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Yet some pause and amusement in life are generally judged to be indispensable.
The three mean states which have been described do occur in life, and the object-matter of all is interchange of words and deeds. They differ, in that one of them is concerned with truth, and the other two with the pleasurable: and of these two again, the one is conversant with the jocosities of life, the other with all other points of social intercourse.
To speak of Shame as a Virtue is incorrect, because it is much more like a feeling than a moral state. It is defined, we know, to be “a kind of fear of disgrace,” and its effects are similar to those of the fear of danger, for they who feel Shame grow red and they who fear death turn pale. So both are evidently in a way physical, which is thought to be a mark of a feeling rather than a moral state.
Moreover, it is a feeling not suitable to every age, but only to youth: we do think that the young should be Shamefaced, because since they live at the beck and call of passion they do much that is wrong and Shame acts on them as a check. In fact, we praise such young men as are Shamefaced, but no one would ever praise an old man for being given to it, inasmuch as we hold that he ought not to do things which cause Shame; for Shame, since it arises at low bad actions, does not at all belong to the good man, because such ought not to be done at all: nor does it make any difference to allege that some things are disgraceful really, others only because they are thought so; for neither should be done, so that a man ought not to be in the position of feeling Shame. In truth, to be such a man as to do anything disgraceful is the part of a faulty character. And for a man to be such that he would feel Shame if he should do anything disgraceful, and to think that this constitutes him a good man, is absurd: because Shame is felt at voluntary actions only, and a good man will never voluntarily do what is base.
True it is, that Shame may be good on a certain supposition, as “if a man should do such things, he would feel Shame:” but then the Virtues are good in themselves, and not merely in supposed cases. And, granted that impudence and the not being ashamed to do what is disgraceful is base, it does not the more follow that it is good for a man to do such things and feel Shame.
Nor is Self-Control properly a Virtue, but a kind of mixed state: however, all about this shall be set forth in a future Book.
129a] Now the points for our inquiry in respect of Justice and Injustice are, what kind of actions are their object-matter, and what kind of a mean state Justice is, and between what points the abstract principle of it, i.e. the Just, is a mean. And our inquiry shall be, if you please, conducted in the same method as we have observed in the foregoing parts of this treatise.
We see then that all men mean by the term Justice a moral state such that in consequence of it men have the capacity of doing what is just, and actually do it, and wish it: similarly also with respect to Injustice, a moral state such that in consequence of it men do unjustly and wish what is unjust: let us also be content then with these as a ground-work sketched out.
I mention the two, because the same does not hold with regard to States whether of mind or body as with regard to Sciences or Faculties: I mean that whereas it is thought that the same Faculty or Science embraces contraries, a State will not: from health, for instance, not the contrary acts are done but the healthy ones only; we say a man walks healthily when he walks as the healthy man would.
However, of the two contrary states the one may be frequently known from the other, and oftentimes the states from their subject-matter: if it be seen clearly what a good state of body is, then is it also seen what a bad state is, and from the things which belong to a good state of body the good state itself is seen, and vice versa. If, for instance, the good state is firmness of flesh it follows that the bad state is flabbiness of flesh; and whatever causes firmness of flesh is connected with the good state. It follows moreover in general, that if of two contrary terms the one is used in many senses so also will the other be; as, for instance, if “the Just,” then also “the Unjust.” Now Justice and Injustice do seem to be used respectively in many senses, but, because the line of demarcation between these is very fine and minute, it commonly escapes notice that they are thus used, and it is not plain and manifest as where the various significations of terms are widely different for in these last the visible difference is great, for instance, the word [Greek: klehis] is used equivocally to denote the bone which is under the neck of animals and the instrument with which people close doors.
Let it be ascertained then in how many senses the term “Unjust man” is used. Well, he who violates the law, and he who is a grasping man, and the unequal man, are all thought to be Unjust and so manifestly the Just man will be, the man who acts according to law, and the equal man “The Just” then will be the lawful and the equal, and “the Unjust” the unlawful and the unequal.
129b] Well, since the Unjust man is also a grasping man, he will be so, of course, with respect to good things, but not of every kind, only those which are the subject-matter of good and bad fortune and which are in themselves always good but not always to the individual. Yet men pray for and pursue these things: this they should not do but pray that things which are in the abstract good may be so also to them, and choose what is good for themselves.
But the Unjust man does not always choose actually the greater part, but even sometimes the less; as in the case of things which are simply evil: still, since the less evil is thought to be in a manner a good and the grasping is after good, therefore even in this case he is thought to be a grasping man, i.e. one who strives for more good than fairly falls to his share: of course he is also an unequal man, this being an inclusive and common term.
We said that the violator of Law is Unjust, and the keeper of the Law Just: further, it is plain that all Lawful things are in a manner Just, because by Lawful we understand what have been defined by the legislative power and each of these we say is Just. The Laws too give directions on all points, aiming either at the common good of all, or that of the best, or that of those in power (taking for the standard real goodness or adopting some other estimate); in one way we mean by Just, those things which are apt to produce and preserve happiness and its ingredients for the social community.
Further, the Law commands the doing the deeds not only of the brave man (as not leaving the ranks, nor flying, nor throwing away one’s arms), but those also of the perfectly self-mastering man, as abstinence from adultery and wantonness; and those of the meek man, as refraining from striking others or using abusive language: and in like manner in respect of the other virtues and vices commanding some things and forbidding others, rightly if it is a good law, in a way somewhat inferior if it is one extemporised.