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[Aristotle,_Roger_Crisp]_Nicomachean_Ethics_(Cambr(BookFi)

1126b

1126b Nicomachean Ethics The excess occurs in all these respects ± in getting angry with the wrong people, for the wrong reasons, as well as to a greater degree, more quickly, and for a longer time than is right. But not all of them will be found in the same person; indeed, they could not, since evil destroys even itself, and if it is perfect, it becomes intolerable. Irascible people get angry quickly, with the wrong people, at the wrong things, and to a greater degree than they should, but they are also quick to calm down ± which is the best thing about them. This happens because they do not repress their anger but, since they are quicktempered, retaliate openly and then stop. Irritable people are excessively quick-tempered; they get angry at anything in any situation, which is the origin of their name. Sulky people are hard to make up with, and remain angry for a long time, because they repress their spirit. It stops, however, when they retaliate, since revenge relieves their anger, by substituting pleasure for pain. Otherwise, they retain their grudge; because it does not manifest itself, no one persuades them out of it, and it takes time to digest one's anger in oneself. People like this cause terrible trouble to themselves and their close friends. We call cross those who get cross at the wrong things, and to a greater degree and for a longer time than is right, and will not make up before vengeance or punishment has been in¯icted. We place the excess in greater opposition to even temper, because it is more common (revenge being more human), and because cross people are harder to live with. What we have just said makes clear what we said before: it is not easy to determine how, with whom, at what, and how long one should be angry, and the limits of acting rightly and missing the mark. For the person who strays a little from the right path, whether towards excess or de®ciency, is not blamed: sometimes we praise as even-tempered those who fall short, and those who get cross as manly in that they can in¯uence others. So it is not easy to articulate how far a person has to go in getting angry, and in what way, before he is liable to blame; such things depend on the particular circumstances, and judgement lies in perception. But so much at least is clear, that the mean state ± in virtue of which we get angry with the right people, at the right things, in the right way, and so on ± is praiseworthy, while the excesses and de®ciencies are to be blamed ± only slightly if they are minor, more so if they are more 74

Book IV serious, and very much so if they are major. Obviously, then, we should keep close to the mean state. So much, then, for the states concerned with anger. Chapter 6 In private relations with others ± both in living together and in participating in discussions and actions ± some people seem obsequious; in an attempt to please us, they praise everything and are never obstructive, thinking that they must not cause any pain to those they meet. At the opposite extreme, people who obstruct everything and think nothing of causing pain are called bad-tempered and belligerent. It is quite clear that the states we have mentioned are blameworthy, and that the mean ± on the basis of which a person will accept the right things, and in the right way, and likewise reject them ± is praiseworthy. It has not been given a name, but it seems most like friendship; for the person corresponding to the mean state is the sort we mean when we talk of a good friend, though this does imply affection. It differs from friendship, in that it does not involve feeling and affection for those with whom one associates: this person accepts the right things not because he is a friend or an enemy, but because his character is as it is. For he will act in the same fashion towards strangers and those he knows, towards people with whom he is familiar and those with whom he is not, except that in each case he will do what suits the occasion; it is not appropriate to take the same trouble over ± or to cause the same amount of pain to ± close acquaintances and strangers. Generally, then, we have said that he will associate with people in the right way, but it is by reference to what is noble and what is useful that he will aim at not causing pain to others or at pleasing them. For he seems to be concerned with the pleasures and pains that arise in private relations with others; and whenever it is not noble for him to add to the enjoyment of others, or is harmful to do so, he will object to doing it, and rationally choose to cause them pain. Again, if the other's doing something would bring great disgrace on him, or cause him some harm, while opposition would cause only slight pain, the person with virtue will not accept the action, but object to it. He will associate with people of distinction differently from ordinary people, and with people he knows better differently from those he 75 1127a

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