Front Page Titles (by Subject) 9.: Continence and incontinence not identical with keeping and breaking a resolution. - The Nicomachean Ethics
9.: Continence and incontinence not identical with keeping and breaking a resolution. - Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics 
The Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle, trans. F.H. Peters, M.A. 5th edition (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co., 1893).
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- Preface to the Fifth Edition.
- Book I.: The End.
- 1.: In All He Does Man Seeks Same Good As End Or Means.
- 2.: The End Is the Good; Our Subject Is This and Its Science Politics.
- 3.: Exactness Not Permitted By Subject Nor to Be Expected By Student, Who Needs Experience and Training.
- 4.: Men Agree That the Good Is Happiness, But Differ As to What This Is.
- 5.: The Good Cannot Be Pleasure, Nor Honour, Nor Virtue.
- 6.: Various Arguments to Show Against the Platonists That There Cannot Be One Universal Good.
- 7.: The Good Is the Final End, and Happiness Is This.
- 8.: This View Harmonizes Various Current Views.
- 9.: It Happiness Acquired, Or the Gift of Gods Or of Chance?
- 10.: Can No Man Be Called Happy During Life?
- 11.: Cannot the Fortunes of Survivors Affect the Dead?
- 12.: Happiness As Absolute End Is Above Praise.
- 13.: Division of the Faculties and Resulting Division of the Virtues.
- Book II.: Moral Virtue.
- 1.: Moral Virtue Is Acquired By the Repetition of the Corresponding Acts.
- 2.: These Acts Must Be Such As Reason Prescribes; They Can’t Be Defined Exactly, But Must Be Neither Too Much Nor Too Little.
- 3.: Virtue Is In Various Ways Concerned With Pleasure and Pain.
- 4.: The Conditions of Virtuous Action As Distinct From Artistic Production.
- 5.: Virtue Not an Emotion, Nor a Faculty, But a Trained Faculty Or Habit.
- 6.: Viz., the Habit of Choosing the Mean.
- 7.: This Must Be Applied to the Several Virtues.
- 8.: The Two Vicious Extremes Are Opposed to One Another and to the Intermediate Virtue.
- 9.: The Mean Hard to Hit, and Is a Matter of Perception, Not of Reasoning.
- Book III.
- Chapters 1–5.: the Will.
- 1.: An Act Is Involuntary When Done (a) Under Compulsion, Or (b) Through Ignorance: (a) Means Not Originated By Doer, (b) Means Through Ignorance of the Circumstances: Voluntary Then Means Originated With Knowledge of Circumstances.
- 2.: Purpose, a Mode of Will, Means Choice After Deliberation.
- 3.: We Deliberate On What We Can Do—not On Ends, But Means.
- 4.: We Wish For
- 5.: Virtue and Vice Are Alike Voluntary, Our Acts Are Our Own; For We Are Punished For Them; If This Be Our Character, We Have Made It By Repeated Acts; Even Bodily Vices Are Blamable When Thus Formed. We Cannot Plead That Our Notion of Good Depends On Ou
- Chapters 6—12: the Several Moral Virtues and Vices.
- 6.: Of Courage and the Opposite Vices.
- 7. Of Courage (continued)
- 8. Of Courage Improperly So Called.
- 9.: How Courage Involves Both Pain and Pleasure.
- 10.: Of Temperance.
- 11. Of Temperance (continued)
- 12.: How Profligacy Is More Voluntary Than Cowardice.
- Book IV.: The Several Moral Virtues and Vices— Continued.
- 1.: Of Liberality.
- 2.: Of Magnificence.
- 3.: Of High-mindedness
- 4.: Of a Similar Virtue In Smaller Matters.
- 5.: Of Gentleness.
- 6.: Of Agreeableness.
- 7.: Of Truthfulness.
- 8.: Of Wittiness.
- 9.: Of the Feeling of Shame
- Book V.: The Several Moral Virtues and Vices— Concluded. Justice.
- 1.: Preliminary Two Senses of Justice Distinguished Justice (l) = Obedience to Law = Complete Virtue.
- 2.: Of Justice (2) = Fairness, How Related to Justice (1). What Is Just In Distribution Distinguished From What Is Just In Correction.
- 3.: Of What Is Just In Ditribution and Its Rule of Geometrical Proportion.
- 4.: Of That Which Is Just In Correction, and Its Rule of Arithmetical Proportion.
- 5.: Simple Requital Is Not Identical With What Is Just, But Proportionate Requital Is What Is Just In Exchange; and This Is Effected By Means of Money. We Can Now Give a General Definition of Justice (2).
