad person wishes for is indeed to be wished for, i.e. is desirable, for a being like him. Looked at in this way, what is wrong with him is not that things that are not desirable at all seem to him desirable; it is that the things that are desirable for him—things by which someone like him can thrive—are desirable only for the rotten thriving of someone in a rotten condition. In so far as his error is cognitive, it is the mistake of holding that these things are to be wished for tout court as distinct from wished for only by someone like him. This mistake arises out of the universal and natural tendency to assume that what oneself wishes for is to be wished for tout court. But only the good person is justified in giving in to this tendency. Cf. vii. 12, 1152b26–33, 1153a2–7; and Introduction, pp. 72–3 (on pleasure).
Critical Apparatus
9 Retaining τὸ‎ (1113a17).
Editor’s Note
1113a27 the things that are truly healthful These are not (as we might think) things that both appear to be healthful and are so, versus things that appear to be so but are not, but rather: things that really are healthful without qualification, versus things that to diseased people seem healthful without qualification but really are healthful only for them.
Editor’s Note
III 5, 1113b3–1114b25
The main aim is to show that persons of poor character are not just passive recipients of their dispositions. Ethical dispositions are 'voluntary' because they 'depend on us', which means, minimally, that we do not just acquire or find ourselves with one regardless of what we voluntarily do. Ar. begins by arguing (1) that good actions depend on us (1113b3–6). Then (2) if the good ones depend on us, so must the bad (1113b6–14); therefore (3) it depends on us whether we are good or bad. Further, (4) if we deny badness to be voluntary we imply the absurdity that 'man is not the source and begetter of his actions' (1113b16–21). (5) That this is absurd is shown by the practices of punishment and reward (1113b21–30). (6) Similarly, we are punished not only for certain actions, but also for certain kinds of ignorance that result in bad actions; this shows that it depended on us not to be ignorant. So also for carelessness (1113b30–1114a3). But (7) what if one is the kind of person to be careless? Well, that is because one voluntarily grew to be of this nature even if it is now hopelessly ingrained. Similarly for unjust and self-indulgent persons: they originally had it in their power not to become like that (1114a3–21). (8) We are blamed for physical (as well as ethical) defects, but only when it was in our hands to prevent them; this shows that it was in our power to avoid ethical defects, since we are blamed for them (1114a21–31). (9) Someone may say: (A) everyone aims at what appears to him (phainomenon) good (cf. ch. 4), but we cannot control our phantasia, i.e. the susceptibility by which things appear to us one way or another, for this is a function of the sort of person one is; so (B) either each of us is somehow responsible (pōs aitios) for our own ethical condition (the sort of person one is), and therefore somehow responsible (indirectly) for how the good appears to us; or we are not somehow responsible for our ethical condition, because it is part of our genetic endowment (1114a31–b12). (10) Ar. accepts the above disjunction, and argues against the second disjunct that if it is true, excellence is no more voluntary than vice, since they are on a par (1114b12–b16). By now it is taken for granted that excellence is voluntary. So (11) something from the human agent himself goes into forming his ethical disposition. This can be so in either of two ways: (i) the end is not a biological given, or (ii) even if it is, the actions constituting the means are not biologically given but are taken voluntarily. So the resulting dispositions are voluntary, bad ones as well as good (1114b16–21).
The passage from (1) and (2) to (3) needs an extra assumption. This may be provided at 1113b13–14, where Ar. actually equates doing fine or shameful actions with being a good or bad person. He may allow himself this assimilation of activity to disposition, even though earlier in the NE he took pains to distinguish them, because he is now about to argue against the well-known philosophical view that 'no one is bad voluntarily' (1113b14–15), and the philosophers (Socrates, Plato) did not properly distinguish disposition and activity when putting it forward. The same assimilation would also account for the curious assertion of (4). Possibly, however, Ar. is already relying on the principle, not stated clearly until 1114a4–10, that ethical dispositions naturally and foreseeably result from voluntary actions. Given that principle, and the absurdity of denying that we are voluntary agents of good and bad actions, it follows that the human voluntary agent is (as such) the source of his ethical dispositions. For if they did not arise from him, it could only be because the actions did not. It is no objection to say that once a bad disposition is fixed, the person cannot act so as to undo it: it is still voluntary, because of its origin.
