Aristotle – Ethics; Book 10

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Next, it would seem, follows a discussion respecting Pleasure, for it is
Thought to be most closely bound up with our kind: and so men train the
Young, guiding them on their course by the rudders of Pleasure and Pain
And to like and dislike what one ought is judged to be most important
For the formation of good moral character: because these feelings extend
All one's life through, giving a bias towards and exerting an influence
On the side of Virtue and Happiness, since men choose what is pleasant
And avoid what is painful

Subjects such as these then, it would seem, we ought by no means to pass
By, and specially since they involve much difference of opinion. There
Are those who call Pleasure the Chief Good; there are others who on the
Contrary maintain that it is exceedingly bad; some perhaps from a real
Conviction that such is the case, others from a notion that it is
Better, in reference to our life and conduct, to show up Pleasure as
Bad, even if it is not so really; arguing that, as the mass of men have
A bias towards it and are the slaves of their pleasures, it is right to
Draw them to the contrary, for that so they may possibly arrive at the
Mean

I confess I suspect the soundness of this policy; in matters respecting
Men's feelings and actions theories are less convincing than facts:
Whenever, therefore, they are found conflicting with actual experience
They not only are despised but involve the truth in their fall: he, for
Instance, who deprecates Pleasure, if once seen to aim at it, gets the
Credit of backsliding to it as being universally such as he said it was
The mass of men being incapable of nice distinctions

Real accounts, therefore, of such matters seem to be most expedient, not
With a view to knowledge merely but to life and conduct: for they are
Believed as being in harm with facts, and so they prevail with the wise
To live in accordance with them

But of such considerations enough: let us now proceed to the current
Maxims respecting Pleasure

II Now Eudoxus thought Pleasure to be the Chief Good because he saw all
Rational and irrational alike, aiming at it: and he argued that, since
In all what was the object of choice must be good and what most so the
Best, the fact of all being drawn to the same thing proved this thing to
Be the best for all: "For each," he said, "finds what is good for itself
Just as it does its proper nourishment, and so that which is good for
All, and the object of the aim of all, is their Chief Good."

(And his theories were received, not so much for their own sake, as
Because of his excellent moral character; for he was thought to be
Eminently possessed of perfect self-mastery, and therefore it was not
Thought that he said these things because he was a lover of Pleasure but
That he really was so convinced.)

And he thought his position was not less proved by the argument from the
Contrary: that is, since Pain was in itself an object of avoidance to
All the contrary must be in like manner an object of choice

Again he urged that that is most choiceworthy which we choose, not by
Reason of, or with a view to, anything further; and that Pleasure is
Confessedly of this kind because no one ever goes on to ask to what
Purpose he is pleased, feeling that Pleasure is in itself choiceworthy

Again, that when added to any other good it makes it more choiceworthy;
As, for instance, to actions of justice, or perfected self-mastery; and
Good can only be increased by itself

However, this argument at least seems to prove only that it belongs to
The class of goods, and not that it does so more than anything else: for
Every good is more choicewortby in combination with some other than when
Taken quite alone. In fact, it is by just such an argument that Plato
Proves that Pleasure is not the Chief Good: "For," says he, "the life of
Pleasure is more choiceworthy in combination with Practical Wisdom than
Apart from it; but, if the compound better then simple Pleasure cannot
Be the Chief Good; because the very Chief Good cannot by any addition
Become choiceworthy than it is already:" and it is obvious that nothing
Else can be the Chief Good, which by combination with any of the things
In themselves good comes to be more choiceworthy

What is there then of such a nature? (meaning, of course, whereof we can
Partake; because that which we are in search of must be such)

As for those who object that "what all aim at is not necessarily good,"
I confess I cannot see much in what they say, because what all _think_
We say _is_. And he who would cut away this ground from under us will
Not bring forward things more dependable: because if the argument had
Rested on the desires of irrational creatures there might have been
Something in what he says, but, since the rational also desire Pleasure
How can his objection be allowed any weight? and it may be that, even in
The lower animals, there is some natural good principle above themselves
Which aims at the good peculiar to them

Nor does that seem to be sound which is urged respecting the argument
From the contrary: I mean, some people say "it does not follow that
Pleasure must be good because Pain is evil, since evil may be opposed to
Evil, and both evil and good to what is indifferent:" now what they say
Is right enough in itself but does not hold in the present instance
If both Pleasure and Pain were bad both would have been objects of
Avoidance; or if neither then neither would have been, at all events
They must have fared alike: but now men do plainly avoid the one as bad
And choose the other as good, and so there is a complete opposition. III
Nor again is Pleasure therefore excluded from being good because it
Does not belong to the class of qualities: the acts of virtue are not
Qualities, neither is Happiness [yet surely both are goods]

Again, they say the Chief Good is limited but Pleasure unlimited, in
That it admits of degrees

Now if they judge this from the act of feeling Pleasure then the same
Thing will apply to justice and all the other virtues, in respect of
Which clearly it is said that men are more or less of such and such
Characters (according to the different virtues), they are more just or
More brave, or one may practise justice and self-mastery more or less

If, on the other hand, they judge in respect of the Pleasures themselves
Then it may be they miss the true cause, namely that some are unmixed
And others mixed: for just as health being in itself limited, admits of
Degrees, why should not Pleasure do so and yet be limited? in the former
Case we account for it by the fact that there is not the same adjustment
Of parts in all men, nor one and the same always in the same individual:
But health, though relaxed, remains up to a certain point, and differs
In degrees; and of course the same may be the case with Pleasure

