CONTINENCE AND INCONTINENCE
Censurable Moral Dispositions and Their Opposites
I. HE DISCUSSES CONTINENCE AND ITS CONTRARIES.
A. He distinguishes continence from other things belonging to the same genus.
1. HE DISTINGUISHES CONTINENCE AND ITS CONTRARY FROM OTHER THINGS BELONGING To THE SAME GENUS.
a. He enumerates the censurable habits or dispositions in moral matters. — 1292-1296
Now, making a new start, we must indicate that there are three kinds of dispositions in moral practice to be avoided, viz., vice, incontinence and brutishness.
b. He gives their contraries.
i. He points out two ... about which there is no question. — 1297
And the contraries of two of them are obvious, for the one we call virtue and the other continence.
ii. He shows what is opposed to the third.
x. HE SETS FORTH HIS PROPOSITION. — 1298-1299
The contrary of brutishness very properly is said to be above us and is called a heroic and divine virtue.
y. HE EXPLAINS IT.
aa. In man there is a kind of heroic... virtue. — 1300
In this manner Homer [Iliad, xxiv. 258] presents Priam as boasting that his son Hector was so exceedingly virtuous that he did not seem to be an offspring of mortal man but of God. If then, as it is said, men become divine it will be because of the excellence of virtue of this kind, viz., a habit opposed to brutishness.
bb. This virtue is the opposite of brutishness.
a’ First. — 1301
In fact neither vice nor virtue is attributed to either dumb animals or God. But the one (divine virtue) is more honorable than virtue while the other (brutishness) is a kind of vice.
b’ Second. — 1302-1303
Just as it is rare for men to be godlike—when the Spartans greatly admired someone, they used to exclaim: “This man is divine”—so also is it rare for men to be brutish; it is especially among the barbarians that brutishness is found. Men become brutish both on account of sickness and loss of loved ones, and on account of the prevalence of vice among them (for this reason they receive a bad name).
2. HE SHOWS WHICH... HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED AND WHICH REMAIN TO BE DISCUSSED.
a. He connects the preceding with what follows. — 1304
But later we will have to review this habit—vice in general was discussed previously. Now we must investigate incontinence together with effeminacy and voluptuousness. Likewise it will be necessary to treat b continence and perseverance, for these habits must not be understood as identical with virtue and vice, nor as different in kind.
b. He explains his method of procedure. — 1305
Here, however, we must proceed as in other subjects, stating what appears probable and then presenting the difficulties. In this way we will show everything that is most probable about these movements of the soul-well, if not everything, at least many of the principal things. Indeed a sufficient exposition will be given when the difficulties are solved and the probabilities remain.
B. He investigates (continence and incontinence, perseverance, and effeminacy).
1. HE FIRST PROPOSES WHAT IS PROBABLE.
a. Concerning continence and incontinence. — 1306
It surely seems that continence and perseverance are good and laudable; that incontinence and effeminacy are evil and censurable. The continent man seems to be identified with one who abides by reason; but the incontinent man, with one who disregards reason. Knowing that certain of his actions are evil, the incontinent man nevertheless does them because of passion. On the other hand, the continent man, knowing that his desires are evil, refuses to follow them because of the judgment of reason.
b. From a comparison... with other dispositions. — 1307-1308
Likewise the temperate man seems to be continent and persevering and, according to some philosophers, every continent man is temperate, but according to others he is not. Some even maintain that all intemperate men are incontinent and all incontinent men intemperate, without distinction; others distinguish them. Sometimes they say that the prudent man cannot be incontinent; sometimes that certain prudent and godlike men are incontinent.
c. He proposes what is probable about their matter. — 1309
Besides, men are said to be incontinent in regard to anger, honor, and gain. Such then are the statements made about these subjects.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1292. After the Philosopher has defined the moral and intellectual virtues, he now begins to consider certain things that follow from them. First [Lect. 1] he treats continence, which is something imperfect in the genus of virtue. Next [Bk. VIII, Lect. 1], at “After the previous discussions etc.” (B. 1155), he treats friendship, which is a particular effect of virtue. Finally [Bk. X, Lect. 1], at “After these matters etc.” (B.1172 a 18), he treats the end of virtue. On the first point he does two things. First [I] he discusses continence and its contrary. Then [Lect. 11], at “The investigation of pleasure etc.” (B. 1152 b), he discusses pleasure and pain, which are their matter. He treats the first point from two aspects. First [I, A] he distinguishes continence from other things belonging to the same genus. Second [I, B], at “It surely seems etc.,” he investigates them. On the first point he does two things. First [I, A, 1] he distinguishes continence and its contrary from other things belonging to the same genus. Second [I, A, 2], at “But later we will have etc.,” he shows which of these have been discussed and which remain to be discussed. He handles the first point in a twofold manner. First [I, A, 1, a] he enumerates the censurable habits or dispositions in moral matters. Then [1, A, 1, b], at “And the contraries etc.,” he gives their contraries.
1293. He says first that, after the treatment of the moral and intellectual virtues (245-1291)—so that nothing in moral may be passed over—we must make another start, stating that there are three kinds of states to be avoided in moral practice: vice, incontinence, and brutishness.
1294. So it is necessary to understand the difference between these things. As a good action is not without practical reason and right desire—we pointed this out in the sixth book (1269)—a perversion of these two faculties can bring about an act to be avoided in moral matters. If then perversity occurs on the part of the appetitive faculty so that the practical reason remains right, there will be incontinence-a condition that is present when a man has correct evaluation of what he ought to do or avoid but draws away to the contrary by reason of the passion of desire. But if the perversity of the appetitive faculty becomes so strong that it dominates reason, reason follows that to which the perverted desire inclines, as a kind of principle, considering it to be the ultimate end. Hence a man will perform evil actions by choice and for this reason he is called bad, as was noted in the fifth hook (1058). Therefore a disposition of this kind is given the name of vice.
1295. But we must consider that the perversion of a thing happens from the fact that the natural disposition of that thing is destroyed. Thus physical sickness occurs in man because the proportion of humors belonging to this man is destroyed. In a similar way perversion of the appetite, which sometimes perverts the reason, consists in the destruction of the commensuration of man’s desires. But a destruction of this kind does not consist in a thing that cannot be added to or taken from another, but it has a certain latitude, as is evident in the natural disposition of humors in the human body, forhuman nature can be kept in good health with more or less warmth. Likewise, a correct relation in human living is preserved by various degrees of desire.
1296. In one way an upset in harmony of this kind can arise without exceeding the limits of a human mode of living. Then it will simply be called incontinence or human vice, like sickness of the human body in which human nature is preserved. In another way the correct relation in human desires can be so corrupted that it exceeds the limits of a human mode of living like the inclinations of a dumb animal, a lion, or a pig. This is what is called brutishness. It is just as if the temperament of a man’s body had been changed into the temperament of a lion or a pig.
1297. Next [I, A, 1, b], at “And the contraries,” he gives the dispositions contrary to the qualities just mentioned. First [I, A, 1, b, il he points out two dispositions about which there is no question, noting that the contraries of two of these are obvious, since to vice virtue is opposed and to incontinence, continence.
1298. Second [I, A, 1, b, ii], at “The contrary” he shows what is opposed to the third, viz., brutishness. First [ii, x], he sets forth his proposition. Then [ii, y], at “In this manner etc.,” he explains it. He says first that a virtue, which exceeds the usual human mode and can be called heroic or divine,.is appropriately said to be opposed to brutishness. Indeed the pagans gave the name hero to the souls of their illustrious dead who, to their way of thinking, were even deified.
1299. To understand this we must remember that the human soul is the middle substance between the higher or divine substances, with which it shares intelligence, and dumb animals with which it shares sensitive powers. Consequently: (1) the affections of the sensitive part are sometimes perverted in man almost like dumb animals (and this is called brutishness, exceeding human vice and incontinence); (2) the rational part in man is perfected and formed beyond the usual mode of human perfection after a likeness to separated substances (and this is called a divine virtue exceeding ordinary human virtue). Indeed the order of things is so arranged that the mean between different parts touches the two extremes. Likewise, then, in human nature there is something that comes into contact with what is above and something that comes into contact with what is below; yes, and something that occupies the middle.
1300. Then [ii, y], at “In this manner,” he clarifies his statement. First [y, aa] he explains that in man there is a kind of heroic or divine virtue. Next [y, bb] at “In fact neither vice etc.,” he shows that this virtue is the opposite of brutishness. He illustrates his first point with two examples. The first example is taken from Homer’ who presents Priam as claiming his son Hector was so exceedingly virtuous that he seemed rather a child of God than of man-beyond the ordinary ways of man something divine appeared in him. His second example illustrates the same point by a pagan proverb believing in the deification of heroes. This is not to be understood, Aristotle says, in the sense that human nature is changed into divine nature but in the sense that the excellence of virtue exceeds the usual hum-an mode. Obviously, then, there is in some men a kind of divine virtue, and he draws the conclusion that this virtue is the opposite of brutishness.
1301. Next [y, bb], at “In fact neither vice,” he proves his proposition by two arguments. The first [bb, a’] is that vice and virtue are said to be proper to man. Hence, neither vice is attributed to a dumb animal who is inferior to man, nor virtue to God who is superior to man. But divine virtue is more noble than human virtue, which for us is called virtue in the fullest sense. On the other hand, brutish perversity is a kind of vice different from human vice, which is vice in the unqualified sense.
1302. He gives his second argument, at “Just as it is rare” [bb, b’], by asserting that people rarely have such great virtue, and those who do seem to be divine. Hence, when the Spartans—citizens of a particular section of Greece—marvelled at the virtue of someone, they exclaimed: “This man is divine.” Likewise in regard to the vice, brutishness is rarely found among men.
1303. He presents three ways by which men become brutish. The first from a pagan manner of life, e.g., some of the barbarians, who are not accustomed to reasonable laws, fall into the vice of brutishness because of general vicious habits; the second way, from sickness and privations, i.e., loss of loved ones, which makes them lose their minds and. become animals; the third way, from an excessive growth in vice, which shamefully stigmatizes them with the name of beast. Since this is true, as divine virtue is rarely found among the good, so brutishness is rarely found among the vicious, it seems that the two things correspond by opposition to one another.
1304. Then [I, A, 2], at “But later we will have,” he shows what kind of matters has been discussed and what yet remains. First [I, A, 2, a] he connects the preceding with what follows. Next [I, A, 2, b], at “Here, however, we must etc.,” he explains his method of procedure. He says first that, later in this book (1401-1403), he will review this habit of brutishness. Previously in the treatment of the moral virtues (528-1108) he discussed vice, the opposite of virtue. But now (1306-1468) he must investigate incontinence, which is censured when concerned with pleasures, and effeminacy and voluptuousness, which are censured when concerned with pain. Likewise he must investigate continence, which is commendable when concerned with pleasure, and perseverance, which is commendable when concerned with pain, in such a way, however, that we do not consider these to be habits—either identified with virtue and vice, or different in kind.
1305. At “Here, however, we must” [I, A, 2, b] he explains his method of procedure. Here we must proceed in the usual way, i.e., after stating what seems probable in the preceding discussions, the difficulties should be presented. In this way everything that is most probable in the matters discussed will be explained; or if not everything—no human mind is capable of this—at least many of the principal things, The reason is that when difficulties are resolved in any question and probabilities appear as true, a sufficient study has been made.
1306. Next [I, B], at “it surely seems,” he investigates continence and incontinence, perseverance, and effeminacy. According to his plan, [I, B, 1] he first proposes what is probable. Then [Lect. 2: I, B, 2], at “Someone can raise a doubt” (B.1145 b 22), he brings forward the difficulties. Last [Lect. 3: I], at “First then we must try,” he solves the difficulties (B. 1146 b 8). On the initial point he does three things. First [B, 1, a] he proposes what is probable concerning continence and incontinence themselves. Second [B, 1, b], at “Likewise the temperate man etc,,” he proposes what is probable from a comparison of them with other dispositions. Finally, [B, 1, c], at “Besides, men are etc.,” he proposes what is probable about this matter. On the first point he makes three probable statements. The first pertains to the goodness and the badness of these dispositions. He says it is probable that continence and perseverance are good and laudable while incontinence and effeminacy are evil and censurable. The second statement pertains to the definitions of the things themselves. He says that the continent man seems to be identical with the reasonable person who judges what ought to be done reasonably; but the incontinent man seems to depart from reasonable judgment. The third pertains to the operations of these dispositions; he says that the incontinent man knows these particular actions are evil, and nevertheless does them out of passion. On the other hand, the continent man experiences desires that he knows are evil, and does not pursue them because of the judgment of reason. These two remarks are to be extended also to perseverance and effeminacy in connection with pains.
1307. Then [B, 1, b], at “Likewise the temperate etc.,” he makes two probable statements from a comparison of these with other dispositions. The first is taken from a comparison of continence with temperance. He says that the temperate man seems to be continent and persevering. Some philosophers even hold that every continent and persevering man is temperate, but others hold that he is not. Regarding the opposites of these, some were of the opinion that all intemperate men are incontinent, conversely, in a confused way, i.e., without any distinction; but others, that these differ one from another.
1308. The second statement is taken from a comparison with prudence. He says that sometimes it is maintained that the prudent man cannot be incontinent; sometimes, that certain prudent and godlike, i.e., gifted, men are incontinent.
1309. Last [B, 1, c], at “Besides, men,” he states what is probable about their matter, remarking that at times some are called incontinent not only for their concupiscence but also in connection with anger, honor, and gain. These then are the six statements that are usually made about continence and incontinence, perseverance, and effeminacy.
Doubts Concerning Continence
2. HE NOW BRINGS UP DOUBTS ABOUT ALL HE HAS SAID.
a. He first submits what is more doubtful. — 1310-1312
Someone can raise a doubt on how a man who judges correctly is incontinent.
b. He places six doubts. The first.
i. He objects to one part. — 1313
Certain philosophers, therefore, say this is not possible for a man with knowledge. It is strange, as Socrates thought, that something else should control and enslave a man’s knowledge. Indeed Socrates completely defended this line of reasoning, so that for him incontinence did not exist, for he maintained that no one rightly judging does anything but the best, except out of ignorance.
ii. He objects to the other part. — 1314
This teaching of Socrates casts doubt on much that is clearly evident. So it will be best to examine passion; and, if man sins only through ignorance, the kind of ignorance operating here. Obviously, before the onslaught of passion, an incontinent man knows he ought not to do what he actually does.
iii. He rejects the solution of certain philosophers.
x. HE PROPOSES (IT). — 1315
Some accept one saying of Socrates and reject another. They admit that nothing is more powerful than knowledge but they do not admit that man can do nothing other than what he thinks is better. For this reason they say that the incontinent man, who is overcome by lust, does not have knowledge but only opinion.
y. HE REJECTS THIS SOLUTION. — 1316
But if it is opinion and not knowledge nor a strong supposition tending to the contrary but an ineffective belief held by people who are uncertain, it deserves tolerance because a man does not adhere to weak opinions in the fact of vigorous concupiscence. However, tolerance is not extended either to vice or to any other of the censurable dispositions.
c. The second doubt.
i. He objects to one part. — 1317
Therefore (the incontinent man has) prudence contending against desire, and prudence is the strongest of opinions.
ii. He shows that this argument is not tenable for two reasons.
x. THE FIRST. — 1318
This, however, is unreasonable, for a man will be prudent and incontinent at the same time. But no one will maintain that it pertains to a prudent man willingly to perform the basest acts.
y. THE SECOND. — 1319
In this connection it was explained previously that a prudent man not only is concerned with ultimates, but also has the other virtues.
d. The third doubt. — 1320
Besides, if the continent man is so called from the fact that he has vehement evil desires, the temperate man will not be continent, nor the continent man temperate; for one who is completely temperate does not have evil desires. However, it is necessary for the continent man to have evil desires, for if his desires are good, the habit forbidding him to follow them is evil. Therefore, not every kind of continence is desirable. But if the desires are weak and not evil, then to be continent is not something worthy of respect; if they are weak and evil (to resist them) will not be remarkable either.
e. The fourth doubt.
i. He presents a difficulty about the nature of continence. — 1321
Moreover, if continence makes a man hold all opinions, then a kind of continence can be evil-in case the opinions are also false.
ii. He makes three objections.
x. THE FIRST. — 1322
Likewise if incontinence disposes a man to abandon any and every opinion, it will follow that a kind of incontinence is desirable. Neoptolemus in Sophocles’ Philoctetes is an example of this. For he is to be praised for not retaining the opinion of which he had been persuaded by Ulysses, because lying saddened him.
y. THE SECOND OBJECTION. — 1323
Further, the sophistic argument is a cause of doubt. Some men want to argue to indubitable conclusions so that they may appear wise when they attain them; and the syllogism they devise gives rise to doubt. As a result the mind (of the hearer) remains in suspense, since it does not want to admit the conclusion because it is not acceptable, but neither can it rest in the opposite conclusion because it is not able to solve the argument.
z. THE THIRD OBJECTION. — 1324
It would appear from this then that imprudence joined with incontinence is a virtue. That a man performs actions contrary to what he judges is due to incontinence. But he judges that good actions are bad and ought not to be done. Therefore, he will be doing good and not bad actions.
f. The fifth doubt. — 1325
Furthermore, the man who from persuasion and personal choice pursues pleasures will appear better than one who acts from incontinence rather than reasoning. The persuaded man is more corrigible because he can be dissuaded. On the other hand, to the incontinent man is applicable the proverb: “When water chokes, what can we drink?” If a person performs evil actions because of conviction, he will cease from them when dissuaded; but the incontinent person will do them notwithstanding.
g. The sixth doubt. — 1326
In addition, if continence and incontinence are concerned with all dispositions, who will be continent without qualification? No one really has all the species of incontinence, but we do say that some are absolutely incontinent.
3. HE SUMS UP. — 1327
Such then are the doubts occurring in this matter; some of them should be solved and some allowed to remain, for the solution of a doubt is found in the truth.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1310. After the Philosopher has stated the conclusions that seem probable concerning continence and incontinence, he now brings up doubts about all that he has said [I, B, 2], not, however, in the same order in which he has presented them. In fact, he proposed the doubts in that order in which they first fall under consideration. But on any subject a man first considers the general aspect, for example, whether it is good or bad. Next, he considers the peculiar nature of the thing; third, its operation. Fourth, he compares it to other things with which it agrees; fifth, to those things from which it differs. Finally he considers its external surroundings.
1311. But in presenting the doubts he first submits what is more doubtful [2, a]. So, then, contrary to these six considerations [2, b], he places six doubts. The first doubt concerns the third probable statement about the act of the continent and the incontinent man. Next [2, c], at “Therefore... prudence,” he places the second doubt concerned with the fifth probable statement, which referred to a comparison with prudence. The third doubt r2, d], given at “Besides, if the continent etc.,” deals with the fourth probable statement, which relates to a comparison
with temperance. The fourth doubt [2, e], given at “Moreover, if continence etc.,” concerns the second probable statement, which had to do with the definition of continence and incontinence. The fifth doubt [2, f], given at “Furthermore, he who does etc.,” is concerned with the first probable statement which treated the goodness and badness of continence and incontinence. The sixth doubt [2, g], given at “In addition, if continence etc.,” regards the sixth probable statement dealing with the matter of continence and incontinence.
1312. In regard to the initial point he first proposes the doubt [2, a]. On this he remarks that someone can doubt how a man who judges correctly is incontinent in doing the contrary.
1313. Then [2, b], at “Certain philosophers,” he pursues the doubt. First he objects to one part [b, i]. Next [b, ii], at “This teaching etc.,” he objects to the other part. Last [b, iii], at “Some accept etc.,” he rejects the solution of certain philosophers. He says first that some hold that it is impossible for a man to be incontinent when he judges correctly as a result of knowledge, because the stronger is not overcome by the weaker. Since then knowledge is a very powerful principle in man, it seems that, with knowledge present, something other would command knowledge and drag it along as a slave, although reason—of which knowledge is a perfection—should rather be in control and command the sensitive part as a slave (so the objection runs). This was the argument of Socrates. So rigidly did Socrates follow his own argument that incontinence might seem impossible. Indeed, he thought that no one who judges correctly does anything except : what is best; but that all sin occurs through ignorance.
1314. Next [b, ii], at “This teaching,” he objects on the contrary that Socrates’ doctrine on this point calls into question matters that are evident. Obviously some people do what they know is wrong. If they really sin through ignorance, which happens while they are under passion’s influence, whether concupiscence or anger, an investigation of the kind of ignorance involved is highly desirable. Obviously, before passion supervenes, the incontinent man does not judge he should do what he later actually does in the heat of passion.
1315. At “Some accept”. [b, iii] he rejects the solution of ceitain philosophers. First [b, iii, x] he proposes their solution-that some accept one saying of Socrates, that “Knowledge is not influenced; but reject another, that “the only cause of sin is ignorance.” They admit nothing can conquer knowledge, as being better and more powerful. However, they do not admit that man can do nothing other than what he thinks is better. Consequently, their position is that the incontinent person overcome by sensual pleasures does not have knowledge but opinion.
IP6. Then [b, iii, y], at “But if it is opinion,” he rejects this solution by saying that such an incontinent person has either a firm or a weak opinion. If firm, then the same argument seems valid for it and for knowledge, because we do not adhere to one less than to the other—more on this later (1137). On the other hand, if the opinion against concupiscence is not firm but irresolute, i.e., remiss and weak, happening to people who are dubious, it seems this should not be imputed a fault but rather deserves tolerance. The reason is that in the face of vigorous concupiscence a man does not cling to opinions feebly held. However, tolerance is not extended to vice or to any of the other censurable dispositions. Incontinence is one of these but fault is not entirely imputed to it.
1317. Next [2, c], at “Therefore” he raises a doubt about the comparison of continence with prudence, which was the fifth probable statement. First [c, i] he objects to one part, concluding from the premises that a man can be incontinent although he has prudence directing him to virtue. If the incontinent man has an opinion contending against evil desires—and the opinion is not weak, since in this way they would not be charged as a fault—it remains then that he has a strong opinion maintaining the contrary. But prudence is the strongest of opinions. Therefore, the incontinent person in a special way has prudence contending contrary to desire.
1318. Second [c, ii], at “This, how. ever,” he shows that this argument is not tenable for two reasons. First [c, ii, x], according to these lines of thought it will follow that a man may be prudent and incontinent at the same time. This seems impossible, for no one holds that to perform the basest actions willingly is an act of prudence. It was noted previously in the sixth book (1173) that a person who voluntarily sins in the matter of prudence is more blameworthy.