The hypothetical interlocutor at (9) states that if each individual is not somehow responsible for his own ethical condition, then 'no one is responsible for its being the case that he himself does bad things' (1114b3–4). The interlocutor seems to base this on the thought that if we are not somehow responsible for our own ethical condition, it is because that condition is entirely genetically determined, together with the thought that acting from genetically determined badness would be acting from a kind of ignorance (1114b4). It is unclear whether Ar. is simply describing someone's theory, or whether he endorses this part of the interlocutor's argument. Perhaps we should assume that he does not reject it, since he lets it go by without objection. Now the kind of ignorance the interlocutor has just invoked is the kind—'ignorance on the level of the universal'—that Ar. earlier said does not exculpate or render an action counter-voluntary (1, 1110b30–4). And surely according to the earlier twofold criterion for voluntary action (not done because of force, not done because of factual ignorance), actions can be voluntary whether the corresponding disposition is acquired or genetically determined. However, even if Ar. endorses this part of what the interlocutor says, he would not be about to revise the twofold criterion so as to allow that ignorance on the level of the universal counts against the voluntary status of actions expressing such ignorance. (If he were to do this, the revised criterion would, like the original one, apply regardless of whether the 'ignorance' in question is acquired or genetically determined, whereas the present argument is directed specifically against the second possibility.) Rather, Ar. would be focusing here on a condition that gives meaning to the entire practice of establishing whether an action is voluntary or not. This condition is the link between the voluntary, and praise and censure (1, 1109b31). These attitudes make sense only on the assumption that they will encourage one kind of conduct and discourage another. If we were genetically endowed not with a mere general propensity to be guided by praise and censure from others (cf. ii. 1, 1103a23–6), but with specific ethical dispositions, then we should act in accordance with them regardless of praise and censure (cf. 1113b26–30), which would therefore be rendered meaningless. Since Ar. does not question the value, and effectiveness in principle, of these existing practices, he rejects the genetic endowment theory, i.e. the theory that specific ethical dispositions are entirely a matter of genetic endowment. Since no other alternative is considered, this rejection entails that the dispositions are voluntarily acquired, i.e. that voluntary agency makes some contribution to their development.
Editor’s Note
1113b12 and this [sc. doing fine things and shameful things], it is agreed, is what it is to be, respectively, a good person and a bad one Here he speaks as if one's being a good person or a bad one consists in the very doing of (presumably, a multitude of ) the corresponding actions.
Editor’s Note
1113b14–15 no one is vicious voluntarily The saying is attributed to Epicharmus, an early 5th-century comic writer. We see from Protagoras 345d–e that the idea was a commonplace. For Plato's own endorsement see Laws v. 731c, 734b; and especially ix. 860d–e, where Plato shifts between speaking of actions and of dispositions.
Critical Apparatus
10 Reading ἐφ᾽ ἡμῖν ἔσται τὸ‎ … (1113b13–14).
Editor’s Note
1113b17 what has just been said (a) This refers either to 'It depends on us whether we are good or bad' just above, or to 'Man is a source of actions' at 3, 1112b31–2. (b) The absurdity of 'Man is not an origin' (18–19) is perhaps not so much that, if man is not the origin of his actions, then some other sort of being is (i.e. of the actions we ordinarily ascribe to human beings), as that if man is not an origin of actions, then man as such is not an origin of any changes in the world. For it is only by producing actions that man as such produces changes. Ar. nowhere draws on the distinction between actions and movements (or changes). However (c), what he rejects at 19–20, sc. that we can 'trace actions back to origins beyond their origins in us', does not quite fit what goes before, for now (unless the writing is careless) he momentarily envisages origins in us and different origins that can be traced back past us. This kind of scenario is familiar from Homer, where human agents both act voluntarily and are being manipulated by the gods.
