Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 7, Chapter 1 (1145a15-1145b21)

By Aristotle

Book 7, Chapter 1 (1145a15-1145b21)

  • Aristotle turns his laser vision to lack of self-restraint, vice, and "brutishness"—all things the virtuous should avoid.
  • The opposite of brutishness is a kind of divinity: super-goodness. But just as it's rare for man to become a god, it's also pretty unusual for a human to be truly brutish.
  • This would be the absolutely worst person on the planet, filled with every vice.
  • Aristotle wants to speak of the problems that arise from lack of backbone: no self-restraint, "softness," and "delicacy."
  • Also at issue, their opposites: steadfastness and self-restraint.
  • He sets up the self-restrained and the out-of-control in total opposition to each other.
  • Major difference? Self-restrained people recognize that what they desire might be great for their souls and so hold themselves back. This person hangs tight to reason.
  • Aristotle shares various ideas about the steadfast (are they moderate in everything?), those lacking self-restraint (the licentious), and the prudent (can they be without self-restraint?).
  • He commits to no definite ideas about these categories of people yet.