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[1222b] [1] yet there is also excess in the direction of being gentle and placable and not being angry when struck, but men of that sort are few, and everyone is more prone to the other extreme; on which account moreover a passionate temper is not a characteristic of a toady.1

And since we have dealt with the scheme of states of character in respect of the various emotions in which there are excesses and deficiencies, and of the opposite states in accordance with which men are disposed in accordance with right principle (though the question what is the right principle and what rule is to guide us in defining the mean must be considered later2), it is evident that all the forms of moral goodness and badness have to do with excesses and deficiencies of pleasures and pains, and that pleasures and pains result from the states of character and modes of emotion mentioned. But then the best state in relation to each class of thing is the middle state. It is clear, therefore, that the virtues will be either all or some of these middle states.

Let us, therefore, take another starting-point for the ensuing inquiry.3 Now all essences are by nature first principles of a certain kind, owing to which each is able to generate many things of the same sort as itself, for example a man engenders men, and in general an animal animals, and a plant plants. And in addition to this, obviously man alone among animals initiates certain conduct— [20] for we should not ascribe conduct to any of the others. And the first principles of that sort, which are the first source of motions, are called first principles in the strict sense, and most rightly those that have necessary results; doubtless God is a ruling principle that acts in this way. But the strict sense of 'first principle' is not found in first principles incapable of movement, for example those of mathematics, although the term is indeed used of them by analogy, for in mathematics if the first principle were changed virtually all the things proved from it would change, though they do not change owing to themselves, one being destroyed by the other, except by destroying the assumption and thereby establishing a proof.4 But man is a first principle of a certain motion, for action is motion. And since as in other matters the first principle is a cause of the things that exist or come into existence because of it, we must think as we do in the case of demonstrations. For example, if as the angles of a triangle are together equal to two right angles the angles of a quadrilateral are necessarily equal to four right angles, that the angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles is clearly the cause of that fact; and supposing a triangle were to change, a quadrilateral would necessarily change too—for example if the angles of a triangle became equal to three right angles, the angles of a quadrilateral would become equal to six right angles, or if four, eight; also if a triangle does not change but is as described, a quadrilateral too must of necessity be as described.

The necessity of what we are arguing is clear from Analytics5; at present we cannot either deny or affirm anything definitely except just this. Supposing there were no further cause of the triangle's having the property stated, then the triangle would be a sort of first principle or cause of the later stages. Hence if in fact there are among existing things some that admit of the opposite state, their first principles also must necessarily have the same quality;

1 A probable alteration of the Greek gives 'is not ready to make up a quarrel.'

2 See 1249a 21 ff.

3 The writer proceeds to distinguish the strict sense ἀρχή, 'origin or cause of change' (which applies to man as capable of volition and action) from its secondary sense, 'cause or explanation of an unchanging state of things' (which applies to the 'first principles' of mathematics).

4 e.g. if ἀρχή A led to B and C, of which C was absurd, then C by refuting A would refute the other consequence B (Solomon).

5 Cf. Aristot. Anal. Post. 1.1

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