The word, from Greek, means “acting against one’s better judgement,” and is (I suspect) at the root of our problems with “intention.” More painfully, acrasia is in the background of all “planning” schemes — and thus in all activities of our secular governments. They are all “crazy,” as Christians know, from original sin, but a Greek pagan might recognize it as ἀκρασία.

A Platonist, of course, would argue that this acrasia does not exist; that we would all do what was best if we knew what that was. And this presumably includes bureaucracies, which are typically staffed by human agents. Alas, we don’t, and they can’t, form better judgements. Plato’s Socrates was perfectly aware that “wrong happens.”

The Christian conception is complementary with the Aristotelian conception, instead. Thomist, Catholic, Christian thought is prior, in the sense that it explains the problem from the beginning; but both Christ and Aristotle are against brutishness in its many forms — from the weak-willed to the headstrong. Indeed, in the Nicomachian Ethics, Aristotle senses a divine agency, acting negatively in self-restraint, and positively in virtue.

I was contemplating this subject in macabre detail this week, as one of my correspondents accused me (as he had before) of “war-mongering.” I tend to confess to this vice, rather than indulge in disgusting “virtue signalling.” Of course we are publicly against war, and some of us are even privately opposed. But the serious question is: How can war be avoided?

Paradoxically, as the clever sort of humans, including statesmen, have always known, war is avoided by warlike acts. That is what made Trump and Reagan and Nixon so successful as pacifists, and the other recent presidents such failures; it is why Switzerland has been able to stay war-free for so long. Not only must we build a military that no one could wish to tangle with, and keep it constantly exercising, but we must be clear whose “side” we are on. That’s what inspires enemies to stop teasing.

It constitutes “better judgement.”