[Arguments] seem unable to influence the masses in the direction of what is noble and good. For the masses naturally obey fear, not shame, and abstain from shameful acts because of the punishments associated with them, not because they are disgraceful.

[τοὺς δὲ πολλοὺς ἀδυνατεῖν πρὸς καλοκαγαθίαν προτρέψασθαι: οὐ γὰρ πεφύκασιν αἰδοῖ πειθαρχεῖν ἀλλὰ φόβῳ, οὐδ᾽ ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν φαύλων διὰ τὸ αἰσχρὸν ἀλλὰ διὰ τὰς τιμωρίας]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 10, ch. 9 (10.9.3-4) / 1179b.10ff (c. 325 BC) [tr. Crisp (2000)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

[Talking and writing] plainly are powerless to guide the mass of men to Virtue and goodness; because it is not their nature to be amenable to a sense of shame but only to fear; nor to abstain from what is low and mean because it is disgraceful to do it but because of the punishment attached to it
[tr. Chase (1847), ch. 8]

But, for most men, mere precept is powerless to dispose them to noble conduct. For their nature is such, that they are not ruled by a proper sense of shame, but only by fear, and do not abstain from vice because of the disgrace which attaches to it, but because of the punishment which its practice involves.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

[Theories] are impotent to inspire the mass of men to chivalrous action; for it is not the nature of such men to obey honour but terror, nor to abstain from evil for fear of disgrace but for fear of punishment.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Yet [theories] are powerless to turn the mass of men to goodness. For the generality of men are naturally apt to be swayed by fear rather than by reverence, and to refrain from evil rather because of the punishment that it brings than because of its own foulness.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

[Arguments] are not able to encourage the many to nobility and goodness. For these do not by nature obey the sense of shame, but only fear, and do not abstain from bad acts because of their baseness but through fear of punishment.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

Yet [theories] are powerless to stimulate the mass of mankind to moral nobility. For it is the nature of the many to be amenable to fear but not to a sense of honor, and to abstain from evil not because of its baseness but because of the penalties it entails.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

[Arguments are] unable to encourage ordinary people toward noble-goodness. For ordinary people naturally obey not shame but fear and abstain from base things not because of their shamefulness but because of the sanctions involved.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

[Arguments] cannot exhort ordinary men to do good and noble deeds, for it is the nature of these men to obey not a sense of shame but fear, and to abstain from what is bad not because this is disgraceful but because of the penalties which they would receive.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

[Discourses] are incapable of impelling the masses toward human perfection. For it is the nature of the many to be ruled by fear rather than by shame, and to refrain from evil not because of the disgrace but because of the punishments.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

But [arguments] seem unable to turn the many toward being fine and good. For the many naturally obey fear, not shame; they avoid what is base because of the penalties, not because it is disgraceful.
[tr. Irwin/Fine (1995)]


 
Added on 17-Apr-08 | Last updated 31-May-22
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