Again, assuming the Chief Good to be perfect and all Movements and
Generations imperfect, they try to shew that Pleasure is a Movement and
A Generation

Yet they do not seem warranted in saying even that it is a Movement: for
To every Movement are thought to belong swiftness and slowness, and
If not in itself, as to that of the universe, yet relatively: but to
Pleasure neither of these belongs: for though one may have got quickly
Into the state Pleasure, as into that of anger, one cannot be in the
State quickly, nor relatively to the state of any other person; but we
Can walk or grow, and so on, quickly or slowly

Of course it is possible to change into the state of Pleasure quickly or
Slowly, but to act in the state (by which, I mean, have the perception
Of Pleasure) quickly, is not possible. And how can it be a Generation?
Because, according to notions generally held, not _any_thing is
Generated from _any_thing, but a thing resolves itself into that out
Of which it was generated: whereas of that of which Pleasure is a
Generation Pain is a Destruction

Again, they say that Pain is a lack of something suitable to nature and
Pleasure a supply of it

But these are affections of the body: now if Pleasure really is a
Supplying of somewhat suitable to nature, that must feel the Pleasure in
Which the supply takes place, therefore the body of course: yet this
Is not thought to be so: neither then is Pleasure a supplying, only a
Person of course will be pleased when a supply takes place just as he
Will be pained when he is cut

This notion would seem to have arisen out of the Pains and Pleasures
Connected with natural nourishment; because, when people have felt a
Lack and so have had Pain first, they, of course, are pleased with the
Supply of their lack

But this is not the case with all Pleasures: those attendant on
Mathematical studies, for instance, are unconnected with any Pain; and
Of such as attend on the senses those which arise through the sense of
Smell; and again, many sounds, and sights, and memories, and hopes: now
Of what can these be Generations? because there has been here no lack of
Anything to be afterwards supplied

And to those who bring forward disgraceful Pleasures we may reply that
These are not really pleasant things; for it does not follow because
They are pleasant to the ill-disposed that we are to admit that they are
Pleasant except to them; just as we should not say that those things
Are really wholesome, or sweet, or bitter, which are so to the sick
Or those objects really white which give that impression to people
Labouring under ophthalmia

Or we might say thus, that the Pleasures are choiceworthy but not as
Derived from these sources: just as wealth is, but not as the price of
Treason; or health, but not on the terms of eating anything however
Loathsome. Or again, may we not say that Pleasures differ in kind? those
Derived from honourable objects, for instance are different from those
Arising from disgraceful ones; and it is not possible to experience
The Pleasure of the just man without being just, or of the musical man
Without being musical; and so on of others

The distinction commonly drawn between the friend and the flatterer
Would seem to show clearly either that Pleasure is not a good, or that
There are different kinds of Pleasure: for the former is thought to have
Good as the object of his intercourse, the latter Pleasure only; and
This last is reproached, but the former men praise as having different
Objects in his intercourse

[Sidenote: 1174a]

Again, no one would choose to live with a child's intellect all his
Life through, though receiving the highest possible Pleasure from such
Objects as children receive it from; or to take Pleasure in doing any of
The most disgraceful things, though sure never to be pained

There are many things also about which we should be diligent even though
They brought no Pleasure; as seeing, remembering, knowing, possessing
The various Excellences; and the fact that Pleasures do follow on these
Naturally makes no difference, because we should certainly choose them
Even though no Pleasure resulted from them

It seems then to be plain that Pleasure is not the Chief Good, nor is
Every kind of it choiceworthy: and that there are some choiceworthy in
Themselves, differing in kind, _i.e._ in the sources from which they
Are derived. Let this then suffice by way of an account of the current
Maxims respecting Pleasure and Pain

[Sidenote: IV]

Now what it is, and how characterised, will be more plain if we take up
The subject afresh

An act of Sight is thought to be complete at any moment; that is to say
It lacks nothing the accession of which subsequently will complete its
Whole nature

Well, Pleasure resembles this: because it is a whole, as one may say;
And one could not at any moment of time take a Pleasure whose whole
Nature would be completed by its lasting for a longer time. And for this
Reason it is not a Movement: for all Movement takes place in time of
Certain duration and has a certain End to accomplish; for instance, the
Movement of house-building is then only complete when the builder has
Produced what he intended, that is, either in the whole time [necessary
To complete the whole design], or in a given portion. But all the
Subordinate Movements are incomplete in the parts of the time, and are
Different in kind from the whole movement and from one another (I
Mean, for instance, that the fitting the stones together is a Movement
Different from that of fluting the column, and both again from the
Construction of the Temple as a whole: but this last is complete as
Lacking nothing to the result proposed; whereas that of the basement
Or of the triglyph, is incomplete, because each is a Movement of a part
Merely)

As I said then, they differ in kind, and you cannot at any time you
Choose find a Movement complete in its whole nature, but, if at all, in
The whole time requisite

[Sidenote: 1174_b_]

And so it is with the Movement of walking and all others: for, if motion
Be a Movement from one place to another place, then of it too there are
Different kinds, flying, walking, leaping, and such-like. And not only
So, but there are different kinds even in walking: the where-from and
Where-to are not the same in the whole Course as in a portion of it;
Nor in one portion as in another; nor is crossing this line the same as
Crossing that: because a man is not merely crossing a line but a line in
A given place, and this is in a different place from that

Of Movement I have discoursed exactly in another treatise. I will now
Therefore only say that it seems not to be complete at any given moment;
And that most movements are incomplete and specifically different, since
The whence and whither constitute different species

But of Pleasure the whole nature is complete at any given moment: it
Is plain then that Pleasure and Movement must be different from one
Another, and that Pleasure belongs to the class of things whole and
Complete. And this might appear also from the impossibility of moving
Except in a definite time, whereas there is none with respect to the
Sensation of Pleasure, for what exists at the very present moment is a
Kind of "whole."

