Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 7, Chapter 7 (1150a10-1150b29)

By Aristotle

Book 7, Chapter 7 (1150a10-1150b29)

  • In terms of pleasure and pain, it's possible to be a superhero of self-restraint (able to resist temptation better than most) or superwimp (unable to resist what most people can).
  • So we can be either steadfast or soft in resisting. Most people are in between.
  • A licentious person loves pleasures excessively and cannot be changed. He chooses vice and loves it. No shame there.
  • Some don't choose but are overcome by pleasure (or by a desire to avoid pain).
  • A person who does terrible things without being overpowered by desire is just awful and scary. How would such a person act if he were actually prompted by something?
  • In this case, a licentious person is worse than a person with a lack of self-restraint. A person LSR is merely "soft."
  • A steadfast person "holds out" against something; a self-restrained person kicks that something's butt. So to be self-restrained is way better.
  • A soft or delicate person is a kind of wimp: he can't hold out against even the things that everyone else can withstand.
  • It's the effort that matters. No one will blame you if, after a good struggle, you give in to strong pleasures or pains.
  • Aristotle dissects lack of self-restraint and finds that it's part lack of impulse control, part weakness.
  • People lacking self-restraint might be weak in their resolve. They deliberate and choose well, but can't stick to their resolution. Others just don't really think.
  • Those who're nervous/excitable or depressive seem to be the most impetuous. They appear to follow imagination rather than reason.