Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, adapted by William C. Michael from the translation of Thomas Taylor (1758-1835). © Classical Liberal Arts Academy, 2022
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Table of contents
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 10
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 11
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 12
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 13
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 10
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 11
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 12
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 10
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 11
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 10
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 11
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 12
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 13
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 10
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 11
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 12
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 13
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 14
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 10
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 11
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 12
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 13
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 14
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 9
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 10
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 11
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 12
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.Book X
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 1
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 3
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 4
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 5
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 6
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 7
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 8
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 9
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Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 1
Every art and every method, and in like manner every action and deliberate choice, appear to aspire after a certain good. Hence, it is well said, that the good is that which all things desire. Of ends, however, there appears to be a certain difference; for some of them are energies; but others of them besides these are certain works. But in those things in which there are certain ends besides the actions, in these the works are naturally adapted to be better than the energies.
Since, however, there are many actions and arts, and sciences, there will also be many ends. For the end of medicine is health; of the ship-building art, a ship; of the military art, victory; and of the economic art, wealth. But such arts as are of this kind are arranged under one certain power; just as the bridle-making art is arranged under the equestrian art, and such other arts as pertain to equestrian instruments. Both this art, however, and every warlike action are arranged under the military art. And after the same manner other arts are arranged under other powers. But in all these, the ends of those arts which are architectonic, or master arts, are more eligible than all the ends of the arts which are subordinate to the master arts. For the latter are pursued for the sake of the former. It makes, however, no difference, whether the energies themselves are the ends of actions, or something else besides these; in the same manner as in the above mentioned sciences.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 2
If, therefore, there is a certain end of action, which we wish to obtain 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, for thus there would be a progression to infinity, so that appetite would be empty and vain – if this be the case, it is evident that 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 adumbrate 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 power or 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 honorable 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 or 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 affect the good of an individual alone; but it is more beautiful and divine to affect the good of a nation and cities. These are the things, therefore, which the method being political requires.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 3
It will, however, be discussed sufficiently, if it is rendered perspicuous according to its subject matter. For accuracy must not be similarly investigated in all discussions, as neither in all the works of art. Things beautiful, however, and just, with which the political science is conversant, possess so great a difference, and are involved in so much ambiguity, that to some persons their subsistence appears to be from law only, and not from nature. What is good, likewise, possesses a certain ambiguity of this kind, because it happens that many persons are injured by it. For some have perished through wealth, but others through fortitude. We must be satisfied, therefore, in speaking about and from such things, if we can indicate the truth by a rude adumbration, and if our conclusions in discussing things which have a frequency of subsistence, are similar in accuracy to the things themselves. After the same manner, likewise, it is requisite to admit everything that has been said. For it is the province of an erudite man so far to investigate the accurate in each genus of things, as the nature of the thing will admit; since it appears to be a similar thing to assent to a mathematician, when speaking probably, and to require demonstrations from a rhetorician. Everyone, however, judges well of those things which he knows, and of these is a good judge. Hence, the man who is learned in anything judges well of that thing; but he in short forms a proper judgment about everything who is learned in everything. Hence, a youth is not a proper auditor of the political science, for he is unskilled in the actions pertaining to life. But reasonings are from and about these. Besides this, if he yields to his passions, he will in vain, and without any advantage, be an auditor of ethical doctrines; since the end here is not knowledge, but action. It makes, however, no difference whether a person is a youth as to his age, or has juvenile manners. For the defect is not from time, but from living, and engaging in every pursuit from passion; since the knowledge of such persons, in the same manner as that of the intemperate, is useless. But a knowledge of these things will be very advantageous to those whose appetites and actions are conformable to reason. And thus much by way of preface concerning the auditor of ethics how he ought to admit discussions of this kind, and what we propose to consider in this treatise.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 4
Repeating, therefore, what we have said, since all knowledge and deliberate choice aspires after a certain good, let us show what that is which we say the political science desires, and what the supreme good is of all actions. By name, therefore, it is nearly acknowledged by most men; for both the vulgar and the learned call it happiness. But they conceive that to live well and to act well, are the same thing as to be happy. Concerning happiness, however, what it is, they are dubious; and the multitude do not form the same opinion of it as the wise. For some of them indeed conceive it to rank among the number of things which are clear and evident, such as pleasure, or wealth, or honor; but others assert it to be something else. Frequently, likewise, the same person forms a different opinion of it; for when diseased he conceives it to be health, but when poor, riches. And those who are conscious of their ignorance, admire those who assert something grand, and above their comprehension. Some too, besides these many goods, are of opinion that there is another good subsisting by itself, which is the cause to all these of their being good. To examine, therefore, all the opinions, would perhaps be a vain undertaking; but it will be sufficient to consider those that are most eminent, or which appear to be in some respect reasonable. We must not, however, be ignorant that arguments from principles and to principles differ from each other. For Plato well doubts about and investigates this, whether the way is from principles or to principles; as in a race from the president of the games to the goal, or the contrary. For we must begin from things that that are known, but these subsist in a twofold respect. For some things are known to us, but others are simply known. Perhaps, therefore, we should begin from things known to us. Hence, it is necessary that the auditor of discussions about things beautiful and just, and in short about political concerns, if he is to be benefited, should be adorned with worthy manners. For the principle is this, that the thing is so, viz. that certain actions are worthy, and others are unworthy; and if this is sufficiently apparent, it is not at all requisite to know why it is so. But such a one either possesses or will easily acquire ethical principles. Let him, however, who has neither of these, hear what Hesiod says:
He the first rank of excellence maintains
Who from himself in ev’ry thing is wise,
And what ev’n to the end is best foresees:
He too is good who yields to wise advice.
