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And so with Courage: we become brave by training ourselves to despise and endure terrors, and we shall be best able to endure terrors when we have become brave.3.

An index of our dispositions is afforded by the pleasure or pain that accompanies our actions. A man is temperate if he abstains from bodily pleasures and finds this abstinence itself enjoyable, profligate if he feels it irksome; he is brave if he faces danger with pleasure or at all events without pain, cowardly if he does so with pain.

In fact pleasures and pains are the things with which moral virtue is concerned.

For (1) pleasure causes us to do base actions and pain cause us to abstain from doing noble actions. 3. [2] Hence the importance, as Plato points out, of having been definitely trained from childhood to like and dislike the proper things; this is what good education means.3. [3]

(2)Again, if the virtues have to do with actions and feelings, and every action is attended with pleasure or pain, this too shows that virtue has to do with pleasure and pain.3. [4]

(3) Another indication is the fact that pain is the medium of punishment; for punishment is a sort of medicine, and the nature of medicine to work by means of opposites.1 3. [5]

(4)Again, as we said before, every formed disposition of the soul realizes its full nature2 in relation to and in dealing with that class of objects by which it is its nature to be corrupted or improved. But men are corrupted through pleasures and pains, that is, either by pursuing and avoiding the wrong pleasures and pains, or by pursuing and avoiding them at the wrong time, or in the wrong manner, or in one of the other wrong ways under which errors of conduct can be logically classified. This is why some thinkers3 define the virtues as states of impassivity or tranquillity, though they make a mistake in using these terms absolutely, without adding ‘in the right (or wrong) manner’ and ‘at the right (or wrong) time’ and the other qualifications.3. [6]

We assume therefore that moral virtue is the quality of acting in the best way in relation to pleasures and pains, and that vice is the opposite.3. [7]

But the following considerations also will give us further light on the same point.

(5) There are three things that are the motives of choice and three that are the motives of avoidance; namely, the noble, the expedient, and the pleasant, and their opposites, the base, the harmful, and the painful. Now in respect of all these the good man is likely to go right and the bad to go wrong, but especially in respect of pleasure; for pleasure is common to man with the lower animals, and also it is a concomitant of all the objects of choice,

1 The contrary maxim to similia similibus curantur or homoeopathy. Fever, caused by heat, is cured by cold, hence if the remedy for wickedness is pain, it must have been caused by pleasure.

2 i.e., is actively exercised when fully developed, cf. 2.8.

3 The reference is probably to Speusippus, although in the extant remains of Greek philosophy apathy, or freedom from passions or emotions, first appears as an ethical ideal of the Stoics.

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