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Moreover as there is a character who takes less pleasure than he ought in bodily enjoyments, and he also fails to abide by the conclusion of his Reason, the man of Self-Control is the mean between him and the man of Imperfect Self-Control: that is to say, the latter fails to abide by them because of somewhat too much, the former because of somewhat too little; while the man of Self-Control abides by them, and never changes by reason of anything else than such conclusions.

Now of course since Self-Control is good both the contrary States must be bad, as indeed they plainly are: but because the one of them is seen in few persons, and but rarely in them, Self-Control comes to be viewed as if opposed only to the Imperfection of it, just as Perfected Self-Mastery is thought to be opposed only to utter want of Self-Control.

1152a] Again, as many terms are used in the way of similitude, so people have come to talk of the Self-Control of the man of Perfected Self-Mastery in the way of similitude: for the man of Self-Control and the man of Perfected Self-Mastery have this in common, that they do nothing against Right Reason on the impulse of bodily pleasures, but then the former has bad desires, the latter not; and the latter is so constituted as not even to feel pleasure contrary to his Reason, the former feels but does not yield to it. Like again are the man of Imperfect Self-Control and he who is utterly destitute of it, though in reality distinct: both follow bodily pleasures, but the latter under a notion that it is the proper line for him to take, his former without any such notion.


And it is not possible for the same man to be at once a man of Practical Wisdom and of Imperfect Self-Control: because the character of Practical Wisdom includes, as we showed before, goodness of moral character. And again, it is not knowledge merely, but aptitude for action, which constitutes Practical Wisdom: and of this aptitude the man of Imperfect Self-Control is destitute. But there is no reason why the Clever man should not be of Imperfect Self-Control: and the reason why some men are occasionally thought to be men of Practical Wisdom, and yet of Imperfect Self-Control, is this, that Cleverness differs from Practical Wisdom in the way I stated in a former book, and is very near it so far as the intellectual element is concerned but differs in respect of the moral choice.

Nor is the man of Imperfect Self-Control like the man who both has and calls into exercise his knowledge, but like the man who, having it, is overpowered by sleep or wine. Again, he acts voluntarily (because he knows, in a certain sense, what he does and the result of it), but he is not a confirmed bad man, for his moral choice is good, so he is at all events only half bad. Nor is he unjust, because he does not act with deliberate intent: for of the two chief forms of the character, the one is not apt to abide by his deliberate resolutions, and the other, the man of constitutional strength of passion, is not apt to deliberate at all.

So in fact the man of Imperfect Self-Control is like a community which
makes all proper enactments, and has admirable laws, only does not act
on them, verifying the scoff of Anaxandrides,

  “That State did will it, which cares nought for laws;”
 whereas the bad man is like one which acts upon its laws, but then
unfortunately they are bad ones. Imperfection of Self-Control and
Self-Control, after all, are above the average state of men; because he
of the latter character is more true to his Reason, and the former less
so, than is in the power of most men.

Again, of the two forms of Imperfect Self-Control that is more easily cured which they have who are constitutionally of strong passions, than that of those who form resolutions and break them; and they that are so through habituation than they that are so naturally; since of course custom is easier to change than nature, because the very resemblance of custom to nature is what constitutes the difficulty of changing it; as Evenus says,

  “Practice, I say, my friend, doth long endure,
  And at the last is even very nature.”

We have now said then what Self-Control is, what Imperfection of Self-Control, what Endurance, and what Softness, and how these states are mutually related.



To consider the subject of Pleasure and Pain falls within the province of the Social-Science Philosopher, since he it is who has to fix the Master-End which is to guide us in dominating any object absolutely evil or good.

But we may say more: an inquiry into their nature is absolutely necessary. First, because we maintained that Moral Virtue and Moral Vice are both concerned with Pains and Pleasures: next, because the greater part of mankind assert that Happiness must include Pleasure (which by the way accounts for the word they use, makarioz; chaireiu being the root of that word).

Now some hold that no one Pleasure is good, either in itself or as a matter of result, because Good and Pleasure are not identical. Others that some Pleasures are good but the greater number bad. There is yet a third view; granting that every Pleasure is good, still the Chief Good cannot possibly be Pleasure.

In support of the first opinion (that Pleasure is utterly not-good) it is urged that:

I. Every Pleasure is a sensible process towards a complete state; but no such process is akin to the end to be attained: e.g. no process of building to the completed house.

2. The man of Perfected Self-Mastery avoids Pleasures.

3. The man of Practical Wisdom aims at avoiding Pain, not at attaining Pleasure.

4. Pleasures are an impediment to thought, and the more so the more keenly they are felt. An obvious instance will readily occur.

5. Pleasure cannot be referred to any Art: and yet every good is the result of some Art.

6. Children and brutes pursue Pleasures.

In support of the second (that not all Pleasures are good), That there are some base and matter of reproach, and some even hurtful: because some things that are pleasant produce disease.

In support of the third (that Pleasure is not the Chief Good), That it is not an End but a process towards creating an End.

This is, I think, a fair account of current views on the matter.


But that the reasons alleged do not prove it either to be not-good or the Chief Good is plain from the following considerations.

First. Good being either absolute or relative, of course the natures and states embodying it will be so too; therefore also the movements and the processes of creation. So, of those which are thought to be bad some will be bad absolutely, but relatively not bad, perhaps even choiceworthy; some not even choiceworthy relatively to any particular person, only at certain times or for a short time but not in themselves choiceworthy.

Others again are not even Pleasures at all though they produce that impression on the mind: all such I mean as imply pain and whose purpose is cure; those of sick people, for instance.

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