Editor’s Note
1113b31–2 as when penalties are doubled Pittacus of Mytilene, one of the Seven Sages, made a law to this effect.
Editor’s Note
1114a11 it runs counter to reason to suppose that the person engaged in unjust action does not wish to be unjust . . He may not think of himself as 'unjust' (cf. ii. 8, 1108b23–6), and may wish the term not to be true of him, but he is willingly doing what he is doing, and therefore willingly becoming the sort of person who does that.
Editor’s Note
1114a15 he is ill voluntarily [hekōn] To the ordinary ear this would have sounded as the paradox 'he is gladly ill'.
Editor’s Note
1114a22–3 with some people those of the body are so too, and these people too we blame i.e. as well as those with defects of the soul. The analogy between moral and physical defects was commonplace, and Plato used it to argue that vice is not voluntary. However, Protagoras in Plato's dialogue makes the point Ar. makes here (Protagoras 323d–e).
Editor’s Note
1114b11–12 to have been born well and beautifully endowed in this respect will be to be naturally well endowed in the full and true sense A person is usually said to be naturally well endowed (euphuēs) because of his physique, but if the word were to apply in light of his conduct, that would be the true sense (since soul is prior to body). Ar. may be taking the existing usage as a mild piece of evidence that native good qualities do not include ethical dispositions.
Editor’s Note
1114b18 whether the end is natural [phusikon] i.e. having it is a function of our biological nature alone.
Editor’s Note
1114b22 as people say The reference is perhaps to 1113b14–15, using his own definition of blessedness (happiness), in which excellence is central.
Editor’s Note
1114b23 for we ourselves are partly responsible, in a way, for our dispositions Ar. now shows that the conclusion he has been pursuing throughout the chapter is that we as voluntary agents play some part in the formation of our characters. The other cause, with which we share influence, is nature. Elsewhere Ar. is explicit that people are naturally predisposed to various ethical traits (vi. 13, 1144b3–9).
Editor’s Note
III 5, 1115a4–5
Transition to the discussion of the specific character-excellences, beginning with courage.
Editor’s Note
1115a4 how many they are See Introduction, pp. 22–3.
Editor’s Note
III 6–9, 1115a6–1117b22, on courage
Courage the intermediate in the continua of fear and boldness (6 and 7, 1115a6–1116a15); genuinely courageous action distinguished from kinds that resemble it (8, 1116a16–1117a28); pain and pleasure in courageous action (9, 1117a29–b22).
Editor’s Note
III 6–7, 1115a6–1116a15
Not everything we fear is an occasion for courage and not all fearlessness is courageous (1115a7–24); courage has to do with danger of death—not in all cases, but in the finest, e.g. in war (1115a25–1115b6); courage does not imply superhuman fearlessness (1115b7–11); with respect to fear and boldness, the courageous person 'gets it right' in all the many ways, and acts for the sake of the fine (1115b11–24); excessive fearlessness (1115b24–8); excessive boldness, i.e. rashness (1115b28–33); excessive fear, i.e. cowardice (1115b34–1116a2); further contrasts between the dispositions (1116a2–12); dying in order to escape pain is not courageous (1116a12–15).
Editor’s Note
1115a9 people define fear itself as expectation of what is bad See Plato, Laches 198b, Protagoras 358d.
Editor’s Note
1115a17–18 or in general the sorts of things not due to badness, or to one's own agency Not that one should not be moved to ward off poverty and illness, but a good person need not hold them in dread. Strictly, given the present point, a good character need not dread undeserved loss of reputation (see 13) either.