1319. He presents the second reason [C, ii, y] at “In this connection.” It was explained previously (1208-1212) that the prudent man is not only cognizant that a particular is an ultimate, i.e., has a correct evaluation of individual practicables which he called ultimates in the sixth book (1214).but also has the other virtues, namely, the moral, as was likewise indicated in the sixth book (1172). Consequently it does not seem possible for any prudent person to act contrary to the virtues.
1320. After this, at “Besides, if the continent man” [2, d], he gives advice on the comparison between continence and temperance, which was the fourth probable statement. To make this clear, he must discuss three other observations he has made. The first is that a man is called continent from the fact that he has vehement evil desires and, notwithstanding these, is not led astray contrary to reason. If this is true, the temperate man will not be continent, nor the continent man temperate, for the man who is completely temperate does not have evil desires in any vehemence. So, to have vehement evil desires is inconsistent with being temperate. However, once the preceding supposition be made, it would be necessary that the temperate man have evil desires if he were continent. The second of the three is that the continent man may have not evil desires but good ones. This being the case, it would follow that whatever habit forbids the pursuit of these is evil. But such a habit is continence. Therefore, not every kind of continence is desirable. The third of the three is that the desires the continent man has might not be vehement but weak and feeble. Then, if the desires are evil, to be continent will be worthy neither of respect nor praise; if they are evil and nevertheless weak, it will not be remarkable to resist them. Yet continence is looked upon as something great and worthy of respect. Therefore something unreasonable seems to follow, whatever one of the three positions be maintained.
1321. Then [2, e], at “Moreover, if continence,” he raises a doubt about the very definition of continence, which was the second probable statement. First [e, i] he presents a difficulty about the nature of continence as stated above (1306): that the continent person is also the man who lives by reason. He says that if continence makes a man embrace every opinion, i.e., persuades him to abide by every opinion and not depart from any, it will follow that some kind of continence is evil; for an opinion can be false. And it is good to reject such a view. Hence it is evil to be governed by it, although continence should be praised as something good.
1322. Next [e, ii], at “Likewise, if,” he makes three objections to the notion of incontinence he has already given (1306), namely, that the incontinent man is inclined to abandon reason. The first [e, ii, x] is that if incontinence abandons every opinion or reason, it will follow that some kind of incontinence is good; nevertheless incontinence should always be censured as an evil thing. This is so because a conjectural reason may prompt the doing of an evil action which it is good to avoid. He gives an illustration. The poet Sophocles narrates that Neoptolemus, who fought in the Trojan war, was persuaded by Ulysses to lie to Philoctetes for a reason that seemed honorable. Afterwards, however, he did not retain the opinion, of which he had been persuaded, because lying was grievous and painful to him; and in this there is something praiseworthy.
1323. He presents the second objection [e, ii, y], at “Further, the sophistic,” stating that the sophistic argument, because misleading, i.e., concluding falsely, is itself a doubt or rather a cause of doubt. The explanation is that the sophists, in order to appear wise, want to infer indubitable conclusions. But when they succeed by argument, the syllogism they devise causes doubt; for the mind of the hearer remains in suspense, since on the one hand the mind does not wish to abide by what reason infers, because the conclusion is not acceptable, and on the other hand, it cannot proceed to the opposite because it does not have the solution of the argument within its power. Nevertheless, the mind is not to be blamed because it did not abide by the reasoning which it did not know how to resolve. Therefore, it does not seem there is incontinence in abandoning any reason whatsoever.
1324. He gives the third objection at “It would appear” [e, ii, z]. If to abandon any reason whatever is incontinent, it follows from this argument that imprudence joined to incontinence is a virtue. Thus virtue will be composed of two vices, which is impossible; and it seems that what was said will follow, that incontinence is the reason why someone performs actions contrary to his judgment. But the judgment he makes that good actions are bad and that he ought not to do them, is the fruit of imprudence. Hence it will follow that he performs good and not evil actions, which seems to belong to virtue.
1325. Then [2, f], at “Furthermore, he who does evil,” he raises a doubt about the goodness and badritss of continence and incontinence. It seems that one who performs evil actions because he is persuaded they are good and consequently pursues and chooses pleasures as good in themselves (as the intemperate man does) is better than another who performs evil actions, not because of reasoning by which he is deceived, but because of incontinence. The man who has been persuaded seems to be more corrigible because he can easily be dissuaded from his present view. But the incontinent man does not seem to be helped by any good advice. Nay rather he seems to be indicated in the proverb that if water, whose drinking refreshes the thirsty, chokes the drinker, what can he drink? In a similar way, if a man performs evil actions as a result of conviction or deception, he will cease to do them when dissuaded, i.e., when the persuasion is withdrawn, as thirst ceases when a drink of water is taken. But in the present case the counselled incontinent man even believes some actions are right, and notwithstanding does different things. Hence the good water of advice does not help but chokes him.
1326. At “In addition, if incontinence” [2, g], he raises a doubt about the matter of continence and incontinence, which was the sixth probable statement. He affirms that if continence and incontinence concern not only concupiscence but anger, wealth, and everything of this kind, he will be unable to determine who is incontinent without qualification. Indeed, no one can be found who will have all the varieties of incontinence. But we do say that some are absolutely incontinent. Therefore, the assertion previously made (1225), that continence and incontinence concern everything does not seem to be true.
1327. Last , at “Such then,” he sums up in conclusion by indicating that such are the doubts occurring in the matter under discussion. We must solve some of these doubts by showing that they tend to falsehood; others we can leave inasmuch as they are quasi conclusions. When we find the truth about a doubtful point, then we have a genuine solution to a doubt.
The Solution of Doubts
I. HE STATES HIS INTENTION. — 1328-1329
First then we must try to find out whether or not some people can be knowingly incontinent; if so, in what way. Next we must determine in what kind of matter a man is continent or incontinent: whether in every form of pleasure and pain or only in some specific forms; whether the continent man and the persevering man are identical or different. Likewise, we must give our attention to whatever matters are related to this investigation.
II. HE CARRIES OUT HIS INTENTION.
A. He settles the question on the existence of continence and incontinence.
1. HE PRESENTS... CERTAIN NOTIONS... NECESSARY FOR A SOLUTION.
a. He states his intention.
i. Our primary effort... directed toward... two points. — 1330-1334
In the beginning of our inquiry we ask whether the continent and the incontinent differ specifically, by reason of the matter with which they are concerned, or in the manner of dealing with the matter. We ask whether a man may be called incontinent only because he is concerned with particular matter (or also because concerned with any sort of matter); whether only from one or the other, or from both (i.e., limited manner and limited matter). Again, we ask whether or not incontinence and continence deal with all kinds of matter.
ii. He determines his statements.
x. FIRST, THE SECOND STATEMENT. — 1335
Incontinence in the unqualified sense is not predicated of a man in all matters but only in that limited matter in which he may be intemperate.
y. SECOND.... THE FIRST STATEMENT. — 1336
b. He carries... out (his intention)
Neither is a man said to be continent or incontinent only in this (for then continence would be the same as intemperance), but in conducting himself in a certain way. One (the intemperate man) is led as a result of choice, judging that he must always pursue the present pleasure. But the other (the incontinent man) does not so judge, but pursues the pleasure notwithstanding.
2. HE REJECTS A FALSE SOLUTION. — 1337
It makes no difference in the present argument to say that it is real opinion and not objectively verified knowledge against which people act incontinently, for there are some who have only opinion yet are not in doubt, for they think they know with certitude. If then it is said that men with opinion rather than objectively verified knowledge act contrary to conviction because they cling feebly to their views, we answer that this knowledge does not differ from opinion in this matter. There are some people who assent no less firmly to matters of opinion than others to matters of objectively verified knowledge. Heraclitus is an example of this.
3. HE GIVES THE TRUE SOLUTION.
a. He solves the doubt by some distinctions.
i. The first. — 1338
Since we say that a man knows in two ways (for he is said to know both when he uses his knowledge and when he has the habit of knowledge without using it), it makes a great deal of difference in doing what he should not: whether a man has the habit of knowledge, but is not using it; or has the habit, and is using it. His situation seems difficult in the latter case, but not if actual consideration is lacking.
ii. His second distinction. — 1339-1341
Yet, since we must use two modes of propositions, there is nothing to hinder a man who knows both from operating against the knowledge he uses about the universal but not against the knowledge he has about the particular. This is so because operations concern particulars. But the universal is understood differently: in one way as it is in itself and in another as it is in a particular case. Thus “Dry foods are good for all men,” and “I am a man,” or “Such and such a food is dry.” But it is possible that a man may not know such a universal either habitually or in a particular case. There is so much difference in the modes of knowing that it should not seem unreasonable for one who acts incontinently to know in one manner, yet it would be astonishing for him to know in another.
iii. A third distinction.
x. HE SETS FORTH A DIFFERENCE. — 1342
In addition, a mode of knowing different from those already discussed is found in man, for we see a difference in one knowing by way of habit and in a particular situation. Hence a man seems in some way to have and not to have knowledge, as is evident in one who is asleep or drunk. It is in this manner that those under the influence of the passions react. Indeed, anger, sexual desires, and certain passions of this kind clearly change the body; some even lead men to madness. Obviously then we must say that the incontinent are disposed in a similar way.
y. HE REFUTES AN OBJECTION. — 1343-1344
The use of learned terms by the incontinent is not a sign that they operate by a habit of knowledge. In fact men under the influence of these passions mouth demonstrations and declaim the sayings of Empedocles; and youths beginning to learn prate doctrine but do not really know what they are talking about, for doctrine must become connatural to be known and this takes time. So then we must conclude that the incontinent in speaking this way are, as it were, pretending.
b. (He solves the doubt) by the nature of practical science.
i. He determines the true sense of the question.
x. HE SETS FORTH THE NATURAL PROCESS OF PRACTICAL SCIENCE IN ACTION. — 1345-1346
Furthermore, someone may want to consider the reason in terms of man’s nature. There is one judgment that is universal; and another concerned with particulars that are properly the objects of sense. However, since one formal reason is present in such judgments, the mind necessarily comes to a conclusion, while in the practical order it must immediately be directed to operation. Thus, if a man must taste everything sweet, and this thing is sweet, such as wine or something of the sort, he will at the same time have to taste it when he is able, unless he be prevented from doing so.
y. HE SHOWS THE OBSTACLE THAT FACES THE INCONTINENT MAN.
aa. He shows... a restraining factor in this man. — 1347-1348
Now one universal judgment may say “You must not taste,” and another that “Every sweet is pleasant.” At the same time a particular judgment may say “This is sweet.” In such a case the sweet can be taken when appetite is present. Reason indeed declares that the particular thing is to be avoided but the appetite leads to it because the appetite can move any part of the soul. Hence it happens that a man may act incontinently contrary to reason and judgment.
bb. He explains the reason. — 1349-1350
But this contrariety is not on the part of the reason itself but is incidental. It is appetite and not judgment which is in opposition to right reason. Because of this, dumb animals are not said to be incontinent since they do not have universal judgment but only imagination and memory of particulars.
cc. He explains how this restraint ceases. — 1351
How this ignorance is dissipated and an incontinent man recovers correct knowledge is the same problem in the case of one inebriated or asleep. This, however, is not properly our problem but ought to be solved by physiologists.
ii. He answers Socrates’ objection. — 1352-1353
But the ultimate proposition is a judgment according to sensible knowledge, and is directive of our actions; and the man who is under the influence of passion does not have this judgment at all, or has it in such a way that he cannot know actually, but speaks in these matters the way a drunken man repeats the words of Empedocles. Since the ultimate term is neither a universal nor—what amounts to the same thing—an object of scientific knowledge in the manner of a universal (in the practical order), what Socrates was looking for seems to follow. Indeed passion is not present with knowledge taken in the proper sense; and it is not this knowledge but that of the sensible which is dragged along by passion. We have discussed whether a person when he acts incontinently has knowledge or not, and how it is possible for him to have knowledge.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1328. After the Philosopher has stated certain probable propositions and raised doubts about each, he now comes to the solutions. We should note he does not present the solutions in the same order in which he previously either stated the propositions or introduced the doubts, but according as the plan of the discussion requires, i.e., as the solution of one doubt depends on another. First [I] he states his intention; and then [II], at “In the beginning etc.,” he carries out his intention. He says first that, in order to solve these doubts, we must consider at the outset whether or not some people can be incontinent knowingly; and if so, in what way they know. This doubt is solved first because its solution belongs to the question whether or not there is incontinence. We stated previously (1315) that Socrates’ contention seemed to be that there was no incontinence. But first we must consider whether each (continence and incontinence) exists.
1329. Then we must consider in what kinds of matter we ought, to say a man is continent or incontinent; whether in every form of pleasure and pain or only in some specific forms. This doubt is solved in the second place, although it was proposed in the sixth place (1325), because the beginning of an investigation of the nature of any habit is the consideration of its matter, as is obvious in the manner of procedure followed by Aristotle in the preceding discussions. Since the continent man and the persevering man differ materially, we must ask at the same time whether they differ conceptually. Likewise, we must give our attention to all other matters having a connection and agreement with this consideration.
1330. Next [II], at “In the beginning,” he begins to solve the doubts previously raised. First [II, A] he settles the question on the existence of continence and incontinence by solving the first doubt that was raised about the third probable statement. Second [Lect. 4, I], he determines the matter of continence and incontinence by solving the sixth doubt that was raised about the sixth probable statement. Then, because temperance and continence agree in matter, at the same time he here explains the difference between temperance and continence in solving the third doubt that was raised about the fourth probable statement. Likewise he shows whether the intemperate or the incontinent man is worse, in solving the fifth doubt that was raised about the first probable statement. This second part begins at “Now, we must consider etc.” (B. 1147 b 20).
1331. Third [Leci. 9: I] he explains the nature of continence and incontinence in solving the fourth doubt that was raised against the second probable statement. Likewise, with this he answers the second question that was asked about the fifth probable statement, showing that a prudent man cannot be incontinent. This third part begins at “Can a man be called etc.” (B 1151 a 29). On the first point [II, A] he does three things. First [A, 1] he presents in advance certain notions which are necessary for a solution. Then [A, 2], at “It makes no difference etc.,” he rejects a false solution. Third [A, 3], at “Since we say etc.,” he gives the true solution, In regard to the initial point he does two things. First [1, a] he states his intention, and then [1, b ] at “Neither is a man etc.,” he carries it out.
1332. He says first [1, a, i] that to determine these questions our primary effort must be directed towards the knowledge of two points. The first point is whether the continent and the incontinent differ specifically in their subject, i.e., in having limited matter with which they are concerned, as mildness differs specifically from the fact that it has to do with anger; or also in the manner, i.e., in the way of dealing with any matter, as prudence deals with all moral matter but not in the same way as (other) moral virtues.
1333. In explanation of his inquiry, he adds that we must consider whether a man may be called incontinent only because he is concerned with a particular matter, or even only because he is concerned about the whole of some matter without distinction; or whether a man may be called continent or incontinent not only from the one or the other but also from both, i.e., from a limited manner and a limited matter.
1334. Another thing that we ought to consider beforehand is whether or not continence and incontinence deal with all kinds of matter or with a limited matter.
1335. Then [1, a, ii], at “Incontinence in the unqualified sense,” he determines his statements: first [ii, x] the second statement, saying that continent and incontinent in the unqualified sense are not applied to anyone in all matters but in that limited matter in which he is temperate or intemperate, viz., in concupiscence and pleasures of touch.
1336. Second [ii, y (and “b”)], at “Neither is a man,” he determines the first statement, saying that someone is said to be continent or incontinent not alone in this, i.e., in respect of some limited matter (for thus he would be identified with the temperate or intemperate man since they deal with the same matter), but a person is said to be incontinent in conducting himself in such a manner, i.e., from the fact that he is concerned with limited matter in a certain way. The reason is that this man, viz., the intemperate, is led to commit sin by choice, in a manner judging that a pleasurable object presented to him always is to be pursued or accepted. But the incontinent man does not engage in this reasoning process; nevertheless, he pursues the pleasurable object when it is present to him.
1337. Next [A, 2], at “It makes no difference,” he rejects a false solution that he has already treated (1316). He states that it does not make any difference in the present argument to say that the cognition, contrary to which some act incontinently, is real opinion but not knowledge. The fact is clear that some who act incontinently do not have a weak conviction, like people hesitating, but judge themselves to know certainly that against which they act. If then someone means that they are men with opinion rather than knowledge acting contrary to their convictions because their adherence to their judgments is ineffectual and feeble, our observation is that in the present instance knowledge does not differ from opinion. Some people are not less tenacious of even false opinions than others are of true knowledge. This can be seen in Heraclitus, who was so firmly convinced that everything is in perpetual motion and that no truth remains long in things, that at the end of his life, he was unwilling to talk lest truth should be changed in the meantime, but only wagged his finger to indicate something, as is related in the fourth book of the Metaphysics (Ch. 5, 1010 a 12-13; St. Th. Lect. 12, 683-684).
1338. At “Since we say” [A, 3] he gives the true solution. First [3, a] he solves the doubt by some distinctions, then [3, b], at “Furthermore etc,” by the nature of practical science. In regard to the first point he makes two distinctions. The first [3, a, i] is that we say a man knows in two ways: (1) by having a habit he does not use, e.g., the geometrician not studying questions of geometry; (2) by using his knowledge in actually considering its truths. It makes a big difference whether someone doing what he ought not has the habit but does not use it, or has the habit and does use it in thinking. It certainly seems hard for a man to act contrary to what he is actually considering. But it doesn’t seem hard for someone to act contrary to what he knows in an habitual way but is not actually considering.
1339. Next [3, a, ii], at “Yet, since,” he makes his second distinction. He says, since practical reason uses two modes of propositions, viz., the universal and the particular, there is no apparent obstacle in a man knowing both propositions in an habitual way but actually considering only the universal and not the particular, and operating contrary to the knowledge. This is so because operations are concerned with particulars. Hence, if a man does not consider the particular it is not astonishing that he acts contrary to it.
1340. We should note, however, that the universal can be taken in two ways. In one way as it is in itself, as in the example “Dry things are good for every man”; in another way as it is in a particular object, for instance, “This is a man,” or “That food is dry.” Therefore it is possible that a man knows, both habitually and actually, the universal considered in itself but either he does not grasp the universal considered in this particular object, i.e., the universal is not known in an habitual way, or he does not bestir himself, i.e., the universal is not actually known.
1341. Therefore what appeared impossible to Socrates according to these various modes of knowing differs so much that it does not seem unreasonable for a man, who acts incontinently, to have one kind of knowledge, viz., universal alone or even particular-if it is habitual but not actual. But it would seem unreasonable for the man who acts incontinently to have another kind of knowledge, i.e., actual, concerned with the particular.
1342. Then [3, a, iii], at “In addition,” he makes a third distinction. First [iii, x] he sets forth a difference. Next [iii, y], at “The use of learned terms etc.,” he refutes an objection. First he speaks of another mode of knowing in man, over and above the modes discussed. That someone should know by way of habit and not by way of act seems to be understood differently. Sometimes a habit is so responsive that it can go into act immediately when a man wishes. But other times the habit is so bound that it cannot go into act. Hence in one sense a man seems to have a habit and in another sense not to have it, as is evident in one sleeping, a maniac, or a drunkard. Men are disposed in this way when under the influence of the passions. We see anger, sexual desires, and certain Vassions of this kind obviously change the body externally, for example, in causing body heat. Sometimes such passions generate so much heat that they lead people to insanity. So, obviously, the incontinent are disposed somewhat like those asleep, maniacs, and drunkards, who have the habit of practical science impeded in regard to particulars.
1343. At “The use of learned terms” [iii, y] he refutes an objection. Someone could object against the statement made that the incontinent sometimes use terms dealing with knowledge and with the particular. So it seems they do not have a habit that is held in check. But Aristotle refutes this objection, saying that their use of scientific terminology is not a sign that they have an active habit; and he illustrates this by two examples.
1344. The first is that even men who areunder the influence of the passions just mentioned, e.g., inebriated and demented, mouth demonstrations in geometry, for instance, and declaim Empedocles’ sayings, which are difficult to understand because he wrote his philosophy in meter. The second example is of children who, when they begin to learn, put together words that they utter without any real understanding of what they say. To understand, it is necessary that those things that a man hears become, as it were, connatural to him in order that they may be impressed perfectly on his mind. For this a man needs time in which his intellect may be confirmed in what it has received, by much meditation. This is true also of the incontinent man, for even if he says: it is not good for me now to pursue such a pleasure, nevertheless, in his heart he does not think this way. So then we must judge the incontinent in saying these words are pretending, as it were, because they think one thing in their hearts and reveal another by their words.
1345. Next [3, b], at “Furthermore,” he solves the proposed doubt by the natural process of practical science in applying the preceding distinctions to what he proposed. First [3, b, i] he determines the true sense of the question. Second [3, b, ii], at “But the ultimate,” he answers Socrates’ objection. Regarding the initial point he does two things. First [b, i, x] he sets forth the natural process of practical science in action. Second [b, i, y], at “Now one universal,” he shows the obstacle which faces the incontinent man. He says first that if we wish to consider why the incontinent man can act contrary to his knowledge by the natural process of practical science, we must take into consideration the two judgments in this process. One is universal, for example, “Every dishonorable act must be avoided”; the other, singular, is concerned with objects which properly are known by sense, for instance, “This act is dishonorable.” But, since there is one formality underlying these judgments, a conclusion necessarily follows.
1346. However, in speculative matters the mind merely draws the conclusion, while in practical matters it goes into operation immediately. Thus, if the universal judgment is that we must taste every sweet thing but the particular judgment that this (some particular object presented) is sweet, the man able to taste immediately tastes if nothing prevents. So runs the syllogism of the temperate man who does not permit concupiscence to have mastery over reason pointing out every dishonorable act must be avoided. The same goes for the syllogism of the intemperate man. His reason does not resist the proposal of concupiscence which inclines to this: that every pleasure is to be seized.
