44 pages 1 hour read


Nicomachean Ethics

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | BCE

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Books 7-10Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Book 7 Summary

Book 7 considers the other side of virtue. Aristotle explores three conditions that he suggests humans should actively attempt to evade: “vice, incontinence, and bestiality” (117). In this work, bestiality refers to being more like an animal than like a human. Aristotle suggests that this is a rare state but one that is more often attributed to non-Greek peoples. He offers cannibalism as an example of bestiality. This vice is divided into two parts: simple and diseased. A person with simple vice may have notions of bestiality but not act upon them, but a person with diseased vice cannot help but submit to the extreme and violent acts associated with bestiality. Aristotle suggests that bestiality is not as bad as vice, as it is not a result of conscious choice; however, it is more terrifying because the components of the soul needed for one to act virtuously are completely missing.

Aristotle devotes much of the book to the concept of incontinence, addressing various puzzles and previous modes of thought about the topic. The term “incontinence” refers to a lack of self-restraint, or hedonism. To better distinguish incontinence from vice, Aristotle engages in a series of puzzles exploring incontinence.