From these considerations then it is plain that people are not warranted
In saying that Pleasure is a Movement or a Generation: because these
Terms are not applicable to all things, only to such as are divisible
And not "wholes:" I mean that of an act of Sight there is no Generation
Nor is there of a point, nor of a monad, nor is any one of these a
Movement or a Generation: neither then of Pleasure is there Movement or
Generation, because it is, as one may say, "a whole."

Now since every Percipient Faculty works upon the Object answering to
It, and perfectly the Faculty in a good state upon the most excellent of
The Objects within its range (for Perfect Working is thought to be much
What I have described; and we will not raise any question about saying
"the Faculty" works, instead of, "that subject wherein the Faculty
Resides"), in each case the best Working is that of the Faculty in its
Best state upon the best of the Objects answering to it. And this will
Be, further, most perfect and most pleasant: for Pleasure is attendant
Upon every Percipient Faculty, and in like manner on every intellectual
Operation and speculation; and that is most pleasant which is most
Perfect, and that most perfect which is the Working of the best Faculty
Upon the most excellent of the Objects within its range

And Pleasure perfects the Working. But Pleasure does not perfect it in
The same way as the Faculty and Object of Perception do, being good;
Just as health and the physician are not in similar senses causes of a
Healthy state

And that Pleasure does arise upon the exercise of every Percipient
Faculty is evident, for we commonly say that sights and sounds are
Pleasant; it is plain also that this is especially the case when the
Faculty is most excellent and works upon a similar Object: and when both
The Object and Faculty of Perception are such, Pleasure will always
Exist, supposing of course an agent and a patient

[Sidenote: 1175_a_]

Furthermore, Pleasure perfects the act of Working not in the way of an
Inherent state but as a supervening finish, such as is bloom in people
At their prime. Therefore so long as the Object of intellectual or
Sensitive Perception is such as it should be and also the Faculty which
Discerns or realises the Object, there will be Pleasure in the Working:
Because when that which has the capacity of being acted on and that
Which is apt to act are alike and similarly related, the same result
Follows naturally

How is it then that no one feels Pleasure continuously? is it not that
He wearies, because all human faculties are incapable of unintermitting
Exertion; and so, of course, Pleasure does not arise either, because
That follows upon the act of Working. But there are some things which
Please when new, but afterwards not in the like way, for exactly the
Same reason: that at first the mind is roused and works on these Objects
With its powers at full tension; just as they who are gazing stedfastly
At anything; but afterwards the act of Working is not of the kind it was
At first, but careless, and so the Pleasure too is dulled

Again, a person may conclude that all men grasp at Pleasure, because all
Aim likewise at Life and Life is an act of Working, and every man works
At and with those things which also he best likes; the musical man, for
Instance, works with his hearing at music; the studious man with his
Intellect at speculative questions, and so forth. And Pleasure perfects
The acts of Working, and so Life after which men grasp. No wonder then
That they aim also at Pleasure, because to each it perfects Life, which
Is itself choiceworthy. (We will take leave to omit the question whether
We choose Life for Pleasure's sake of Pleasure for Life's sake; because
These two plainly are closely connected and admit not of separation;
Since Pleasure comes not into being without Working, and again, every
Working Pleasure perfects.)

And this is one reason why Pleasures are thought to differ in kind
Because we suppose that things which differ in kind must be perfected by
Things so differing: it plainly being the case with the productions of
Nature and Art; as animals, and trees, and pictures, and statues, and
Houses, and furniture; and so we suppose that in like manner acts of
Working which are different in kind are perfected by things differing in
Kind. Now Intellectual Workings differ specifically from those of the
Senses, and these last from one another; therefore so do the Pleasures
Which perfect them

This may be shown also from the intimate connection subsisting between
Each Pleasure and the Working which it perfects: I mean, that the
Pleasure proper to any Working increases that Working; for they who
Work with Pleasure sift all things more closely and carry them out to a
Greater degree of nicety; for instance, those men become geometricians
Who take Pleasure in geometry, and they apprehend particular points more
Completely: in like manner men who are fond of music, or architecture
Or anything else, improve each on his own pursuit, because they feel
Pleasure in them. Thus the Pleasures aid in increasing the Workings, and
Things which do so aid are proper and peculiar: but the things which are
Proper and peculiar to others specifically different are themselves also
Specifically different

Yet even more clearly may this be shown from the fact that the Pleasures
Arising from one kind of Workings hinder other Workings; for instance
People who are fond of flute-music cannot keep their attention to
Conversation or discourse when they catch the sound of a flute; because
They take more Pleasure in flute-playing than in the Working they are
At the time engaged on; in other words, the Pleasure attendant on
Flute-playing destroys the Working of conversation or discourse. Much
The same kind of thing takes place in other cases, when a person is
Engaged in two different Workings at the same time: that is, the
Pleasanter of the two keeps pushing out the other, and, if the disparity
In pleasantness be great, then more and more till a man even ceases
Altogether to work at the other

This is the reason why, when we are very much pleased with anything
Whatever, we do nothing else, and it is only when we are but moderately
Pleased with one occupation that we vary it with another: people
For instance, who eat sweetmeats in the theatre do so most when the
Performance is indifferent

Since then the proper and peculiar Pleasure gives accuracy to the
Workings and makes them more enduring and better of their kind, while
Those Pleasures which are foreign to them mar them, it is plain there
Is a wide difference between them: in fact, Pleasures foreign to any
Working have pretty much the same effect as the Pains proper to it
Which, in fact, destroy the Workings; I mean, if one man dislikes
Writing, or another calculation, the one does not write, the other does
Not calculate; because, in each case, the Working is attended with some
Pain: so then contrary effects are produced upon the Workings by the
Pleasures and Pains proper to them, by which I mean those which arise
Upon the Working, in itself, independently of any other circumstances
As for the Pleasures foreign to a Working, we have said already that
They produce a similar effect to the Pain proper to it; that is they
Destroy the Working, only not in like way

Well then, as Workings differ from one another in goodness and badness
Some being fit objects of choice, others of avoidance, and others in
Their nature indifferent, Pleasures are similarly related; since its own
Proper Pleasure attends or each Working: of course that proper to a good
Working is good, that proper to a bad, bad: for even the desires for
What is noble are praiseworthy, and for what is base blameworthy

Furthermore, the Pleasures attendant on Workings are more closely
Connected with them even than the desires after them: for these last
Are separate both in time and nature, but the former are close to the
Workings, and so indivisible from them as to raise a question whether
The Working and the Pleasure are identical; but Pleasure does not seem
To be an Intellectual Operation nor a Faculty of Perception, because
That is absurd; but yet it gives some the impression of being the same
From not being separated from these

As then the Workings are different so are their Pleasures; now Sight
Differs from Touch in purity, and Hearing and Smelling from Taste;
Therefore, in like manner, do their Pleasures; and again, Intellectual
Pleasures from these Sensual, and the different kinds both of
Intellectual and Sensual from one another

It is thought, moreover, that each animal has a Pleasure proper to
Itself, as it has a proper Work; that Pleasure of course which is
Attendant on the Working. And the soundness of this will appear upon
Particular inspection: for horse, dog, and man have different Pleasures;
As Heraclitus says, an ass would sooner have hay than gold; in other
Words, provender is pleasanter to asses than gold. So then the Pleasures
Of animals specifically different are also specifically different, but
Those of the same, we may reasonably suppose, are without difference

Yet in the case of human creatures they differ not a little: for the
Very same things please some and pain others: and what are painful and
Hateful to some are pleasant to and liked by others. The same is the
Case with sweet things: the same will not seem so to the man in a fever
As to him who is in health: nor will the invalid and the person in
Robust health have the same notion of warmth. The same is the case with
Other things also

Now in all such cases that is held to _be_ which impresses the good man
With the notion of being such and such; and if this is a second maxim
(as it is usually held to be), and Virtue, that is, the Good man, in
That he is such, is the measure of everything, then those must be real
Pleasures which gave him the impression of being so and those things
Pleasant in which he takes Pleasure. Nor is it at all astonishing that
What are to him unpleasant should give another person the impression of
Being pleasant, for men are liable to many corruptions and marrings; and
The things in question are not pleasant really, only to these particular
Persons, and to them only as being thus disposed

Well of course, you may say, it is obvious that we must assert those
Which are confessedly disgraceful to be real Pleasures, except to
Depraved tastes: but of those which are thought to be good what kind
Or which, must we say is _The Pleasure of Man?_ is not the answer plain
From considering the Workings, because the Pleasures follow upon these?

Whether then there be one or several Workings which belong to the
Perfect and blessed man, the Pleasures which perfect these Workings must
Be said to be specially and properly _The Pleasures of Man;_ and all
The rest in a secondary sense, and in various degrees according as the
Workings are related to those highest and best ones

VI

Now that we have spoken about the Excellences of both kinds, and
Friendship in its varieties, and Pleasures, it remains to sketch out
Happiness, since we assume that to be the one End of all human things:
And we shall save time and trouble by recapitulating what was stated
Before

[Sidenote: 1176b] Well then, we said that it is not a State merely;
Because, if it were, it might belong to one who slept all his life
Through and merely vegetated, or to one who fell into very great
Calamities: and so, if these possibilities displease us and we would
Rather put it into the rank of some kind of Working (as was also said
Before), and Workings are of different kinds (some being necessary
And choiceworthy with a view to other things, while others are so in
Themselves), it is plain we must rank Happiness among those choiceworthy
For their own sakes and not among those which are so with a view to
Something further: because Happiness has no lack of anything but is
Self-sufficient

By choiceworthy in themselves are meant those from which nothing is
Sought beyond the act of Working: and of this kind are thought to be the
Actions according to Virtue, because doing what is noble and excellent
Is one of those things which are choiceworthy for their own sake alone

And again, such amusements as are pleasant; because people do not choose
Them with any further purpose: in fact they receive more harm than
Profit from them, neglecting their persons and their property. Still the
Common run of those who are judged happy take refuge in such pastimes
Which is the reason why they who have varied talent in such are highly
Esteemed among despots; because they make themselves pleasant in those
Things which these aim at, and these accordingly want such men

Now these things are thought to be appurtenances of Happiness because
Men in power spend their leisure herein: yet, it may be, we cannot
Argue from the example of such men: because there is neither Virtue nor
Intellect necessarily involved in having power, and yet these are the
Only sources of good Workings: nor does it follow that because these
Men, never having tasted pure and generous Pleasure, take refuge in
Bodily ones, we are therefore to believe them to be more choiceworthy:
For children too believe that those things are most excellent which are
Precious in their eyes

We may well believe that as children and men have different ideas as to
What is precious so too have the bad and the good: therefore, as we have
Many times said, those things are really precious and pleasant which
Seem so to the good man: and as to each individual that Working is most
Choiceworthy which is in accordance with his own state to the good man
That is so which is in accordance with Virtue

Happiness then stands not in amusement; in fact the very notion is
Absurd of the End being amusement, and of one's toiling and enduring
Hardness all one's life long with a view to amusement: for everything in
The world, so to speak, we choose with some further End in view, except
Happiness, for that is the End comprehending all others. Now to take
Pains and to labour with a view to amusement is plainly foolish and
Very childish: but to amuse one's self with a view to steady employment
Afterwards, as Anacharsis says, is thought to be right: for amusement is
Like rest, and men want rest because unable to labour continuously

Rest, therefore, is not an End, because it is adopted with a view to
Working afterwards

[Sidenote: 1177a] Again, it is held that the Happy Life must be one in
The way of Excellence, and this is accompanied by earnestness and stands
Not in amusement. Moreover those things which are done in earnest, we
Say, are better than things merely ludicrous and joined with amusement:
And we say that the Working of the better part, or the better man, is
More earnest; and the Working of the better is at once better and more
Capable of Happiness

Then, again, as for bodily Pleasures, any ordinary person, or even
A slave, might enjoy them, just as well as the best man living but
Happiness no one supposes a slave to share except so far as it is
Implied in life: because Happiness stands not in such pastimes but in
The Workings in the way of Excellence, as has also been stated before

VII

Now if Happiness is a Working in the way of Excellence of course that
Excellence must be the highest, that is to say, the Excellence of the
Best Principle. Whether then this best Principle is Intellect or some
Other which is thought naturally to rule and to lead and to conceive of
Noble and divine things, whether being in its own nature divine or the
Most divine of all our internal Principles, the Working of this in
Accordance with its own proper Excellence must be the perfect Happiness

That it is Contemplative has been already stated: and this would seem to
Be consistent with what we said before and with truth: for, in the first
Place, this Working is of the highest kind, since the Intellect is the
Highest of our internal Principles and the subjects with which it
Is conversant the highest of all which fall within the range of our
Knowledge


Next, it is also most Continuous: for we are better able to contemplate
Than to do anything else whatever, continuously


Again, we think Pleasure must be in some way an ingredient in Happiness
And of all Workings in accordance with Excellence that in the way of
Science is confessedly most pleasant: at least the pursuit of Science is
Thought to contain Pleasures admirable for purity and permanence; and it
Is reasonable to suppose that the employment is more pleasant to those
Who have mastered, than to those who are yet seeking for, it


And the Self-Sufficiency which people speak of will attach chiefly to
The Contemplative Working: of course the actual necessaries of life are
Needed alike by the man of science, and the just man, and all the other
Characters; but, supposing all sufficiently supplied with these, the
Just man needs people towards whom, and in concert with whom, to
Practise his justice; and in like manner the man of perfected
Self-mastery, and the brave man, and so on of the rest; whereas the man
Of science can contemplate and speculate even when quite alone, and the
More entirely he deserves the appellation the more able is he to do so:
It may be he can do better for having fellow-workers but still he is
Certainly most Self-Sufficient


[Sidenote: 1177b] Again, this alone would seem to be rested in for
Its own sake, since nothing results from it beyond the fact of having
Contemplated; whereas from all things which are objects of moral action
We do mean to get something beside the doing them, be the same more or
Less


Also, Happiness is thought to stand in perfect rest; for we toil that we
May rest, and war that we may be at peace. Now all the Practical Virtues
Require either society or war for their Working, and the actions
Regarding these are thought to exclude rest; those of war entirely
Because no one chooses war, nor prepares for war, for war's sake: he
Would indeed be thought a bloodthirsty villain who should make enemies
Of his friends to secure the existence of fighting and bloodshed. The
Working also of the statesman excludes the idea of rest, and, beside the
Actual work of government, seeks for power and dignities or at least
Happiness for the man himself and his fellow-citizens: a Happiness
Distinct the national Happiness which we evidently seek as being
Different and distinct

If then of all the actions in accordance with the various virtues those
Of policy and war are pre-eminent in honour and greatness, and these are
Restless, and aim at some further End and are not choiceworthy for
Their own sakes, but the Working of the Intellect, being apt for
Contemplation, is thought to excel in earnestness, and to aim at no End
Beyond itself and to have Pleasure of its own which helps to increase
The Working, and if the attributes of Self-Sufficiency, and capacity of
Rest, and unweariedness (as far as is compatible with the infirmity
Of human nature), and all other attributes of the highest Happiness
Plainly belong to this Working, this must be perfect Happiness, if
Attaining a complete duration of life, which condition is added because
None of the points of Happiness is incomplete

But such a life will be higher than mere human nature, because a man
Will live thus, not in so far as he is man but in so far as there is in
Him a divine Principle: and in proportion as this Principle excels
His composite nature so far does the Working thereof excel that in
Accordance with any other kind of Excellence: and therefore, if pure
Intellect, as compared with human nature, is divine, so too will the
Life in accordance with it be divine compared with man's ordinary life
[Sidenote: 1178a] Yet must we not give ear to those who bid one as man
To mind only man's affairs, or as mortal only mortal things; but, so far
As we can, make ourselves like immortals and do all with a view to
Living in accordance with the highest Principle in us, for small as it
May be in bulk yet in power and preciousness it far more excels all the
Others

