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Hence the sense to which Profligacy is related is the most universal of the senses; and there appears to be good ground for the disrepute in which it is held, because it belongs to us not as human beings but as animals. Therefore it is bestial to revel in such pleasures, and to like them better than any others. We do not refer to the most refined of the pleasures of touch, such as the enjoyment of friction and warm baths in the gymnasia; the tactual pleasures of the profligate have to do with certain parts only, not with the whole of the body.11.

Desires seem to be of two kinds, one common to all men, the other peculiar to special peoples, and adventitious. For instance, the desire for food is natural, since everyone desires solid or liquid nourishment, and sometimes both, when in need of them; and also sexual intercourse, as Homer says,1 when young and lusty. But not everybody desires this or that particular sort of nourishment, any more than everyone desires the same particular portion of food;2 hence a taste for this or that sort of food seems to be an individual peculiarity. [2] Not but what there is also something natural in such tastes; for different things are pleasant to different people, and there are some special delicacies which all men like better than ordinary food.3 [3]

In the case of the natural desires, then, few men err, and in one way only, that of excess in quantity; for to eat or drink to repletion of ordinary food and drink is to exceed what is natural in amount, since the natural desire is only to satisfy one's wants. Hence people who over-eat are called ‘mad-bellies,’ meaning that they fill that organ beyond the right measure; it is persons of especially slavish nature that are liable to this form of excess. [4]

But in regard to the pleasures peculiar to particular people, many men err, and err in many ways. For when people are said to be ‘very fond of’ so-and-so, it is either because they like things that it is not right to like, or like them more than most people do, or like them in a wrong manner; and the profligate exceed in all these ways. For they like some things that are wrong, and indeed abominable, and any such things that it is right to like they like more than is right, and more than most people. [5]

It is clear then that excess in relation to pleasures is Profligacy, and that it is blameworthy. As regards pains on the other hand, it is not with Temperance as it is with Courage: a man is not termed temperate for enduring pain and profligate for not enduring it, but profligate for feeling more pain than is right when he fails to get pleasures (in his case pleasure actually causing pain), and temperate for not feeling pain at the absence of pleasure [or at abstaining from it].

1 A reminiscence of Hom. Il. 24.130.

2 The text should perhaps be amended to run ‘nor desires the same food always.’

3 Preferences are natural because (1) men's natures vary and therefore their tastes vary, (2) some preferences are universal.

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