21 May 2014

Expressing the rule of virtue

One man acts for an end because he is properly formed and inclined toward it, and he attains it without difficulty. Another acts for the same end, but not being inclined toward it, and not really knowing what it is he acts for, he determines his actions by excluding from them everything that he discovers takes him away from the end. The latter man creates rules by which to make the nature of virtue intelligible to himself. The former knows no rules. They speak to each other. Can the former explain what he does to the latter? No. Probably he is totally unaware of the "rule" for his actions, because the rule is necessary only for one who does not already want to act in every way according to this virtue. And if the virtuous man tried to correct the man of rules, what reason could he give?