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Summary and Analysis Book III: Chapter XI - Self-Control (ii)


Excess in pleasure is known as self-indulgence or intemperance. It takes many different forms (e.g., desire for something which most other men find offensive, desire to a greater extent than normal for something liked by other men, desire in the wrong way for something also desired by other men, and so on). Self-indulgent men suffer pain when their desires go unfulfilled and they suffer pain when their appetite arises, even if it is eventually filled. The vice of insufficient desire for pleasure hardly exists and has no name. It takes the form either of innate insensitivity to pleasure or of asceticism, though the first is an inborn characteristic and not reprehensible.

In all matters pertaining to pleasure the temperate man observes the mean. He does not enjoy what is most pleasant to the self-indulgent and feels no pain, or only to a moderate degree, when his appetites are unfulfilled. He desires only pleasures that are within his means, compatible with nobility and which contribute to his health and well-being.