Page:The ethics of Aristotle.djvu/285
for contentment if with all the means and appliances for goodness in our hands we can attain to Virtue.
The formation of a virtuous character some ascribe to Nature, some to Custom, and some to Teaching. Now Nature's part, be it what it may, obviously does not rest with us; but belongs to those who in the truest sense are fortunate, by reason of certain divine agency.
Then, as for Words and Precept, they, it is to be feared, will not avail with all; but it may be necessary for the mind of the disciple to have been previously prepared for liking and disliking as he ought; just as the soil must, to nourish the seed sown. For he that lives in obedience to passion cannot hear any advice that would dissuade him, nor, if he heard, understand: now him that is thus how can one reform? in fact, generally, passion is not thought to yield to Reason but to brute force. So then there must be, to begin with, a kind of affinity to Virtue in the disposition; which must cleave to what is honourable and loath what is disgraceful. But to get right guidance towards Virtue from the earliest youth is not easy unless one is brought up under laws of such kind; because living with self-mastery and endurance is not pleasant to the mass of men, and specially not to the young. For this reason the food, and manner of living generally, ought to be the subject of legal regulation, because things when become habitual will not be disagreeable.
Yet perhaps it is not sufficient that men while [1180a] young should get right food and tendance, but, inasmuch as they will have to practise and become accustomed to certain things even after they have attained to man's estate, we shall want laws on these points as well, and, in fine, respecting one's whole life, since the mass of men are amenable to compulsion rather than Reason, and to punishment rather than to a sense of honour.
And therefore some men hold that while lawgivers should employ the sense of honour to exhort and guide men to Virtue, under the notion that they will then obey who have