Editor’s Note
1115a22–3 Nor, then, is a person cowardly if he fears assault on his children and wife, or fears grudging ill will If this is consistent with 1115a17–18, and the assault and ill will target him from outside, these are fears he should not have. The point then is that they do not make him a coward (even though he is less than admirable). But in the parallel passage of the EE the worry about grudging ill will is lest one become a source of it towards others (iii. 1, 1229a36). If this is the meaning here, it is conceivable that the first fear is lest he himself abuse wife or children.
Editor’s Note
1115a23–4 nor is he courageous if he is bold when facing a whipping Perhaps because a whipping is not something of supreme importance (cf. next line), perhaps because he is assumed to deserve it, in which case the accolade does not fit.
Editor’s Note
1115a26 the most fearsome thing is death; for it is an end, and there seems to be nothing any longer for the dead person that is either good or bad Just the reason why, if it is true, death is not to be feared at all, according to Socrates and Epicurus. Cf. Ar.'s 'being alive is something that is good and pleasant in itself, since it is determinate, and the determinate is of the nature of the good' (ix. 9, 1170a19–21). 'Nothing any longer, either good or bad' is the ultimate indeterminacy.
Editor’s Note
1115b3–4 optimistic because of their experience This is not a kind of courage at all; cf. 8, 1116b3–13 and 1117a9–14.
Editor’s Note
1115b20–4 in every case, an activity's end is the one that accords with the corresponding disposition. This, then, holds for the courageous person too. Now, courage is something fine [kalon]. So the end [of courage], too, is such [i.e. it is the fine], since each thing is distinguished by its end. So it is for the sake of achieving the fine that the courageous person stands firm and acts in those ways that accord with courage The aim of this passage is clear, although the detail is obscure and the text at line 21 uncertain. Ar. is emphasizing that an action is correctly said to be done from courage only if it is, and is done as, an instance of the fine, rather than, say, because it is useful, or because one will be punished otherwise. This will be the main criterion that distinguishes actions of real courage from ones belonging to the five false types (see below). In four of these the fine is absent, and in one (the first) it is present imperfectly.
Critical Apparatus
11 Reading τῷ ἀνδρείῳ δή. ἡ δ᾽ἀνδρεία καλόν‎ (1115b21).
Editor’s Note
1115b25 earlier At ii. 7, 1107b1–2.
Editor’s Note
III 8, 1116a15–1117a28
The five false forms of courage: (1) the 'civic' kind, where the motive is fear of dishonour (1116a17–29) or (2) fear of punishment (1116a29–b3); (3) where the crucial factor is experience (1116b3–23); (4) where it is temper or spirit (1116b23–1117a9); (5) where it is optimism (1117a9–27).
Editor’s Note
1116a23 Iliad xxii. 100.
Editor’s Note
1116a25–6 Iliad viii. 148–9. Diomedes was the son of Tydeus.
Editor’s Note
1116a28 for it comes about through shame i.e. from fear of what others will think, not the moral person's autonomous sense of what would be shameful. Shame is not an excellence, but is a major factor in the formation of good character (ii. 7, 1108a31–2; iv. 9, 1128b15–21).
Editor’s Note
1116a34–5 Iliad ii. 391. The speaker is not Hector but Agamemnon.
Editor’s Note
1116b4 Socrates That courage is expert knowledge (epistēmē) is Socrates' position at Laches 194 d ff. and Protagoras 360b–361b.
Editor’s Note
1116b6 soldiers i.e. paid professionals as distinct from citizens taking up arms.
Editor’s Note
1116b19 at the temple of Hermes In Boeotia. The battle was fought in 354–353 bce.
Editor’s Note
1116b27–8 Homer Iliad xi. 11, xiv. 151, xvi. 529, v. 470, xv. 232–3; Odyssey xxiv. 318. ('His blood boiled' does not occur in our text of Homer.)
Editor’s Note
1117a4 the most natural form i.e. it owes less to culture or special experience (or lack of it) than the other types. Cf. vi. 13, 1144b1–9 on natural excellences.
