previous next
a change of conviction might have caused him to desist; but as it is he is convinced that he ought to do one thing and nevertheless does another thing.1 2. [11]

Again (f) if Self-restraint and Unrestraint can be displayed with reference to anything, what is the meaning of the epithet ‘unrestrained’ without qualification? No one has every form of unrestraint, yet we speak of some men as simply ‘unrestrained.’ 2. [12]

Such, more or less, are the difficulties that arise. Part of the conflicting opinions we have to clear out of the way, but part to leave standing; for to solve a difficulty is to find the answer to a problem.2 3.

We have then to consider, first (i) whether men fail in self-restraint knowing what they do is wrong, or not knowing, and if knowing, knowing in what sense; and next (ii) what are to be set down as the objects with which Self-restraint and Unrestraint are concerned: I mean, are they concerned with pleasure and pain of all sorts, or only with certain special pleasures and pains? and (iii) is Self-restraint the same as Endurance or distinct from it? and so on with (iv) the other questions akin to this subject.3. [2]

A starting-point for our investigation is to ask3 whether the differentia4 of the self-restrained man and the unrestrained is constituted by their objects, or by their dispositions: I mean, whether a man is called unrestrained solely because he fails to restrain himself with reference to certain things, or rather because he has a certain disposition, or rather for both reasons combined. A second question is, can Self-restraint and Unrestraint be displayed in regard to everything, or not? When a man is said to be ‘unrestrained’ without further qualification, it does not mean that he is so in relation to everything, but to those things in regard to which a man can be profligate; and also it does not mean merely that he is concerned with these things (for in that case Unrestraint would be the same thing as Profligacy), but that he is concerned with them in a particular manner. The profligate yields to his appetites from choice, considering it right always to pursue the pleasure that offers, whereas the man of defective self-restraint does not think so, but pursues it all the same.3. [3]

(i) Now the suggestion that it is not Knowledge, but True Opinion, against which unrestrained men act, is of no importance for our argument. Some men hold their opinions with absolute certainty, and take them for positive knowledge; 3. [4] so that if weakness of conviction be the criterion for deciding that men who act against their conception of what is right must be said to opine rather than to know the right, there will really be no difference in this respect between Opinion and Knowledge; since some men are just as firmly convinced of what they opine as others are of what they know: witness Heracleitus.5 3. [5]

(1) But the word know is used in two senses. A man who has knowledge but is not exercising it is said to know, and so is a man who is actually exercising his knowledge. It will make a difference whether a man does wrong having the knowledge that it is wrong but not consciously thinking of his knowledge, or with the knowledge consciously present to his mind. The latter would be felt to be surprising; but it is not surprising that a man should do what he knows to be wrong if he is not conscious of the knowledge at the time.

1 A variant οὐ πεπεισμένος . . . [ἀλλὰ] gives ‘but as it is he is convinced it is wrong but nevertheless does it.’

2 See 1.5, note.

3 This question is not pursued below; indeed the contents of the following chapters are correctly outlined in 3.1, and 3.2 is superfluous.

4 Not the difference between the two, since of course they are concerned with the same objects, but the difference between both of them and other similar characters; see 1.4.

5 This seems to refer to the dogmatic tone of Heracleitus's teaching in general.

load focus Greek (J. Bywater)
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 Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: