Robert Bridges, ed. (18441930). The Spirit of Man: An Anthology. 1916.
Ethics iii. 5, § 15
Aristotle (384322 B.C.)
.. AND1 not only are the spiritual vices voluntary, but in some cases also those of the body, and these we censure; for we see it is not natural difformities that anyone blames, but those that come of sloth and neglect; and it is the same in case of weakness or maiming, for no one would be disposed to reproach a man who was blind from birth or through disease or wounding, but rather to pity him; while every one would censure him if [his blindness were] due to drunkenness or other profligacy. Thus bodily vices which depend on ourselves are censured, but not those which are out of our power: and if this be so, then in other fields also, the vices which we blame should be in our own power.
But suppose it be objected that all men aim at the apparent good, but cannot control their imagined perception of it, since, such as each is, of the same sort will goodness appear to him.I answer, if each man be in some way responsible for his habit, he must then be in some way responsible also for this imagination.
But if not, then neither is he ever responsible for his ill doings [which is untenable], but he does wrong through ignorance of the true good, thinking in this way to attain to it: but the end at which he aims is not self-chosen; it is indispensable that he should be born with a gift, as it were, of sight, whereby to judge rightly and choose the good accordant to truth; and a man will be truly well-born who is born with this gift in perfection, for it is the greatest and fairest, and impossible to be learned or acquired from others; but such as it was born in him, such will he keep it, and the possession of it in full excellence would be the birthright of perfect and true nobility.
Note 1. Aristotle. Eth. iii. 5, § 15. A. is doubtless arguing against the objector at the end of this extract: but he states the objection very sympathetically; and compare No. 301. [Trans. R. Bridges.] [back]