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Now this Justice is in fact perfect Virtue, yet not simply so but as exercised towards one’s neighbour: and for this reason Justice is thought oftentimes to be the best of the Virtues, and

  “neither Hesper nor the Morning-star
  So worthy of our admiration:”

and in a proverbial saying we express the same;

  “All virtue is in Justice comprehended.”

And it is in a special sense perfect Virtue because it is the practice of perfect Virtue. And perfect it is because he that has it is able to practise his virtue towards his neighbour and not merely on himself; I mean, there are many who can practise virtue in the regulation of their own personal conduct who are wholly unable to do it in transactions with

130a] their neighbour. And for this reason that saying of Bias is thought to be a good one,

  “Rule will show what a man is;”

for he who bears Rule is necessarily in contact with others, i.e. in a community. And for this same reason Justice alone of all the Virtues is thought to be a good to others, because it has immediate relation to some other person, inasmuch as the Just man does what is advantageous to another, either to his ruler or fellow-subject. Now he is the basest of men who practises vice not only in his own person but towards his friends also; but he the best who practises virtue not merely in his own person but towards his neighbour, for this is a matter of some difficulty.

However, Justice in this sense is not a part of Virtue but is co-extensive with Virtue; nor is the Injustice which answers to it a part of Vice but co-extensive with Vice. Now wherein Justice in this sense differs from Virtue appears from what has been said: it is the same really, but the point of view is not the same: in so far as it has respect to one’s neighbour it is Justice, in so far as it is such and such a moral state it is simply Virtue.


But the object of our inquiry is Justice, in the sense in which it is a part of Virtue (for there is such a thing, as we commonly say), and likewise with respect to particular Injustice. And of the existence of this last the following consideration is a proof: there are many vices by practising which a man acts unjustly, of course, but does not grasp at more than his share of good; if, for instance, by reason of cowardice he throws away his shield, or by reason of ill-temper he uses abusive language, or by reason of stinginess does not give a friend pecuniary assistance; but whenever he does a grasping action, it is often in the way of none of these vices, certainly not in all of them, still in the way of some vice or other (for we blame him), and in the way of Injustice. There is then some kind of Injustice distinct from that co-extensive with Vice and related to it as a part to a whole, and some “Unjust” related to that which is co-extensive with violation of the law as a part to a whole.

Again, suppose one man seduces a man’s wife with a view to gain and actually gets some advantage by it, and another does the same from impulse of lust, at an expense of money and damage; this latter will be thought to be rather destitute of self-mastery than a grasping man, and the former Unjust but not destitute of self-mastery: now why? plainly because of his gaining.

Again, all other acts of Injustice we refer to some particular depravity, as, if a man commits adultery, to abandonment to his passions; if he deserts his comrade, to cowardice; if he strikes another, to anger: but if he gains by the act to no other vice than to Injustice.

131b] Thus it is clear that there is a kind of Injustice different from and besides that which includes all Vice, having the same name because the definition is in the same genus; for both have their force in dealings with others, but the one acts upon honour, or wealth, or safety, or by whatever one name we can include all these things, and is actuated by pleasure attendant on gain, while the other acts upon all things which constitute the sphere of the good man’s action.

Now that there is more than one kind of Justice, and that there is one which is distinct from and besides that which is co-extensive with, Virtue, is plain: we must next ascertain what it is, and what are its characteristics.

Well, the Unjust has been divided into the unlawful and the unequal, and the Just accordingly into the lawful and the equal: the aforementioned Injustice is in the way of the unlawful. And as the unequal and the more are not the same, but differing as part to whole (because all more is unequal, but not all unequal more), so the Unjust and the Injustice we are now in search of are not the same with, but other than, those before mentioned, the one being the parts, the other the wholes; for this particular Injustice is a part of the Injustice co-extensive with Vice, and likewise this Justice of the Justice co-extensive with Virtue. So that what we have now to speak of is the particular Justice and Injustice, and likewise the particular Just and Unjust.

Here then let us dismiss any further consideration of the Justice ranking as co-extensive with Virtue (being the practice of Virtue in all its bearings towards others), and of the co-relative Injustice (being similarly the practice of Vice). It is clear too, that we must separate off the Just and the Unjust involved in these: because one may pretty well say that most lawful things are those which naturally result in action from Virtue in its fullest sense, because the law enjoins the living in accordance with each Virtue and forbids living in accordance with each Vice. And the producing causes of Virtue in all its bearings are those enactments which have been made respecting education for society.

By the way, as to individual education, in respect of which a man is simply good without reference to others, whether it is the province of [Greek: politikhae] or some other science we must determine at a future time: for it may be it is not the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen in every case.

Now of the Particular Justice, and the Just involved in it, one species is that which is concerned in the distributions of honour, or wealth, or such other things as are to be shared among the members of the social community (because in these one man as compared with another may have either an equal or an unequal share), and the other is that which is Corrective in the various transactions between man and man.

1131a] And of this latter there are two parts: because of transactions some are voluntary and some involuntary; voluntary, such as follow; selling, buying, use, bail, borrowing, deposit, hiring: and this class is called voluntary because the origination of these transactions is voluntary.

The involuntary again are either such as effect secrecy; as theft, adultery, poisoning, pimping, kidnapping of slaves, assassination, false witness; or accompanied with open violence; as insult, bonds, death, plundering, maiming, foul language, slanderous abuse.


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