In fact this Principle would seem to constitute each man's "Self," since
It is supreme and above all others in goodness it _would_ be absurd then
For a man not to choose his own life but that of some other

And here will apply an observation made before, that whatever is proper
To each is naturally best and pleasantest to him: such then is to Man
The life in accordance with pure Intellect (since this Principle is most
Truly Man), and if so, then it is also the happiest

VIII

And second in degree of Happiness will be that Life which is in
Accordance with the other kind of Excellence, for the Workings in
Accordance with this are proper to Man: I mean, we do actions of
Justice, courage, and the other virtues, towards one another, in
Contracts, services of different kinds, and in all kinds of actions and
Feelings too, by observing what is befitting for each: and all these
Plainly are proper to man. Further, the Excellence of the Moral
Character is thought to result in some points from physical
Circumstances, and to be, in many, very closely connected with the
Passions

Again, Practical Wisdom and Excellence of the Moral character are
Very closely united; since the Principles of Practical Wisdom are in
Accordance with the Moral Virtues and these are right when they accord
With Practical Wisdom

These moreover, as bound up with the passions, must belong to the
Composite nature, and the Excellences or Virtues of the composite nature
Are proper to man: therefore so too will be the life and Happiness which
Is in accordance with them. But that of the Pure Intellect is separate
And distinct: and let this suffice upon the subject, since great
Exactness is beyond our purpose

It would seem, moreover, to require supply of external goods to a small
Degree, or certainly less than the Moral Happiness: for, as far as
Necessaries of life are concerned, we will suppose both characters to
Need them equally (though, in point of fact, the man who lives in
Society does take more pains about his person and all that kind of
Thing; there will really be some little difference), but when we come to
Consider their Workings there will be found a great difference

I mean, the liberal man must have money to do his liberal actions with
And the just man to meet his engagements (for mere intentions
Are uncertain, and even those who are unjust make a pretence of
_wishing_ to do justly), and the brave man must have power, if
He is to perform any of the actions which appertain to his particular
Virtue, and the man of perfected self-mastery must have opportunity of
Temptation, else how shall he or any of the others display his real
Character?

[Sidenote: 1178b]

(By the way, a question is sometimes raised, whether the moral choice or
The actions have most to do with Virtue, since it consists in both: it
Is plain that the perfection of virtuous action requires both: but for
The actions many things are required, and the greater and more numerous
They are the more.) But as for the man engaged in Contemplative
Speculation, not only are such things unnecessary for his Working, but
So to speak, they are even hindrances: as regards the Contemplation at
Least; because of course in so far as he is Man and lives in society he
Chooses to do what Virtue requires, and so he will need such things
For maintaining his character as Man though not as a speculative
Philosopher

And that the perfect Happiness must be a kind of Contemplative Working
May appear also from the following consideration: our conception of the
Gods is that they are above all blessed and happy: now what kind of
Moral actions are we to attribute to them? those of justice? nay
Will they not be set in a ridiculous light if represented as forming
Contracts, and restoring deposits, and so on? well then, shall we
Picture them performing brave actions, withstanding objects of fear and
Meeting dangers, because it is noble to do so? or liberal ones? but to
Whom shall they be giving? and further, it is absurd to think they have
Money or anything of the kind. And as for actions of perfected
Self-mastery, what can theirs be? would it not be a degrading praise
That they have no bad desires? In short, if one followed the subject
Into all details all the circumstances connected with Moral actions
Would appear trivial and unworthy of gods

Still, every one believes that they live, and therefore that they
Work because it is not supposed that they sleep their time away like
Endymion: now if from a living being you take away Action, still more
If Creation, what remains but Contemplation? So then the Working of
The Gods, eminent in blessedness, will be one apt for Contemplative
Speculation; and of all human Workings that will have the greatest
Capacity for Happiness which is nearest akin to this

A corroboration of which position is the fact that the other animals
Do not partake of Happiness, being completely shut out from any such
Working

To the gods then all their life is blessed; and to men in so far as
There is in it some copy of such Working, but of the other animals none
Is happy because it in no way shares in Contemplative Speculation

Happiness then is co-extensive with this Contemplative Speculation, and
In proportion as people have the act of Contemplation so far have they
Also the being happy, not incidentally, but in the way of Contemplative
Speculation because it is in itself precious

So Happiness must be a kind of Contemplative Speculation; but since it
Is Man we are speaking of he will need likewise External Prosperity
Because his Nature is not by itself sufficient for Speculation, but
There must be health of body, and nourishment, and tendance of all
Kinds

[Sidenote: 1179a] However, it must not be thought, because without
External goods a man cannot enjoy high Happiness, that therefore he
Will require many and great goods in order to be happy: for neither
Self-sufficiency, nor Action, stand in Excess, and it is quite possible
To act nobly without being ruler of sea and land, since even with
Moderate means a man may act in accordance with Virtue

And this may be clearly seen in that men in private stations are thought
To act justly, not merely no less than men in power but even more: it
Will be quite enough that just so much should belong to a man as is
Necessary, for his life will be happy who works in accordance with
Virtue

Solon perhaps drew a fair picture of the Happy, when he said that they
Are men moderately supplied with external goods, and who have achieved
The most noble deeds, as he thought, and who have lived with perfect
Self-mastery: for it is quite possible for men of moderate means to act
As they ought

