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Classical Ethics, Lesson 02. Book I, Chapter 2

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Lesson

Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (bust)
Aristotle (384-322 BC)

If, therefore, there is a certain end of action, which we desire for its own sake, but we desire other things on account of this, and our choice is not directed to all things for the sake of something else—this end will be the good, and that which is the most excellent.

Will not, therefore, the knowledge of this end be of great importance with respect to life? For by having, like archers, a mark at which we may aim, we shall obtain what is fit in a greater degree. If this, however, be the case, we must endeavor to adumbrate1 what it is, and show to what science or power it belongs.

But it would seem that it belongs to that power which is the most principal, and is especially architectonic. And the political science appears to be a thing of this kind. For this ordains what sciences ought to be instituted in cities, and which of them ought to be learnt by the several individuals, and to what extent. We likewise see that the most honourable of the powers or faculties, are arranged under this power; as, for instance, the military, the economical, and the rhetorical powers.

Since, however, the remaining practical sciences use this political science, and since it also legally establishes what ought to be done, and from what it is requisite to abstain, the end of this science will comprehend in itself the ends of the other sciences; so that this will be human good itself. For though the good of an individual and a city is the same, yet to obtain and preserve the good of a city, appears to be something greater and more perfect. For we must be satisfied, indeed, if we can effect the good of an individual alone; but it is more beautiful and divine to effect the good of a nation and cities. These are the things, therefore, which the method being political requires.

Assessment

Classical Ethics Recitation