Nicomachean Ethics



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Continence / Incontinence Term Analysis

Continence is a prerequisite to virtue, and incontinence is an impediment to it. The person who is “incontinent” lacks self-restraint or mastery over one’s nonrational desires. Such a person might have the ability to deliberate and reach a prudent decision, but still acts according to one’s nonrational appetites.

Continence / Incontinence Quotes in Nicomachean Ethics

The Nicomachean Ethics quotes below are all either spoken by Continence / Incontinence or refer to Continence / Incontinence. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hackett edition of Nicomachean Ethics published in 1999.
Book 7 Quotes

In fact the incontinent person is like a city that votes for all the right decrees and has excellent laws, but does not apply them, as in Anaxandrides' taunt, 'The city willed it, that cares nothing for laws'. The base person, by contrast, is like a city that applies its laws, but applies bad ones.[…] The [impetuous] type of incontinence found in volatile people is more easily cured than the [weak] type of incontinence found in those who deliberate but do not abide by it. And incontinents through habituation are more easily cured than the natural incontinents; for habit is easier than nature to change.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Related Symbols: The City
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
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Continence / Incontinence Term Timeline in Nicomachean Ethics

The timeline below shows where the term Continence / Incontinence appears in Nicomachean Ethics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 7
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Book 7, Chapters 1-3. Aristotle turns his discussion to conditions of character to be avoided—vice, incontinence, and bestiality. He focuses particularly on incontinence, which is the opposite of self-restraint. The condition... (full context)
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Book 7, Chapters 4-9. Continence and incontinence have to do with pleasures and pains. Aristotle explains that incontinence can’t be... (full context)
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
Book 7, Chapter 10. Aristotle adds that an incontinent person cannot be prudent at the same time, because prudent people act on their knowledge,... (full context)