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[Aristotle,_Roger_Crisp]_Nicomachean_Ethics_(Cambr(BookFi)

1114a

1114a Nicomachean Ethics This view seems to be backed up not only by each of us as private individuals, but also by legislators themselves. For they punish and penalize anyone who does wicked things, unless he acts by force or through ignorance for which he is not himself culpable, and they reward anyone who does noble things, as if encouraging the one while deterring the other. But no one is urged to do what is neither in our power nor voluntary; people assume it to be a waste of time to persuade us not to be hot or in pain or hungry or anything else like that, because we shall experience them anyway. Indeed, legislators punish an offender for ignorance itself, if he is thought to be responsible for the ignorance. For example, there are double penalties for a drunken offender; the ®rst principle lies in him, in that he had the power not to get drunk, and his getting drunk was the cause of his ignorance. And they punish those who are ignorant of any uncomplicated point of law that they ought to have known. The same sort of thing happens in other cases where people are thought to be ignorant through negligence, on the ground that it was in their power not to be ignorant, because it was up to them whether they took care. Well, perhaps he is the sort of person not to take care. Nevertheless, people are themselves responsible for turning out like this, through the slackness of their lives ± responsible for being unjust by doing wrong, or intemperate by spending their time in drinking and the like; in each sphere people's activities give them the corresponding character. This is clear from the case of people training for any competition or action, since they practise the relevant activity continually. A person would have to be utterly senseless not to know that states in each sphere arise from their corresponding activities. Again, it is unreasonable to think that someone who does unjust actions does not wish to be unjust, or that someone who does intemperate actions does not wish to be intemperate. If a person does what he knows will make him unjust, he will be unjust voluntarily. It does not follow, however, that, if he wishes, he will stop being unjust and be just. For neither does the ill person become well like this; but he is ill voluntarily, by living incontinently and ignoring his doctors, if that was what happened. At that time, it was open to him not to be ill, but it is no longer so once he has thrown away his chance; similarly, one can no longer recover a stone once one has thrown it, though it was in one's power to throw it, because the ®rst principle lay within one. So too from 46

Book III the start it was open to the unjust person and the intemperate person not to become such, so that they are what they are voluntarily; but now that they have become what they are, it is no longer possible for them to be otherwise. But it is not only the vices of the soul that are voluntary; those of the body are too for some people, whom we go on to blame. For nobody blames someone unattractive by nature, but we do if he is so through not exercising and looking after himself. The same goes for weakness and disability; nobody would criticize a person blind by nature, or as the result of a disease or an injury, but rather pity him; everyone, however, would blame a person who was blind from drinking or some other intemperance. So bodily vices in our power are blamed, while those not in our power are not. And if so, then in other cases the vices that are blamed will be those in our power. But suppose somebody argues: `Everyone aims at what appears good to him, but over this appearance we have no control; rather, how the end appears to each person depends on what sort of person he is. So, if each person is in some way responsible for his own state, he will also be in some way responsible for how it appears. If he is not, however, then no one will be responsible for his own wrongdoing, but he will do these things through ignorance of the end, thinking that they will result in what is best for him. His aiming at the end is not up to him, but he must be born with a kind of vision, to enable him to judge nobly and to choose what is truly good. And a person is naturally good if he has this naturally noble capacity, since it is the greatest and noblest thing, and one cannot acquire or learn it from another; rather, his state will result from its natural character, and when it is naturally good and noble, this will be complete and true natural excellence.' If this is true, how will virtue be any more voluntary than vice? For how the end appears and is determined ± by nature or whatever ± is the same for both the good and the bad person, and it is by referring everything else to this that they do whatever they do. So whether it is not by nature that the end appears to each person in whatever way it does appear, but the person plays some role as well, or whether the end is ®xed by nature, but virtue is voluntary because the good person does the remaining actions voluntarily, vice will be no less voluntary than virtue. For the part played by the person himself is found to the same extent in the actions of the bad person, even if not in the end. 47 1114b

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