Anaxagoras also seems to have conceived of the Happy man not as either
Rich or powerful, saying that he should not wonder if he were accounted
A strange man in the judgment of the multitude: for they judge by
Outward circumstances of which alone they have any perception

And thus the opinions of the Wise seem to be accordant with our account
Of the matter: of course such things carry some weight, but truth, in
Matters of moral action, is judged from facts and from actual life
For herein rests the decision. So what we should do is to examine the
Preceding statements by referring them to facts and to actual life, and
When they harmonise with facts we may accept them, when they are at
Variance with them conceive of them as mere theories

Now he that works in accordance with, and pays observance to, Pure
Intellect, and tends this, seems likely to be both in the best frame of
Mind and dearest to the Gods: because if, as is thought, any care is
Bestowed on human things by the Gods then it must be reasonable to think
That they take pleasure in what is best and most akin to themselves (and
This must be the Pure Intellect); and that they requite with kindness
Those who love and honour this most, as paying observance to what is
Dear to them, and as acting rightly and nobly. And it is quite obvious
That the man of Science chiefly combines all these: he is therefore
Dearest to the Gods, and it is probable that he is at the same time most
Happy

Thus then on this view also the man of Science will be most Happy

IX

Now then that we have said enough in our sketchy kind of way
On these subjects; I mean, on the Virtues, and also on Friendship and
Pleasure; are we to suppose that our original purpose is completed? Must
We not rather acknowledge, what is commonly said, that in matters of
Moral action mere Speculation and Knowledge is not the real End but
Rather Practice: and if so, then neither in respect of Virtue is
Knowledge enough; we must further strive to have and exert it, and take
Whatever other means there are of becoming good

Now if talking and writing were of themselves sufficient to make men
Good, they would justly, as Theognis observes have reaped numerous and
Great rewards, and the thing to do would be to provide them: but in
Point of fact, while they plainly have the power to guide and stimulate
The generous among the young and to base upon true virtuous principle
Any noble and truly high-minded disposition, they as 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: in fact, as they live
At the beck and call of passion, they pursue their own proper pleasures
And the means of securing them, and they avoid the contrary pains; but
As for what is noble and truly pleasurable they have not an idea of it
Inasmuch as they have never tasted of it

Men such as these then what mere words can transform? No, indeed! it is
Either actually impossible, or a task of no mean difficulty, to alter by
Words what has been of old taken into men's very dispositions: and
It may be, it is a ground for contentment if with all the means and
Appliances for goodness in our hands we can attain to Virtue

The formation of a virtuous character some ascribe to Nature, some to
Custom, and some to Teaching. Now Nature's part, be it what it may
Obviously does not rest with us, but belongs to those who in the truest
Sense are fortunate, by reason of certain divine agency

Then, as for Words and Precept, they, it is to be feared, will not avail
With all; but it may be necessary for the mind of the disciple to have
Been previously prepared for liking and disliking as he ought; just as
The soil must, to nourish the seed sown. For he that lives in obedience
To passion cannot hear any advice that would dissuade him, nor, if he
Heard, understand: now him that is thus how can one reform? in fact
Generally, passion is not thought to yield to Reason but to brute force
So then there must be, to begin with, a kind of affinity to Virtue in
The disposition; which must cleave to what is honourable and loath
What is disgraceful. But to get right guidance towards Virtue from the
Earliest youth is not easy unless one is brought up under laws of such
Kind; because living with self-mastery and endurance is not pleasant to
The mass of men, and specially not to the young. For this reason the
Food, and manner of living generally, ought to be the subject of
Legal regulation, because things when become habitual will not be
Disagreeable

[Sidenote: 1180_a_] Yet perhaps it is not sufficient that men while
Young should get right food and tendance, but, inasmuch as they will
Have to practise and become accustomed to certain things even after they
Have attained to man's estate, we shall want laws on these points as
Well, and, in fine, respecting one's whole life, since the mass of men
Are amenable to compulsion rather than Reason, and to punishment rather
Than to a sense of honour

And therefore some men hold that while lawgivers should employ the sense
Of honour to exhort and guide men to Virtue, under the notion that they
Will then obey who have been well trained in habits; they should
Impose chastisement and penalties on those who disobey and are of less
Promising nature; and the incurable expel entirely: because the good man
And he who lives under a sense of honour will be obedient to reason;
And the baser sort, who grasp at pleasure, will be kept in check, like
Beasts of burthen by pain. Therefore also they say that the pains should
Be such as are most contrary to the pleasures which are liked

As has been said already, he who is to be good must have been brought up
And habituated well, and then live accordingly under good institutions
And never do what is low and mean, either against or with his will. Now
These objects can be attained only by men living in accordance with some
Guiding Intellect and right order, with power to back them

As for the Paternal Rule, it possesses neither strength nor compulsory
Power, nor in fact does the Rule of any one man, unless he is a king or
Some one in like case: but the Law has power to compel, since it is a
Declaration emanating from Practical Wisdom and Intellect. And people
Feel enmity towards their fellow-men who oppose their impulses, however
Rightly they may do so: the Law, on the contrary, is not the object of
Hatred, though enforcing right rules

The Lacedæmonian is nearly the only State in which the framer of the
Constitution has made any provision, it would seem, respecting the food
And manner of living of the people: in most States these points are
Entirely neglected, and each man lives just as he likes, ruling his wife
And children Cyclops-Fashion

