Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

LCL 73: 118-119

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Aristotle

5τοιοῦτον δέ τι συμβαίνει καὶ περὶ τὰς ἐν τοῖς χειμῶσιν ἐκβολάς· ἁπλῶς μὲν γὰρ οὐδεὶς ἀποβάλλεται ἑκών, ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ δ᾿ αὑτοῦ καὶ τῶν10 6λοιπῶν ἅπαντες οἱ νοῦν ἔχοντες. μικταὶ μὲν οὖν εἰσὶν αἱ τοιαῦται πράξεις, ἐοίκασι δὲ μᾶλλον ἑκουσίοις. αἱρεταὶ γάρ εἰσι τότε ὅτε πράττονται· τὸ δὲ τέλος τῆς πράξεως κατὰ τὸν καιρόν ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ ἑκούσιον δὴ καὶ τὸ ἀκούσιον ὅτε πράττει15 λεκτέον· πράττει δὲ ἑκών· καὶ γὰρ ἡ ἀρχὴ τοῦ κινεῖν τὰ ὀργανικὰ μέρη ἐν ταῖς τοιαύταις πράξεσιν ἐν αὐτῷ ἐστίν, ὧν δ᾿ ἐν αὐτῷ ἡ ἀρχή, ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ πράττειν καὶ μή. ἑκούσια δὴ τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἁπλῶς δ᾿ ἴσως ἀκούσια· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἂν ἕλοιτο καθ᾿ 7αὑτὸ τῶν τοιούτων οὐδέν. ἐπὶ ταῖς πράξεσι δὲ ταῖς20 τοιαύταις ἐνίοτε καὶ ἐπαινοῦνται, ὅταν αἰσχρόν τι ἢ λυπηρὸν ὑπομένωσιν ἀντὶ μεγάλων καὶ καλῶν· ἂν δ᾿ ἀνάπαλιν, ψέγονται, τὰ γὰρ αἴσχισθ᾿ ὑπομεῖναι ἐπὶ μηδενὶ καλῷ ἢ μετρίῳ φαύλου. ἐπ᾿ ἐνίοις δ᾿ ἔπαινος μὲν οὐ γίνεται, συγγνώμη δ᾿, ὅταν διὰ τοιαῦτα πράξῃ τις ἃ μὴ δεῖ, ἃ τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην25 8φύσιν ὑπερτείνει καὶ μηδεὶς ἂν ὑπομείναι. ἔνια δ᾿ ἴσως οὐκ ἔστιν ἀναγκασθῆναι, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον ἀποθανετέον παθόντι τὰ δεινότατα· καὶ γὰρ τὸν

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Nicomachean Ethics, III.

5actions are voluntary or involuntary. A somewhat similar case is when cargo is jettisoned in a storm; apart from circumstances, no one voluntarily throws away his property, but to save his own life and that 6of his shipmates any sane man would do so. Acts of this kind, then, are ‘mixed’ or compositea; but they approximate rather to the voluntary class. For at the actual time when they are done they are chosen or willed; and the end or motive of an act varies with the occasion, so that the terms ‘voluntary’ and ‘involuntary’ should be used with reference to the time of action; now the actual deed in the cases in question is done voluntarily, for the origin of the movement of the parts of the body instrumental to the act lies in the agent; and when the origin of an action is in oneself, it is in one’s own power to do it or not. Such acts therefore are voluntary, though perhaps involuntary apart from circumstances—for no one would choose to do any such action in and for itself.

7Sometimes indeed men are actually praisedb for deeds of this ‘mixed’ class, namely when they submit to some disgrace or pain as the price of some great and noble object; though if they do so without any such motive they are blamed, since it is contemptible to submit to a great disgrace with no advantage or only a trifling one in view. In some cases again, such submission though not praised is condoned, when a man does something wrong through fear of penalties that impose too great a strain on human nature, and that no one 8could endure. Yet there seem to be some acts which a man cannot be compelled to do,c and rather than do them he ought to submit to the most terrible

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-nicomachean_ethics.1926