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But yet they act as fools would do.
” Similarly the unrestrained are not unjust, but they do unjust things.  Again,3 the unrestrained man is so constituted as to pursue bodily pleasures that are excessive and contrary to right principle without any belief that he ought to do so, whereas the profligate, because he is so constituted as to pursue them, is convinced that he ought to pursue them. Therefore the former can easily be persuaded to change,4 but the latter cannot. For virtue preserves the fundamental principle,5 vice destroys it, and the first principle or starting-point in matters of conduct is the end proposed, which corresponds to the hypotheses6 of mathematics; hence no more in ethics than in mathematics are the first principles imparted by process of reasoning, but by virtue, whether natural or acquired by training in right opinion as to the first principle. The man of principle therefore is temperate, the man who has lost all principle, profligate.  But there is a person who abandons his choice, against right principle, under the influence of passion, who is mastered by passion sufficiently for him not to act in accordance with right principle, but not so completely as to be of such a character as to believe that the reckless pursuit of pleasure is right. This is the unrestrained man: he is better than the profligate, and not absolutely bad, for in him the highest part of man, the fundamental principle, is still preserved. Opposed to the unrestrained man is another, who stands firm by his choice, and does not abandon it under the mere impulse of passion. It is clear then from these considerations that Self-restraint is a good quality and Unrestraint a bad one.9. Is then a man self-restrained if he stands by a principle or choice of any sort, or must it be the right choice? and is a man unrestrained if he fails to stand by a choice or principle of any sort, or only if he fails to stand by the true principle and the right choice? This difficulty was raised before.7 Perhaps the answer is, that though accidentally it may be any principle or choice, essentially it is the true principle and the right choice that the one stands by and the other does not; in the sense that if a man chooses or pursues b as a means to a,
2 i.e., the feeble sort who stop to think and yet succumb; the impulsive man is not the typical unrestrained man.
3 The argument is here resumed from 8.1.
4 i.e., to change his conduct. The unrestrained man's belief is right already and he needs only to be induced to act up to it; whereas the profligate must be persuaded to change his belief before he will alter his conduct.
5 Cf. 6.5.6.
6 The context might indicate that the definitions are meant, which, themselves apprehended intuitively, are the starting-points of mathematical deductions. But these are ordinarily distinguished by Arisotle from hypotheses, which are assertions of the existence of things, not of their nature. It is therefore suggested that the term here means the propositions of mathematics, which are assumed as the starting-point of the analytical process by which a proof of a theorem or solution of a problem may be discovered: cf. 3.3.12.