Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 7, Chapter 5 (1148b15-1149a24)

By Aristotle

Book 7, Chapter 5 (1148b15-1149a24)

  • Aristotle shifts to a discussion of brutishness. He uses the example of women who rip unborn babies from the wombs of pregnant women and eat them. Um. What? Whoa.
  • Happily, this isn't the norm for the human condition. This horrifying behavior usually happens through disease or mental illness.
  • But there are some habits that happen naturally or from habit, like eating non-food items, self-harming, and even homosexuality (according to Aristotle) that are considered aberrant.
  • Those who are like this by nature do not lack self-restraint.
  • The same is true for those who behave brutishly through illness.
  • These are "outside the defining boundaries of vice."
  • Excessive vice is always accompanied by illness or brutishness.
  • Aristotle believes there are people who have despicable impulses but who don't act on them. Others are overcome by them.
  • When speaking of lack of self-restraint, Aristotle says we have to confine ourselves to things that licentiousness and moderation deal with.
  • Anything greater or lesser does not fit in this category.