On Reading Well
Karen Swallow Prior

Chapter Two
The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

2 Peter 1:5-6

Chapter Two of On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior is a study of Temperance drawn from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The topic is older than that novel of course and much has been written about its attributes. One of the leading ancient voices was that of Aristotle.

As Karen wrote in Chapter Two

For Aristotle temperance concerned the physical appetites we share with animals: the desires for food, drink, and sex. For both humans and animals, these appetites are necessary to perpetuate life (whether individually or as a species), but they are also the source of pleasure. The Catholic Church, following Aristotle’s understanding, teaches that temperance “ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable,” but expands the role of temperance as governing “the use of created goods.” 

Aristotle viewed temperance as related to the appetites humans share in common with animals. What are more expansive applications of temperance?

On Reading Well


Published by

Rick Wilcox

Rick is an ordained minister who is voraciously interested in the holistic transformation of people individually and in an organizational context - enabled by technology, educated continuously through multi-channel systems and informed by the wisdom of history's greatest thinkers. He is a Ph.D. student at Faulkner University, focusing on English Literature in the context of Classical Education. He earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Science in Management from Sam Houston State University. His undergraduate studies earned a BA with double majors in Sociology and Theology from Houston Baptist University. Rick is Deputy Director of PACES PAideia Classical School and leads the Parenting Teens Adult Community at Faith Bible Church in The Woodlands Texas.