Page 46 of 87

If Knowledge then is such as we have described it, the Knowledge produced by demonstrative reasoning must be drawn from premisses true and first, and incapable of syllogistic proof, and better known, and prior in order of time, and causes of the conclusion, for so the principles will be akin to the conclusion demonstrated.

(Syllogism, of course there may be without such premisses, but it will not be demonstration because it will not produce knowledge).

True, they must be, because it is impossible to know that which is not.

First, that is indemonstrable, because, if demonstrable, he cannot be said to know them who has no demonstration of them for knowing such things as are demonstrable is the same as having demonstration of them.

Causes they must be, and better known, and prior in time, causes, because we then know when we are acquainted with the cause, and prior, if causes, and known beforehand, not merely comprehended in idea but known to exist (The terms prior, and better known, bear two senses for prior by nature and prior relatively to ourselves are not the same, nor better known by nature, and better known to us I mean, by prior and better known relatively to ourselves, such things as are nearer to sensation, but abstractedly so such as are further Those are furthest which are most universal those nearest which are particulars, and these are mutually opposed) And by first, I mean principles akin to the conclusion, for principle means the same as first And the principle or first step in demonstration is a proposition incapable of syllogistic proof, i. e. one to which there is none prior. Now of such syllogistic principles I call that a [Greek: thxsis] which you cannot demonstrate, and which is unnecessary with a view to learning something else. That which is necessary in order to learn something else is an Axiom.

Further, since one is to believe and know the thing by having a syllogism of the kind called demonstration, and what constitutes it to be such is the nature of the premisses, it is necessary not merely to know before, but to know better than the conclusion, either all or at least some of, the principles, because that which is the cause of a quality inhering in something else always inheres itself more as the cause of our loving is itself more lovable. So, since the principles are the cause of our knowing and behoving we know and believe them more, because by reason of them we know also the conclusion following.

Further: the man who is to have the Knowledge which comes through demonstration must not merely know and believe his principles better than he does his conclusion, but he must believe nothing more firmly than the contradictories of those principles out of which the contrary fallacy may be constructed: since he who knows, is to be simply and absolutely infallible.



Next we must take a different point to start from, and observe that of what is to be avoided in respect of moral character there are three forms; Vice, Imperfect Self-Control, and Brutishness. Of the two former it is plain what the contraries are, for we call the one Virtue, the other Self-Control; and as answering to Brutishness it will be most suitable to assign Superhuman, i.e. heroical and godlike Virtue, as, in Homer, Priam says of Hector “that he was very excellent, nor was he like the offspring of mortal man, but of a god.” and so, if, as is commonly said, men are raised to the position of gods by reason of very high excellence in Virtue, the state opposed to the Brutish will plainly be of this nature: because as brutes are not virtuous or vicious so neither are gods; but the state of these is something more precious than Virtue, of the former something different in kind from Vice.

And as, on the one hand, it is a rare thing for a man to be godlike (a term the Lacedaemonians are accustomed to use when they admire a man exceedingly; [Greek:seios anhp] they call him), so the brutish man is rare; the character is found most among barbarians, and some cases of it are caused by disease or maiming; also such men as exceed in vice all ordinary measures we therefore designate by this opprobrious term. Well, we must in a subsequent place make some mention of this disposition, and Vice has been spoken of before: for the present we must speak of Imperfect Self-Control and its kindred faults of Softness and Luxury, on the one hand, and of Self-Control and Endurance on the other; since we are to conceive of them, not as being the same states exactly as Virtue and Vice respectively, nor again as differing in kind. [Sidenote:1145b] And we should adopt the same course as before, i.e. state the phenomena, and, after raising and discussing difficulties which suggest themselves, then exhibit, if possible, all the opinions afloat respecting these affections of the moral character; or, if not all, the greater part and the most important: for we may consider we have illustrated the matter sufficiently when the difficulties have been solved, and such theories as are most approved are left as a residuum.

The chief points may be thus enumerated. It is thought,

I. That Self-Control and Endurance belong to the class of things good and praiseworthy, while Imperfect Self-Control and Softness belong to that of things low and blameworthy.

II. That the man of Self-Control is identical with the man who is apt to abide by his resolution, and the man of Imperfect Self-Control with him who is apt to depart from his resolution.

III. That the man of Imperfect Self-Control does things at the instigation of his passions, knowing them to be wrong, while the man of Self-Control, knowing his lusts to be wrong, refuses, by the influence of reason, to follow their suggestions.

IV. That the man of Perfected Self-Mastery unites the qualities of Self-Control and Endurance, and some say that every one who unites these is a man of Perfect Self-Mastery, others do not.

V. Some confound the two characters of the man who has no Self-Control, and the man of Imperfect Self-Control, while others distinguish between them.

VI. It is sometimes said that the man of Practical Wisdom cannot be a man of Imperfect Self-Control, sometimes that men who are Practically Wise and Clever are of Imperfect Self-Control.

VII. Again, men are said to be of Imperfect Self-Control, not simply but with the addition of the thing wherein, as in respect of anger, of honour, and gain.

These then are pretty well the common statements.


Now a man may raise a question as to the nature of the right conception in violation of which a man fails of Self-Control.

That he can so fail when knowing in the strict sense what is right some say is impossible: for it is a strange thing, as Socrates thought, that while Knowledge is present in his mind something else should master him and drag him about like a slave. Socrates in fact contended generally against the theory, maintaining there is no such state as that of Imperfect Self-Control, for that no one acts contrary to what is best conceiving it to be best but by reason of ignorance what is best.

Free Learning Resources