1347. Then [b, i, y], at “Now one universal,” he explains how fault occurs in the incontinent man. First [y, aa] he shows that there is a restraining factor in this man. Next [y, bb], at “But this contrariety,” he explains the reason. Last [y, cc], at “How this ignorance etc.,” he explains how this restraint ceases. On the first point the proper consideration is this-reason in the incontinent man is not so completely overcome that he is without genuine knowledge of the universal. Put it this way. The reason proposes a universal judgment forbidding an inordinate tasting of something sweet, e.g., it says that nothing sweet should be tasted outside a certain time. But the appetite proposes that every sweet thing is pleasant, something in itself desired by concupiscence. And, since in a particular case concupiscence may bind reason, the proposal is not accepted under universal reason so as to say also that this is outside the time; but it is taken under the universal aspect of concupiscence so as to say this is sweet. So the conclusion of the operation follows. In this syllogism of the incontinent man there are four propositions, as already indicated (1346).
1348. That the process of practical reason sometimes occurs in this way is evident from the fact that when concupiscence waxes strong, reason declares by a universal judgment that a particular desirable thing is to be avoided, as we just mentioned (1347)But concupiscence inclines to the appetible object by freely proposing and accepting it without the prohibition of reason, now rendered impotent. Concupiscence can be so vehement it can sway any part of the soul, even reason itself if reason does not make a strong effort to resist. Thus the term of the operation takes place, viz., a man may act incontinently contrary to reason and universal judgment.
1349. At “But this contrariety” [y, bb] he explains the reason for this opposition. He states that the present contrariety does not happen from reason itself, as in uncertain people, but only incidentally so far as concupiscence is opposed to correct universal reason. In fact there is no judgment in itself opposed to right reason, as some philosophers have maintained.
1350. From this he infers a corollary, that dumb animals are not called continent or incontinent, for they do not make a universal judgment which is the foundation of rational action, to which concupiscence is opposed; for brutes are moved only by imagination and memory of particulars.
1351. Next [y, cc], at “How this ignorance,” he explains how this opposition ceases. He says that the problem of dissipating an incontinent man’s ignorance about the particular and of his recovery of correct knowledge is the same as in the case of one inebriated or asleep. Their passions are dispelled when some bodily change occurs. Likewise, since the body is changed by the soul’s passions, like concupiscence and anger, this physical change must cease for a man to return to a sound mind. Hence this problem is not proper to our investigation but rather we ought to hear it discussed by physiologists, i.e., physicians (naturalibus).
1352. Then [3, b, ii], at “But the ultimate,” in accord with the premises he refutes the argument of Socrates, saying that the proposition and the ultimate, i.e., the particular, judgment is made according to sensible knowledge and is directive of actions concerned with particulars. But a man under the influence of passion either does not have this judgment or premise at all as a habit, or has a restrained habit so that he cannot know actually but speaks in these matters in the way that an inebriate repeats the verses of Empedocles. Since, then, these things are true, and since the universal, which is known by science, is not the ultimate term of practical operations, what Socrates held seems to follow. It is evident from previous statements that passion is not present with the principal knowledge that deals with the universal, since it is found only in the particular. it is not the knowledge of the universal but only the evaluation of the sensible, which is not so excellent, that is dragged along by passion.
1353. Finally, he summarizes the questions discussed: whether a person when he acts incontinently has knowledge or not, and how it is possible for him to have knowledge.
The Generic Matter of Continence and Incontinence
I. HE DECLARES HIS PROPOSITION. — 1354
Now we must consider further whether anyone is totally incontinent, or whether everyone is said to be incontinent in a particular way. If totally so, then in what kind of matter is a man thus incontinent.
II. HE CARRIES OUT HIS PROPOSITION.
A. He, presents the general matter. — 1355
It is obvious that the continent and the persevering, the incontinent and the effeminate are concerned with pleasure and pain.
B. He investigates the specific matter of these states.
1. HE SHOWS HOW CONTINENCE MAY BE USED IN DIFFERENT WAYS ABOUT DIFFERENT PLEASURES.
a. He shows (this)... according to the difference in human pleasures among themselves.
i. He explains his proposition.
x. HE DISTINGUISHES HUMAN PLEASURES. — 1356-1357
But of the objects that give men pleasure some are necessary; others are desirable in themselves, although capable of excess. I call necessary certain material things concerned with food, sex, and other physical goods that we previously established as the matter of temperance and intemperance. I mention as unnecessary, but desirable in themselves, things like victory, honor, riches, and other pleasurable goods of this kind.
y. HE SHOWS HOW IN THESE PLEASURES A MAN IS CALLED CONTINENT...
aa. Concerning the unnecessary. — 1358-1359
Therefore, people who go to excess in these things contrary to right reason in them, are not called incontinent simply but with the added note that they are incontinent in matters of money, gain, honor, or anger; as if there were others absolutely incontinent and the former are called incontinent by way of resemblance. Thus when we speak of “man” who was the B.1148 victor in the Olympics, the common notion of man differed little from the notion of this individual man but it was different.’ In confirmation of our contention, incontinence is censured not merely as a sin but as a kind of vice either in the full sense or the partial sense. But none of those previously discussed are viciously incontinent.
bb. Concerning the necessary. — 1360
But men who behave badly in physical pleasures, with which the temperate and the intemperate are concerned, and freely pursue excessive pleasures while avoiding discomforts, like hunger and thirst, heat and cold, and so forth pertaining to touch and taste, but contrary to right choice and right reason, are called incontinent not in any limited way, as the incontinent in the matter of anger, but absolutely speaking. Confirmation of this is found in the fact that people are called effeminate in reference to these discomforts but not in reference to others.
z. HE INFERS CERTAIN COROLLARIES FROM THE PREMISES.
aa. The first. — 1361
For this reason we place the incontinent and intemperate, the continent and temperate in the same classification; not that one is the other but because they are concerned with pleasures and pain in some measure, yet not in the same way. Some act from deliberate choice, others without it.
bb. The second. — 1362
Consequently, we say the intemperate person is more blamable than another who sins from violent passion, because the intemperate man pursues excesses and avoids discomforts without passion, or at least only with mild passion. What would such a person do were he to experience youthful lust and the serious discomforts from lack of necessities?
ii. He clarifies some statements he had made.
x. HE SHOWS WHY (THERE IS NOT INCONTINENCE IN... UNNECESSARY THINGS).
aa. He points out... kinds of unnecessary pleasures. — 1363-1364
Some kinds of desires and pleasures are in the category of the noble and good. (Some pleasures are by nature desirable; others, just the reverse; and still others are in between, according to the previous division, as in the case of money, profit, victory, and honor.) But in all the intermediate kinds, people are not blamed because they are affected by a desire and love for these things but rather because their desire is excessive in some way.
bb. He infers what kind of desire is aroused for these pleasures. — 1365
Hence, those who in an unreasonable manner possess or pursue any of the things that are noble and good by nature, for example, people having more zeal than they should about the acquisition of honor, or the care of their children or parents (are not blamed as evil). Certainly these operations are good, and people solicitous about them are praised. However, a kind of vicious excess can exist in these matters, for example, if someone should rebel against the gods as Niobe did, or should act towards his parents as did Satyrus called “father-lover,” who seemed to have behaved rather foolishly in this matter.
cc. He... infers... there is neither vice nor total incontinence... — 1366
So then there is no vice in these pleasures because, as was said, each of them is naturally desirable in itself; only their excesses are evil and to be avoided. Likewise there is no incontinence in them, for incontinence not only is a thing to be avoided but is something censurable.
y. HE SHOWS WHY ONLY LIMITED INCONTINENCE IS PREDICATED. — 1367
But people speak according as there is a resemblance to passion, putting limits on incontinence about each thing, for example, a bad doctor or a poor actor whom they would (not) term a bad person without qualification. The same goes for the things called bad in this way, because badness is predicated of any of them only in an analogous sense. So in regard to conti- 10 nence we must judge that only to be incontinence and continence (unqualifiedly) which concerns the same matters as temperance and intemperance. But we predicate incontinence of anger because of a resemblance, and for this reason we qualify, adding that a man is incontinent in anger as we say he is incontinent in honor and gain.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1354. After the Philosopher has shown that a man can perform evil actions contrary to the knowledge he possesses (by this we can know whether continence and incontinence exist), he here determines the matter of continence and incontinence. First he shows the matter of each; then [Lect. 7, I], at “Continence and incontinence etc.” (B. 1150 a 9), he compares them with other habits dealing with the same matter. To clarify the first point he employs a twofold procedure. First [I] he declares his proposition. Second [II], at “It is obvious etc.,” he carries out his proposition. The reasoning employed is this: in proposing the sixth doubt, it was already stated that if continence and incontinence were concerned with all matters, no one would be incontinent in an unqualified sense. So, in an effort to solve this doubt, he presents two questions for consideration. The first is: can anyone be incontinent without qualification or is everyone said to be incontinent in a particular way? The second question is, if a man is totally incontinent, in what kind of matter is he so incontinent?
1355. Then [II], at “It is obvious,” he carries out his proposition. First [II, A] he presents the general matter, saying it is evident that the continent and the incontinent and the persevering and the effeminate are said to be concerned with pleasure and pain.
1356. Next [II, B], at “But of the objects,” he investigates the specific matter of these states. First [B, 1] he shows how continence may he used in different ways about different pleasures. Second [Lect. VI; B, 2], at “Now we will consider,” he compares the kinds of incontinence in different pleasures with one another (B. 1149 a 24). On the initial point he does two things. First [1, a] he shows how a man may be called continent or incontinent in different ways according to the difference in human pleasures among themselves; then according to the difference of human pleasures with regard to what is bestial [Lect. 5; 1, b] at “Of natural pleasures etc.” (B. 1148 b 15). In support of the first statement he uses a double process. First [a, i] he explains his proposition. Second [a, ii], at “Some kinds etc.,” he clarifies some statements he had made. The first point demands three clarifications. First [i, x] he distinguishes human pleasures. Next [i, y], at “Therefore, people etc.,” he shows how in these pleasures a man is called continent or incontinent in different ways. Last [i, z], at “For this reason,” he infers certain corollaries from the premises.
1357. He says first of all that, of those objects giving us pleasure, some are necessary for human life; others are unnecessary but, considered in themselves, desirable for men, however much they are capable of excess and defect. He designates as necessary certain bodily requirements such as those pertaining to food, drink, sex, and material things of this kind, which we previously established as the matter of temperance and intemperance (267, 595, 599, 603). But things desirable in themselves, which he mentions as unnecessary, are victory, honor, riches, and other goods and pleasures of the same kind.
1358. At “Therefore, people” [i, y], he shows in what way a man may be called continent or incontinent in regard to these things: first [i, y, aa] concerning the unnecessary, and second [i, y, bb], at “But men who etc.,” concerning the necessary. His first remark is that people who go to excess in their pursuit of those unnecessary things in them that are contrary to right reason are not called simply incontinent but with a limitation, for example, incontinent in the matter of money, gain, honor, or anger, as if there were others absolutely incontinent. The former are called incontinent by way of likeness that the addition indicates; thus, when we say “man” the victor in the Olympics, the common notion of man differs little from the proper notion which this addition signifies, although it is different in some way.
1359. As an indication that a man may not be called incontinent without qualification in these matters, he remarks that incontinence is censured not only as a sin that someone can commit even in pursuing what is good though in an inordinate manner; but incontinence is censured as a kind of vice by which we tend to some evil. There is vice either in the complete sense, e.g., when the reason and the appetitive faculty aim at evil (this is the real vice that is contrary to virtue) or in an incomplete sense, e.g., when the appetitive faculty, but not the reason, tends to evil ‘ which occurs in incontinence (proper). But none of the incontinent previously mentioned are censured as wicked but only as sinners because they strive for good, but beyond what is proper. Hence none of them is incontinent without qualification.
1360. Then [y, bb], at “But men who,” he shows how someone is called incontinent in regard to necessary things. He observes that men who behave badly in the matter of physical pleasures, with which temperance and intemperance deal, not in such a way that by deliberate choice they pursue excessive pleasures and avoid discomforts, e.g., hunger and thirst and suchlike pertaining to taste and touch—but so that they pursue these things contrary to the right reason in themselves; men of this ‘kind, I say, are called incontinent not with some limitation like the incontinent in regard to anger but without qualification. He also offers confirmation of this by the fact that people are called effeminate-closely related to the incontinent-in reference to such discomforts, for instance, because they cannot undergo hunger or thirst or anything of this type, but not in reference to other things, for example, because they cannot bear poverty and suchlike.
1361. Next [i, z], at “For this reason,” he infers certain corollaries from the premises. The first [z, aa] is that incontinent and intemperate, continent and temperate are placed in the same classification, not in the sense that one of them is the other, but because in some measure they deal with the same things, viz., bodily pleasures and pains, yet not in the same way, for the temperate and intemperate act with deliberate choice while the continent and incontinent act without it.
1362. The second [z, bb], which follows from the first, he sets forth at “Consequently.” He says that, from the discussions, obviously the intemperate man is the greater sinner and to be censured because he sins more in pursuing superfluous pleasures and avoiding slight discomforts when he does not feel passion at all or feels it only gently, i.e., mildly. For this reason he is worse than a man like the incontinent fellow, who sins in these matters from violent passion. What would a man do who sins without passion, if he were to experience the vehement desires of youth and the serious discomforts arising from the lack of necessities?
1363. At “Some kinds” [a, ii] he clarifies what he had said, assigning reaasons why there is no incontinence without qualification in the case of unnecessary things. First [ii, x] he shows why such must be the case. Then [ii, y], at “But people speak etc.,” he shows why only limited incontinence is predicated of such people. On the initial
point he makes three observations. First [ii, x, aa] he points out what kinds of unnecessary pleasures there are. Next [ii, x, bb], at “Hence, those who etc.,” he infers what kind of desire is aroused for these pleasures. Third [ii, x, cc], at “So then there is etc.,” he further infers that there is neither vice nor total incontinence in regard to them. He shows first that some species of desires and pleasures concern things that are good and praiseworthy in themselves.
1364. There are three kinds of pleasures. Some, to which nature inclines, are desirable by nature. Others are just the reverse, for example, those contrary to the natural inclination. Still others are midway between, witness the case of money and gain, victory and honor. Hence, in those of the middle kind, people are not blamed because they are affected by a desire and love for these things but because they desire them in an excessive manner.
1365. Next [ii, x, bb], at “Hence, those who,” he infers from the premises what kind of desire people have for these last types of pleasures. He remarks that those who, contrary to reason, possess or pursue any of the things that are noble and good by nature are not blamed as evil, for instance, people who are more zealous than they should be about honor or about the care of their children or parents. Certainly these operations are good, and men who are properly diligent about them are praised; nevertheless a kind of vicious excess can exist in such matters. Thus if a woman should rebel against God because of excessive love of her children, for example, in the event of their death, as we read of a woman named Niobe; or if a man should do something foolish out of immoderate love of a parent, as a certain Satyrus called philopater or “father-lover” seemed to act very foolishly because of the love he had for his father.’
1366. Then [ii, x, cc], at “So then there is,” he infers that there is no vice in these pleasures because each of them considered in itself is naturally desirable while only excesses in them are evil and to, be avoided. Likewise there is no complete incontinence in these pleasures, because incontinence not only is a thing to be avoided as a sin but is something censurable as being disgraceful. Therefore it is with bodily pleasures, which are disgraceful and servile as was said in book the third (612), that continence is properly concerned. Nor are pleasures of this kind to be desired by men except on account of necessity.
1367. At “But people speak” [ii, y] he shows why partial incontinence should be predicated of unnecessary pleasures. He say this happens because of some likeness in passion: as someone has an immoderate passion for bodily pleasures, so too for money and other objects previously mentioned. There is a parallel case when we say a man is a bad doctor or a poor mimic, i.e., actor, who nevertheless is not called simply bad. So then in the things that are called bad in this way, we do not predicate badness of any of them in an unqualified sense but according to a proportionate likeness, because as a bad doctor is compared to what a doctor ought to be so a bad man is compared to what a man ought to be. Likewise in the genus of continence we call that continence and incontinence without qualification which is concerned with the same matters as temperance and intemperance. But with respect to anger we predicate incontinence by similitude, and hence say a man is incontinent in the matter of anger, as we say he is incontinent in the matter of honor or gain.
Kinds of Pleasure
b. He explains that a man is said to be continent or incontinent... according as his passions and pleasures are human or brutish.
i. which (kinds) are human and which, brutish.
x. HE DISTINGUISHES PLEASURES. — 1368-1371
Of natural pleasures, some are delightful to every taste, others to different classes of men and animals. But of the pleasures that are not natural, some become delightful because of sickness or privations, others because of customs or vicious natures. And to each of these pleasures there will be a corresponding habit.
y. HE CLARIFIES HIS STATEMENT BY EXAMPLES.
aa. First. — 1372
I call bestial the pleasure of the man who is said to have slit pregnant women so he could devour the fetuses; of anyone who delights in the brutish practices ascribed to certain savages near the Black Sea: some of whom eat raw meat, others human flesh, and still others, one another’s children at their feasts; or Phalaris, according to what is related of him. Men delighting in such pleasures are like beasts.
bb. Second. — 1373
But some people become bestial because of particular ailments, for example, insanity. Laboring under this affliction one man sacrificed his mother and ate her, another murdered his fellow slave and ate his liver. These persons are pathological.
cc. Last. — 1374
Others become bestial because of habit, for instance, certain men who take pleasure in plucking out their hair, biting their nails, eating coal and earth, and having sexual intercourse with males. People act in these ways from the condition of their bodily temperament, or from usage to which they have become accustomed since childhood.
ii. ...how continence and incontinence are attributed in a different sense.
x. BY A REASON TAKEN FROM THE DISPOSITION OF THOSE WHO ENJOY THE PLEASURES. — 1375-1376
No one would accuse of (unqualified) incontinence those in whom nature is the cause of these pleasures, as is the case with women who do not govern their emotions but are governed by them. The same, too, may be said of people who are morbid because of bad habits.
y. BY A REASON TAKEN FROM THE NATURE OF THE PLEASURES.
aa. He states his proposition.
a’ He proposes two things. (First). — 1377
To experience desires for these pleasures exceeds the limits of human vice, as brutishness was said to do.
b’ The second. — 1378
If anyone has the desires and overcomes them or is overcome by them, he is not called continent or incontinent simply but in virtue of a resemblance. It was in this way that we spoke about one having the passion of anger, viz., that he must be called incontinent in part.
bb. He explains it.
a’ In regard to vice.
a. (CONCERNED WITH) VICES OPPOSED TO ALL VIRTUES. — 1379
Every excess of vice, for example, folly, timidity, intemperance, and harshness is either brutish or caused by sickness.
b. HE... EXEMPLIFIES TIMIDITY. — 1380
Someone who is so inclined by nature that he fears everything, even the squeak of a mouse, has the timidity of a dumb beast; and the individual who was afraid of a ferret had a pathological condition.
c. EXAMPLES OF FOLLY. — 1381
Certain silly people are irrational by nature and, living according to the senses, become brutish like the barbarous tribes of distant regions. Others are irrational because of sickness like epilepsy or insanity, and are silly by reason of disease.
b’ In regard to... incontinence.
a. IN WHAT WAY. — 1382
Sometimes a man may experience these passions but not be overcome, for instance, if Phalaris had kept a boy, desiring to use him for food or unseemly sexual pleasure. At other times a man may not only experience the passions but be overcome by them.
b. NO COMPLETE... INCONTINENCE. — 1383-1384
As vice which is according to the human mode is called vice without qualification but that which is described as brutish or pathological is termed vice only in the qualified sense, so in the same way we may speak of incontinence, either brutish or pathological, in the limited sense or incontinence according to the human mode only in the unqualified sense.
It is obvious then that only (complete) continence and incontinence treat the matters dealt with by temperance and intemperance, and that a different kind of incontinence in a transferred and not the absolute sense is concerned with other matters.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1368. After the Philosopher has explained that a man is called continent and incontinent in different ways according to the different human passions and pleasures, he here [1, b] explains that a man is said to be continent or incontinent in different senses according as his passions and pleasures are human or brutish. On this point he does two things. First [b, i] he shows among the different kinds of passion and pleasure which are human and which, brutish. Next [b, ii], at “No one would etc.,” he shows how continence and incontinence are attributed in a different sense to these (passions and pleasures). The initial point he develops in two stages. First [i, x] he distinguishes pleasures. Then [i, y], at “I call bestial etc.,” he clarifies his statement by examples. He says first that some pleasures are according to nature, others are not according to nature; and each group is subdivided.
1369. Of the pleasures that are natural, some are delightful to every creature with senses, for example, sweet is naturally pleasing to all who have the sense of taste. Others are naturally delightful to certain classes of animals and men. Some foods are by their nature pleasant to carnivorous animals, others to herbivorous animals. Likewise, among men, cold foods that moderate the temperament are delightful to the choleric, but warm foods are agreeable to the phlegmatic.
1370. Of the unnatural pleasures, some become delightful because of privation, i.e., on account of some supervenient sickness of the body or sadness of soul by which the nature is changed into a different condition. Others become delightful because of evil habit which brings about a quasi-nature. Still others become delightful because of vicious natures, as happens when people have corrupt and perverse bodily temperaments; and, accordingly both the perceptions of their imagination and the affections of their sensitive appetite are most perverse. Likewise, since these powers are acts of bodily organs, they are necessarily proportionate to the temperament of the body.
1371. Because habits are diversified by a complete distinction of objects, corresponding habits will answer to these individual pleasures under discussion; thus some habits will be natural and others unnatural.
1372. Next [i, y], at “I call bestial the pleasure etc.,” he exemplifies individually the different kinds of unnatural pleasures; and first [i, y, aa] those which are delightful because of the malignant nature of men who are, so to speak, bestial since they are like beasts by reason of a corrupt temperament. There is a story about one man who slit the wombs of pregnant women so he could devour the fetuses. Equally horrible are those who delight in practices of the kind reported of certain savages living in the forest near the Black Sea. Some eat raw meat, others human flesh; still others offer one another their children to be food for their feasts. Similar things are narrated about one Phalaris, a most cruel tyrant, who took pleasure in torturing men. Therefore, people who delight in deeds of this kind are, as it were, like beasts.
1373. Second [i, y, bb], at “But some people,” he exemplifies things that become delightful and are contrary to nature because of particular ailments, for example, insanity or madness or something of this sort. There is a story about one man who on becoming insane sacrificed his mother and ate her; still another who murdered his fellow slave and ate his liver.
