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[1220b] [1] as even its name implies that it has its growth from habit,1 and by our often moving in a certain way a habit not innate in us is finally trained to be operative in that way (which we do not observe in inanimate objects, for not even if you throw a stone upwards ten thousand times will it ever rise upward unless under the operation of force)—let moral character then be defined as a quality of the spirit in accordance with governing reason that is capable of following the reason. We have then to say what is the part of the spirit in respect of which our moral characters are of a certain quality. And it will be in respect of our faculties for emotions according to which people are termed liable to some emotion, and also of the states of character according to which people receive certain designations in respect of the emotions, because of their experiencing or being exempt from some form of emotion.

After this comes the classification, made in previous discussions,2 of the modes of emotion, the faculties and the states of character. By emotions I mean such things as anger, fear, shame, desire, and generally those experiences that are in themselves usually accompanied by sensory pleasure or pain. And to these there is no quality corresponding [but they are passive].3 But quality corresponds to the faculties: by faculties I mean the properties acting by which persons are designated by the names of the various emotions, for instance choleric, insensitive, erotic, bashful, shameless. States of character are the states that cause the emotions to be present either rationally or the opposite: [20] for example courage, sobriety of mind, cowardice, profligacy.

These distinctions having been established, it must be grasped that in every continuum that is divisible there is excess and deficiency and a mean, and these either in relation to one another or in relation to us, for instance in gymnastics or medicine or architecture or navigation, and in any practical pursuit of whatever sort, both scientific and unscientific, both technical and untechnical; for motion is a continuum, and conduct is a motion. And in all things the mean in relation to us is the best, for that is as knowledge and reason bid. And everywhere this also produces the best state. This is proved by induction and reason: contraries are mutually destructive, and extremes are contrary both to each other and to the mean, as the mean is either extreme in relation to the other—for example the equal is greater than the less and less than the greater. Hence moral goodness must be concerned with certain means and must be a middle state. We must, therefore, ascertain what sort of middle state is goodness and with what sort of means it is concerned. Let each then be taken by way of illustration and studied with the help of the schedule:

Irascibility Spiritlessness4 Gentleness
Rashness Cowardice Courage

1 ἦθος derived from ἔθος by lengthening of ε to η: cf. Aristot. Nic. Eth. 2.3.4 This clause and the one following interrupt the construction of the sentence.

2 Perhaps a reference to Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1105b 20, inserted in the belief that the Eudemian Ethics is the later work.

3 This interpolation was made by an editor who derived ποιότης from ποιεῖν.

4 This place is filled in Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1108a 7 by ἀοργησία, Spiritlessness, lack of irascibility, and perhaps the Greek should be altered to that here.

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