Editor’s Note
1117a5 the end for the sake of which i.e. the fine; cf. 7, 1115b20–2.
Editor’s Note
1117a23 those who act in ignorance [agnoountes] This is not the technical use of 'in ignorance' of iii. 1, 1110b24 ff., reserved for those who act from drunkenness etc., or a bad disposition. The ignorant ones here are said to be 'inferior' to the optimistic because their factual error is the only reason they place themselves in danger at all.
Editor’s Note
1117a26–7 what happened to the Argives … The Spartans, by contrast with the Sicyonians, were famous for their toughness in battle. The incident occurred at Corinth, 392 bce.
Editor’s Note
III 9, 1117a29–b22
This portion, which emphasizes the painfulness, both physical and mental, of courageous action, is surely placed last to point up the contrast with moderation, to be discussed next. The ideally moderate person feels nothing when he or she refrains from taking too much.
Editor’s Note
1117a33 as has been said The reference may be to 7, 1116a1–2.
Editor’s Note
1117b15–16 So not all the excellences give rise to pleasant activity, except to the extent that pleasant activity touches on the end itself This is an important qualification on the doctrine somewhat glibly laid down at i. 8, 1099a7–21 and then, with the present difficulty in mind, reformulated with regard to courage at ii. 3, 1104b8 ('or anyway without distress'). The reformulation was inadequate, since the courageous man in action does suffer distress. The present passage distinguishes aspects of the activity, implying that it pleases (even the agent) just in so far as it achieves the fine, and blocking the implication that the courageous take pleasure in getting wounded and the like.
Editor’s Note
III 10–12, 1117b23–1119b18, on moderation
Moderation to do with certain pleasures of touching (10, 1117b23–1118b8); common versus idiosyncratic appetites and pleasures, etc. (11, 1118b8–1119a20); self-indulgence is more voluntary than courage, etc. (12, 1119a21–b18).
Editor’s Note
III 10, 1117b23–1118b8
The sphere of moderation is among bodily versus mental pleasures (1117b27–1118a1); but not all pleasures involving sense-organs are relevant, but really only certain pleasures of touching (1118a2–b1), involving certain parts of the body (1118b4–8); touch is the sense faculty common to all animals (1118b1–4).
Editor’s Note
1117b24 these seem to be the excellences of the non-rational parts sc. of the soul. Usually Ar. speaks, without distinction, of one non-rational part (relevant to ethics); e.g. i. 13, 1102b13 ff. If the point of the present remark is to assign courage and moderation to different non-rational parts, this reinforces Ar.'s pluralism about the character-excellences, as opposed to the reductionism that says that they are all species of moderation or wisdom (see Introduction, pp. 22–3). For reduction fails if one belongs to one part, another to another. The present language recalls the Republic's division into reason and two non-rational elements, temper or the spirited (thumoeides) part, and the appetitive (epithumētikon) part (cf. also 8, 1116b31 on temper (thumos) 'collaborating with' the courageous man). But the psychology of the Ethics is different. In the Republic appetite is only for the physical pleasures by which Ar. defines moderation, and temper is typified by, among other things, the love of honour. But for Ar., any liking for something can issue in an appetite for it; the love of honour would be one example (cf. 1117b29), and elsewhere he mentions appetitive desire for health and for learning (1, 1111a31).
Editor’s Note
1117b24–5 we have said ii. 7, 1107b4–6.
Editor’s Note
1117b26 it relates less, and not in the same way, to pains i.e. its primary concern is with certain pleasures; the relevant type of pain is the pain of lacking those pleasures, hence it is not an independent primary object (cf. 11, 1119a3–5).
Editor’s Note
1118a10 incidentally i.e. by association as explained at line 13.
Editor’s Note
1118a12 perfumes or tasty dishes [opsa] The ancient commentator Aspasius suggests a mental association between perfumes and courtesans. The word opsa implies appetizers designed to add interest to a staple such as bread. Xenophon, Memorabilia iii. 14, portrays the gourmandizer (opsophagos; see 1118a32) as one who makes a full meal of opsa without bread, thus giving a nutritional luxury the rank of a necessity.