1374. Last [i, y, cc], at “Others become,” he offers examples of things contrary to nature that become delightful by reason of habit. Some enjoy unnatural pleasures because of mental unbalance or habitual perversion. For example, certain men out of habit take pleasure in pulling out their hair, biting their nails, eating coal and earth, and having sexual intercourse with males. All the preceding can be reduced to two classes. Some people do them because of the tendency of bodily temperament that they had from the beginning; others because of habit, becoming accustomed to things of this kind from childhood. Such people are like individuals who fall into this condition by reason of physical sickness, for evil habit is a kind of psychological sickness.
1375. Then [b, ii], at “No one would,” he shows that these unnatural pleasures do not dispose to incontinence simply but only in a qualified sense. He does this in two ways; first [ii, x] by a reason taken from the disposition of those who enjoy the pleasures; second [ii, y] by a reason taken from the nature of the pleasures, at “To experience etc.” He says first that no one will accuse of unqualified incontinence men whose bestial nature is the reason for such pleasures. We have already said (1350) that dumb animals are not referred to as continent or incontinent since they exercise no universal judgment but only imagination and memory of particulars. But these men who, by reason of a malignant nature, are like wild beasts indeed do have some, although very little, universal perception, reason in them being weighed down by bad temperament, as is obviously the case with those physically sick. But what is very little seems to be as nothing. Nor is it likely that the force of a weak argument should repel strong desires. Consequently, these individuals are not called incontinent or continent simply but only in a restricted sense, insofar as some judgment of reason remains with them.
1376. He offers the example of women in whom, for the most part, reason flourishes very little because of the imperfect nature of their body. Because of this they do not govern their emotions in the majority of cases by reason but rather are governed by their emotions. Hence wise and brave women are rarely found, and so women cannot be called continent and incontinent without qualification. The same argument seems valid for those who are ill, i.e., have a diseased temperament because of bad habits, which oppresses the judgment of reason after the manner of a perverse nature.
1377. Next [ii, y], at “To experience,” he shows from the very nature of unnatural pleasures that there is no incontinence in the unqualified sense but only in a limited sense. He states his proposition [ii, y, aa], then [ii, y, bb], at “Every excess of vice etc.,” he explains it. First [aa, a’] he proposes two things. The first is that to experience desires for these pleasures exceeds the limits of human vice, as was previously said also about brutishness (1296, 1299).
1378. The second [aa, b’] he proposes at “If anyone.” saying that if anyone should have these desires and overcome them, he will be called continent not simply but by reason of some resemblance to virtuous restraint. Or if he should be overcome by them, he will be called incontinent not simply but by way of a resemblance to complete incontinence. In this fashion we spoke before on incontinence in regard to anger (1367).
1379. At “Every excess of vice” [ii, y, bb] he explains his statement. First [bb, a’] he does so in regard to vice; then [bb, b’], at “Sometimes a man etc.,” in regard to continence and incontinence. On the first point we must consider [a’ a] that such an excess of vice can concern vices opposed to all virtues, for example, folly opposed to prudence, timidity opposed to fortitude, intemperance opposed to temperance, and harshness opposed to gentleness; and it can concern each one of the vices, for some of them are brutish habits arising from a malignant nature, others are diseased habits arising from physical or psychological sickness, i.e., a bad habit. Since he has already given examples of intemperance and harshness, he now first exemplifies timidity.
1380. He does this at “Someone” [a’, b], saying that temperament may be so timid as to make some afraid of anything, even the squeak of a mouse. This is the timidity of a dumb animal. One man became so fearful from a pathological condition that he was afraid of a ferret.
1381. Then [a’, c], at “Certain silly people,” he gives examples of folly of some individuals irrational by nature, not because they have no reason but in fact very little, and this much concerned with particulars perceived by sense, so they live only according to the senses. Such individuals are—so to speak—brutish by nature. This happens especially to barbarians living at the ends of the earth, where from unhealthiness of the climate the bodies of the natives are likewise unhealthy, impeding the use of reason. Other people become irrational because of some sickness like epilepsy or insanity; and these are stupid because of disease.
1382. Next [bb, b’], at “Sometimes a man,” he explains his statement in regard to incontinence. First [b’, a] in what way continence and incontinence resemble the preceding vices. He remarks that a man may at times experience something of these unnatural passions and not be overcome by them, and this looks like continence. This would be the case if the tyrant Phalaris should keep a boy, wanting to use him either for food or unnatural pleasure, but nevertheless actually would not use him. At other times a man may not only experience desires of this kind but also be overcome by them; and this resembles incontinence.
1383. Then [b’, b], at “As vice” he shows that in matters of this sort there is no complete continence or incontinence. He says that as vice according to the human mode is called unqualified vice but that which is humanly unnatural is called brutish or pathological vice, and not in the unqualified sense; so in the same*way incontinence that is unnatural is predicated with some limitation, like bestial or pathological, but only incontinence according to human mode is called unqualified incontinence.
1384. Finally, in summary, he concludes it is evident from our discussion that only unqualified continence and incontinence treat those matters dealt with by temperance and intemperance, while some kind of incontinence predicated in a transferred rather than in the absolute way is concerned with other matters.
Comparison of Different Kinds of Incontinence
(B)2. HE... COMPARES DIFFERENT KINDS OF INCONTINENCE WITH EACH OTHER.
a. He compares incontinence in the pleasure of touch... with incontinence in the matter of anger.
i. He states his proposition. — 1385
Now we will consider that incontinence in the matter of anger is less disgraceful than incontinence in pleasure.
ii. He proves his proposition by four arguments.
w. FIRST. — 1386-1389
Anger seems to listen to reason to some extent but to hear badly, like hasty servants who hurry off before understanding instructions and then make mistakes in performing them,, and again like dogs barking at the first knock before knowing if a friend is coming. Anger listens in this way but, because of the heat and impulsiveness of its nature, moves to inflict punishment without heeding the injunction of reason. When reason or imagination shows a man that he has suffered injury or contempt, he concludes he ought to attack the one who injured him, and immediately becomes angry. But desire, as soon as reason or sense declares a thing delightful, proceeds to enjoy the pleasure. In this respect anger follows reason in b some measure, but not so desire, which is thus more disgraceful. Indeed the man incontinent in anger is prevailed upon to a degree by reason but this is not so of one incontinent in sensual desire.
x. SECOND. — 1390-1392
Moreover, a man apparently deserves more pardon for sins about naturally desirable things, because tolerance is more readily extended towards such desires common to all, precisely because they are common. But anger is more natural and more difficult to resist than the desires for excessive and unnecessary pleasures, as is evident in the following examples. A certain man reprimanded for striking his father answered that the father had struck his own father who in turn had struck his father; then pointing to his son he said: “This boy will strike me when he becomes a man, for it is a family trait.” Another man, when dragged along by his son, bade the son stop at the doorway, as he himself had dragged his own father only that far.
y. THIRD. — 1393-1395
Again, double dealing sinners are more unjust. Now the angry man does not act deceitfully but openly, nor does anger flare up secretly. On the other hand desire acts like Venus who is called the deceitful daughter of Cyprus and is said to wear a multicolored girdle; of her Homer relates [Iliad, xiv. 214, 217] that she craftily steals the wits of the wisest man. Therefore, incontinence of this kind is more unjust and disgraceful than incontinence of anger; it is incontinence in the unqualified sense and is to some extent a vice.
z. FOURTH. — 1396-1397
In addition, no one feels sad doing an injury. But what anyone does in anger he does with a feeling of sadness, while the one doing injury acts with pleasure. If then the more unjust things are those against which we are justly very angry, it follows that incontinence arising from sensual desire is more unjust, because no injury is involved in the anger. Therefore it is evident that incontinence concerning sensual desires is more disgraceful than that which concerns anger, and that continence and incontinence in the unqualified sense deal with sensual desires and bodily pleasures.
b. He compares human incontinence with brutish or pathological incontinence.
i. He takes up... kinds of sensual desires and pleasures. — 1398
But we must take up again their differences. As we said in the beginning,” some are human and natural both in kind and amount, and others are brutish either as a result of inordinate passion or a pathological condition.
ii. He shows with which of these temperance... (is) concerned. — 1399-1400
Yet with only the first of these do temperance and intemperance deal. For this reason we do not call dumb animals temperate or intemperate in the proper sense; we do say, in comparing one animal with another, that one species differs from another in uncleanness, in stupidity, or in voraciousness, but this is a figurative way of speaking, for none of them have choice or reason; they are creatures separated from reason as insane men are.
iii. He compares human with brutish vice or incontinence. — 1401-1403
However, brutishness has less the nature of vice (but is more frightful) for what is best has not been corrupted as in an evil man-it is not present to be corrupt. Therefore, making a comparison to find out which is worse is like comparing an inanimate thing with a living one. The viciousness of that which does not have an intrinsic principle of action is always less blamable, while the intellect is such a principle. So then it is like the comparison between injustice as such and the unjust man. The fact is that each is worse in some sense; certainly the evil man can do ten thousand times more evil than a dumb animal.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1385. After the Philosopher has shown how incontinence has to do with different pleasures in different ways, he now compares different kinds of incontinence with each other. First [2, a] he compares incontinence in the pleasures of touch, which is complete incontinence, with incontinence in the matter of anger, which is incontinence only partially. Then [2, b], at “But we must take up etc.,” he compares human incontinence with brutish or pathological incontinence. He treats the first point in a twofold manner. First [a, i] he states his proposition, that we must consider that incontinence in the matter of anger is less disgraceful than incontinence in pleasures of touch, with which both temperance and intemperance deal.
1386. Next [a, ii], at “Anger seems,” he proves his proposition by four arguments. In the first [ii, w] he says that anger listens somewhat to reason, inasmuch as the angry man reasons in some measure that he ought to inflict punishment for injury done to him. But he hears poorly, i.e., he listens imperfectly to reason because he is not careful to heed the judgment of reason about the amount and the mode of punishment. Among animals, who lack reason, we find anger—as also other activities similar to reason—according to natural instinct.
1387. In clarification of his proposition he introduces two examples. The first is of servants who, because they are very precipitate, hasten to act before they hear all their instructions, and consequently make mistakes in executing the command which they did not fully understand. The other example is of dogs barking at the first sound of someone knocking at the door before they are aware whether the one knocking is family or friend. So in anger a man listens somewhat to reason but, because of the natural heat and swiftness of the bile inducing to anger, he proceeds to administer punishment before he hears the entire injunction of reason.
1388. Aristotle then, in addition, explains how this may happen. That a man has suffered injury or contempt is made known to him sometimes as a result of reason, as when this actually occurred, and other times as a result of imagination, as when the matter seems so to him, although it is not true. Then the man in anger apparently concludes he ought to attack the one who injured him and, taking an improper mode of vengeance, immediately bestirs himself in anger to inflict punishment before reason decides for him the mode of punishment. On the other hand sensual desire, as soon as something is declared delightful to it by reason or sense, moves to enjoy that pleasure without any reasoning.
1389. The reason for this difference is that the pleasing object has the nature of an end desirable in itself and is like a principle in reference to the conclusion. But damage to be inflicted on another is not desirable in itself as an end having the nature of a principle but as something useful to the end, and has the nature of a conclusion in things to be done. For this reason sensual desire does not move by reasoning but anger does. Consequently, anger follows reason in some measure but not sensual desire, which follows its own impetuosity. In this way something shameful, which is contrary to reason, results in human affairs. So then, obviously, the man incontinent in sensual desire is more disgraceful than the man incontinent in anger. The reason is that the man incontinent in anger is prevailed upon by reason to a degree, but not the sensually incontinent man.
1390. At “Moreover, a man” [ii, x] he gives the second argument, saying that if a man sins in things which he naturally desires he is rather deserving of pardon. An indication of this is that tolerance is more readily extended toward the common appetites, for example, of food and drink—since they are natural—if they are taken precisely as common. The desire for food but not for delicate food is natural and common. But anger is more natural and mote difficult to resist than desires (not the common ones which are necessary and natural, and less frequently the matter of sin) but those desires that seek superfluous and unnecessary things-those which temperance and intemperance treat, as he has said in the third book (619-624).
1391. To be a peaceful animal is natural to man from the common nature of the species inasmuch as he is a social animal (for every gregarious animal is naturally of this kind); but sometimes a strong tendency to anger results from an individual’s nature, which consists in the composition of the body, because of the heat and dryness of easily enkindled humors. The desire for superfluous objects, for example, dainty food, follows rather the imagination and is a conscious passion of the soul rather than a natural temperament.
1392. Hence the tendency to anger is easily propagated from father to son, following as a result of the natural temperament, as is evident in the examples he adds. A certain man reprimanded for striking his father answered that he himself had also struck his own father who had in turn struck his father. Then the man pointing to his son said, “This boy will strike me when he becomes a man; it is a family trait.” He gives another example of a man who, when he was dragged out of his home by his son, asked the son to stop when they got to the doorway because he himself had dragged his own father only that far. So then a person incontinent of anger is less disgraceful because anger is more natural.
1393. At “Again, double dealing” [ii, y] he gives the third argument, saying that those who sin deceitfully are more unjust because, together with the fact that they cause injury, they also deceive. However, the angry man does not act deceitfully but obviously wants to take vengeance, for he would not be satisfied unless the one punished should know besides that he is being punished because he had given offense to the avenger. Nor does anger flare up secretly or cunningly but impulsively. But the desire for pleasures arises in secret and insidiously, so to speak. Since the pleasurable object is designed by nature to move the appetite immediately on perception, it draws the appetite to itself unless reason takes pains to hinder this.
1394. Hence people speak of the deceitful Cyprian maid, meaning Venus, for she was queen of Cyprus, and so was called a Cyprian as if born in Cyprus. They attribute to her something of the artful woman, saying her girdle is multicolored, by which we understand sensual desire binding reason; varicolored because it directs one’s course to something apparently good inasmuch as it is pleasurable but really evil. Likewise, Homer writes “ that the cunning, Venus craftily steals the wits of the very wise man, because she binds the judgment of the reason in particular practical matters.
1395, Therefore, this incontinence concerning sensual desires is more unjust and disgraceful than incontinence concerning anger. If this is true, the incontinence dealing with sensual desires is incontinence in the unqualified sense, as was pointed out previously (1384); and it is a vice in some measure inasmuch as it is deceitful, not that it acts by calculation but that it enters by stealth.
1396. At “In addition, no one” [ii, z] he gives his fourth argument: no one inflicting an injury acts with sadness. It has been explained previously in the fifth book (1035-1036) that a man who acts involuntarily does not do something unjust absolutely speaking, but only incidentally, inasmuch as what he does happens to be unjust. But what we do with sadness we seem to do involuntarily. Now anyone who acts immediately from anger is sad, not that he grieves about the punishment he inflicted—he is rather glad about this—but he is sad and moved to anger by the injury he has received. So his act is not simply involuntary because (if it were) what he does would not be imputed to him in any way; but it has a mixture of the voluntary and the involuntary. Therefore, what he does is less imputed to him inasmuch as he acts under provocation. But the man who does something apparently unjust in itself, when inflicting an injury, operates voluntarily and with pleasure. If then those things seem to be more unjust against which we are justly very angry, it follows that incontinence arising from sensual desire is more unjust because we are more justly aroused against it, as against an evil agent acting with complete voluntariness and with pleasure. But injury is not primarily in the anger but rather in him who has given provocation for the anger. Therefore, we are less justly angry against the angry person who under provocation sins with sadness, and for this reason is less unjust.
1397. Hence he summarizes in conclusion that, obviously, incontinence which concerns sensual desires is more disgraceful than that which concerns anger; that incontinence and continence in the unqualified sense deal with sensual desires and pleasures.
1398. Then [2, b], at “But we must take up,” he compares human incontinence with brutish incontinence. He treats this point in a threefold manner. First [b, i] he takes up again different kinds of sensual desires and pleasures. Next [b, ii], at “Yet with only etc.,” he shows with which of these temperance and intemperance, and consequently continence and incontinence, are concerned. Last [b, iii], at “However, brutishness etc.,” he compares human with brutish vice or incontinence. He says first that, since continence and incontinence have to do with bodily pleasures we must take up their differences. Some of them, as we indicated previously (1368-1371), are human and natural, i.e., in keeping with human nature both in regard to the genus which is considered according to the things sought, and in regard to the amount which is considered according to the mode, intense or feeble, of seeking. Others are not natural but brutish because of a vicious nature, or they come about by reason of privations and sickness—among these are evil habits.
1399. Next [b, ii], at “Yet only with the first,” he shows with which of these temperance is concerned. He states temperance and intemperance have to do only with sensual desires which are human and natural. Hence, properly speaking, we do not call dumb animals either temperate or intemperate. But, figuratively speaking of one animal compared to another, we do say that one kind of animal differs from another (i) in defilement—one is more filthy in living a more vile and unclean life, for example, the pig than the sheep; (2) in sinamoria i.e., stupidity in general—one is more stupid than another, for instance, the ass than the horse; (3) in voraciousness—the wolf is most rapacious.
1400. Hence, by a comparison with these animals which are excessive in this way, other kinds of animals are called temperate or prudent by a kind of similitude but not in the proper sense because none of them has deliberate choice or can reason but is separated from rational nature. All insane persons who have lost the use of reason are like this. But we have said before (1361) that a temperate and an intemperate man act with deliberate choice; and so temperance and intemperance are not found in dumb animals nor in brutish men, nor are they concerned with brutish desires.
1401. At “However, brutishness” [b, iii] he compares brutish with human vice or incontinence, saying that brutishness has less of evil in it considering the condition of a beast (or of a bestial person). But brutishness is more frightening because it does worse things. He proves that brutishness is less evil by the fact that,.the highest part, i.e., the intellect, is not corrupt and depraved in-the animal, as in an evil man, but entirely lacking.
1402. Therefore, to compare a beast with a bad man to discover which is worse, is like comparing a non-living creature with a living one. Non-living creatures, like fire that burns or rock that crushes, do more damage but are farther from the notion of fault. Badness in a thing without an inner principle of its actions is always less blamable since less fault can be attributed to it—badness in man is imputable because he has a principle making him master of his own actions. This principle is the intellect that the brutes lack. Therefore a beast is compared to a man as injustice to an unjust man.
1403. For the habit of injustice by its very nature has an inclination to evil, but the unjust man retains the power to be good or bad. Each is worse in a measure, i.e., the unjust man is worse than injustice and the evil man worse than a brute because an evil man can do ten thousand times more harm than a beast by his reason which he can use to devise very diverse evils. Therefore, as a dumb animal is less guilty than an evil man but is more to be dreaded, so also brutish vice or even incontinence is more to be dreaded but is less culpable and more blameless than human incontinence or vice. Consequently people who are insane or naturally bestial are less severely punished.
Continence and Perseverance
I. HE SHOWS HOW THE CONTINENT AND INCONTINENT MAN DIFFER FROM THE PERSEVERING.... FROM THE TEMPERATE ... MAN.
A. How incontinence differs from other habits.
1. HE DISTINGUISHES CONTINENCE... FROM TEMPERANCE.
a. He distinguishes continence... from perseverance.
i. He shows the agreement. — 1404-1405
Continence and incontinence deal with pleasures and pains, with desires and aversions—things pertaining to touch and taste about which temperance and intemperance are concerned, as determined previously. In regard to these passions some people act in such a way that they are overcome by the passions that most men master; others overcome the passions against which most men are rather weak.
ii. He shows the difference. — 1406-1407
Of those who contend with pleasures one is incontinent, and another is continent; of those who contend with sorrows one is called effeminate and another persevering. In between are the habits of most men who, however, are more inclined to the worse habits.
b. He distinguishes... (continence and incontinence) from temperance and intemperance. — 1408-1411
But some pleasures are necessary, others not necessary; some are necessary up to a point, while excesses and defects are not at all necessary. So it is in the matter of desires and pains. Hence a man is called intemperate who pursues excesses in pleasures by desiring them beyond measure or by deliberately choosing them for their own sake and not for the sake of something else. Since such a one is not sorry for his actions he cannot be cured. But the man who is deficient in things of this nature is the very opposite (i.e., insensible). And he who follows a middle course is temperate. Similarly, someone may shun bodily pains not because he is overcome but because he deliberately chooses. Of those who yield but not from deliberate choice, one is drawn by the force of pleasure and another by aversion from the pain of unsatisfied desire. Therefore these persons differ one from the other.
2. HE COMPARES THESE (HABITS) ACCORDING TO GOODNESS AND EVIL.
a. He compares the incontinent and effeminate man with the intemperate. — 1412
Generally speaking, someone doing a shameful act without any passion at all, or with only mild passion, is worse than another who sins with violent passion. Likewise he who strikes another in cold blood is worse than one acting in anger. What would a man who sins without passion do under the influence of passion? For this reason the intemperate is worse than the incontinent person. In the latter there is rather a kind of effeminacy, while the intemperate man is opposed to the temperate.
b. He compares the incontinent man with the effeminate (and the persevering with the continent).
i. He shows which is better. — 1413
The continent man is set opposite the incontinent, and the persevering man is opposite the effeminate. In fact, one is said to be persevering in this that he holds fast, while continence consists in conquering. But holding fast differs from conquering, as not being conquered differs from conquering. For this reason continence is more desirable than perseverance.
ii. He explains a likeness previously mentioned. — 1414-1416
The man, however, who fails in b resisting those pleasures which most people successfully resist is called effeminate and delicate. Indeed delicacy is a kind of effeminacy. Such is the man who trails his clothing to avoid the wearisome trouble of lifting it and imitates an invalid, not considering himself wretched in resembling a person who is. Likewise this applies to continence and incontinence, for it is not surprising for somebody to be overcome by the more intense and more extreme pleasures or pains; rather his action is excusable if he resists as Philoctetes did, in the play of Theodectus, when bitten by a snake, and Carcinus’ Cercyon in the Alope. The same can be said of those who try to keep from laughing but suddenly burst out like Xenophantus did. But a person is called incontinent and effeminate if he succumbs to those pleasures and pains which most people overcome, being unable to resist not because of a disposition of his nature (but because of a sickness of soul) as for instance, effeminacy among the Scythian kings. The same goes for women who in this differ from the masculine sex.
iii. He refutes an error. — 1417
Although it might seem that one fond of amusement is intemperate, he is really effeminate because play is relaxation and rest, which the lover of amusement seeks excessively.
B. He distinguishes the different species of incontinence.
1. HE GIVES THE DIVISION. — 1418
One kind of incontinence is impetuosity and the other, weakness.
