Summary and Analysis Book VII: Chapter IV



There are three categories of things which give pleasure and arouse desire:

  1. Pleasures which are not necessary, but which are in themselves worth choosing even though they admit of excess (e.g., honor, wealth, victory).
  2. Things which are in themselves worthy of avoidance.
  3. Things neutral in themselves, but necessary for life and health (e.g., nutrition, sexual activity).Incontinence in the strict sense is concerned only with things in the last category, which is also the sphere of profligacy. The incontinent man differs from the profligate man, however, in that the latter always acts from choice, in the belief that he must pursue all pleasures, while the former knows better but does so anyway. To a certain extent incontinence may also be exhibited in regard to pleasures of the first category, but in that area it is usually considered less reprehensible since the objects of desire are worthy in themselves.