Of course, the best thing would be that there should be a right Public
System and that we should be able to carry it out: but, since as a
Public matter those points are neglected, the duty would seem to devolve
Upon each individual to contribute to the cause of Virtue with his own
Children and friends, or at least to make this his aim and purpose: and
This, it would seem, from what has been said, he will be best able to do
By making a Legislator of himself: since all public *[Sidenote: 1180_b_]
Systems, it is plain, are formed by the instrumentality of laws and
Those are good which are formed by that of good laws: whether they are
Written or unwritten, whether they are applied to the training of one or
Many, will not, it seems, make any difference, just as it does not in
Music, gymnastics, or any other such accomplishments, which are gained
By practice

For just as in Communities laws and customs prevail, so too in families
The express commands of the Head, and customs also: and even more in the
Latter, because of blood-relationship and the benefits conferred:
For there you have, to begin with, people who have affection and are
Naturally obedient to the authority which controls them

Then, furthermore, Private training has advantages over Public, as in
The case of the healing art: for instance, as a general rule, a man who
Is in a fever should keep quiet, and starve; but in a particular case
Perhaps, this may not hold good; or, to take a different illustration
The boxer will not use the same way of fighting with all antagonists

It would seem then that the individual will be most exactly attended to
Under Private care, because so each will be more likely to obtain what
Is expedient for him. Of course, whether in the art of healing, or
Gymnastics, or any other, a man will treat individual cases the better
For being acquainted with general rules; as, "that so and so is good for
All, or for men in such and such cases:" because general maxims are not
Only said to be but are the object-matter of sciences: still this is no
Reason against the possibility of a man's taking excellent care of
Some _one_ case, though he possesses no scientific knowledge but from
Experience is exactly acquainted with what happens in each point; just
As some people are thought to doctor themselves best though they would
Be wholly unable to administer relief to others. Yet it may seem to be
Necessary nevertheless, for one who wishes to become a real artist and
Well acquainted with the theory of his profession, to have recourse
To general principles and ascertain all their capacities: for we have
Already stated that these are the object-matter of sciences

If then it appears that we may become good through the instrumentality
Of laws, of course whoso wishes to make men better by a system of care
And training must try to make a Legislator of himself; for to treat
Skilfully just any one who may be put before you is not what any
Ordinary person can do, but, if any one, he who has knowledge; as in the
Healing art, and all others which involve careful practice and skill

[Sidenote: 1181_a_] Will not then our next business be to inquire from
What sources, or how one may acquire this faculty of Legislation; or
Shall we say, that, as in similar cases, Statesmen are the people to
Learn from, since this faculty was thought to be a part of the Social
Science? Must we not admit that the Political Science plainly does not
Stand on a similar footing to that of other sciences and faculties? I
Mean, that while in all other cases those who impart the faculties
And themselves exert them are identical (physicians and painters for
Instance) matters of Statesmanship the Sophists profess to teach, but
Not one of them practises it, that being left to those actually engaged
In it: and these might really very well be thought to do it by some
Singular knack and by mere practice rather than by any intellectual
Process: for they neither write nor speak on these matters (though it
Might be more to their credit than composing speeches for the courts or
The assembly), nor again have they made Statesmen of their own sons or
Their friends

One can hardly suppose but that they would have done so if they could
Seeing that they could have bequeathed no more precious legacy to their
Communities, nor would they have preferred, for themselves or their
Dearest friends, the possession of any faculty rather than this

Practice, however, seems to contribute no little to its acquisition;
Merely breathing the atmosphere of politics would never have made
Statesmen of them, and therefore we may conclude that they who would
Acquire a knowledge of Statesmanship must have in addition practice

But of the Sophists they who profess to teach it are plainly a long way
Off from doing so: in fact, they have no knowledge at all of its nature
And objects; if they had, they would never have put it on the same
Footing with Rhetoric or even on a lower: neither would they have
Conceived it to be "an easy matter to legislate by simply collecting
Such laws as are famous because of course one could select the best," as
Though the selection were not a matter of skill, and the judging aright
A very great matter, as in Music: for they alone, who have practical
Knowledge of a thing, can judge the performances rightly or understand
With what means and in what way they are accomplished, and what
Harmonises with what: the unlearned must be content with being able to
Discover whether the result is good or bad, as in painting

[Sidenote: 1181_b_] Now laws may be called the performances or tangible
Results of Political Science; how then can a man acquire from these
The faculty of Legislation, or choose the best? we do not see men made
Physicians by compilations: and yet in these treatises men endeavour to
Give not only the cases but also how they may be cured, and the proper
Treatment in each case, dividing the various bodily habits. Well, these
Are thought to be useful to professional men, but to the unprofessional
Useless. In like manner it may be that collections of laws and
Constitutions would be exceedingly useful to such as are able to
Speculate on them, and judge what is well, and what ill, and what
Kind of things fit in with what others: but they who without this
Qualification should go through such matters cannot have right judgment
Unless they have it by instinct, though they may become more intelligent
In such matters

Since then those who have preceded us have left uninvestigated the
Subject of Legislation, it will be better perhaps for us to investigate
It ourselves, and, in fact, the whole subject of Polity, that thus what
We may call Human Philosophy may be completed as far as in us lies

First then, let us endeavour to get whatever fragments of good there may
Be in the statements of our predecessors, next, from the Polities we
Have collected, ascertain what kind of things preserve or destroy
Communities, and what, particular Constitutions; and the cause why some
Are well and others ill managed, for after such inquiry, we shall be the
Better able to take a concentrated view as to what kind of Constitution
Is best, what kind of regulations are best for each, and what laws and
Customs

To this let us now proceed

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