2. HE EXPLAINS THE MEMBERS OF THE DIVISION. — 1419-1420
Some incontinent persons after taking counsel do not abide by the advice they received, because of passion. Others do not take counsel and as a result succumb to passion. Still others are like people who excite themselves but are not stirred up by others. This is the way with those who, experiencing the movement of passion beforehand and arousing themselves and their reasoning powers in advance, are not overwhelmed either by the passion of pleasure or of pain.
3. HE SHOWS TO WHOM THE SECOND KIND OF INCONTINENCE... IS ATTRIBUTABLE. — 1421
It is especially the choleric and the depressed who are victims of unbridled incontinence. Neither of these awaits reason’s decision but follows the imagination, the former by the quickness of their reaction and the latter by the vehemence of their passions.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1404. After the Philosopher has shown the nature of the matter about which continence and incontinence in the unqualified sense are concerned, he now compares them to other habits that share the same matter. He discusses this point in a twofold manner. First [I] he shows how the continent and incontinent man differ from the persevering and the effeminate man, from and the temperate and the intemperate man. Here he solves the third difficulty that was raised against the fourth probable statement (1321-1324). Next [Lect. 8; II], at “But the intemperate man etc.” (B. 1150 b 29), he shows who is worse, the incontinent or the intemperate man, and by this he solves the fifth difficulty which was raised against the first probable statement. He treats the initial point under two aspects. First [I, A] he shows how incontinence differs from other habits. Then [I, B], at “One kind of incontinence etc.,” he distinguishes the different species of incontinence. He considers the first point in two ways. First [A, 1] he distinguishes continence and incontinence from temperance and intemperance, from perseverance and effeminacy. Next [A, 2], it “Generally speaking,” he compares these according to goodness and badness. He handles the first point in a twofold fashion. First [1, a] he distinguishes continence and incontinence from perseverance and effeminacy. Second [1, b], at “But some pleasures,” he distinguishes both (incontinence and continence) from temperance and intemperance. He discusses the first point from a double aspect. First [a, i] he shows the agreement; and then, at “Of these who etc.” [a, ii] he shows the difference. On the first he notes two points of agreement.
1405. The first is according to the matter which continence and incontinence share with temperance. They deal with pleasures and pains, with desires and aversions—things pertaining to touch and taste about which temperance and intemperance are also concerned, as determined previously in the third book (339, 342, 616, 618, 651). The second point of agreement touches the manner of conducting oneself in regard to the passions. Some people act in such a way that they are overcome by passions in which most men are better disciplined or strong, that is to say, which they overcome; still others conquer those passions in which most men are less disciplined or weaker, that is to say, by which the majority are conquered.
1406. Next [a, ii], at “Of those who,” he explains the difference. Men win and lose, he says, in contending with these pleasures and pains; and he who is overcome by those pleasures of touch where most people are victorious is called incontinent, but he who overcomes the pleasures of touch in which most people are overcome is called continent. In connection with the opposite pains, one overwhelmed by those which the majority endure is called effeminate, while another who triumphs over those to which many men succumb is called persevering.
1407. Because there are different degrees of pleasures and pains, and so of men who control and are controlled by them, it is evident that these habits can be for the most part “in-between.” However, those habits signifying evil incline more easily to the lower pleasures, for people are said to be more incontinent and effeminate who are overcome by minor pleasures or pains; just as good habits incline more to the higher pleasures, for they are called more continent and persevering who master the greater pleasures and pains. Likewise it can be understood that men may be inclined toward the worse habits, viz., incontinence and effeminacy.
1408. Then [1, b], at “But some” he shows how these habits differ from temperance. He says some pleasures of taste and touch, for example, of food and drink, are necessary; other pleasures like different seasonings are unnecessary. Those necessary are so up to a certain point, for there is a quantity of food and drink necessary for man. But excesses (of pleasures) are unnecessary and so are deficiencies. The same is true for desires and pains.
1409. Therefore, someone who intentionally pursues excesses immoderately, i.e., in desiring them above measure, or even seeks them by deliberate choice for their own sake and not for the sake of something else, considering them as an end, is called intemperate. Because a man cleaves immovably to that which he intentionally seeks for itself, the intemperate man is necessarily not sorry about pleasures he has sought. Consequently his vice is incurable, for no one is cured except by being displeased since virtue and vice are in the will. As the intemperate man abounds in his quest for pleasures, so the insensible man—his counterpart—is deficient in the same affairs, as noted in the third book (630-631). But one following a middle course in these matters is temperate. And as the intemperate person seeks bodily pleasures by deliberate choice, so he shuns bodily pain, not by being overcome by them but out of deliberate choice.
1410. Still, of those who do not sin from deliberate choice, one, viz., the incontinent is drawn by the pleasure’s power, another—the “soft”—is conquered by dread of pain following the desire, i.e., the deprivation of the thing desired. Hence it is clear that the incontinent, the effeminate, and the intemperate man are each different.
1411. We should note here that previously (1361-1362), in determining the matter of continence and incontinence—lest error creep in—the Philosopher incidentally touched on the difference between the intemperate and the incontinent man-a matter he now makes his prime concern.
1412. At “Generally speaking” [A, 2] he compares these habits according to goodness and evil. First [2, a] he compares the incontinent and the effeminate man with the intemperate. Next [2, b], at “The continent man etc.,” he compares the incontinent man with the effeminate. He says first that, generally speaking, one who does something shameful without any passion at all, or under the influence of what is only ineffectual or mild passion, is worse than one doing something shameful with violent passion. Likewise striking another in cold blood is worse than striking in anger. What might a man sinning without passion do if he was passionate? Consequently the intemperate man, not overcome by passion but sinning by deliberate choice, is worse than the incontinent man who is mastered by passion. Likewise one of these two conditions, being mastered by passion in running away from pain belongs rather to a kind of effeminacy, while the other, sinning by deliberate choice belongs to intemperance. Hence the intemperate person is worse than the “softy.”
1413. Next [2, b], at “The continent man,” he compares the “soft” man to the incontinent, and the persevering man to the continent. He considers these points in three ways. First [b, i] he shows which is better. Then [b, ii], at “The man, however, etc.,” he explains a likeness previously mentioned. Last [b, iii], at “Although it might seem etc.,” he refutes an error. He says first that the continent man is contrasted with the incontinent, and the persevering man is contrasted with the effeminate. One is called persevering in this that he maintains his ground when another urges him to the contrary. But continence is designated from this that it conquers, for what we contain (continemus) we have in our power. It is necessary that we should stand firm against pain because pleasure must be bridled or kept in check. Hence the persevering man is compared to the continent man as the unconquered is compared to the conqueror who is obviously more perfect. Consequently continence is more perfect than perseverance. Effeminacy, however, seems worse than incontinence: each consists in defeat but the incontinent person is beaten by a stronger passion.
1414. Then [b, ii], at “The man, however,” he makes clear a likeness mentioned previously (1413), between the effeminate and the incontinent person, both are beaten by passions that many other people master. He says that the man failing in these pleasures against which even the majority fight to resist and can overcome is called effeminate and delicate. The effeminate and the delicate belong in the same class, for delicacy is a kind of effeminacy. Effeminacy inordinately shuns all weariness but delicacy in the strict sense shuns the weariness of toil. An individual, who trails his clothing after him on the ground to avoid the labor of carrying it—which pertains to delicacy, is overcome by that weariness which he thinks is at hand from tucking up his clothes. Although he acts like an invalid in dragging his clothes, and in this he seems not to be wretched; nevertheless he resembles a wretched person inasmuch as he shuns fatigue only to meet it.
1415. What was said about effeminacy holds true for continence and incontinence. It is not surprising if a person is overcome by the more intense and more extreme pleasures and pains, so that he ought (not) to be called incontinent or effeminate for this reason. Rather he should be pardoned if he attempts to resist and does not yield at once. Aristotle gives the example of Philoctetes who, Theodectus the poet narrates, when bitten by a snake and suffering great pain tried to contain his anguish but could not. Something like this is told about a woman named Melopes who was struck by a man called Carcinus. So also it happens to those who try to keep from laughing, yet are not successful and suddenly burst out, as did Xenophantus.
1416. But a man is then called incontinent and effeminate when he succumbs to such pains and pleasures as most people can overcome. Yet his inability to resist passions of this sort does not arise from his type of nature-by reason of which a thing serious for him would be slight for others-but from a debility of mind caused by evil habit. Thus effeminacy from an innate tendency is found in the kings of Scythia who cannot bear labors and pains because of their delicate rearing. The same thing is true of women in comparison with men by the weakness of their nature.
1417. At “Although it might seem” [b, iii] he refutes an error. It seems possible that the playful type, i.e., one too much in love with amusement is intemperate because there is a kind of pleasure in amusement, but the Philosopher says that such a person more properly is effeminate. Amusement is a quieting and relaxation of the mind, which the lover of amusement seeks to an excessive degree. Hence he comes in the classification of effeminate, whose characteristic is to shun difficulties and labors.
1418. Next [I, B], at “One kind of incontinence,” he distinguishes the species of incontinence. He treats this point under three headings. First [B, 1] he gives the division, saying that incontinence has a twofold division: impetuosity and weakness.
1419. Then [B, 2], at “Some incontinent,” he explains the members of the division. He says that some incontinent people do deliberate when passion arises, but they do not abide by the results of deliberation because of the passion which overcomes them. Incontinence of this kind is called weakness. Other incontinent persons are led by passion because they do not deliberate but when passion arises they follow it immediately. This incontinence is called impetuosity because of its quickness which forestalls deliberation. However, if they had deliberated they would not have been led astray by passion.
1420. Still others excite themselves in advance and afterwards are not moved when excited by others. This is the way also with those who, feeling the movement of passion beforehand and having previous knowledge of that to which passion inclines, arouse themselves in advance, i.e., provoke themselves and their powers of deduction to resist sensual desire, and consequently they are not changed either by the passion of pleasure that overwhelms the incontinent man, or by the pain that overwhelms the effeminate man.
1421. Last [B, 3], at “It is especially,” he shows to whom the second kind of incontinence called impetuosity is attributable. He says that the highly sensitive or the choleric and the depressed are especially incontinent according to the incontinence which is not restrained by counsel, and which is called impetuosity. Neither of these awaits the advice of reason but they follow the first sensual image: the choleric on account of the quickness of their wrath but the depressed on account of the vehemence of their intensified melancholy whose impulse no man can easily endure, for a dry object when kindled bums furiously. On the contrary we are to understand that men with sanguine and phlegmatic temperaments experience the incontinence of weakness on account of the humidity of their temperament which is not strong enough to resist an impression.
The Intemperate Are Worse than the Incontinent
II. HE SHOWS WHICH IS WORSE (THE INTEMPERATE OR THE INCONTINENT MAN).
A. He explains his intention.
1. THE INTEMPERATE (MAN) IS WORSE.
a. He compares the incontinent with the intemperate man ... three arguments ... that the intemperate (man) is worse.
i. First reason. — 1422-1423
But the intemperate man, as was pointed out before,’ is not inclined to be penitent, for he is tenacious of his choice. On the other hand, every incontinent man is given to repentance. For this reason, we are not here dealing with our original problem. Consequently, one (the intemperate) is incurable and the other (the incontinent) is curable.
ii. Second reason. — 1424
Now vice resembles diseases like dropsy and tuberculosis, while incontinence is like epilepsy. Vice is chronic while incontinence is a kind of intermittent badness.
iii. Third reason. — 1425
Generally speaking, incontinence and vice are different in kind, for vice is unconscious of itself but incontinence is not.
b. He compares the two kinds of incontinence. — 1426-1427
Among the incontinent the impulsive sort are not as bad as those who, having the advice of reason, do not abide by it. These people give in to a milder passion and do not, like the impulsive, lack deliberation. In fact, incontinent people (i.e., the weak) are like those who become quickly intoxicated by a little wine or by less than most men.
2. HE SHOWS WHAT IS COMMON TO (THE INTEMPERATE AND THE INCONTINENT).
a. First. — 1428
Although incontinence is not vice in the strict sense it is obviously so in a qualified way, for incontinence sins without deliberate choice but vice with deliberate choice.
b. The second point of agreement. — 1429
Besides, there is a similarity in action, as illustrated by what Demodochus said to the Milesians: “You are not foolish but you do the things foolish men do.” So too the incontinent are really not unjust but they do unjust deeds.
B. He clarifies a matter formerly assumed.
1. HE GIVES HIS REASON FOR HIS PREVIOUS STATEMENT. — 1430-1432
One man (the incontinent) pursues bodily pleasures excessively and contrary to right reason, and not because he is convinced that they are to be followed. But another (the intemperate) is convinced, because of his inclination, that these pleasures are to be followed. Hence the first is easily persuaded to change but not the second. The reason is that virtue and vice look to a principle that is destroyed by vice and preserved by virtue. Now the principle in actions is the end on account of which we operate, like axioms in mathematics; and just as reasoning does not teach principles in mathematics, so neither does reasoning teach the end in the sphere of action. But the right evaluation regarding the principle of things to be done is derived from a habit of virtue either natural or acquired. Therefore, the man who makes this evaluation is temperate, but he who makes the opposite evaluation is intemperate.
2. (HE) TELLS US WHY THE INCONTINENT MAN REPENTS. — 1433-1434
Take the incontinent person exceeding the limits of right reason because of passion that so overcomes him that he does not act according to right reason; still he is not convinced that he should abandon himself to such pleasures without restriction. In this he is better than the libertine, and not absolutely bad, for he retains the highest principle. Nevertheless there is still another person, the very opposite, who keeps to right reason and does not go to excess in passion. From this, it is clear that continence is a good habit but incontinence an evil habit.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1422. After the Philosopher has shown the difference between the incontinent axid the intemperate man, he now shows which is worse [II]. Thus he solves the difficulty raised in the fifth place (1325) about the first probable statement. Aristotle had considered this matter before but rather briefly and only incidentally. Now he gives it formal consideration by two o6perations. First [II, A] he explains his intention. Then [II, B], at “One man etc.,” he clarifies a matter formerly assumed. In the first part of the discussion he makes two points. First [A, 1 ] he shows that the intemperate is worse than the incontinent man. Then [A, 2], at “Although incontinence etc.,” he shows what is common to them. On the initial point, first [1, a] he compares the incontinent with the intemperate man. Then [1, b], at “Among the incontinent etc.,” he compares the two kinds of incontinence. First of all there are three arguments to show that the intemperate is worse than the incontinent man.
1423. In the first reason he says, as was pointed out before (1409), that the intemperate man is not inclined to be penitent since he sins by a deliberate choice in which he persists, having chosen bodily pleasures as an end. But an incontinent man readily repents when the passion to which he gave in passes away. Therefore, it is evident, as previously indicated (1409), that the intemperate man is as incurable as the incontinent is curable. So from the quality of excess Aristotle solves the difficulty mentioned before (1409), which proceeds from this, that incontinence is more incurable than intemperance. Since the intemperate man is indeed more incurable, it is possible to conclude he is worse, just as an incurable disease is worse.
1424. He states his second reason [a, ii] at “Now vice resembles,” saying that vice (intemperance) can be compared to long sicknesses such as dropsy and tuberculosis. But incontinence resembles those sicknesses like epilepsy which occur at intervals. This is so because intemperance-and every real vice-is without interruption, being a lasting habit which chooses evils. But incontinent is not continual because the incontinent man is moved to sin only by reason of passion which quickly passes. Thus incontinence is—so to speak—a kind of transitory vice. But a continuing evil is worse than a passing one. Therefore intemperance is worse than incontinence.
1425. At “Generally speaking” [a, iii] he gives his third reason: the genus of incontinence is different from that of vice under which intemperance is contained. Real vice is hidden from the one having it and his deception consists in thinking that what he does is good. But incontinence is not concealed, for such a person in his right mind knows that the object to which he is drawn by passion is evil. But hidden evil is more dangerous than overt evil. Therefore intemperance is worse than incontinence.
1426. Then [1, b], at “Among the incontinent,” he compares the kinds of incontinence. He says that among the incontinent, impulsive or impetuous people are better or at least not as bad as the weak who still have reason’s counsel, although they do not follow it. The weak are worse in two ways. First they are conquered by a milder passion, while the impulsive are overcome by an excessive passion either by surprise or vehemence. He has just proved (1423) by this argument that the intemperate man is worse than the incontinent. This can be considered a fourth argument connected with the preceding three. The second reason is that the weak are not without counsel like the impetuous. The same argument was used before (1419-1420) in the case of the incontinent and the intemperate man, as if the incontinent man deliberated beforehand but not the intemperate. This is not true, for the intemperate man has reflected in advance, sinning by deliberate choice. Therefore, he apparently introduces this point to show that it is really out of place there.
1427. He gives an example, comparing the incontinent person in his weakness with people who quickly or easily become intoxicated by a little wine or by less than most men. Such persons have a poor constitution; in the same way weak people giving in to a milder passion have a poor soul.
1428. Next [A, 2], at “Although incontinence,” he shows an agreement between the incontinent and the intemperate man in two matters. First [2, a] in regard to the fact that, although incontinence is not unqualified badness it is still vice in some sense, as previously stated (1379); it is then a quasi-vice, being but transitory. It is obviously not unqualified vice because incontinence sins without deliberate choice but real vice with deliberate choice.
1429. The second point of agreement is given at “Besides, there is” [2, b]. He says incontinence and vice have a similar action, illustrated by one Demodochus, an ancient of the people, who chided the Milesians thus: “Milesians, you are not foolish but you do things like the works of foolish people.” So the incontinent are not really bad (i.e., unjust or intemperate) but they do unjust and evil things.
143o. Then [II, B], at “One man,” he gives his reason [B, 1] for his previous statement, that the intemperate person is, in contrast to the incontinent, unrepentant. Next [B, 2], at “Take the incontinent person,” Aristotle tells us why the incontinent man repents, saying in the first place that one man pursues bodily pleasures excessively and against the order of right reason not because he is convinced these pleasures are good. Such a one is incontinent. Another, i.e., intemperate man on the contrary is convinced that these pleasures are to be chosen as good in themselves, because of an inclination he has by habit. Thus the incontinent person who is habitually unconvinced of the goodness of evil pleasures, though actually and in passion so convinced from his false evaluation on the spot, quickly changes when passion fades. In contrast the intemperate person judging physical pleasures are to be chosen in every instance does not depart from his judgment so easily.
1431. After this he gives his argument: virtue and vice concern in the sphere of action a principle that vice destroys and virtue preserves. Now this principle of action is the end for the sake of which we act; in things to be done it takes the place that axioms or first principles have in mathematical demonstrations. just as principles in mathematics are not taught by reasoning, so neither is the end in the sphere of action taught by reasoning. But man acquires right evaluation regarding the principle of things to be done, i.e, the end, by the habit of virtue either natural or learned by custom.
1432. Then the one making a right evaluation on the objective of physical pleasures, appraising the mean to be a good and an end in these matters, and excesses, an evil, is temperate. In contrast the one making the opposite evaluation from a habit of vice is intemperate. It is clear that anyone making a mistake in principles cannot be easily recalled from error because reasoning does not teach the principles. From this point of view he is not amenable or penitent until the habit causing the error is destroyed by a contrary practice of long standing.
1433. At “Take the incontinent person” [b, 2] he shows that the incontinent are amenable and inclined to be penitent. He says that these people exceed the limits of right reason because of passion overcoming them to this extent that they do not act according to right reason, but still not to the extent of convincing them that they should pursue bodily pleasures as good in themselves without restriction. For this reason such people continue in a right evaluation of the end after the cessation of passion which passes quickly. Such is the incontinent person who in this respect is better than the intemperate person and not absolutely evil because he does preserve the highest principle, which is the correct evaluation of the end. But in a sense this man is evil in considering that something contrary to reason is to be done in a particular case. Another person, viz., the continent, the direct opposite of the incontinent person, stays by right reason and in no way departs from it because of passion even in his actions.
1434. From this it is clear that continence is a good habit because it abides by reason. But incontinence is an evil habit because it recedes from right reason in its operation. This was the first probable statement, which he now concludes after the solution of the fifth difficulty raised concerning it.
The Continent and the Obstinate Man
I. HE DISCUSSES IN WHAT SENSE THE CONTINENT MAN ABIDES BY EVERY PRINCIPLE...
A. He shows how continence is related to the right principle.
1. HE SHOWS TO WHAT PRINCIPLE THE CONTINENT MAN LAUDABLY ADHERES...
a. Whether a man, who abides by any principle... may be called continent... — 1435-1436
Can a man be called continent who abides by any principle whatsoever and by any choice whatsoever? Or can he only be called continent who abides by right principle and choice? Can a man be called incontinent who does not abide by any principle or choice whatsoever? Can he be called incontinent who does not abide by a principle that is false and by a choice that is wrong—a point that was previously discussed?
b. He solves the question raised. — 1437-1439
A man who abides or does not abide by any principle at all is called continent or incontinent only incidentally; but a man who abides or does not abide by a true principle and a correct choice is said to be absolutely continent or incontinent. Certainly if someone chooses and pursues this for the sake of that, he essentially chooses and pursues the latter but incidentally the former. But what is essential we predicate in an absolute sense. Therefore, he who adheres to any opinion whatsoever is continent or incontinent in some way; but he who adheres or does not adhere to a true opinion is called continent or incontinent in the complete sense.
2. HE SHOWS HOW SOME MEN WRONGLY HOLD TO A PRINCIPLE.
a. He identifies (these men). — 1440
Some people, however, are tenacious in their opinions; they are called obstinate because they are difficult to convince, and, once convinced, do not easily change.
b. He shows how such people compare with the continent man. — 1441
They resemble the continent as the spendthrift resembles the generous man, and the rash the courageous man.
c. He shows the difference. — 1442-1443
But they differ in many respects, for the continent man is not changed by the passion of sensual desire, because he is easily convinced by a reason offered and remains continent. On the contrary, the obstinate man is not changed by reason, because such people follow passion and are often led from reason by pleasures.
d. He shows how (the obstinate) compare with the incontinent man. — 1444
The word obstinacy refers to the headstrong, since these people are both undisciplined and rude. Opinionated by pleasure and pain, they are glad to win an argument and to remain convinced in their opinion. But they grieve if their judgments seem weak and only opinions. Therefore they bear more resemblance to the incontinent than the continent man.