But he who neither from himself is wise,
Nor to assent to others can endure,
Is but a useless, despicable man.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 5
Let us, however, return from whence we have digressed. For it seems that men do not unreasonably form an opinion of good and happiness from the different kinds of lives. The vulgar, indeed, and the most worthless part of mankind, place happiness in pleasure; and on this account they embrace the life which consists in the enjoyment of pleasure. For there are three kinds of lives which especially take the lead, the one we have just mentioned, the political life, and the third is the contemplative life. The multitude, therefore, appear to be perfectly servile, deliberately choosing the life of cattle; and they support their opinion by the example of many persons in power, who have preferred a voluptuous life, and have lived like Sardanapalus. But men of elegant minds, and those who are addicted to practical concerns, place happiness in honor; for this is nearly the end of the political life. This, however, appears to be more superficial than the good which is the object of our investigation. For honor seems to be rather in the persons that honor, than in him who is honored. But we prophesy that good is something appropriate, and of which it is difficult to deprive its possessor. Farther still, it seems that men pursue honor in order that they may believe themselves to be worthy persons. They seek, therefore, to be honored by wise men, and by those to whom they are known, and with a view to virtue. It is evident, therefore, that according to these men virtue is more excellent than honor. Perhaps, however, some one may apprehend that this, viz. virtue, is rather the end of the political life. But even this appears to be more imperfect than the chief good ought to be. For it appears to be possible that he who possesses virtue may sleep, or be unemployed through the whole of his life, and besides this may be afflicted, with evils, and experience the greatest misfortunes. But no one would proclaim a man thus living to be happy, unless for the purpose of defending his position. And concerning these things indeed enough; for we have spoken sufficiently about them in our miscellaneous writings. But the third life is the contemplative, which we shall make the object of our consideration hereafter. The life, however, which is engaged in the acquisition of riches, is a certain violent life, and it is evident that wealth is not the good which we investigate; for wealth is useful, and for the sake of something else. Hence, the things which have been before mentioned may be considered as ends rather than wealth; for they are loved on their own account. It appears, however, that neither does happiness consist in these; though many arguments are adduced to prove that it does. These things, therefore, we shall dismiss.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 6
Perhaps, however, it is better to consider universal good, and enquire how it is said to subsist, though such an enquiry as this will be arduous, because the men who have introduced ideas are our friends.
But it may perhaps seem to be better, and indeed necessary to the salvation of truth, to subvert the opinions even of our friends. For both being our friends, i.e., Plato and Truth, it is holy to give the preference to Truth. Those, however, who have introduced this opinion, do not make ideas of things in which they admit there are the prior and the posterior. Hence, neither do they establish an idea of numbers. But good is predicated of essence, of quality, and of relation. That, however, which has a subsistence per se, and essence, are naturally prior to that which subsists as a relative. For this, i.e., a relative, resembles the branch of a tree, and an accident of being; so that there will not be a common idea in these. Again, good is predicated in as many ways as being; for it is predicated in essence, as God and intellect, which are essences and are said to be good; and in quality, as the virtues; in quantity, as the moderate; in relation, as utility; in time, as occasion, and in place, as a habitation, and after the same manner in the other predicaments. It is evident, therefore, that there will not be a certain common universal and one good; for it would not be predicated in all the categories, but in one alone. Farther still, since of things which subsist according to one idea, there is also one science, of all goods there would be one certain science; but now there are many sciences of things which are under one. category. Thus, for instance, with occasion the art of commanding an army is conversant in war, but the medical art in disease. And with the moderate indeed, the medical art is conversant in food, but the gymnastic art in labor.
It may, however, be doubted what their intention is in denominating every idea itself, since in man itself, and in man, there is one and the same definition of man; for so far as man there is no difference between them. But if this be the case, neither so far as good will good itself and goods differ; nor will it be in a greater degree good, from being eternal; since neither is that which is white for a long time, more white than that which is white only for one day. The Pythagoreans, however, appear to speak more probably concerning the good; for they place the one in the co-ordination of things good; whom Speusippus also seems to have followed. But the discussion of these things pertains to another treatise.
A certain doubt, however, presents itself concerning the particulars we have just mentioned, because reasons are not assigned concerning every good; but things which are of themselves the objects of pursuit and love, are predicated according to one species; and those things which are effective of these, or in a certain respect preserve them, or impede their contraries, are predicated on account of these, and after another manner. It is evident, therefore, that goods may be predicated in two ways; and that some things, indeed, arc good per se, but others are good on account of these. Separating, therefore, goods per se from things useful, let us consider whether they arc predicated according to one idea. But what kind of goods can be said to be good per se? Are they such as are pursued alone, apart from other things, such as to be wise, to see, and some pleasures and honors? For these, though we pursue them on account of something else, yet at the same time may be ranked by some one among goods which arc good per se. Or is the good per se nothing else except idea? Form, therefore, or idea, will be vain. But if these also rank among goods which are good per se, it will be requisite that the same definition of the good should be conspicuous in all of them, just as there is the same definition of whiteness in snow and ceruse; but of honor, and prudence, and pleasure, there will be other and different definitions, so far as they are goods. The good, therefore, is not something common according to one idea. In what manner, however, is it said that there is one idea of the good? For it does not resemble things which are fortuitously homonymous. Is it because all gods are from one and are referred to one good? Or is it rather according to analogy? For as sight is in the body, so is intellect in the soul, and another thing in another. Perhaps, however, these things must be omitted at present; for the accurate discussion of them will be better adapted to another philosophy. And in a similar manner concerning idea. For even if there is some one good which is predicated in common, or which is something itself separate by itself, it is evident that it can neither be practicable, nor acquired by man. But now that which is practicable by man, and which he may obtain, is the object of investigation. Perhaps, however, the knowledge of this separate good may to some one appear to be better with respect to those goods which may be acquired, and which are practicable. For having this as an exemplar, we may in a greater degree know those things which are good for us, and by knowing may more easily obtain them. This assertion, therefore, has judged a certain probability, but it seems to be dissonant to the sciences. For all the sciences aspire after a certain good, and investigate that which is wanting, omitting the knowledge of it; though it is not reasonable to suppose that all artists are ignorant of and do not search for an aid of such great importance. It is likewise dubious what advantage a weaver or a carpenter would derive to their arts from the knowledge of the good itself; or how he who surveys the idea itself of the good, will become more skilled in medicine, or in commanding an army. For it appears that the physician does not in this way consider health, but that he considers the health of man, and perhaps rather the health of this particular man. For he restores to health an individual. And thus much concerning these things.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 7
Now, however, let us return to the investigated good, and show what it is. For it appears that there is a different good in a different action and art; since there is one good in the medical art, another in the art of commanding an army, and in a similar manner in the remaining arts. What therefore is the good in each? Is it not that for the sake of which other things are affected by that art? But this in the medical art indeed is health, in the art of commanding an army is victory, in the art of building a house, is a house, and something else in another art. And in every action and deliberate choice it is the end; since all of them perform other things for the sake of this.
