Nathan M. wrote:
I'm not sure i believe that. Or maybe, I just don't think it's true for all persons. I'm inclined to believe that goodness must come first.
Then you are mistaken.
Which comes first, swimming or knowing how to swim?
Is it not that we learn swimming by swimming? Virtue is a habit, a firmly rooted disposition toward doing what is in accordance with right reason. The virtuous person does not merely, e.g., eat moderately, he takes pleasure in that eating, ain in gluttony and his appetite desires what is right. How is that possible? Habituation.
We call a man good without qualification who has those perfections upon his nature that are fitting for that nature. So yeah a bad man can sometimes do a good thing. He is not a good man because he did one good thing. The vicious man's appetites are habituated to what is wrong, and he believes wrongly about what is good. The incontinent man knows better, but does what is wrong. The continent man knows what is right and does it, as going against his appetites. The virtuous man does what is good by second nature. It is this last that is called good simply.
The continent man is like the kid thrown in the pool, not yet a swimmer, but instructed in what he should do and, suppressing his instinct to panic, etc, does it...by doing it it becomes easier and natural. Or like learning to play the piano.