3. HE SHOWS HOW OTHERS COMMENDABLY FORSAKE A PRINCIPLE. — 1445
There are others who do not stand by the things that seem good but not because of incontinence. Thus in Sophocles’ Philoctetes, Neoptolemus did not abide by what seemed good although he did this by reason of a pleasure that was good, for telling the truth was pleasing to him. He had been persuaded by Odysseus to lie. Surely not everyone who does something for pleasure is intemperate or evil or incontinent but only he who acts for shameful pleasure.
B. He shows how continence is related to the general nature of virtue.
1. HE SHOWS THAT CONTINENCE CONSISTS IN A MEAN.
a. He shows in what things continence is a mean. — 1446-1447
Sometimes a man is disposed to enjoy bodily pleasures less than he ought, not abiding by the judgment of reason. Hence, between such a person and the incontinent man there is a mean, viz., the continent man. The idea here is that the incontinent man forsakes reason by enjoying physical pleasures too much but the other by enjoying them too little. But the continent man adheres to reason and is not diverted by either extreme.
b. He shows how (excess and defect of continence) are related to good and evil. — 1448
Since, indeed, continence is something good, the two contrary habits are evil, as is obvious.
c. He responds to a foreseen question. — 1449-1450
Because one extreme rarely happens and is not so evident, it seems that just as temperance is opposed only to intemperance, so in the same way continence is opposed to incontinence.
2. HE SHOWS THAT CONTINENCE, BECAUSE OF ITS SIMILARITY, IS SOMETIMES CALLED TEMPERANCE.
a. He compares continence with temperance.
i. He states his intention. — 1451
Since language is often used in a metaphorical sense, we have come to speak metaphorically of the continence of the temperate man.
ii. He points up the resemblance. — 1452
Indeed the continent man has the ability to do nothing against principle for the sake of carnal pleasures. And the temperate man has the same ability.
iii. He shows several divergences. — 1453
But the first has evil desires while the other, the temperate man, does not; and the second is so disposed that he does not take pleasure contrary to reason. But the continent man is disposed to take pleasure but is not seduced by passion.
b. He compares incontinence with intemperance. — 1454
Although the incontinent and the intemperate man do resemble one another, they nevertheless are different. Both seek bodily pleasures; but the intemperate man thinks he should pursue them, while the incontinent man does not.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1435. After the Philosopher has settled the question of the existence of continence and incontinence, and has explained their objects, he now settles the question of the precise species of continence. Here are his two operations: first [I] he discusses in what sense the continent man abides by every principle and the incontinent man forsakes every principle. Thus the fourth difficulty (1321) against his second probable argument is solved. Next [Lect. 10, II], at “Nor can the same man etc.” (B. 1152 a 7), he raises the question of a prudent person being incontinent. By this he solves the second difficulty raised against the fifth probable statement. On the first point he does two things. First [I, A] he shows how continence is related to the right principle which is understood as abiding by reason. Then [I, B], at “Sometimes a man etc.,” he shows how continence is related to the general nature of virtue which consists in following a middle course. He develops the first point in a threefold manner. First [A, 1] he shows to what principle the continent man laudably adheres and from what principle the incontinent man blamably departs. Next [A, 2], at “Some people, however etc.,” he shows how some men wrongly hold to a principle. Third [A, 3], at “There are others etc.,” he shows how others commendably forsake a principle. There are two considerations of the first point.
1436. First [A, 1, a] he raises the question whether a man, who abides by any principle whatsoever, either true or false, or by any choice whatsoever, either good or bad, may be called continent. Or whether only he who abides by the right principle and choice is called continent. There is a similar question: whether a man who does not abide by any principle or choice at all, or who only does not abide by a right principle or choice may be called incontinent. Or the question can be framed in this way: can a man who does not abide by a wrong principle or choice be called incontinent, as was stated in the preceding difficulties (1322) ?
1437. Next [A, 1, b], at “A man who abides,” he solves the question raised, saying that a man who abides or does not abide by any principle at all is said to be continent or incontinent incidentally (secundum accidens), but a man who does or does not abide by a true principle and a correct choice essentially (per se) speaking is said to be continent or incontinent. He explains it in this way. If someone chooses or pursues, i.e., acquires this for the sake of or instead of that, for example, if he chooses gall in place of honey because he thinks it is honey from the resemblance in color, it is obvious that speaking formally he really chooses and seeks a different thing, namely, honey. But incidentally he chooses what is harmful, that which he chooses instead, viz., gall.
1438. The supporting argument runs this way: in desirable things, that to which the intention of the agent is referred is essentially desired. Good, insofar as it is known, is the proper object of the appetitive faculty. But that which is beside the intention is only incidentally desired. Hence the man who means to choose honey and chooses gall instead, essentially (per se) is choosing honey but only incidentally gall. Therefore, there may be people considering a false argument as true, e.g., someone believing as true this statement: “It is good to commit fornication.” If then he sticks by this false conclusion, really believing it to be true, he is essentially standing by a true reason but incidentally by a false reason. He intended to abide by a true reason. This same argument holds for the continent man who departs from a false reason which he considers to be true.
1439. So it is evident that a man is essentially continent (or incontinent) who adheres (or does not adhere) to a true reason but incidentally to a false reason. Now what is essential is predicated absolutely but what is incidental we predicate in a limited way. Consequently he, who adheres to any opinion whatsoever, even a false one, is called continent or incontinent in some measure; but he who adheres or does not adhere to a true reason or opinion is called continent or incontinent in the absolute sense.
1440. Then [A, 2], at “Some people, however,” he shows how some men wrongly hold to a principle. First [A, 2, a] he identifies them. Next [A, 2, b], at “They resemble etc.,” he shows how such people compare with the continent man. Third [A, 2, c], at “But they differ etc.,” he shows the difference. Finally [A, 2, d], at “The word obstinacy etc.,” he shows how they compare with the incontinent man. He says first that there are some who unreasonably stand by their own opinion. These are the people called ischyrognomones, i.e., opinionated or obstinate, because it is hard to persuade them of anything. And if they have been convinced of something they are not easily changed from that opinion. This seems to happen especially to the melancholic who admit a thing reluctantly but hold to what they do accept, with great firmness.
140. At “They resemble” [A, 2, b] he compares these obstinate persons to the continent man. He says that they apparently have some likeness to the continent because they have in excess what the continent have, just as the spendthrift resembles a generous soul, and the rash are like the self-reliant or brave. Such people maintain their opinion more than they should, but the continent man as he should.
1442. Then [A, 2, c], at “But they differ,” he points out the many differences of the obstinate from the continent. For evidence of this we must consider that a person’s opinion can be changed in two ways. In one way on the part of reason itself, for example, if a better reason follows. In the other way, on the part of passion perverting the judgment of the reason, particularly in an individual practical case.
1443. This then is the difference, that the continent man is not changed from his principle by the passion of sensual desire, but nevertheless, when it is expedient, he will be rightly convinced when presented with another and better reason. Consequently, he is to be praised because he is not overcome by sensual desire but by reason. But the other, the obstinate, is not changed from opinion by a new reason but rather follows passion. And many obstinate persons are seduced by pleasures outside reason. They then are censurable in this way because they are overcome by passion rather than prevailed upon by reason.
1444. Next [A, 2, d], at “The word,” he shows what relation the obstinate have to the incontinent man. Those called obstinate, he says, are also known as idiognomones, i.e., self-opinionated, headstrong men. They are undisciplined because unwilling to be taught by anyone, they are rude in this way—always wanting to follow their own view, they cannot adjust to others. So they are opinionated in their excessive quest of pleasure and avoidance of pain. They are glad, when they triumph in conversation with others, i.e., if they are not changed from their opinion by some argument. They are grieved if their judgments or opinions seem so weak that it is necessary to abandon them. Now it is proper to the incontinent and effeminate man to desire pleasures and to avoid pains excessively. Obviously then the obstinate are more like the incontinent than the continent man.
1445. At “There are others” [A, 3] he shows in what way some commendably forsake a principle. He says that there are still others who, do not abide by the things that seem good to them, not from incontinence but from a love of virtue. Thus, in Sophocles’ drama on Philoctetes, Neoptolemus did not adhere to the things seeming good to him, not from incontinence because he had done what he did for pleasure that was not really bad but rather good. He was seeking a good in a sense, in speaking the truth and this was pleasing to him. But he had been persuaded by Ulysses to tell a lie for the good of his country; he did not keep his resolution out of love for the truth. This did not make him guilty of incontinence. For not everyone who acts for pleasure is intemperate and evil or incontinent, but only those who yield to shameful pleasure.
1146. Then [I, B], at "Sometimes a man," he shows how continence is related to the notion of virtue, to which it pertains to follow the mean. On this point he does two things. First [ B, 1], he shows that continence like temperance consists in a mean. Next [B, 2], at “Since language is etc.,” he shows that continence, because of its similarity, is sometimes called temperance. He discusses this initial point under three aspects. First [B, 1, a] he shows in what things continence is a mean, saying that occasionally someone enjoys physical pleasures less than he should. not for a virtuous purpose but out of disgust. This state is not in accord with a correct and reasonable judgment which indicates some necessity for these pleasures. The incontinent man quite otherwise, we know (1444), is not reasonable in enjoying such pleasures more than he should.
1447. So the mean between these two extremes is represented by the continent man. For the incontinent man forsakes reason because of excess and the insensible man because of deficiency. The reason is that the first wants to enjoy pleasures more than he ought and the other less than he ought. But the continent man perseveres in reason and is not diverted from it by either extreme, i.e., too much or too little.
1448. Next [B, 1, b], at "Since indeed," he shows how (excess and defect of continence) are related to good and evil. It is evident from our discussions (1433-1434) that continence is something good. So it necessarily follows that the two habits opposed to it (by excess and defect) are bad, as is obvious from the very fact that they do not adhere to reason but take either too much or too little.
1449. At “But because” [B, 1, c] he responds to a foreseen question: why is incontinence alone apparently opposed to continence, which should have two contrary habits? This happens because one extreme—departure from reason by defect—is rare, and consequently not so evident as the opposite extreme. Indeed the departure from right reason by excess is quite frequent in bodily pleasure. By the same reason temperance seems to be opposed only to intemperance, since insensibility is not conspicuous because it happens in few cases.
1450. Here we should consider that extremes are opposed to continence in two different respects. First from the point of view of reason to which continence adheres, and under this aspect the analogy has already been presented (1441-1443): what prodigality is to generosity, obstinacy is to continence. The opposite extreme relating to the defect is the vice of instability. Second from the point of view of restraining desire there are extremes. And under this aspect continence is a medium between these extremes—our present problem.
145 1. Next [ B, 2 1, at “Since language is,” he shows that continence is at times called temperance for its similarity. First [B, 2, a] in this similarity he compares continence with temperance. Next [B, 2, b], at "Although the incontinent etc.," he compares incontinence with intemperance. He discusses the first point under three subheadings. First [a, i] he states his intention: continence is sometimes called temperance metaphorically, since similar things permit metaphor.
1452. Then [a, ii], at "Indeed the continent," he points up the resemblance. The continent person has the ability to do nothing against principle for the sake of carnal pleasures, and the temperate person has the same ability.
1453. Finally [a, iii], at “But the first,” he shows several differences. The temperate man does not have the evil desires of the continent because his sensual desire is well ordered by his habit of temperance. The second difference, stated at “and the second etc.,” [a, iii], is that the temperate man by his habit of temperance is not delighted contrary to reason, while the continent man is disposed to take unreasonable pleasure though he is not seduced by his passion.
1454. Then [B, 2, b], at “Although the incontinent,” he compares incontinence with intemperance: though the incontinent and the intemperate man seem alike, they do differ. Hence—by resemblance—incontinence is called intemperance. The resemblance is that both pursue carnal delights, but they differ because the intemperate man thinks he should follow such pleasures by perverse judgment on his goal. Quite otherwise the incontinent man has no such idea because his judgment remains unimpaired, as stated previously (1312, 1426, 1428-1430).
The Prudent and the Incontinent Man
II. CAN PRUDENCE... CO-EXIST WITH INCONTINENCE?
A. Prudence and incontinence are incompatible.
1. HE PLOTS HIS COURSE. — 1455
Nor can the same man be at once prudent and incontinent,
2. HE PROVES THIS STATEMENT WITH TWO ARGUMENTS.
a. The first. — 1456
for we have shown that a man is simultaneously prudent and virtuous in action.
b. The second. — 1457
Again, one is prudent not simply by knowing what is right but especially by doing it; and the incontinent man does not do the right.
c. He offers a reason for the phenomenon of prudent people being incontinent. — 1458
However, nothing hinders a shrewd person from being incontinent. This is why people sometimes seem to be prudent and still incontinent because shrewdness differs from prudence in the way indicated in our previous discussion.
B. The relationship of the incontinent to prudence.
1. HE COMPARES THE INCONTINENT TO THE PRUDENT MAN.
a. He makes the comparison.
i. his comparison.
x. HE SAYS WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO. — 1459
They are similar because both reason correctly; they differ because the prudent man follows deliberate choice but the incontinent man does not.
y. HE SHOWS IN WHAT SENSE PRUDENCE AND INCONTINENCE APPROACH REASON. — 1460
This is not to say that the incontinent man resembles one knowing and actually considering; rather he is like a person asleep or drunk.
z. HE CLARIFIES HIS STATEMENT ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE. — 1461
So he acts voluntarily, knowing in some way both what he does and why. But he is not evil for his choice is in a way good.
ii. He infers a corollary. — 1462-1463
Therefore, the incontinent man is partly evil and not absolutely unjust, for he is not a deliberate schemer. However, some incontinent people do deliberate but do not abide by the deliberation; while the impetuous do not deliberate at all.
b. He uses a comparison.
i. He presents his comparison. — 1464
The incontinent man is like a city that reckons everything that is logically necessary and has good laws but keeps none of them; as Anaxandrides sarcastically remarked, a certain city wanted laws but cared nothing about observing them. The evil man, however, is like a city that observes its laws but has only bad ones.
ii. He explains the last statement. — 1465
Continence and incontinence are concerned with matter that goes beyond the habit of the majority, for the continent abide by reason more and the incontinent less than most men can.
2. HE COMPARES THE SPECIES OF INCONTINENCE (ACCORDING TO TWO DIFFERENCES).
a. First. — 1466
Among the kinds of incontinence, that by which the melancholic incontinently operate is more easily cured than the incontinence of those who take counsel but do not abide by it.
b. Another difference. — 1467-1468
Then, too, the habitually incontinent are more easily cured than the naturally incontinent, for it is easier to change a habit than a nature. A habit is difficult to change for the very reason that it is similar to nature; as Evenus would have it: “I say that constant application evolves harmoniously, and it must become men’s nature in the end.” We have now discussed the notion of continence and incontinence, of perseverance and effeminacy; and we have shown in what way these habits are related to one another.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1455. Now that the Philosopher has shown how the continent stand by—and the incontinent depart from—reason, he goes on to raise the question [II]: ‘Can prudence (the right reason of things to be done) co-exist with incontinence?” And his answer resolves his second hesitation which he, was advancing on the fifth probability (1317-1319). In this business there are two steps. First [II, A] this conclusion that prudence and incontinence are incompatible; second [II, B], at “They are similar etc.,” the relationship of the incontinent to prudence. He discusses the initial step in a threefold manner. First [A, 1] he plots his course, saying that it is impossible for the same man to be prudent and incontinent at the same time.
1456. Then [A, 2], at “for we have,” he proves this statement with two arguments. The first [A, 2, a], already explained in the sixth book (1172, 1273, 1275, 1285, 1287), is this: prudence accompanies moral virtue, so that a prudent person is likewise morally good But in the present problem of the incontinent there is no moral virtue insofar as the passions are seductive. There fore it is impossible to be prudent and still incontinent.
1457. At “Again, one” he gives his second argument [A, 2, b]. Prudence involves not just knowledge but practice. According to previous discussions in the sixth book (1216, 1239, 1240, 1269, 1289) prudence not merely counsels and judges what is to be done; it commands. The incontinent man fails in practice, i.e., he does not operate according to right reason. Therefore the prudent man cannot be incontinent.
1458. Third [A, 2, c], at “However nothing,” he offers a reason for the phenomenon of prudent people being incontinent. There is no reason why a shrewd character, ingenious and skillful, cannot be incontinent. So, it seems at times that prudent people are incontinent precisely because the shrewd have a reputation for prudence. Now the reason (for the mistaken idea) is the difference between prudence and shrewdness, which is (in the way already described in the sixth book—1275, 1279, 1280) that prudence as it were adds a further connotation to shrewdness.
1459. Then [II, B], at “They are similar,” he compares the incontinent to the prudent man. He treats this point in a twofold manner. First [B, 1] he compares the incontinent to the prudent man. Next [B, 2], at “Among the kinds etc.,” he compares the species of incontinence. He develops the first point in two ways. First [1, a] he makes the comparison. Then [1, b], at “The incontinent man etc.,” he uses a comparison. He handles the initial point in a twofold fashion. First [a, i] he makes his comparison. Then [a, ii], at “Therefore etc.,” he infers a corollary from that. There are three considerations on the first point. First [i, x] he says what he is going to do. He states that the incontinent is like the prudent man in a limited way—according to reason—for both reason correctly. But they differ according to deliberate choice, the prudent man following it and the incontinent man not.
1460. Here, in the second place [i, y], at “This is not,” he shows in what sense prudence and incontinence approach reason, by denying that the incontinent person—as it were—habitually knows and actually speculates (i.e., considers) particular things to be chosen. Rather he acts like a dreamer or a drunkard and in whom the habit of reason is suspended (cf. previous explanation 1351-1352).
1461. Third [i, z], at “So he acts,” he clarifies his statement about the difference in deliberate choice. The incontinent person sins willingly enough, for he knows in a way (i.e., in general) what he does and why and the other circumstances. Therefore his act is voluntary. Still he is not bad because he does not act by choice; when he is not in the throes of passion, his choice is the good or equitable. But when passion sweeps over him, his choice crumbles and he wills evil. So the incontinent man differs from the prudent man according to deliberate choice because the choice of the prudent man is not corrupted but that of the incontinent man is.
1462. Next [a, ii], at “Therefore,” he draws a corollary. Since the incontinent man did make a good choice before passion but wills evil through passion, he is consequently partly bad (he wills evil) but not absolutely unjust or evil (not a schemer doing evil-as it were-deliberately and by choice). However, one class of the incontinent, the weak, deliberate but do not stand by their resolution; another class, the melancholic and the highly sensitive—previously called impetuous (1421)—do not deliberate at all. So it is clear that neither do evil deliberately and by choice.
1463. From these discussions (1455-1462) we can gather what the subject of continence and incontinence is. We cannot say that the subject of each is sensual desire since the continent and incontinent are alike, both having evil desires; nor is the subject of each the reason since both have right reason. It remains then that the subject of each is the will because the incontinent man voluntarily sins, as was just pointed out (1461); the continent man voluntarily keeps to reason.
1464. Then [i, b], at “The incontinent man,” he uses a comparison with which he does two things. First [b, i] he presents his comparison: the incontinent man resembles a city that plans intelligently, arranges everything logically necessary, has good laws, but keeps none of them. Thus Anaxandrides sarcastically said that a certain city wanted laws but cared nothing about observing them. Likewise, the incontinent man does not use the right reason he has. But the bad or the intemperate man in using perverse reason is like a city observing bad laws.
1465. Next [b, ii], at “Continence and incontinence’ “ he explains the last statement (how the incontinent man is like a city that does not observe good laws). In fact, not every excess of right reason makes a man incontinent, but continence and incontinence are so named as being beyond the inclination or habit of the majority. The continent man adheres to right reason more than most people can, for he is the master of sensual desires which are the master of most people. But the incontinent man abides by reason less than most men, because he is overcome by sensual desires which most men overcome, as indicated before (237, 439, 1406, 1410).
1466. At “Among the kinds” [B, 2] he compares the species of the incontinent according to two differences. First [B, 2, a] he says that among the kinds of incontinence, that by which the melancholic—who do not deliberate—incontinently operate is more easily cured than the incontinence of those who deliberate but do not abide by the deliberation. The reason is that the melancholic, it seems, can be cured when counsel has been taken, but not the others (1442-1443).
1467. Then [B, 2, b], at “Then too,” he compares the incontinent according to another difference. He says that those who are incontinent by habit are more easily cured than the incontinent by nature, i.e., bodily temperament inclining to it, because a habit can be changed more easily than a nature. That, for the sake of which a thing exists, is itself greater. But a habit is difficult to change because of this, that it is like nature. Evenus the poet expresses it this way: “I declare that daily meditation (constant application) develops agreeably, smoothly and harmoniously. This, I say, in the end (when perfected) is nature for all.”
1468. Finally he ends with an epilogue that we have discussed the notion of continence and incontinence, of perseverance and effeminacy; and we have shown in what way these habits are related to one another.
Pleasure and Pain
I. THIS CONSIDERATION FITS IN WITH HIS PRESENT INTENTION.
A. He states his objective. — 1469
The investigation of pleasure and pain pertains to the philosopher of political science;
B. He demonstrates his proposition by three arguments.
1. THE FIRST (ARGUMENT). — 1470
for it is to pleasure and pain as an architectonic end that we refer everything in calling this good and that bad in the absolute sense.
2. HIS SECOND ARGUMENT. — 1471
Besides, it is necessary for the moralist to study these passions, since we have already shown that virtue and vice are concerned with pains and pleasures.
3. THE THIRD ARGUMENT. — 1472
Moreover, many people maintain that happiness is connected with pleasure. For this reason they call the happy man by a name derived from a verb meaning “to enjoy.”