Hence, if there is one certain end of all actions, this will be the practical good; but if there are many ends, these will be practical goods. The reasoning, however, in its transition arrives at the same thing as was asserted by us in the beginning. But we must endeavor to render this still more clear. Because, therefore, it appears that there are many ends, and of these we choose some on account of others, such as wealth, flutes, and, in short, instruments; it is evident that all ends are not perfect. That however which is most excellent, appears to be something perfect; so that if there is only one certain perfect end, this will be what we investigate; but if there are many, it will be the most perfect of these. We denominate, however, that which is pursuable for its own sake; more perfect than that which is pursuable for the sake of something else; and that which is never eligible on account of another thing, than things which are eligible both on their own account, and for the sake of something else. In short, the completely perfect is that which is always eligible on its own account, and never on account of something else. Happiness, however, especially appears to be a thing of this kind; for we always choose this on its own account, and never on account of any thing else. But we choose honor, and pleasure, and intellect, and every virtue, on their own account, indeed, for though we should derive no farther advantage than what the possession of them affords, yet each of them would be the object of our choice, yet we also choose them for the sake of happiness. No one, however, chooses happiness for the sake of these, nor, in short, for the sake of any thing else. The same thing also appears to happen from that which enables a man to be sufficient to himself; for perfect good appears to be self-sufficient. But we call the self-sufficient that which is not only sufficient to him who lives a solitary life, but which is also sufficient to parents, and children, to a wife, and, in short, to friends and fellow-citizens; since man is naturally a political animal. A certain boundary, however, must be assumed of these things; for if good is to be extended to parents and their offspring, and to the friends of friends, there will be a procession to infinity. But this, indeed, we shall consider hereafter. We call, however, the self-sufficient that which subsisting by itself alone makes life eligible, and in want of nothing. But we think that happiness is a thing of this kind. And besides this, we think that it is the most eligible of all things, and is not connumerated with any other good; for if it were connumerated with even the smallest good, it is evident that it would be more eligible; since that which is added would become an excess of good. But a greater good is always more eligible. Happiness, therefore, appears to be something perfect and sufficient to itself, being the end of actions.
Perhaps, however, to say that happiness is the best of things, is to assert that which is acknowledged by all men; but it is requisite that we should yet more clearly say what it is. Perhaps, therefore, this will be affected, if the work of man is assumed. For as to the player on the flute, to the statuary, and to every artist, and in short to those who have a certain work and action, the good and the excellent appear to be in the work; this also may appear to be the case with man, if he has a certain work. Whether, therefore, are there certain works and actions indeed of a carpenter and a shoe-maker; but of man is there no work, and is he naturally indolent? Or shall we say, that as of the eye, the hand and the foot, and in short of each of the parts of the body, there appears to be a certain work, so likewise of man, shall we admit that besides all these there is a certain work? What then will this work be? For to live appears to be common also to plants as well as to men. But the peculiar work of man is now investigated. The nutritive and augmentative life, therefore, must be rejected. And a certain sensitive life will be consequent to this. It appears, however, that this also is common to a horse and an ox, and to every animal. A certain practic life, therefore, accompanied with reason remains. But of this, one kind is obedient to reason, but the other possesses reason, and energizes discursively. Since this life, however, is predicated in a twofold respect, i.e., according to energy and according to habit, it must be admitted to subsist according to energy; for this appears to be predicated according to a more principal mode of subsistence. But if the work of man is the energy of soul according to reason, or not without reason; and we say that the same thing is the work of the human species and of a worthy man, just as the same thing is the work of a harper and of a good harper, and in short, this is the case in all things, excellence according to virtue being added to the work; for the work of a harper is to play on the harp, and of a good harper to play well on it;—if this be the case, and we admit the work of man to be a certain life, and this to be the energy of the soul, and actions in conjunction with reason, but by a worthy man, these things are well and beautifully performed, and everything is well accomplished according to its proper virtue – if this be the case, human good will be the energy of soul according to virtue. But if there are many virtues, it will be the energy of soul according to the best and most perfect virtue; and besides this, in a perfect life. For as one swallow does not make spring, nor one day; so, neither does one day, nor a little time, make a man blessed and happy. Let this, therefore, be a description of the good; for it is necessary, perhaps, as in a picture, first to delineate, and afterwards add the colors. But it would seem, theft any one may be able to educe, and distinctly arrange things which are well delineated, and that time is the inventor of, or a good co-operator with, things of this