Page:The ethics of Aristotle.djvu/198
Well then, that Imperfection of Self-Control is not Confirmed Viciousness is plain: and yet perhaps it is such in a way, because in one sense it is contrary to moral choice and in another the result of it: at all events, in respect of the actions, the case is much like what Demodocus said of the Miletians. "The people of Miletus are not fools, but they do just the kind of things that fools do;" and so they of Imperfect Self-Control are not unjust, but they do unjust acts.
But to resume. Since the man of Imperfect Self-Control is of such a character as to follow bodily pleasures in excess and in defiance of Right Reason, without acting on any deliberate conviction, whereas the man utterly destitute of Self-Control does act upon a conviction which rests on his natural inclination to follow after these pleasures; the former may be easily persuaded to a different course, but the latter not: for Virtue and Vice respectively preserve and corrupt the moral principle; now the motive is the principle or starting point in moral actions, just as axioms and postulates are in mathematics: and neither in morals nor mathematics is it Reason which is apt to teach the principle; but Excellence, either natural or acquired by custom, in holding right notions with respect to the principle. He who does this in morals is the man of Perfected Self-Mastery, and the contrary character is the man utterly destitute of Self-Control.
Again, there is a character liable to be taken off his feet in defiance of Right Reason because of passion; whom passion so far masters as to prevent his acting in accordance with Right Reason, but not so far as to make him be convinced that it is his proper line to follow after such pleasures without limit: this character is the man of Imperfect Self-Control, better than he who is utterly destitute of it, and not a bad man simply and without qualification: because in him the highest and best part, i.e. principle, is preserved: and there is another character opposed to him who is apt to abide by his resolutions, and not to depart from them; at all events, not at the instigation of passion.