II. HE PROCEEDS WITH HIS INTENTION.
A. (He investigates pleasure and pain) in general.
1. HE TAKES UP THE OPINIONS OF PHILOSOPHERS OPPOSING PLEASURE.
a. He gives (the) opinions. — 1473
Some philosophers held that pleasure could be called good neither intrinsically nor incidentally, for goodness and pleasure are not identical. Others were of the opinion that some pleasures are good, but most are evil. Still others maintain that even if all pleasures are good, nevertheless no pleasure can be the highest good.
b. He presents supporting arguments.
i. for the first opinion.
u. FIRST. — 1474
According to them, then, pleasure is not a good at all, because it is a sensate process to a natural term; and no process belongs to the classification of ends, for example, the act of building is never a house.
v. SECOND. — 1475
Moreover, the temperate man shuns pleasure.
w. THIRD. — 1476
Again, the prudent man seeks not pleasure but freedom from pain.
x. FOURTH. — 1477
Besides, pleasure hinders a man from being prudent; and the more so as it is more delectable, for example, sexual pleasure. In fact while it is, being experienced no one is capable of turning his mind to anything.
y. FIFTH. — 1478
Then too, there is no art of pleasure, although every good is the product of some art.
z. SIXTH. — 1479
Finally, children and dumb animals seek pleasure.
ii. He gives the argument for the second opinion. — 1480
But not all pleasures of this kind are good, because some are shameful and dishonorable; while others are harmful, causing sickness.
iii. He argues for the third opinion. — 1481-1482
Furthermore, no pleasure can be the highest good because pleasure is not an end but a kind of generative process. These then are the things usually discussed about pleasure.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1469. After the Philosopher has finished his investigation of continence and incontinence, showing that they are concerned with pleasures and pains, now he intends to investigate pleasures and pains themselves. First [I] he states that this consideration fits in with his present intention. Then [II], at “Some philosophers etc.,” he proceeds with his intention. He discusses the first point from three aspects. First [I, A] he states his objective, saying that a consideration of pleasure and pain pertains to the philosopher who applies himself to political science to which the whole of moral doctrine is reducible as to a principal science, as was pointed out in the beginning (2630).
1470. Second [I, B], at “for it is etc.,” he demonstrates his proposition by three arguments: first [B, 1], as the end of a master art is the measure to which all affairs of the art are referred, so is pleasure in the matter of moral study. Relevant to pleasure, one thing is called bad, and another, in like fashion, good. A good man is said to be one who is pleased by good things. A bad man, one delighted by evil things. The same judgment is passed on-actions inasmuch as something proceeding from wicked pleasure is judged wicked; on the other hand, good, as proceeding from good pleasure. In any science the principal consideration is that which is taken as a rule. Therefore the moral philosopher in a very special way concerns himself with pleasure.
1471. At “Besides, it is etc.” [B, 2] his second argument proceeds: it is not only proper but necessary for the moral philosopher to investigate pleasure because his duty is to study virtues and vices. As explained in the second book (266-267, 268, 269-272), moral virtue and vice are concerned with pleasures and pains. Therefore, it is necessary for the moralist to consider pleasure and pain.
1472. Then the third argument [B, 3], at “Moreover, many people etc.”: the moral philosopher must consider happiness as the ultimate end. But the majority, including Aristotle himself, maintain that happiness is connected with pleasure. Hence, among the Greeks the term “happy” is derived from the verb “to rejoice exceedingly.” Therefore, it is the business of the moral philosopher to investigate pleasure.
1473. Then [II], at “Some philosophers,” he investigates pleasure and pain themselves: first [II, A] in general; then [Lect. 14] at “In the matter of etc.” (B. 1154 a 8), in particular he treats physical pleasures with which, as he has already said, continence and incontinence are concerned. He discusses his first point from a double point of view. First [A, 1] he takes up the opinions of philosophers opposing pleasure. Then [Lect. 13], at “But it is obvious etc.” (B. 1153 b), he determines that the truth is the opposite. On this first point he has three operations: first [1, a] he gives opinions opposed to pleasure; second [1, b], at “According to them etc.,” he presents supporting arguments; finally [1, c; Lect. 12], at “From what follows etc.,” he refutes them. First then, three opinions. Some philosophers held that no pleasure could be good either intrinsically or incidentally; and that if a pleasurable thing is good, pleasure and good will not be identical. Others were of the opinion that some pleasures are good but most are evil. Still others maintained that even if all pleasures are good, nevertheless no pleasure can be the highest good.
1474. At “According to them” [1, b] he presents the arguments in favor of these opinions. At the outset he gives the arguments [b, i] for the first opinion. Then [b, ii], at “But not all etc.,” he gives the argument for the second opinion. Last [b, iii], at “Furthermore, no pleasure etc.,” he argues for the third opinion. Relative to the first point he offers six reasons. The first [i, u] is taken from the definition of pleasure given by those who say that pleasure is a kind of process of the senses to a natural term. When something, as it were connatural to us, is consciously produced in our nature, we delight in it, e.g., eating and drinking. Now no such process belongs to the class of ends (building something is not the thing built) but is rather a means to the end. But good has the nature (ratio) of end. Therefore no process, and consequently no pleasure, is good.
1475. The second reason [i, v], at “Moreover, the temperate,” is this. No one is praised as virtuous for avoiding good; yet a temperate man is praised for avoiding pleasures. Therefore, pleasure is not something good.
1476. He gives the third reason at “Again, the prudent” [i, w]. It is this: as the prudent man seeks freedom from pain so he seeks freedom from pleasure. But pain is not good and by the same token neither is pleasure.
1477. The fourth reason [i, x], at “Besides, pleasure,” follows. Prudence is not impeded by any good. But prudence is impeded by pleasure, and all the more as the pleasures are greater. From this it seems that of themselves and not merely incidentally they are obstacles. Thus, sexual pleasure obviously very intense impedes the mind to such an extent that no one is capable of exercising the act of understanding at the time of the act of pleasure, for the whole attention of the mind is drawn to it. Consequently, pleasure is not something good.
1478. The fifth reason [i, y], at “Then too,” is the following. Every human good seems to be the work of some art, because man’s good comes from reason. But pleasure is not the product of any art, since no art is merely for pleasure. Therefore, pleasure is not something good.
1479. He gives the sixth reason at “Finally, children” [i, z], and it is this. What is childish and animal in man is blamable. But children and dumb animals pursue pleasures. Therefore, pleasure is not something good.
148o. Next [b, ii], at “But not all,” he shows that not all pleasures are good. He says that this is proved by the fact that some pleasures are shameful, i.e., dishonorable, opprobrious, notoriously evil, etc.; and over and above this, other pleasures are evidently harmful because some cause sickness. So it is clear that not all pleasures are good.
1481. Then [b, iii], at “Further. more,” he proves that no pleasure is the highest good, even if all pleasures are good, for the end is what is best. But pleasure is not an end but rather a kind of process. Consequently, pleasure is not the highest good.
1482. He concludes by way of summary: for all practical purposes, these approximate the points raised against pleasure.
Refutation of Previous Arguments
c. (Aristotle’s) refutation.
i. (Outline of) his discussion. — 1483
From what follows it will be clear that these previous arguments do not prove that pleasure is not a good nor that it is not the highest good.
ii. Actual rebuttal.
x. DISTINCTIONS TO BE MADE.
aa. First. — 1484-1485
First of all, good can be distinguished into the absolute and relative good. This distinction is verified of nature and habits, and consequently of movements and processes. Some of these (processes) seem depraved, indeed some are absolutely wicked. However to a particular person they may not seem so, but instead desirable. And again some such processes, ordinarily undesirable, at times—even though the times be few—appear desirable. Some of these are not pleasures at all, but merely appear to be; those for instance that are painful yet taken by the sick as medicine.
bb. Good is twofold. — 1486-1489
Besides, one good is an activity and another is a habit. Now those actions producing a natural habit are pleasurable only incidentally. But a pleasurable activity in the appetites indicates an undeveloped and imperfect state, and proceeds from some dispositional or natural principle. For there are pleasures without pain and desire, e.g., that which has to do with contemplative activity, and in these nature is not deficient. An indication of this is that delight is not taken in the same pleasurable objects when nature is normal and when it is surfeited. But a normal nature finds pleasure in things essentially enjoyable while a surfeited nature enjoys pleasures opposed to those which are naturally enjoyable, for example, pungent and bitter foods, none of which are pleasant either by nature or without some qualification. Therefore the pleasures they produce are not—simply speaking—pleasant; for, as pleasant things are compared, so the pleasures they cause.
y. (THE REFUTATION OF) ARGUMENTS ALREADY PRESENTED.
aa. The refutation of the, argument for opinion number three. — 1490-1493
There is no need for some other thing to be better than pleasure because of the opinion of some that the result is better than the process. Indeed, not all pleasures are processes nor even involve them; in fact some are activities, and consequently, ends. Neither do such pleasures come from something achieved but from use. Not all pleasures have an end extrinsic to themselves but only pleasures connected with things leading to the perfection of our nature. Likewise, for this reason it is not correct to define pleasure as an experienced process; rather it should be called an activity of a natural habit. In place of “experienced” we should put “unimpeded.” But pleasure seemed to some a process because concerned with what is principally good (an activity), that they consider a process, although it is really something consequent to it.
bb. The dismissal of the argument for opinion number two. — 1494
But to prove that pleasures are evil because some pleasurable things cause sickness is about the same as to argue that remedies are bad because expensive. Such pleasure and sickness are of course bad, but not for this reason, since even contemplation may occasionally injure health.
cc. The refutation of the argument behind the first opinion.
a’ (Answer to) the fourth argument. — 1495
However, neither prudence nor any other habit is hindered by its own pleasure, although every habit is impeded by alien pleasures. On the other hand, the pleasures connected with investigation and learning make a man investigate and learn more.
b’ (A reply) to the fifth argument. — 1496
No pleasure—it seems reasonable to say—is the product of art because art does not have the power to bring about any activity but only capacity to act. However, the arts of perfumery and of cookery do seem ordered to pleasure.
c’ (A refutation of) the second, third, and sixth arguments. — 1497
The arguments that the temperate man avoids pleasures, that the prudent man seeks a life free from pain and that children and brutes seek pleasures—all have the same solution; for we have shown how some pleasures are good in the absolute sense and how not all pleasures are of this nature. These non-absolute pleasures are pursued by children and animals and cause the grief that the prudent man avoids. The reference is to physical pleasures accompanied by both desire and pain. These are the kind just mentioned (non-absolute goods); and excesses in them make a man intemperate. The temperate man avoids these pleasures, for he has other pleasures distinctively his own.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1483. Now that Aristotle has stated the arguments for these previous opinions, he begins their refutation [i, c]. First of all [c, i] he outlines his discussion which will show that the arguments advanced do not really prove that pleasure is not good, nor that it is not the very best thing. He begins with the second opinion, “Not all pleasures are good,” because in a way this is true. The other two (i.e., the first and the third) he deals with together, because their arguments are so much alike that they can be answered simultaneously.
1484. Then [c, ii], at “First of all,” he makes the actual rebuttal. First [ii, x] he introduces distinctions to be made, by which we can know how pleasure is good or bad. Next [ii, y], at “There is no need,” he refutes arguments already presented. On the first point he makes two distinctions, both taken according to the distinct good which is the object of pleasure. First [x, aa], something is good in two ways: first, absolutely; then, relative to some individual. Because all things tend to good, so do both natures and habits that are ordered either to good absolutely or to the good of an individual. And because movements and generations proceed from particular natures and habits, they too must be consequently related to these things in the same way: some are good absolutely and others for a particular individual. Hence on the supposition that pleasures are movements and processes, as our opponent contends, four kinds of pleasure must be distinguished.
1485, Some of these are good absolutely, as pleasures in virtuous works. On the contrary, others seem absolutely bad, although in a way desirable to a particular person by reason of some necessity, for example, medicine to a sick man. A third class are not consistently chosen by anyone but only at times and for a short period, e.g., the taking of food in the case of extreme necessity. A fourth class of pleasures comprise counterfeit pleasures because of the perverse disposition of the one who delights in them: such are pleasures accompanied by sadness or pain, and taken to relieve that pain. This is evident of diversions resorted to by the feverish or the weak, for sometimes it seems a relief to a sick man to twist and turn in bed and take bitter foods and so forth.
1486. At “Besides, one” [x, bb] he makes the other distinction, that good is twofold. One is an activity, for instance, contemplation; the other is a habit, for example, science. But of these, activity seems to be the perfect good because it is an additional perfection, while habit seems to be the imperfect good because it is an initial perfection. Consequently, genuine and perfect pleasure is found in the good that consists in an activity. Nevertheless those actions or movements that produce a natural habit in man, i.e., which are formative natural habits, are indeed pleasurable but only incidentally. They do not yet have the nature of good because they precede even the habit itself, which is the initial perfection. But by reason of a relation to this good they have the nature of goodness and pleasure.
1487. Obviously a pleasurable activity accompanied by desire is not the activity of a perfect habit, since there is nothing left to desire that belongs to the habit when it is perfect. Therefore an activity of this kind must proceed from some dispositional. or natural principle, which is accompanied by pain; it is not without pain that a man covets a natural perfection that he does not yet possess.
1488. However, it is evident that not all pleasurable activities are of this kind, because some pleasures are without pain and desire, as obviously is the pleasure that has to do with contemplative activity. Such pleasure is not associated with any need in nature but rather proceeds from its perfection, i.e., from reason perfected by the habit of science. So then the pleasures connected with activities proceeding from habits, i.e., natures and forms already existing, are pleasures in the true and perfect sense. But those producing habits and natures are not pleasures in the true and perfect sense but only in an imperfect manner.
1489. An indication of this is that if pleasures of this kind were really and completely enjoyable, they would be so under any condition. This is patently false because a gorged nature (present when a man has eaten too much) and a temperate or well regulated nature do not enjoy the same pleasure. Nature properly controlled finds delight in things essentially enjoyable and in keeping with human nature. But a gorged nature enjoys pleasures just the opposite of those that are unconditionally enjoyable. In fact well-fed people enjoy pungent and bitter foods as a help to digestion, although nothing naturally pleasant, not being akin to human nature, but excessive. From this it follows that the pleasures produced by them are not pleasures in the unqualified sense. The reason is that, as enjoyable things are compared, so are the pleasures they cause.
1490. Next [ii, y], at “There is no need,” he refutes these arguments (1473-1481): first [y, aa] the refutation of the argument for opinion number three; then [y, bb], at “But to prove etc.,” the dismissal of the argument for opinion number two; finally [y, cc], at “However, neither etc.,” the refutation of the argument behind the first opinion. He says first there is no need to exclude pleasure entirely as the highest good so that something else must be better than pleasure. Some hold this for the reason that the result is more excellent than the process. But they consider pleasure a kind of process.
1491. Certainly there is a false supposition here, because not all pleasures are kinds of process nor are they accompanied by some process, as is evident from the premises (1487-1489). Only those pleasures that create habits with pain and desire are so. But some pleasures are activities, and have the nature of end because an activity is the second perfection, as has been pointed out (1486). Such pleasures do not come from production, i.e., from things that are being formed but from use. What Aristotle means is: these pleasures do not consist in the formation of habits but in the exercise of already existing habits. Obviously then it is not necessary that the purpose of all pleasures be something other than the pleasures themselves; this is verified only in pleasures following operations that lead to the perfection of a nature and accompany desire.
1492. Likewise, by reason of this we must reject the definition of pleasure introduced with the first argument for to define pleasure as an experienced process—this is proper to imperfect pleasures—rather we must make the definition that harmonizes with perfect pleasures: pleasure is the connatural activity of a habit already existing.
1493. In place of the word “experienced” they used, let us substitute “unimpeded,” so that accordingly the definition of pleasure will be: an unimpeded activity of a habit that is natural, harmonizing with the nature of the one having it. Now the impediment to the operation causes difficulty in operating, and this prevents pleasure. For this reason it seemed to some that pleasure is a kind of process because pleasure is concerned with what is principally good, namely, an activity that they consider to be the same as generation, although it is not the same but something consequent to it. In fact generation is a process toward a nature, but activity is the use of a natural form or habit.
1494. Then [y, bb], at “But to prove,” he disproves the reason for the second opinion. He says that to conclude that some pleasures are evil because some pleasurable objects lead to sickness is the same as to infer that some remedies are evil because they are expensive. We must say then that both, pleasurable and healthful things, are evil from one angle, inasmuch as pleasurable objects are injurious to health and remedies cost money but they are not evil in this, that they are curative or, delightful. Such logic leads to a conclusion that contemplation is bad because at times it injures health.
1495. At “However, neither prudence [y, cc] he refutes the arguments supporting the first opinion-the first argument has already been resolved (1490-1494). Hence, first [cc, a’] he answers the fourth argument. Next [cc, b’], at “No pleasure etc.,” he replies to the fifth argument. Last [cc, c’], at “The arguments that etc.,” he disproves the second, third, and sixth arguments together. He says first that neither prudence nor any other habit is impeded by its own pleasure arising from the habit itself but by pleasure alien to it. Nay rather, proper pleasures are a help to every habit. Thus the pleasure which a man takes in investigating and learning causes him to investigate and learn more. So it does not follow that pleasure must be an evil to everyone.
1496. Next [cc, b’], at “No pleasure,” he replies to the fifth argument, saying that it is reasonable to maintain that no pleasure is a product of art. The reason is that what is truly and properly pleasure follows activity and not process. But art has the power to bring about some process because it is the right plan of things to be made, as was explained in the sixth book (1153, 1160, 1166); however, it does not have the power to bring about activity but only the capacity from which activity springs. Still a rebuttal could be offered: the arts of perfumery and cookery seem ordered to pleasures. Just the same these arts cannot give pleasure; they more precisely manufacture things which may give pleasure.
1497. Then [cc, c’], at “The arguments that,” he disproves the second, third, and sixth arguments. He says that the fact that the temperate man avoids pleasures (the second reason), that the prudent man seeks a life free from pain (the third reason), and that children and dumb animals seek pleasures (the sixth reason).all have the same solution. We have shown (1485) how some pleasures are good in the absolute sense, and how not all pleasures are of this kind. Such pleasures (the non-absolute kind) children and brutes seek, and it is the pain in these that the prudent man avoids. The question here concerns physical pleasures accompanied by desire and pain. These pleasures are not good in an unqualified way. And from their excesses a man becomes intemperate. Consequently these same pleasures a temperate man avoids. But still others are characteristic of the temperate man precisely as he enjoys his own activity; and these he does not avoid but rather seeks.
One Pleasure Is the Highest Good
I. HE SUPPORTS HIS STATEMENT .
A. Pleasure is a good.
1. HIS ARGUMENT. — 1498-1499
But it is obvious that pain is evil and to be avoided. Now one kind is evil simply, and another in a limited sense, in that it hinders good. But the contrary of what is to be avoided—to the extent it is evil and to be avoided—is good. Therefore pleasure is necessarily a good.
2. HE RULES OUT ONE ANSWER. — 1500-1503
To answer with Speusippus (that pleasure is opposed to pain and to good) as the greater to the less and to the equal is not a valid solution, for he would not hold that pleasure is some thing really evil.
B. One pleasure is the highest good.
1. HE EXPLAINS HIS PROPOSITION.
a. By two arguments (the first).
i. He gives his argument.
x. HE REFUTES A CONTRARY ARGUMENT. — 1504
However, there is nothing to prevent some pleasure from being the highest good, even if some pleasures are evil; just as a particular science is the highest even if some sciences are bad.
y. THE ARGUMENT FOR HIS STATEMENT... BY DIRECT PROOFS. — 1505
Perhaps it is even necessary that, inasmuch as there are unimpeded activities of every habit, and happiness arises from the unimpeded activity of all these habits or of one of them, that activity should be the object most worthy of our choice. And this activity is pleasure. Therefore some pleasure will be the highest good even though many pleasures are absolutely evil.
ii. He clarifies his statement inferring some corollaries.
x. FIRST. — 1506
For this reason everyone thinks that a happy life is a pleasant one; and understandably they associate pleasure with happiness, for no perfect activity is impeded. But happiness is a perfect good.
y. HE FURTHER CONCLUDES. — 1507
Therefore the happy man needs goods of the body and external goods of fortune so that he may not be impeded in his activity. People who say that a virtuous man is happy even when tossed about I and overcome by great misfortune talk nonsense either willingly or unwillingly.
z. A THIRD COROLLARY. — 1508
Because of this need it seemed to some philosophers that good fortune is identical with happiness. But this is not true, because too much good fortune is itself an obstacle. Moreover, it is perhaps not right to call superabundance good fortune, for its limit is fixed by reference to happiness.
b. The second argument.
i. He states (it). — 1509
The fact that all things including brutes and men seek pleasure is some indication that it is the highest good; for a belief prevalent among most people never dies completely.
ii. He excludes a possible objection (two reasons).
x. FIRST. — 1510
However, since neither the same nature nor the same habit is the best for all either really or apparently, all do not seek the same pleasure although they all do seek pleasure.
y. SECOND. — 1511
Perhaps they do not think nor would they acknowledge that they pursue the same pleasure but in fact they do, for all things naturally have in themselves something divine.
2. HE ASSIGNS THE REASON FOR AN ERROR. — 1512
Bodily pleasures have usurped the right to the name because most people are inclined to them and all share them. Moreover, because these pleasures alone are familiar, they are thought to be the only pleasures.
II. (HE SUPPORTS HIS STATEMENT) BY CONCLUDING TO THE INCONSISTENT.
A. The first (inconsistency). — 1513
Obviously if pleasure and pleasurable activity are not something good, the happy man will not live a pleasant life. For what reason would a happy life need pleasure if it were not good?
B. (The) next (inconsistency). — 1514
But it would be possible to live a happy life in pain, for if pleasure is neither good nor evil, the same would hold for pain. Why then avoid it?
C. The third inconsistency. — 1515
Nor would the life of a virtuous man be pleasurable if his activities were not pleasurable.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1498. After the Philosopher has treated the opinions and answered the arguments of those attacking pleasure, he now shows the opposite truth. He supports his statement first [I] by direct proofs; then [II], at “Obviously if etc.,” by concluding to the inconsistent. On the first point he does two things. First [I, A] he shows that pleasure is a good; next [I, B], at “However, there is etc.,” that one pleasure is the highest good. He discuses the first point from two aspects. First [A, 1] he gives his argument. Then [A, 2], at “To answer etc.,” he rules out one answer. He remarks first that everyone admits that pain in itself is something bad and to be avoided; and this is twofold. For one kind of pain is evil simply, e.g., sadness about good; the other kind is evil in a limited way, as a hindrance to good, since even sadness about evil hinders the soul from doing the good readily and quickly.
1499. Obviously there are two contraries of what is evil and inadmissible: one is evil and to be avoided, the other is good. Thus to cowardice, an evil, are opposed fortitude as a good and rashness as an evil. But to pain is opposed pleasure as a good; hence he concludes pleasure is necessarily a good.
1500. Then [A, 2], at “To answer” he excludes an answer to this argument. The reason offered doesn’t seem valid because it concludes from one disjunctive element to its other part: if some good, or a thing to be avoided, is contrary to what is to be avoided it seems that pleasure which is contrary to pain-something to be shunned-is a good.
