Aristotle, Nicomachean - book 3 ch.1-10

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University of Toronto St. George
Mark Kingwell

Philosophy Practical Wisdom Reading: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book 3 Book 3 Chapter 1 Since virtue is to do with feelings and actions, and since voluntary feelings and actions are praised and blamed, while the involuntary are pardoned and occasionally pitied, presumably anyone considering virtue must determine the limits of the voluntary and involuntary Useful, especially in legislations or punishment and honours Involuntary: things that happen by force or through ignorance What is forced has external first principle, such that agent or person acted upon has contributed nothing to it However for things done through fear of greater evils or for the sake of something noble, there is some dispute about whether they are voluntary or involuntary And so voluntary and involuntary actions are to be ascribed at the time of the actions Whether the first principle lies in a person, it is in his power to act or not to, and so such actions are voluntary, but without qualification, they are presumably involuntary, since no one would choose any of them to itself People sometimes praised when they endure disgrace or pain in return for great and noble objects, and if they do the contrary, they are blamed, since it is characteristic of a bad person to endure the greatest disgraces for no noble end Hard sometimes to determine what should be chosen at what cost, and what should be endured for what gain, and it is harder to stand by our decision, because the expected consequences are generally painful, and what one is compelled to do is shameful The is why those who have been compelled or not re praised and blamed Actions that in themselves are involuntary, but worth choosing at a certain time and for certain benefits, and have their first principle in the agent, are in themselves involuntary, but at that time and for those benefits voluntary but they are more like voluntary actions, because actions are in the sphere of particulars, and here the particulars are voluntary Not easy to explain what sort of things ought to be chosen in return for what, since there are any differences in particulars If someone were to claim that sweetnoble things are forcible, he would be committed to all actions being forced, since it is with those neds in view that everyone does everything, and people who are forced to act and do so involuntarily find it painful, while those who act because of what is pleasantnoble do so with pleasure What is forced is an external first principle, where the person forced contributes nothing
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