Page:The ethics of Aristotle.djvu/252

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course is to distinguish and define how far each is true, and in what way. If we could ascertain the sense in which each uses the term "Self-loving," this point might be cleared up.

Well now, they who use it disparagingly give the name to those who, in respect of wealth, and honours, and pleasures of the body, give to themselves the larger share: because the mass of mankind grasp after these and are earnest about them as being the best things; which is the reason why they are matters of contention. They who are covetous in regard to these gratify their lusts and passions in general, that is to say the irrational part of their soul: now the mass of mankind are so disposed, for which reason the appellation has taken its rise from that mass which is low and bad. Of course they are justly reproached who are Self-loving in this sense.

And that the generality of men are accustomed to apply the term to denominate those who do give such things to themselves is quite plain: suppose, for instance, that a man were anxious to do, more than other men, acts of justice, or self-mastery, or any other virtuous acts, and, in general, were to secure to himself that which is abstractedly noble and honourable, no one would call him Self-loving, nor blame him.

Yet might such an one be judged to be more truly Self-loving: certainly he gives to himself the things which are most noble and most good, and gratifies that Principle of his nature which is most rightfully authoritative, and obeys it in everything: and just as that which possesses the highest authority is thought to constitute a Community or any other system, so also in the case of Man: and so he is most truly Self-loving who loves and gratifies this Principle.

Again, men are said to have, or to fail of having, self-control, according as the Intellect controls or not, it being plainly implied thereby that this Principle constitutes each individual; and people are thought to have done of them