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that offers resistance but only a weak one (like that of persons in two minds about something)—, we could forgive a man for not keeping to his opinions in opposition to strong desires; but we do not forgive vice, nor any other blameworthy quality.—(e) Is it then when desire is opposed by Prudence that we blame a man for yielding? 2. [5] for Prudence is extremely strong. But this is strange, for it means that the same person can be at once prudent and unrestrained; yet no one could possibly maintain that the prudent man is capable of doing voluntarily the basest actions. And furthermore it has already been shown1 that Prudence displays itself in action (for it is concerned with ultimate particulars), and implies the possession of the other Virtues as well.2. [6]

Again (d) if Self-restraint implies having strong and evil desires, the temperate man cannot be self-restrained, nor the self-restrained man temperate; for the temperate man does not have excessive or evil desires. But a self-restrained man must necessarily have strong and evil desires; since if a man's desires are good, the disposition that prevents him from obeying them will be evil, and so Self-restraint will not always be good; while if his desires are weak and not evil, there is nothing to be proud of in resisting them; nor is it anything remarkable if they are evil and weak. 2. [7]

Again (a, b) if Self-restraint makes a man steadfast in all his opinions, it may be bad, namely, if it makes him persist even in a false opinion. And if Unrestraint makes him liable to abandon any opinion, in some cases Unrestraint will be good. Take the instance of Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes2 of Sophocles. Neoptolemus abandons a resolution that he has been persuaded by Odysseus to adopt, because of the pain that it gives him to tell a lie: in this case inconstancy is praiseworthy.2. [8]

Again (a, c) there is the difficulty raised by the argument of the sophists. The sophists wish to show their cleverness by entrapping their adversary into a paradox, and when they are successful, the resultant chain of reasoning ends in a deadlock: the mind is fettered, being unwilling to stand still because it cannot approve the conclusion reached, yet unable to go forward because it cannot untie the knot of the argument. 2. [9] Now one of their arguments proves that Folly combined with Unrestraint is a virtue. It runs as follows: if a man is foolish and also unrestrained, owing to his unrestraint he does the opposite of what he believes that he ought to do; but he believes3 that good things are bad, and that he ought not to do them; therefore he will do good things and not bad ones.2. [10]

Again (b, d) one who does and pursues what is pleasant from conviction and choice,4 might be held to be a better man than one who acts in the same way not from calculation but from unrestraint, because he is more easy to cure, since he may be persuaded to alter his conviction; whereas the unrestrained man comes under the proverb that says ‘when water chokes you, what are you to drink to wash it down?’ Had he been convinced that what he does is right,

1 Cf. 6.7. 7, 6.12.10.

2 Soph. Phil. 895-916. See further, 9.4.

3 Sc., because he is foolish.

4 i.e., a profligate. This is another sophistic paradox based on the contradiction between (1) the identification of the unrestrained man with the profligate, and (2) the view (2.6) that the former acts contrary to his deliberate conviction (so Burnet).

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