- 6.: ( One Can Act Unjustly Without Being Unjust. ) That Which Is Just In the Strict Sense Is Between Citizens Only, For It Implies Law.
- 7.: It Is In Part Natural, In Part Conventional.
- 8.: The Internal Conditions of a Just Or Unjust Action, and of a Just Or Unjust Agent.
- 9.: Sundry Questions About Doing and Suffering Injustice
- 10.: Of Equity
- 11.: Can a Man Wrong Himself?
- Book VI.: The Intellectual Virtues.
- 1.: Must Be Studied Because (a) Reason Prescribes the Mean, (b) They Are a Part of Human Excellence. the Intellect Is (1) Scientific, (2) Calculative: We Want the Virtue of Each.
- 2.: The Function of the Intellect, Both In Practice and Speculation, Is to Attain Truth.
- 3.: Of the Five Modes of Attaining Truth: (1) of Demonstrative Science of Things Invariable.
- 4.: Of Knowledge of Things Variable, Viz. (2) of Art In What We Make;
- 5.: And (3) of Prudence In What We Do, the Virtue of the Calculative Intellect.
- 6.: (4) of Intuitive Reason As the Basis of Demonstrative Science.
- 7.: (5) of Wisdom As the Union of Science and Intuitive Reason. Comparison of the Two Intellectual Virtues, Wisdom and Prudence.
- 8.: Prudence Compared With Statesmanship and Other Forms of Knowledge.
- 9.: Of Deliberation.
- 10.: Of Intelligence
- 11.: Of Judgment of Reason Or Intuitive Perception As the Basis of the Practical Intellect.
- 12.: Of the Uses of Wisdom and Prudence. How Prudence Is Related to Cleverness.
- 13.: How Prudence Is Related to Moral Virtue
- Book VII.
- Chapters 1–10.: Characters Other Than Virtue and Vice.
- 1.: Of Continence and Incontinence, Heroic Virtue and Brutality. of Method. Statement of Opinions About Continence.
- 2.: Statement of Difficulties As to How One Can Know Right and Do Wrong.
- 3.: Solution: to Know Has Many Senses; In What Sense Such a Man Knows.
- 4.: Of Incontinence In the Strict and In the Metaphorical Sense.
- 5.: Of Incontinence In Respect of Brutal Or Morbid Appetites.
- 6.: Incontinence In Anger Less Blamed Than In Appetite.
- 7.: Incontinence Yields to Pleasure, Softness to Pain. Two Kinds of Incontinence, the Hasty and the Weak.
- 8.: Incontinence Compared With Vice and Virtue.
- 9.: Continence and Incontinence Not Identical With Keeping and Breaking a Resolution.
- 10.: Prudence Is Not, But Cleverness Is, Compatible With Incontinence.
- Chapters 11—14.: of Pleasure.
- 11.: We Must Now Discuss Pleasure. Opinions About It.
- 12.: Answers to Arguments Against Goodness of Pleasure. Ambiguity of Good and Pleasant. Pleasure Not a Transition, But Unimpeded Activity.
- 13.: Pleasure Is Good, and the Pleasure That Consists In the Highest Activity Is the Good. All Admit That Happiness Is Pleasant. Bodily Pleasures Not the Only Pleasures.
- 14.: Of the Bodily Pleasures, and the Distinction Between Naturally and Accidentally Pleasant.
- Book VIII.: Friendship Or Love.
- 1.: Uses of Friendship. Differences of Opinion About It.
- 2.: Three Motives of Friendship. Friendship Defined.
- 3.: Three Kinds of Friendship, Corresponding to the Three Motives Perfect Friendship Is That Whose Motive Is the Good.
- 4.: The Others Are Imperfect Copies of This.
- 5.: Intercourse Necessary to the Maintenance of Friendship.
- 6.: Impossible to Have Many True Friends.
- 7.: Of Friendship Between Unequal Persons and Its Rule of Proportion. Limits Within Which This Is Possible.
- 8.: Of Loving and Being Loved.
- 9.: Every Society Has Its Own Form of Friendship As of Justice. All Societies Are Summed Up In Civil Society.
- 10.: Of the Three Forms of Constitution.
- 11.: Of the Corresponding Forms of Friendship.
- 12.: Of the Friendship of Kinsmen and Comrades.
- 13.: Of the Terms of Interchange and Quarrels Hence Arising In Equal Friendships.
- 14.: Of the Same In Unequal Friendships.
- Book IX.: Friendship Or Love— Continued.
