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[1224a] [1] but rather everything that one wishes is also voluntary—it has only been proved that it is possible to do a thing voluntarily without wishing; but many things that we wish we do suddenly, whereas nobody makes a purposive choice suddenly.

But if as we said1 the voluntary must necessarily be one of three things—what is in conformity with appetition, or with purposive choice, or with thought—, and if it is not the two former, it remains that voluntariness consists in acting with some kind of thought. Moreover, let us put a conclusion to our delimitation of the voluntary and involuntary by carrying the thought argument a little further. Acting under compulsion and not under compulsion seem to be terms akin to the ones mentioned; for we say that everything forced is involuntary and everything involuntary is forced. So we must first consider the exact meaning of 'forced,' and how what is forced is related to the voluntary and involuntary. It seems, then, that in the sphere of conduct 'forced' or 'necessary,' and force or necessity, are the opposite of 'voluntary,' and of persuasion. And we employ the terms force and necessity in a general sense even in the case of inanimate objects: we say that a stone travels upwards and fire downwards by force and under necessity, whereas when they travel according to their natural and intrinsic impulse we say that they do not move under force—although nevertheless they are not spoken of as moving voluntarily: [20] the state opposite to forced motion has no name, but when they travel contrary to their natural impulse we say that they move by force. Similarly also in the case of living things and of animals, we see many being acted on by force, and also acting under force when something moves them from outside, contrary to the impulse within the thing itself. In inanimate things the moving principle is simple, but in living things it is multiple, for appetition and rational principle are not always in harmony. Hence whereas in the case of the other animals the factor of force is simple, as it is in the case of inanimate objects, for animals do not possess rational principle and appetition in opposition to it, but live by their appetition, in man both forms of force are present—that is, at a certain age, the age to which we attribute action2 in the proper sense; for we do not speak of a child as acting, any more than a wild animal, but only a person who has attained to acting by rational calculation. So what is forced always seems to be painful, and no one acting under force acts gladly. Consequently there is a great deal of dispute about the self-controlled man and the uncontrolled. For each of them acts under a conflict of impulses within him, so that the self-controlled man, they say, acts under force in dragging himself away from the pleasures that he covets (for he feels pain in dragging himself away against the resistance of appetition), while the uncontrolled man acts under force in going contrary to his rational faculty. But he seems to feel less pain, because desire is for what is pleasant, and he follows his desire; so that the uncontrolled man rather acts voluntarily and not under force, because not painfully. On the other hand persuasion is thought to be the opposite of force and necessity; and the self-controlled man is led towards things that he has been persuaded to pursue, and proceeds not under force but voluntarily;

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1223a
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