kind; whence, also, accessions are made to the arts; for any one may add to what is wanting. It is also requisite to call to mind what has been before said, and not to search for accuracy similarly in all things, but investigate it in each according to the subject matter, and so far as is appropriate to the method pertaining to the enquiry. For a carpenter and a geometrician investigate a right angle differently; the former, indeed, so far as is useful to his work; but the latter explores what, it is, or what the quality is which it possesses; for he is a contemplator of truth. After the same manner, therefore, we must proceed in other things, lest what is superfluous should become more abundant than the works themselves. Neither must the cause be required similarly in all things, but in some, as, for instance, concerning principles, it is sufficient to have shown properly that they are. But the subsistence of a thing is the first thing and the principle. Of principles, however, some are surveyed by induction, others by sense, others from a certain custom, and others in a different way. But we should endeavor to discuss everything, so far as its nature permits, and should earnestly apply ourselves to define well; for this is of great importance with respect to what is consequent. The principle, therefore, appears to be more than half of the whole, and many of the things which are objects of enquiry become manifest through it.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 8
Happiness, therefore, must be considered by us, not only from the conclusion, and the particulars from which its definition consists, but also from the assertions of others concerning it. For everything which is inherent in a thing accords with the truth; but what is true is rapidly dissonant with what is false. Since goods, therefore, have a twofold distribution, and some of them are said to be external, but others pertain to the soul and the body, we call those pertaining to the soul, the most proper and principal goods; but we place the psychical actions and energies about the soul. Hence, it is well said, according to this opinion, which is ancient, and assented to by those who philosophize that happiness is the energy of the soul according to virtue. It is also rightly said, that certain actions and energies constitute the end, i.e., happiness; for thus happiness will consist in the goods pertaining to the soul, and not in external goods. With this reasoning, likewise, the assertions accord, that the happy man lives well, and acts well; for nearly happiness will be a certain living well and acting well. It appears, moreover, that everything which is sought for in happiness is inherent in the definition we have given of it. For to some, indeed, happiness appears to be virtue, to others prudence, and to others a certain wisdom; but to others it appears to be these things, or some one of these, accompanied with pleasure, or not without pleasure. Others, also, comprehend in the definition of happiness external affluence. But of these opinions, some are supported by the authority of many and ancient men, and others by a few and renowned men. It is not, however, reasonable to suppose that either of these have wholly erred, but that they have erred in some one particular, and are right in most things. With those, therefore, who say that happiness is every virtue, or a certain virtue, our assertion accords; for it is the energy of the soul according to virtue. Perhaps, however, it differs in no small degree to conceive that what is most excellent consists in possession, or to conceive that it consists in use, and that it consists in habit, or in energy. For it is possible that habit when inherent, may be effective of no good, as in him who is asleep, or who in some other way is inactive; but this cannot be the case with energy. For he who possesses virtue in energy necessarily acts and acts well. But as in the Olympic games, not the most beautiful and the strongest are crowned, but those who contend; for some of these are victorious; so those who act rightly obtain those things in life which are beautiful and good. The life also of these is in itself delectable independent of external pleasure. For to be delighted, is among the number of things pertaining to the soul. But to every one that is delightful of which he is said to be a lover; as a horse, to a lover of horses, and a spectacle, to a lover of spectacles. After the same manner, also, just things are delightful to a lover of justice, and in short what pertains to virtue to a lover of virtue. Things, therefore, delectable to the multitude are hostile to each other, because they are not naturally delightful; but to the lovers of what is beautiful in conduct, those things are delectable which are delectable by nature; and such are the actions according to virtue; so that they are delectable to these, and are so per se. The life also of these, is not at all in want of pleasure, as a certain appendage, but contains pleasure in itself. For in addition to what has been said, he is not a good man who does not rejoice in beautiful actions; for neither would any one call him just who does not rejoice in acting justly, nor him liberal, who does not rejoice in liberal actions; and in a similar manner in the other virtues. If this, however, be the case, actions according to virtue will be of themselves delectable, but they are also good and beautiful, and especially each of these, if the worthy man judges well concerning them; but he judges in the way we have said. Happiness, therefore, is a thing most excellent, most beautiful, and most delectable. Nor are these to be separated from each other according to the Delian inscription: “That which is most just is most beautiful; but to be well is the best of things: and for a man to obtain the object of his love, is the most delectable of things.” For all these are inherent in the best energies; but we say that happiness is all these, or one of them, and that the most excellent.