- 1.: Of the Rule of Proportion In Dissimilar Friendships.
- 2.: Of the Conflict of Duties.
- 3.: Of the Dissolution of Friendships.
- 4.: A Man’s Relation to His Friend Like His Relation to Himself.
- 5.: Friendship and Goodwill.
- 6.: Friendship and Unanimity
- 7.: Why Benefactors Love More Than They Are Loved.
- 8.: In What Sense It Is Right to Love One’s Self.
- 9.: Why a Happy Man Needs Friends.
- 10.: Of the Proper Number of Friends.
- 11.: Friends Needed Both In Prosperity and Adversity.
- 12.: Friendship Is Realized In Living Together.
- Book X.
- Chapters 1–5.: Pleasure.
- 1.: Reasons For Discussing Pleasure.
- 2.: Arguments of Eudoxus That Pleasure Is the Good.
- 3.: Argument That It Is Not a Quality; That It Is Not Determined; That It Is a Motion Or Coming Into Being. Pleasures Differ In Kind.
- 4.: Pleasure Defined: Its Relation to Activity.
- 5.: Pleasures Differ According to the Activities the Standard Is the Good Man.
- Chapters 6–9.: Conclusion.
- 6.: Happiness Not Amusement, But Life.
- 7.: Of the Speculative Life As Happiness In the Highest Sense.
- 8.: Of the Practical Life As Happiness In a Lower Sense, and of the Relation Between the Two. Prosperity, How Far Needed.
- 9.: How Is the End to Be Realized?
Continence and incontinence not identical with keeping and breaking a resolution.
Now, who is to be called continent? he who abides by any kind of reason and any kind of purpose, or he who abides by a right purpose? And who is to be called incontinent? he who abandons any kind of purpose and any kind of reason, or he who abandons a true reason and a right purpose?—a difficulty which we raised before. Is it not the case that though “accidentally” it may be any kind, yet “essentially” it is a true reason and a right purpose that the one abides by and the other abandons? For if you choose or pursue A for the sake of B, you pursue and choose B “essentially,” but A “accidentally.” But by “essentially” (καθ’ αὑτό) we mean “absolutely” or “simply” (ἁπλῶς); so that we may say that in a certain sense it may be any kind of opinion, but absolutely or simply it is a true opinion that the one abides by and the other abandons.
But there is another class of persons that are apt to stick to their opinions (I mean those whom we call stubborn or obstinate), because they are averse to persuasion and not readily induced to change their mind. These bear some resemblance to the continent, as the prodigal does to the liberal, and the foolhardy to the courageous, but in many respects are different. For it is changing his mind at the prompting of passion or appetite that the continent man dislikes; he is ready enough on occasion to yield to reason: but it is to reason especially that the obstinate man will not listen, while he often conceives a passion, and is led about by his pleasures.
The opinionated, the ignorant, and the boorish are all obstinate—the opinionated from motives of pleasure and pain; for they delight in the sense of victory when they hold out against argument, and are pained if their opinion comes to naught like a decree that is set aside. They resemble the incontinent man, therefore, rather than the continent.
Sometimes also people abandon their resolutions from something else than incontinence, as, for instance, Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes of Sophocles. It may be said, indeed, that pleasure was his motive in abandoning his resolution: but it was a noble pleasure; for truth was fair in his eyes, but Ulysses had persuaded him to lie. For he who acts with pleasure for motive is not always either profligate, or worthless, or incontinent, but only when his motive is a base pleasure.
Again, as there are people whose character it is to take too little delight in the pleasures of the body, and who swerve from reason in this direction, those who come between these and the incontinent are the continent. For while the incontinent swerve from reason because of an excess, and these because of a deficiency, the continent man holds fast and is not turned aside by the one or the other.
But if continence be a good thing, the characters that are opposed to it must be bad, as in fact they evidently are; only, since the other extreme is found but rarely and in few cases, incontinence comes to be regarded as the only opposite of continence, just as profligacy comes to be regarded as the only opposite of temperance.
We often apply names metaphorically; and so we come to speak metaphorically of the continence of the temperate man. For it is the nature both of the continent and of the temperate man never to do anything contrary to reason for the sake of bodily pleasures; but whereas the former has, the latter has not bad desires, and whereas the latter is of such a nature as to take no delight in what is contrary to reason, the former is of such a nature as to take delight in, but not to be swayed by them.
The incontinent and the profligate also resemble each other, though they are different: both pursue bodily pleasures, but the latter pursues them on principle, while the former does not.