Summary and Analysis Book VII: Chapter VIII



A self-indulgent or intemperate man feels no compunction about his acts since he is abiding by a choice he has made. A morally weak person always regrets what he has done. Incontinence is intermittent while intemperance is chronic, therefore incontinence is more curable than intemperance and deliberate vice. Intemperance becomes ingrained in the character and destroys man's most important motive for virtuous conduct — a true conception of the end of human life. Since the incontinent man has knowledge and may repent his acts, it is possible for him to reform.

Of the two kinds of incontinent people, the impetuous are not as bad as the weak since the acts of the impetuous man are caused by violent and unexpected temptations while the weak man has a rational principle but fails to abide by it. Moral weakness in either form is not a vice in the strict sense, since it is a violation of choice while vice is action in accordance with choice, but incontinence and vice both lead to similar actions.