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[7] Bestiality1 is less <evil> than vice, though more horrible: for <in a bestial man as in an animal> the highest part <i.e. the intellect> is not corrupted, as it is in a man <who is wicked in a human way>, but entirely lacking. So that it is like comparing an inanimate with an animate thing, and asking which is the more evil; for the badness of a thing which has no originating principle—and intelligence is such a principle—is always less capable of mischief.2 (It is therefore like comparing Injustice with an unjust man: one is worse in one way and the other in another). For a bad man can do ten thousand times more harm than an animal <or a bestial man>.7.

(iii) But in relation to the pleasures and pains of touch and taste, and the corresponding desires and acts of avoidance, which have already3 been defined as the sphere in which Profligacy and Temperance are displayed, it is possible on the one hand to have such a disposition as to succumb even to those temptations to which most men are superior, or on the other hand to conquer even those to which most men succumb. These two dispositions, when manifested in relation to pleasure, constitute Unrestraint and Restraint respectively; when in relation to pain, Softness and Endurance. The disposition of the great majority of men lies between the two, though they incline rather to the worse extremes. [2]

And inasmuch as some pleasures are necessary and others not, and the former are only necessary within certain limits, excessive indulgence in them not being necessary, nor yet deficient indulgence4 either, and inasmuch as the same holds good also of desires and of pains, one who pursues excessive pleasures, or pursues things5 to excess and from choice, for their own sakes and not for the sake of some ulterior consequence, is a profligate; for a man of this character is certain to feel no regret for his excesses afterwards, and this being so, he is incurable,6 since there is no cure for one who does not regret his error. The man deficient in the enjoyment of pleasures is the opposite of the profligate; and the middle character is the temperate man. And similarly, he who avoids bodily pains not because his will is overpowered but of deliberate choice, is also profligate. [3] (Those on the other hand who yield not from choice, are prompted either by the pleasure of indulgence, or by the impulse to avoid the pain of unsatisfied desire. Hence there is a difference between deliberate and non-deliberate indulgence. Everyone would think a man worse if he did something disgraceful when he felt only a slight desire, or none at all, than if he acted from a strong desire, or if he struck another in cold blood than if he did so in anger; for what would he have done had his passions been aroused? Hence the profligate man is worse than the unrestrained.)

Of the dispositions described above, the deliberate avoidance of pain is rather a kind7 of Softness; the deliberate pursuit of pleasure is Profligacy in the strict sense. [4]

Self-restraint is the opposite of Unrestraint, Endurance of Softness; for Endurance means only successful resistance, whereas Restraint implies mastery, which is a different matter: victory is more glorious than the mere avoidance of defeat. Hence self-restraint is a more valuable quality than Endurance.

1 No two commentators read the same sense into this section, which is ‘little more than a series of jottings’ ( Burnet). The version given largely follows Peters. The insertions in brackets indicate what may possibly have been in the writer's mind.

2 The relevance of this parenthesis is obscure; its meaning, in the light of other passages in Aristotle, may be that injustice is worse in the sense that it is evil per se (whereas the unjust man is evil per accidens) , but the unjust man is worse in the sense that he is productive of evil.

3 Bk. 3.10.

4 This addition is illogically expressed, but it is a reminder that to take too little of certain ‘necessary’ pleasures is as wrong as to take too much: see 4.5, first note.

5 i.e., necessary things; see the tripartite classification of 4.5.

6 Incurable, and therefore profligate, ἀκόλαστος, which means literally either ‘incorrigible’ or ‘unchastized’ : see note on 3.12.5.

7 Not Softness strictly, which ranges with Unrestraint and is not deliberate.

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