previous next
[1231b] [1] and the deficiency will either be nameless or will be denoted by the terms mentioned.1 We shall have to define the class of pleasures concerned more exactly in our discussion of Self-control and Lack of Control later on.

And also the nature of Gentleness and Harshness must be ascertained in the same way. For we see that the term 'gentle' is concerned with the pain that arises from passion—a man is gentle by being disposed in a certain way towards that pain. And in our diagram2 we opposed to the irascible and harsh and fierce man (for all such traits belong to the same disposition) the slavish and spiritless3 man; for these are perhaps the most usual words to denote those whose passion is not aroused even at all the things at which it ought to be, but who undergo insulting treatment readily and meet slights with humility; since as opposed to feeling the pain that we call passion quickly, extremely or for a long time there is feeling it slowly, slightly, or for a short time. And since, as we said in the other cases, so here also there is excess and deficiency (for the harsh man is the sort of man that feels this emotion too quickly, too long, at the wrong time, with the wrong kind of people, and with many people, [20] while the slavish man is the opposite), it is clear that there is also some body who is at the middle point in the inequality.4 Since, therefore, both those states of character are wrong, it is clear that the state midway between them is right, for it is neither too hasty nor too slow-tempered, nor does it get angry with the people with whom it ought not nor fail to get angry with those with whom it ought. So that since the best state of character in regard to those feelings is gentleness, Gentleness also would be a middle state, and the gentle man would be midway between the harsh man and the slavish man.

Greatness of Spirit and Magnificence and Liberality are also middle states. Liberality is the mean in regard to the acquisition and expenditure of wealth. The man who is more pleased than he ought to be by all acquisition and more pained than he ought to be by all expenditure is mean, he that feels both feelings less than he ought is prodigal, and he that feels both as he ought is liberal (what I mean by 'as he ought,' both in this and in the other cases, is 'as right principle directs'). And since the two former characters consist in excess and deficiency, and where there are extremes there is also a mean, and that mean is best, there being a single best for each kind of action, a single thing, it necessarily follows that liberality is a middle state between prodigality and meanness as regards getting and parting with wealth. But the terms 'wealth' and 'art of wealth' we use in two senses, since one way of using an article of property,

1 Perhaps in a sentence lost at Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1230b 15.

2 See Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1220b 38, Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1221b 12-15.

3 The Mss. give 'slavish and senseless.'

4 i.e. half-way between excess and defect.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1884)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1220b
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1221b
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 3.1230b
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: