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The first thing is to define justice, then to proceed with the rest in order.—ἔστω, of a popular or merely provisional definition; comp. 5. 3; 6. 2; 7. 2.

‘Wrong’ or ‘injustice’ is defined ‘a voluntary injury contrary to law’. The two leading characteristics of a crime or punishable offence which are here brought into view are, that it is an act in violation of the law of the land—this is the political view of injustice—and that to be a crime the act must be intentional, done with malice prepense, and with full knowledge of the circumstances of the case and the probable effect of the action. It is thus distinguished from a merely accidental injury or harm done, which can hardly be considered voluntary at all, and again from a mere mistake or error of judgment arising from ignorance, not of universals, or general moral principles, but of the particular circumstances of the case (as of the absence of the button of the foil) where there is no evil or malicious purpose, no bad προαίρεσις, which constitutes the immorality of the act. See Eth. N. III 2, V 10. Rhet. I 13. 16.

νόμος δ᾽ ἐστὶν μὲν ἴδιος δὲ κοινός] Comp. 13. 2, 11, 12, and Introd. p. 239, Append. E. to Bk. I.

λέγω δὲ ἴδιον κ.τ.λ.] ‘by special1 law I mean the written law under which the government is conducted and the citizens live’, the laws and institutions—which direct the policy of the government and the conduct of the citizens—the positive, written, law of the particular state: this is human, as opposed to divine and natural, law: ‘by common (universal) law (I mean) all the unwritten principles that are supposed to be universally admitted’. This is the usual distinction taken between the two: these κοινά, ἄγραφα, are described, Introd. p. 239 seq.; for the further subdivision adopted in c. 13. 2, see Ib. p. 242.

ἑκόντες δὲ ποιοῦσιν ὅσα κ.τ.λ.] ‘a voluntary act is characterised by knowledge, and the absence of all external force and compulsion’. Eth. N. III 3, init. ὄντος δ᾽ ἀκουσίου τοῦ βίᾳ καὶ δἰ ἄγνοιαν, τὸ ἑκαύσιον δόξειεν ἂν εἶναι οὗ ἀρχὴ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰδότι τὰ καθ̓ ἔκαστα (i.e. with special knowledge of the particular circumstances) ἐν οἷς πρᾶξις. ἴσως γὰρ οὐ καλῶς λέγεται ἀκούσια εἶναι τὰ διὰ θυμὸν δἰ ἐπιθυμίαν. I 13. 6, τὰ ἑκούσια, ὅτι ἐστὶν ὅσα εἰδότες.

ὅσα μὲν οὖν ἑκόντες κ.τ.λ.] ‘now all voluntary actions are not done with (do not imply) deliberate moral purpose, but all acts done with such a purpose imply knowledge, because no one can be ignorant of what he purposes’. Eth. N. III 4, 1111 b 7, προαίρεσις δὴ ἑκούσιον μὲν φαίνεται, οὐ ταὐτὸν δέ, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ πλέον τὸ ἑκούσιον: τοῦ μὲν γὰρ ἑκουσίου καὶ παῖδες καὶ τἆλλα ζῷα κοινωνεῖ, προαιρέσεως δ̓ οὔ, καὶ τὰ ἐξαίφνης ἑκούσια μὲν λέγομεν, κατὰ προαίρεσιν δ̓ οὔ. Actions, for example, done under the impulse of violent excitement or passion, διὰ θυμόν, or of appetite, δἰ ἐπιθυμίαν, are voluntary, but not κατὰ προαίρεσιν.

1 This application of the term ἴδιος to νόμος is to be distinguished from the ordinary meaning of it in this combination, as, for instance, Dem. de Cor. § 211, where it stands simply for ius privatum, relating to private (as opposed to public) affairs.

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