Editor’s Note
1118a22–3 'a stag …' Homer, Iliad iii. 24.
Editor’s Note
1118a25 slavish cf. 11, 1118b21; i. 5, 1095b19–20; x. 6, 1177a6–8; and 1118b4 on pleasures appropriate to free men. On slaves as less than human qua slaves, see viii. 11, 1161b2–8 with comment.
Editor’s Note
1118a31–2 or so-called 'venery' The Greek euphemism is 'ta aphrodisia', 'Aphrodite's doings'. 'Venery' is from 'Venus', the Roman name for the goddess of sex.
Editor’s Note
III 11, 1118b8–1119a20
Appetites common to the human species versus ones that are peculiar and acquired (1118b8–15); excess in each kind (1118b15–27); the kind of pain that is relevant to moderation and self-indulgence (1118b27–1119a5); deficient interest in the relevant pleasures hardly ever occurs (1119a5–11); intermediacy of the moderate person (1119a11–20).
Editor’s Note
1118b10 nourishment … dry or liquid For Ar., dry and moist are two of the four fundamental chemical properties, hence are immediately relevant to the organism's ability to be nourished by food.
Editor’s Note
1118b11 Homer Iliad xxiv. 130.
Editor’s Note
III 12, 1119a21–b18
Self-indulgence is more voluntary than cowardice because of their respective relations to pleasure and pain (1119a21–5); and because we have many safe opportunities to learn moderation (1119a25–7); dispositions and particular actions compared in respect of being voluntary or not (1119a27–33); unchecked appetite is like an unchecked child (1119a33–b18).
Editor’s Note
1119a21 looks more like a voluntary thing [hekousion] According to the theory of iii. 5, excellences and defects of character are all equally voluntary, in the sense of being proper grounds for praise and reproach, because all are predictable results of voluntary behaviour. Here, however, Ar. reverts to the older meaning of 'hekousion', meaning what one welcomes, or does gladly (see Introduction, p. 38). In this sense self-indulgence is more voluntary (one might say, more wilful) than cowardice (and therefore more reprehensible) because it develops from acts that are pleasant whereas cowardice develops from ones that are unpleasant. Presumably the point is partly that the incipient glutton etc. is glad, the incipient coward distressed, to be in the situation where he goes wrong. But there are also the facts that the latter's distress is more disorientating than the former's pleasure, and that opportunities to practise moderation, by contrast with courage, are many and safe (1119a25–7).
Editor’s Note
1119a27–33 But the disposition of cowardice would seem to be voluntary in a way in which the particular acts of cowardice are not … for no one has an appetite to be self-indulgent Having just argued from the more and less voluntary character of the particular acts to the more and less voluntary character of the corresponding dispositions, Ar. now compares (a) each class of particulars with its corresponding disposition, and (b) the resulting 'voluntariness differences' with each other. Cowardice is more voluntary than cowardly acts because as a mere disposition it is free of the distress attendant on the acts; by contrast, self-indulgence is less voluntary than self-indulgent acts because, unlike them, it is not in itself pleasant and an object of appetite. This is parenthetical to the main thrust of the argument, which is that self-indulgence is worse than cowardice.
Editor’s Note
1119a33–4 The term 'indulgence' is one we also apply to the ways children go wrong The word translated 'self-indulgence' (akolasia) literally means the condition of not having been forcibly corrected (kolazesthai), childhood being the stage when this ought to happen.
Critical Apparatus
12 Reading ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸν παῖδα‎ (1119b13).
Editor’s Note
1119b16 the fine is goal for both Untrained, the appetitive element is fixed on the pleasant without discrimination; properly trained, it takes pleasure only in what reason allows and what is fine; cf. 11, 1119a12–13.
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