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Next from the principle of the ‘fondness of like for like’ is deduced the universality of ‘self-love’. τὸ ὅμοιον καὶ τὸ συγγενὲς ἡδὺ ἑαυτῷ stands for τὰ ὅμοια καὶ τὰ συγγενῆ ἡδέα ἀλλήλοις ἅπαντα; ‘since all things that are like and akin (closely related) are agreeable to one another, and a man stands in the highest degree in this relation to himself, (τοῦτο πέπονθεν, ‘suffers this’, has this affection, i. e. relation to...) all men must be more or less fond of self (self-lovers); because all such relations (ὁμοιότης and συγγένεια) belong to him (ὑπάρχει αὐτῷ), most of all to himself’; i. e. he stands in these relations more nearly to himself than to any thing or any body else. In the discussion of τὸ φίλαυτον, the subject of Eth. Nic. IX 8, two kinds of self-love are distinguished; the one low and vulgar, characteristic of the πολλοί, which consists in τὸ ἑαυτοῖς ἀπονέμειν τὸ πλεῖον ἐν χρήμασι καὶ τιμαῖς καὶ ἡδοναῖς ταῖς σωματικαῖς...τούτων γὰρ οἱ πολλοὶ ὀρέγονται...οἱ δὴ περὶ ταῦτα πλεονέκται χαρίζονται ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις καὶ ὅλως τοῖς πάθεσι καὶ τῷ ἀλόγῳ τῆς ψυχῆς—διὸ καὶ ἡ προσηγορία γεγένηται ἀπὸ τοῦ πολλοῦ φαύλου ὄντος, 1168 b 16, seq.; and it has therefore got a ‘bad name’: but τὸ φίλαυτον in its true sense, when this desire of superiority over others, and consequent preference of self—this grasping spirit. πλεονεξία, in a good sense—manifests itself in a desire to excel them in honour and virtue, then becomes praiseworthy and right. ἐν πᾶσι δὴ τοῖς ἐπαινετοῖς ὁ σπουδαῖος φαίνεται ἑαυτῷ τοῦ καλοῦ πλέον νέμων. οὕτω μὲν οὖν φίλαυτον εἶναι δεῖ καθάπερ εἴρηται: ὡς δ᾽ οἱ πολλοί, οὐ χρή, 1169 a 35. Comp. Pol. II 5, 1263 b 2, τὸ δὲ φίλαυτον εἶναι ψέγεται δικαίως: οὐκ ἔστι δὲ τοῦτο τὸ φιλεῖν ἑαυτόν, ἀλλὰ τὸ μᾶλλον ἢ δεῖ φιλεῖν, καθάπερ καὶ τὸν φιλοχρήματον, ἐπεὶ φιλοῦσί γε πάντες ὡς εἰπεῖν ἕκαστον τῶν τοιούτων. So we say ‘fond of money’ or anything else, meaning ‘over-fond’ of it. The natural fondness is in all cases to be distinguished from the vicious over-fondness. This love of self will naturally be extended to all that immediately belongs to, or is closely connected with, oneself, τὰ αὑτῶν, as our ‘words’ and ‘works’. λόγοι all that we ‘say’—and, as we should now add in this our ‘reading age’, ‘read and write’—all our talk, studies, habits of thought, theories, arguments and such like, everything in which intellect is expressed; and ἔργα, all that we do, or produce, all our actions and works; in which latter is included the propagation of children, αὐτῶν γὰρ ἔργα τὰ τέκνα. Comp. Plat. Rep. 1 330 C, ὥσπερ γὰρ οἱ ποιηταὶ τὰ αὑτῶν ποιήματα καὶ οἱ πατέρες τοὺς παῖδας ἀγαπῶσι ταύτῃ τε δὲ καὶ οἱ χρηματισάμενοι περὶ τὰ χρήματα σπουδάζουσιν ὡς ἔργον ἑαυτῶν, καὶ οὐ κατὰ τὴν χρείαν ὥσπερ οἱ ἄλλοι. This natural fondness for our own ‘works’ is assigned in Eth. Nic. IX 7 as the reason why benefactors usually feel more affection for those on whom they have conferred their favours than these are inclined to return. The compensation principle, the debtor and creditor account between the two parties, belongs to justice, and has nothing to do with this natural affection, φιλία. δόξειε δ᾽ ἂν φυσικώτερον εἶναι τὸ αἴτιον, καὶ οὐχ ὅμοιον τῷ περὶ τοὺς δανείσαντας, 1167 b 29: and then follows the true explanation, ὅπερ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν τεχνιτῶν συμβέβηκεν: πᾶς γὰρ τὸ οἰκεῖον ἔργον ἀγαπᾷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἀγαπηθείη ἂν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἔργου ἐμψύχου γενομένου. μάλιστα δ᾽ ἴσως τοῦτο περὶ τοὺς ποιητὰς συμβαίνει: ὑπεραγαπῶσι γὰρ οὗτοι τὰ οἰκεῖα ποιήματα, στέργοντες ὥσπερ τέκνα. It is this love which men feel for what is specially their own in word or work that is the foundation of their liking for flattery, for the love of others, and for honour, the external tokens of respect—all of which are recognitions of their merit in word or deed in some shape or other, and evidence of respect, admiration, and regard; from the flatterer a mere pretence, with the others a reality. It is also the explanation of the parental affection, children being in a special and peculiar sense a man's own work. And this accounts also for the pleasure which we find in supplying a defect, or bringing anything to a state of perfection (see on § 22), ‘because now (by this time, not before, ἤδη) the work becomes our own’: the perfection of it is due to ourselves, and we get the credit of the whole. Victorius remarks upon this, that the difference between this form of pleasure and that which is expressed in the same words in § 22, lies in the difference of the source of the pleasure and the motive of the action in either case. In the former the motive is benevolent, and the pleasure is that of doing good to others; here the motive is selfish, and the pleasure that of gratifying oneself.
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