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[1225b] [1] Now the voluntary seems to be the opposite of the involuntary; and acting with knowledge of either the person acted on or the instrument or the result (for sometimes the agent knows that it is his father but does not intend to kill him but to save him—as the Peliads1 did—or knows that what he is offering is a drink but offers it as a love-charm or wine, when really it is hemlock) seems to be the opposite of acting without knowing the person acted on, the instrument and the nature of the act, through ignorance and not by accident. But to act through ignorance of the act, the means and the person acted on is involuntary action. Therefore the opposite is voluntary. It follows then that all the things that a man does not in ignorance, and through his own agency, when it is in his power not to do them, are voluntary acts, and it is in this that the voluntary consists; and all the things that he does in ignorance, and through being in ignorance, he does involuntarily. But since to understand or know has two meanings, one being to have the knowledge and the other to use it, a man who has knowledge but is not using it would in one case be justly described as acting in ignorance but in another case unjustly— namely, if his non-employment of the knowledge were due to carelessness. And similarly one would be blamed for not having the knowledge, if it were something that was easy or necessary and his not having it is due to carelessness or pleasure or pain. These points therefore must be added to our definition. Let this, then, be our mode of definition2 about the voluntary and involuntary.

Next let us speak about purposive choice,3 first raising various difficulties about it. [20] For one might doubt to which class it naturally belongs and in what class it ought to be put, and whether the voluntary and the purposely chosen are different things or the same thing. And a view specially put forward from some quarters, which on inquiry may seem correct, is that purposive choice is one of two things, either opinion or appetition; for both are seen to accompany it. Now it is evident that it is not appetition; for in that case it would be either wish or desire or passion, since nobody wants to get a thing without having experienced one of those feelings. Now even animals possess passion and desire, but they do not have purposive choice. And again, beings that possess both of these often make choices even without passion and desire; and while they are experiencing these feelings do not make a choice but hold out. Again, desire and passion are always accompanied by pain, but we often make a choice even without pain. But moreover purposive choice is not the same as wish either; for men wish for some things that they know to be impossible, for instance to be king of all mankind and to be immortal, but nobody purposively chooses a thing knowing it to be impossible, nor in general a thing that, though possible, he does not think in his own power to do or not to do. So that this much is clear—a thing purposively chosen must necessarily be something that rests with oneself.

1 The daughters of Pelias, King of Iolchus, cut him up and boiled him, having been told by Medea (who wanted Jason to leave his throne) that this would restore his youth.

2 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give 'Let this be our decision.'

3 The term denotes not the deliberate choice of an object but the selection of means to attain an object: see 7.

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