The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle

By Aristotle; F. H. Peters | Go to book overview

BOOK VII.
CHAPTERS 1-10. CHARACTERS OTHER THAN VIRTUE AND VICE.

1. AT this point we will make a fresh start and say that the undesirable forms of moral character are three in number, viz. vice, incontinence, brutality. In the case of two of these it is plain what the opposite is : virtue is the name we give to the opposite of vice, and continence to the opposite of incontinence; but for the opposite of the brutal character it would be most appropriate to take that excellence which is beyond us, the excellence of a hero or a god;--as Homer makes Priam say of Hector that he was surpassingly good--

Of continence and incontinence, heroic virtue and brutality. Of method. Statement of opinions about continence.

1

"Nor seemed the child Of any mortal man, but of a god."

If, then, superlative excellence raises men into gods, as the stories tell us, it is evident that the opposite of the brutal character would be some such superlative excellence. For just as neither virtue nor vice belongs to a brute, so does neither belong to a god; to the latter belongs something higher than virtue, to the former something specifically different from vice.

2

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