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Again, the man who is a slave to amusement is commonly thought to be destitute of Self-Control, but he really is Soft; because amusement is an act of relaxing, being an act of resting, and the character in question is one of those who exceed due bounds in respect of this.

Moreover of Imperfect Self-Control there are two forms, Precipitancy and Weakness: those who have it in the latter form though they have made resolutions do not abide by them by reason of passion; the others are led by passion because they have never formed any resolutions at all: while there are some who, like those who by tickling themselves beforehand get rid of ticklishness, having felt and seen beforehand the approach of temptation, and roused up themselves and their resolution, yield not to passion; whether the temptation be somewhat pleasant or somewhat painful. The Precipitate form of Imperfect Self-Control they are most liable to who are constitutionally of a sharp or melancholy temperament: because the one by reason of the swiftness, the other by reason of the violence, of their passions, do not wait for Reason, because they are disposed to follow whatever notion is impressed upon their minds.


Again, the man utterly destitute of Self-Control, as was observed before, is not given to remorse: for it is part of his character that he abides by his moral choice: but the man of Imperfect Self-Control is almost made up of remorse: and so the case is not as we determined it before, but the former is incurable and the latter may be cured: for depravity is like chronic diseases, dropsy and consumption for instance, but Imperfect Self-Control is like acute disorders: the former being a continuous evil, the latter not so. And, in fact, Imperfect Self-Control and Confirmed Vice are different in kind: the latter being imperceptible to its victim, the former not so.

1151a] But, of the different forms of Imperfect Self-Control, those are better who are carried off their feet by a sudden access of temptation than they who have Reason but do not abide by it; these last being overcome by passion less in degree, and not wholly without premeditation as are the others: for the man of Imperfect Self-Control is like those who are soon intoxicated and by little wine and less than the common run of men. Well then, that Imperfection of Self-Control is not Confirmed Viciousness is plain: and yet perhaps it is such in a way, because in one sense it is contrary to moral choice and in another the result of it: at all events, in respect of the actions, the case is much like what Demodocus said of the Miletians. “The people of Miletus are not fools, but they do just the kind of things that fools do;” and so they of Imperfect Self-Control are not unjust, but they do unjust acts.

But to resume. Since the man of Imperfect Self-Control is of such a character as to follow bodily pleasures in excess and in defiance of Right Reason, without acting on any deliberate conviction, whereas the man utterly destitute of Self-Control does act upon a conviction which rests on his natural inclination to follow after these pleasures; the former may be easily persuaded to a different course, but the latter not: for Virtue and Vice respectively preserve and corrupt the moral principle; now the motive is the principle or starting point in moral actions, just as axioms and postulates are in mathematics: and neither in morals nor mathematics is it Reason which is apt to teach the principle; but Excellence, either natural or acquired by custom, in holding right notions with respect to the principle. He who does this in morals is the man of Perfected Self-Mastery, and the contrary character is the man utterly destitute of Self-Control.

Again, there is a character liable to be taken off his feet in defiance of Right Reason because of passion; whom passion so far masters as to prevent his acting in accordance with Right Reason, but not so far as to make him be convinced that it is his proper line to follow after such pleasures without limit: this character is the man of Imperfect Self- Control, better than he who is utterly destitute of it, and not a bad man simply and without qualification: because in him the highest and best part, i.e. principle, is preserved: and there is another character opposed to him who is apt to abide by his resolutions, and not to depart from them; at all events, not at the instigation of passion. It is evident then from all this, that Self-Control is a good state and the Imperfection of it a bad one.

Next comes the question, whether a man is a man of Self-Control for abiding by his conclusions and moral choice be they of what kind they may, or only by the right one; or again, a man of Imperfect Self-Control for not abiding by his conclusions and moral choice be they of whatever kind; or, to put the case we did before, is he such for not abiding by false conclusions and wrong moral choice?

Is not this the truth, that incidentally it is by conclusions and moral choice of any kind that the one character abides and the other does not, but per se true conclusions and right moral choice: to explain what is meant by incidentally, and per se; suppose a man chooses or pursues this thing for the sake of that, he is said to pursue and choose that per se, but this only incidentally. For the term per se we use commonly the word “simply,” and so, in a way, it is opinion of any kind soever by which the two characters respectively abide or not, but he is “simply” entitled to the designations who abides or not by the true opinion.

There are also people, who have a trick of abiding by their, own opinions, who are commonly called Positive, as they who are hard to be persuaded, and whose convictions are not easily changed: now these people bear some resemblance to the character of Self-Control, just as the prodigal to the liberal or the rash man to the brave, but they are different in many points. The man of Self-Control does not change by reason of passion and lust, yet when occasion so requires he will be easy of persuasion: but the Positive man changes not at the call of Reason, though many of this class take up certain desires and are led by their pleasures. Among the class of Positive are the Opinionated, the Ignorant, and the Bearish: the first, from the motives of pleasure and pain: I mean, they have the pleasurable feeling of a kind of victory in not having their convictions changed, and they are pained when their decrees, so to speak, are reversed: so that, in fact, they rather resemble the man of Imperfect Self-Control than the man of Self-Control.

Again, there are some who depart from their resolutions not by reason of any Imperfection of Self-Control; take, for instance, Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes of Sophocles. Here certainly pleasure was the motive of his departure from his resolution, but then it was one of a noble sort: for to be truthful was noble in his eyes and he had been persuaded by Ulysses to lie.

So it is not every one who acts from the motive of pleasure who is utterly destitute of Self-Control or base or of Imperfect Self-Control, only he who acts from the impulse of a base pleasure.

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