At the same time, however, it appears, as we have said, that external goods are requisite to happiness; for it is impossible, or not easy to perform beautiful actions without the assistance of externals; since many things are indeed performed as it were through instruments, by means of friends, and wealth, and political power. The privation also, of some things, such as nobility, a good offspring, and beauty, defile a blessed condition of being; for he cannot be entirely happy who is very deformed in his body, or of ignoble birth, or who leads a solitary life, and is deprived of children. And perhaps he can in a still less degree be entirely happy, if his children are very vicious, or, being good, die. As we have said, therefore, a completely happy life, requires such a prosperity as this; whence also some arrange prosperity, but others virtue, in the same place with happiness.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 9
Hence, also, it is doubted whether happiness is a thing which may be acquired by discipline, or custom, or in some other way by exercise; or whether it accedes by a certain divine allotment, or from fortune. If, therefore, any other thing is the gift of the gods to men, it is reasonable to suppose that happiness also is the gift of divinity, and especially because it is the best of human concerns. This, however, will perhaps be more adapted to another discussion. But it appears, that though it should not be sent by divinity to men, but is procured through virtue, and a certain discipline, or exercise, it belongs to the most divine of things; for the reward and end of virtue appears to be most excellent, and something divine and blessed. Happiness also will be a thing very common; for it is able to be present, through a certain discipline and attention, to all men who are not mutilated with respect to virtue. But if it is better that happiness should be acquired after this manner, rather than from fortune, it is reasonable that it should be so acquired; since natural productions subsist in such a way as it is most beautiful for them to subsist; and in a similar manner things which are produced by art, or by any other cause, and especially such as are produced by the most excellent cause. To commit, however, the greatest and most beautiful of things to fortune, would be very lawless and reprehensible. The object of investigation, likewise, is apparent from the definition of happiness; for we have said that it is a certain energy of the soul according to virtue. But of the remaining goods, some indeed are present from necessity, but others co-operate, and are naturally adapted to be useful organically. These things, also, will accord with what we have said in the beginning. For we established the end of the political science as the best end; but this pays the greatest attention to the citizens, in order to render them characters of a certain description, and that they may be good men, and practisers of beautiful actions. Reasonably, therefore, do we neither call an ox, nor a horse, nor any other irrational animal happy; for it is not possible that any one of them, can partake of such an energy as this. Through this cause, likewise, neither is a child happy; for he is not yet, on account of his age, a practiser of things of this kind. But those children who are said to be happy, are proclaimed to be blessed through hope, that when they become men they will obtain the rational energy in perfection. For happiness, as we have said, requires perfect virtue, and a perfect life. For many mutations and all-various fortunes happen in life; and it is possible that he whose affairs are in the most prosperous condition, may in old age fall into the greatest calamities, us in heroic poems it is fabled concerning Priam. But no one would call him happy who experiences such misfortunes, and who dies miserably.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 10
Shall we say, therefore, that no other man is to be proclaimed happy as long as he lives, but that according to Solon it is requisite to look to the end of life? If, however, we admit this, is a man, therefore, then happy when he dies? Or is this perfectly absurd, especially to those who say as we do, that happiness is a certain energy? But if neither we call him who is dead happy, nor this was the intention of Solon, but his meaning is, that a man may then be securely proclaimed blessed, as being now out of the reach of evils and misfortunes;—even this also is attended with a certain doubt. For there appears to be a certain good and evil to him who is dead, if there is also to him who is alive, but without sensation, such as honor and ignominy, and in short, the prosperity and adversity of his descendants. This, however, also presents us with a difficulty. For it is possible that to the offspring of him who has lived to old age blessedly, and has died rationally, many mutations may happen, and that some of them may be good, and may obtain a life according to their desert, but that the contrary may take place with others. It is likewise evident that there may be an all various apostacy in them from the manners of their parents. It would, therefore, be absurd, if he who is dead should also be changed together with them, and should at one time become happy, and again be miserable. It is likewise absurd, that the affairs of descendants should not for a certain time be of any consequence whatever to parents.