1501. For this reason Speusippus, a nephew and successor of Plato in the Academy, answered that, as the greater is opposed to the less and the equal, so is pain opposed to pleasure, not as to an equal but as the greater to the less and conversely. Not as an extreme evil to a medium good but as one extreme evil to another, for example, what is deficient to what is excessive, or the reverse.
1502. But Aristotle says that this answer is not plausible because it would follow that pleasure is really evil according to its own nature, like excess and defect. But no o ne maintains this.
1503. The Platonists, who were of the opinion that pleasure is not a good, did not hold that pleasure is evil simply and in itself, but they denied that it is a good inasmuch as it is something imperfect or an obstacle to virtue, as is evident from the procedure of the previous argument.
1504. Next [I, B], at “However, there is,” he shows that one pleasure is the highest good. First [B, 1] he explains his proposition. Then [B, 2], at “Bodily pleasures,” he assigns the reason for an error. He shows the first point [i, a] by two arguments; the second argument [i, b] begins at “The fact that etc.” On the first point he does two things. First [a, i] he gives his argument (the first). Next [a, ii], at “For this reason etc.,” he clarifies his statement by some indications, inferring some corollaries from the discussions. He treats the first point in a twofold manner. First [i, x] he refutes a contrary argument. Some pleasures seem to be evil; from this a person can conclude that pleasure is not the best thing. But Aristotle says that this does not prevent pleasure from being the highest good. Likewise we see that a particular science is the highest, viz., wisdom, as was pointed out in the sixth book (1184); nevertheless some sciences are bad, not precisely as sciences, but on account of a defect they have either on the part of their principles—because they proceed from false principles—or on the part of the matter, as appears in the practical sciences whose use leads to evil.
1505. Second [i, y], at “Perhaps it is,” he gives the argument for his statement. He says there are some unimpeded activities of every habit. But happiness is an unimpeded activity either of all good habits or of one of them, as is evident from the discussions in the first book (118, 130). Hence it is necessary that unimpeded activities of this kind are desirable in themselves. But pleasure is an unimpeded activity as we have just indicated (1492-1493)Consequently there is a highest pleasure, that in which happiness consists, although many pleasures are unqualifiedly evil.
15o6. At “For this reason” [a, ii] he clarifies his statement by indications, inferring some corollaries. The first [a, ii, x] is that because happiness is an unimpeded activity—and it also causes pleasure—everyone thinks that the happy life is pleasurable; and they understandably connect pleasure with happiness because no perfect activity is impeded. But happiness is a perfect good, as was explained in the first book (111, 112, 117, 118, 201, 122). Therefore it is an unimpeded activity inasmuch as it causes pleasure.
1507. From this he further concludes, at “Therefore the happy” [a, ii, y], that because happiness is an unimpeded activity, the happy man needs the goods of the body, such as general health and an uninjured state, then external goods-called goods of fortune-so that he may not be impeded in his activity by a lack of them. People who say that a virtuous man is happy even when tossed about and overcome by great misfortune talk nonsense, whether they say this willingly (as it were assenting to the statement by intuition) or unwillingly (as it were forced by reason contrary to the available evidence). The reference of course is to the Stoic opinion.
1508. He infers a third corollary at “Because of this need” [a, ii, z]: since happiness needs good fortune, it seemed to some philosophers that happiness and good fortune are identical. But this is not so, because too much of the good things is an obstacle to happiness since some people are hindered by wealth from the work of virtue in which happiness consists. Then it is not right that a superabundance of this kind should be called good fortune, since the limit, i.e., the end, or the norm of good fortune is established in comparison with happiness.
1509. Then [i, b], at “The fact that,” he gives his second argument (by inference) to prove that happiness is the highest good. Hence, he first states his argument [b, i]: the fact that everyone pursues pleasure is some indication that pleasure is the highest good; for a thing on which many, at least, agree cannot be entirely false. Thus, it is proverbial that a saying generally expressed among the people never dies completely. The reason is that nature does not fail in all or in most cases but only in a few. Therefore what is found among all or most men seems to arise from a disposition of nature which inclines neither to evil nor falsehood. So it seems that pleasure in which the desire of all men concur is the highest good.
1510. Next [b, ii], at “However, since,” he excludes a possible objection, “Not all desire the same pleasure,” by returning that his main contention is not so damaged. This for two reasons: first [b, ii, x] because the same nature and the same habit are not best for everyone either really or apparently; for the best tendency in a man is one thing and in a horse another. Likewise the best tendency in a young man is different from that in an old man. And because what is agreeable to each one is delightful to him, it follows that not all desire the same pleasure although all do desire pleasure. This is the reason why pleasure, but not the same pleasure, is the highest good for all; just as the same tendency of nature is not the best for all.
1511. He gives the second reason at “Perhaps they” [b, ii, y], stating that it can be said that all men seek the same pleasure according to natural desire but not according to their own judgment. Indeed not all think in their heart or say with their lips that the same pleasure is the best. Nevertheless everyone is inclined by nature to the same pleasure as the highest, namely, the contemplation of rational truth inasmuch as all men naturally desire to know. This happens because all things have in themselves something divine, i.e., an inclination of nature—which is derived from the first principle—or even their (substantial) form itself which is the basis of the inclination.
1512. At “Bodily pleasures” [B, 2] he assigns the reason why some philosophers were of the opinion that pleasure is not a good or the highest good. He says the reason is that bodily pleasures have usurped the name pleasure for themselves as an inherited possession because we are more often inclined to them as being connected with the necessary things of life, and because everyone shares in them as being sensibly perceptible and known to all. Moreover, they alone are commonly acknowledged because people consider them the only pleasures. Since pleasures of this kind are not the highest, some think pleasure is not the highest good.
1513. Then [II], at “Obviously if,” he explains his proposition by concluding to three inconsistencies. The first [II, A] is that if pleasure and pleasurable activity are not something; good it follows that the happy man may not live a pleasant life; for happiness not being a good in itself, the life of a happy man should not require pleasure if pleasure were not something good.
1514. Next [II, B], at “But it would,” he says that if pleasure is not a good it is possible that living in pain is not an evil; for if pleasure is neither good nor evil the same would hold for pain which is the opposite. Thus pain would not be something to be avoided.
1515. Last [If, C], at “Nor would,” he concludes to the third inconsistency. It follows that the life of the virtuous man is not pleasurable, if his activities are not pleasurable-which would be the case if pleasure were not a good. But it is obvious that virtue is productive of good.
I. STATEMENT OF HIS INTENTION. — 1516
In the matter of physical pleasures there are those who maintain that good ones are especially worthy of choice but the others, in which a man becomes intemperate, are not so.
II. SOME HESITANCY.
A. The doubt. — 1517
Why then are the opposite pains evil? For good is contrary to evil.
B. Resolving it.
1. FIRST. — 1518
Either they are good inasmuch as they are necessary, because what is not evil is good;
2. THE SECOND SOLUTION. — 1519-1521
or they are good up to a certain point. The reason would seem to be that if in such habits and activities there is not an excess of what is good, neither is such pleasure excessive. But if this excess is present in the habits or activities it will also be present in the pleasure. Now a superabundance of what is good can exist in bodily goods. Moreover, a man is described as evil for pursuing not necessary goods but an excess of them. Indeed everybody enjoys food, wine, and sex, but not always as they should. However, it is the opposite in regard to pain, for everybody shuns not merely its excess but absolutely all of it. In fact pain is not opposed to the excess of physical pleasures, except to the man who pursues this excess.
C. The argument for his position.
1. HIS POSITION. — 1522
Not only must the truth be explained, but the cause of error must also be exposed. This strengthens conviction; for, when it is carefully shown why the untruth seems to be true, the truth becomes more acceptable. Therefore we must show why bodily pleasures seem more desirable.
2. THE ACTUAL ARGUMENT.
a. Why bodily pleasures seem more desirable.
x. THE REASON. — 1523-1524
The first reason is: they drive away pain; and since pleasure is a remedy against the excesses of pain, men seek abundant pleasures and in general bodily pleasures. These seem vehement inasmuch as they are remedies and for this reason are avidly sought because they appear better when placed alongside their contrary.
y. BODILY PLEASURES DO NOT SEEM UNIVERSALLY GOOD. — 1525-1527
Likewise it seems that pleasure is not something good for these two reasons, as has been said. First, some pleasures are naturally evil and follow from evil actions; these are desirable to certain beings either from birth—for example, dumb animals—or from habituation, like the pleasures of evil men. Second, other bodily pleasures are remedies for some defect. Now it is better to be perfect than in the process of becoming perfect. But pleasures of this kind are taken by those who are being perfected. Therefore they are good only incidentally.
ii. The second (argument).
x. HE PRESENTS THE REASON. — 1528
Moreover, because bodily pleasures are vehement they are sought by those incapable of enjoying others. Consequently such men stimulate for themselves a thirst for these pleasures. Since people of this sort do not have other pleasures for recreation, it is not blameworthy for them to enjoy those that are not harmful; but it is wrong if the pleasures are harmful.
y. SOMETHING... TAKEN FOR GRANTED.
aa. a reason that applies to all. — 1529-1530
Certainly men encounter pain in most matters on account of nature. In fact sensitive nature continually is afflicted, as statements of natural scientists indicate. Some even hold that hearing and seeing cause pain, and they further say we have gotten used to it.
bb. a reason applicable to young men. — 1531
In like manner, on account of their growth young men are in a state similar to that of intoxicated people, and youth is exhilarating.
cc. A reason applicable to the melancholic. — 1532
But the melancholic have a continual need of a restorative because of their nature, for their body incessantly undergoes a kind of corrosion due to their temperament. For this reason they are always urged by strong desire; for pleasure drives out both the opposite pain and any other when the pleasure is intense. As a result the melancholic frequently become intemperate and depraved.
b. Other pleasures are in reality more desirable. — 1533
On the other hand pleasures which are without an opposite pain do not have an excess, for they are concerned with things which are pleasurable naturally and not incidentally. And I call those things incidentally pleasurable that are curative. The reason is that when a cure is wrought by the action of the part that remains healthy, the activity then seems pleasurable. But those things naturally pleasurable produce an activity proper to this nature.
III. HIS REASON FOP SOME GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON PLEASURES.
A. The first observation.
1. THE REASON. — 1534
However, the same object is not always pleasurable to man because our nature is not simple but comprises more than one element with the result that we are perishable beings. Therefore if one element is active, this may be unnatural to the other. But when a balance is struck the activity seems neither distressing nor pleasurable.
2. HE CONCLUDES. — 1535
Wherefore, if the nature of a pleasing thing is simple the action itself will always be most delightful. Hence God always rejoices in one simple pleasure; for activity exists not only in motion but also in immobility, and pleasure is found more in rest than in movement.
B. The second observation. — 1536-1537
But change is the most delightful of all things, as the poet says. (Yet this happens) because of some defect. just as a man readily changes because he is evil, so does nature for it is neither simple nor completely good. We have discussed continence and incontinence, pleasure and pain, the nature of each, and how some of these may be good and others bad. We must now go on to the discussion of friendship.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1516. After this general consideration of pleasure and pain the Philosopher now treats in particular those pleasures with which continence and incontinence are concerned. He discusses this point in a threefold manner. First [I] he makes a statement of his intention. Next [II], at “Why then etc.,” he manifests some hesitancy. Last [III], at “However, the same etc.,” he gives his reason for some general observations on pleasures. He says first that, after our discussions on pleasure in general (1473-1515), we must turn our attention also to bodily pleasures to say that some pleasures are especially worthy of choice, those which are naturally good. But bodily pleasures, by reason of which a man becomes intemperate, are not of this kind.
1517. Then [II], at “Why then,” he raises a doubt about previous statements: first [II, A], stating the doubt; then [II, B], at “Either they are etc.,” resolving it. Finally [II, C], at “Not only etc.,” he gives the argument for his position. On the first point we should consider that, in order to prove that pleasure is a good the Philosopher previously (1498-1499) argued from the evil of pain. Now, because he has said that bodily pleasures are not good, he uses the same argument as an objection; for, if good is contrary to evil, a doubt remains-from the fact that bodily pleasures are said not to be good-why the opposite pains are evil.
1518. Next [II, B], at “Either they are,” he gives a twofold solution to the objection. First [B, 1 ] he says that bodily pleasures are good in some manner inasmuch as they are necessary to drive away the opposing pains. The reason is that at least in this way anything that is not evil by its nature can be called good.
1519. He gives the second solution at “or they are” [B, 2], saying that bodily pleasures certainly are good, not absolutely but up to a certain point. His reason for this is that every pleasure follows some habit and movement or activity. Hence it is necessary that if in the habits and movements or activities there cannot be a superabundance of the better, i.e., an excess above the good, neither can there be an excess in the pleasure that follows. Thus there cannot be an excess of the good in that activity, which is contemplation of the truth, because the more a man contemplates the truth the better he is. Therefore the pleasure that follows is good absolutely, and not only to a degree. But if there is an excess of what is good in the habits or activities, so too will there be in the pleasure that follows. Now it is evident that there can be too much of a good thing in the physical area.
1520. Some indication of the fact is in this: a man is said to be bad because he wants these goods excessively though he may injure nobody. However, he is not evil by his desire and delight in bodily goods, for everyone enjoys food, wine, and sex to some degree; on the contrary, some people are blamed for not enjoying pleasures as they should. From this it is obvious that bodily pleasure is good up to a certain point, but its excess is bad.
1521. Pain works out in the opposite way, for the man of virtue flees not just its excess, but absolutely all pain. Pain then is not the contrary to excessive physical pleasure; if it were, no one would be grieved except for the maximum departure from excessive pleasure. If this were the case, pain would not be so much something to be shunned as to be somewhat tolerated. But the real situation is this: pain is connected with those pursuing excessive pleasure. And this happens precisely because by the least lack of pleasures such people are grieved. So it is that, as excessive physical pleasures are bad, so also is pain.
1522. At “Not only” [II, C] he presents his argument for the preceding statements. First [C, 1] he states his position. Then [C, 2], at “The first reason etc.,” he gives the actual argument. First he says that not only must the solution to the difficulty be given, but the reason for the error in the objection must be found. This is a great help in establishing the credibility of the truth; for, when the reason why the untruth seems to be true is exposed, the student more readily accepts the truth. This is the reason we must discuss why bodily pleasures seem to the majority more desirable than other pleasures, when nevertheless these other pleasures are absolutely good while bodily pleasures are so only to a certain degree.
1523. Then [C, 2], at “The first reason,” he gives the actual argument. First [2, a] he tells us just why bodily pleasures seem more desirable. Next [2, b), at “On the other hand,” he presents an argument to show that other pleasures are in reality more desirable. For the first point he offers two arguments: (the first at [a, i]) while the second [a, ii] is presented at “Moreover, because etc.” On the first argument he performs two operations. First [i, x] he gives the reason why bodily pleasures seem more desirable. Then [i, y], at “Likewise it seems etc.,” he assigns the reason why bodily pleasures do not seem universally good. He says at the outset that the first reason why physical pleasures seem to be more desirable is that they drive out pain; and by their very intensity are a remedy for pain. Indeed pain is not eliminated by every kind of pleasure but by vehement pleasure. For this reason men seek abundant bodily pleasure to which pain is opposed. But there is no pain opposed to intellectual pleasure—like that found in contemplation—because it is not in an imperfect but a perfect state.
1524. From the very fact that bodily pleasures are remedies for pain they seem to be vehement, measured as they are not only by their nature but even by the contrary which they banish. Consequently they are avidly sought because they look better when placed beside their contrary, for drinking seems much more important to the thirsty. This is why people who want the pleasure of drinking stimulate their thirst by eating salty foods, thus getting more pleasure in the drink.
1525. Next [i, y], at “Likewise it seems,” he points out why these pleasures may not seem universally good. He says that, on account of bodily pleasure—as was previously noted (1512)—it “seemed to some people” that pleasure was not a good. The explanation is that there are two kinds of bodily pleasures. Some are naturally evil, resulting from evil activities, and are desirable to certain beings as soon as they are born (for example, dumb animals and brutish men) but to others from habituation, like the pleasures of depraved men. Other bodily pleasures, however, are remedies for some defect.
1526. An indication of this is that they belong only to someone in need. A man does not enjoy food when he is not hungry. Clearly then the pleasure of food is a remedy for the distress of hunger. Obviously it is better for someone to be already perfect than to be in the process of becoming perfect. But pleasures of this kind, which we call medicinal, are taken by those who are being perfected but not by those who are already perfect. They are indulged in because a need of nature is satisfied through what is taken. So then it is clear that they are not good intrinsically but incidentally inasmuch as they are necessary for something.
1527. He has already touched on these two arguments in two previous solutions (1510-1511). Surely those pleasures that are involved in evil actions exceed the proper measure. Since then physical pleasures are not in themselves good, however more desirable they seem, some thought pleasures are universally not good.
1528. At “Moreover, because” [a, ii] he gives the second reason. On this point he does two things. First [ii, x] he presents the reason. Then [ii, y], at “Certainly men etc.,” he explains something which he had taken for granted. He says first that, since bodily pleasures are vehement, they are sought by those who cannot enjoy other pleasures, i.e., by those who, since they know nothing of intellectual delights, incline only to physical pleasures. Consequently people artificially arouse in themselves a thirst for such pleasures, on their own volition stimulating themselves to their desires. Remember (1524) those who cat salty foods to induce thirst for drink. Therefore since such people do not have other pleasures for recreation, for them to enjoy such pleasures is not too bad, providing they do not hurt themselves or others. But if the pleasures are harmful they will be wrong and reprehensible; obviously so in adultery and poisonous food.
1529. Next [ii, y], at “Certainly men,” he assigns the reason for something he had taken for granted, that all men need some pleasure for recreation. First [y, aa] he gives the kind of reason that applies to all in general; then [y, bb], at “In like manner etc.,” a reason applicable to young men; finally [y, cc], at “But the melancholic etc.,” a reason applicable to the melancholic. He says first that it is not to be considered a fault for some people to enjoy bodily pleasures, when they do not have others, because they need pleasures as a remedy for pain. Men encounter pain in many matters on account -of natural movements and activities. In fact sensitive nature is always under tension while at work, and work is wearisome as the statements of the natural scientists attest.
1530. Some say that continual seeing and hearing cause pain inasmuch as they cause strain; because of this an animal needs the relaxation of sleep as is explained in De Somno et Vigilia (Ch. 1, 454 a 26-33; St. Th. Lect. 2). But we are unaware of this sort of hurt because we are accustomed to endure it continually. However, even though seeing and hearing naturally fatigue and strain the bodily organs, nevertheless they give physical pleasure by reason of sense knowledge.
1531. Then [y, bb], at “In like manner,” he tells why young men especially need pleasure: because of their growth young men have many disturbances of spirits and humors, such as occur in intoxicated persons. So, on account of activity of this sort young men especially seek pleasure.
1532. At “But the melancholic” [y, cc] he assigns the reason on the part of the depressed. He says that the melancholic, by reason of their natural disposition, have a continual need of a remedy for pain because their body undergoes a kind of corrosion due to dryness of temperament. Hence they have a vehement desire for pleasure as a means of dispelling this pain, for pleasure drives out not only the opposite pain—the pleasure of food banishes the pain of hunger—but, if the pleasure is intense, it sometimes drives out other pain. The reason is that it is contrary to all pain according to genus but not according to species. And because the melancholic vehemently desire pleasures, as a result they frequently become intemperate and depraved.
1533. Next [2, b], at “On the other hand,” he gives the reason why intellectual pleasures are really better, stating that such pleasures lack an opposite pain, which they drive out; they have consequently no excess to render them vicious. These pleasures deal with things which are pleasurable naturally and not incidentally. Here he explains two things: first, the nature of what is incidentally pleasurable. He asserts that those things are pleasurable incidentally that give pleasure inasmuch as they are curative. The reason is that when a man obtains a cure it happens that a healthy condition is brought about and the activity seems pleasurable. Hence when pleasures of this kind are sought outside the need for a remedy they are immoderate. Subsequently he explains that those things are naturally pleasurable that produce an activity of this nature; for the activity proper to a nature, since it is its perfection, is pleasurable to every nature. For this reason the activity of the intellect is pleasurable to man.
1534. Then [III], at “However, the same” he assigns the reason for two observations on human pleasures. The first observation [III, A] is that the same object is not always pleasurable to man. He says that the reason [A, i] is that our nature is not simple but composite, and is changeable from one thing to another inasmuch as it is subject to deterioration. For this reason if man performs an action pleasurable to him according to one element, this pleasure is unnatural to him according to a different element. Thus contemplation is natural to man by reason of his intellect but beyond the natural scope of the powers of imagination which try to take an active part in the work of contemplation. Therefore contemplation is not ‘ always delightful to man. It is the same with the taking of food, which is natural to man who needs it but not natural to a body already surfeited. But when a man approaches the opposite condition, then what was pleasurable in his previous condition seems to be neither distressing, because the opposite condition has not yet been reached, nor still pleasurable because the other condition has now almost been passed.
1535. From this he concludes, at “Wherefore, if” [A, 2], that if the nature of any being that is capable of delight were simple and unchangeable the same action would be most delightful for it. Thus if man were only intellect, he would always take pleasure in contemplating. Hence, since God is simple and unchangeable he rejoices always in one simple pleasure that he takes in the contemplation of himself; for the activity that produces pleasure consists not in motion alone but even in immobility, as is evident in the activity of the intellect. That pleasure which is without motion is greater than pleasure with motion, because what is in motion is on the way to being but what is at rest has complete being, as is obvious from previous discussions (1523).
1536. At “But change” [III, B] he gives the reason for the second observation on pleasure, that change is most delightful to men according to the saying of a certain poet. Aristotle adds that this happens because of some evil, or defect of nature, which is not capable of remaining in the same condition. just as it is with an evil man who is easily changed and does not have his mind fixed on one thing, so-with nature that needs change because it is neither simple nor completely good; for motion is the act of what is imperfect, as is stated in the third book of the Physics (Ch. 2., 201 b 27-202 a 2; St. Th. Lect. 3, 296).
1537. He concludes in summary: in the seventh book he has discussed continence and incontinence, pleasure and pain, the nature of each of these subjects, and how they may be good or bad. Therefore he must now go on to a discussion of friendship. Thus he completes the teaching of the seventh book.