Let us, however, return to the former subject of doubt; for perhaps that which is now investigated may be surveyed from it. If, therefore, it is necessary to look to the end of life, and then to proclaim each man blessed, not as being now blessed, but because he was so before; is it not absurd when he is happy, i.e., while he is living, that what is present with him, i.e., happiness, should not be asserted of him with truth, because we are unwilling to proclaim the living happy, on account of the mutations of life, and because we apprehend happiness to be something stable, and by no means easily to be changed; but fortunes frequently circulate about the same persons. For it is evident if we should follow fortune, we must frequently call the same man happy and again miserable, thus evincing the happy man to be like the chameleon and possessing an infirm stability. Or shall we say that it is indeed by no means right to follow fortune? For living well or ill is not among the gifts of fortune, but human life, as we have said, requires the goods of fortune. The energies, however, according to virtue, are the mistresses of happiness, but the contrary energies are the mistresses of the contrary. That also which is now the subject of doubt, bears testimony to our assertion. For in no human affairs is there so much stability, as in the energies according to virtue; since they appear to be more stable than even the sciences themselves, and of these very energies those that are most honorable, are also most stable, because blessed men principally and most assiduously live in these. For this appears to be the cause that oblivion does not happen concerning them. The object of investigation, therefore, is present with the happy man, and he will be such through life. For always, or the most of all men, he will perform and contemplate things pertaining to virtue, will bear the changes of fortune most beautifully, and in the most perfectly elegant manner, as being truly good, and a square1 without blame. Since, however, many things happen from fortune, and which differ in magnitude and parvitude, it is evident that prosperous, and in a similar manner, adverse circumstances when they are small, are of no consequence to the life of man; but that such as are great and numerous, if they are indeed prosperous, render life more blessed; for they are also naturally adapted to adorn life, and the use of them is beautiful and good; and that, on the contrary, if they are adverse, they oppress and injure beatitude. For they bring with them molestation and are an impediment to many energies. At the same time, however, even in these the beauty of good conduct shines forth, when a man bears many and great misfortunes easily, not through an insensibility of pain, but in consequence of being generous and magnanimous. But if energies are the mistresses of life, as we have said, no one who is blessed will become miserable; since he will never do any thing that is odious and base. For we are of opinion, that the man who is truly good and wise, will bear all fortunes in a manner, and from existing circumstances will always perform the most beautiful deeds; just as a good general will use the army under his command in the most warlike manner, and a shoemaker from the leather with which he is supplied will make the most beautiful shoe; and the same thing will take place with all other artists. If this, however, be the case, the happy man will never become miserable; nor yet if he should fall into the calamities of Priam, will he be blessed. Nor again, is he various and easily changed; for he is not easily moved from happiness, nor by any casual misfortunes, but by such as are great and numerous. And after such calamities. as these, he will not again become happy in a short time, but if he does recover his happiness, it will be in a certain long and perfect time, in which he will become a partaker of things of a great and beautiful nature. What then prevents us from calling the man happy who energizes according to perfect virtue, and who is sufficiently supplied with external goods, not for any casual time, but through a perfect life? Or ought we to add, that he must also thus live and die conformably to nature? Since the future is unapparent to us, and we admit that happiness is an end, and entirely and in every respect perfect. But if this be the case, we must call those among the living blessed to whom the particulars we have mentioned are and have been present; but we must denominate them blessed as men. And thus much concerning these things.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 11
That the good or bad fortune, however, of descendants, and of all friends, should contribute nothing to the happy man, appears to be a thing very unfriendly, and contrary to the opinions of mankind. But since many things happen, and which possess an all-various difference, and some of them pertain to us in a greater, but others in a less degree, to discuss them severally appears to be a long and an infinite undertaking. It will, therefore, perhaps be sufficient to speak of them universally, and to adumbrate what they are. As of the calamitous circumstances then which happen to the happy man, some have a certain weight, and are of importance in life, this is likewise the case with respect to all his friends. It makes a difference, however, whether each of the calamities happens to the living or the dead, and the difference is much greater than whether the illegal and dreadful deeds which are the subject of tragedy, have been formerly perpetrated, or are perpetrated now. In this way, therefore, the difference may also be collected. Perhaps, however, it ought rather to be doubted concerning the dead, whether they partake of any good or ill. For it appears from these things, that though something should arrive to them, whatever it may be, whether good, or the contrary, it is something debile and small, either in its own nature, or to them. But if it should possess a certain power, yet it cannot be so great, or of such a kind, as to make those happy who are not so, or to deprive those of blessedness who are. The prosperity, prosperity, therefore, and in a similar manner the adversity of friends, appears to contribute something to the dead, yet with respect to them, they are of so little consequence, as neither to make those that are. happy unhappy, nor effect any thing else of the like kind.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 12
These things being discussed, let us consider, with respect to happiness, whether it is among the number of things laudable, or rather of things honorable; for it is evident that it does not consist in power. It seems, therefore, that everything which is laudable, is praised because it possesses a certain quality, and is in a certain respect referred to something. For we praise the just and the brave man, and in short the good man, and also virtue, on account of works and actions. We likewise praise the strong man, and the racer, etc., because they are naturally adapted to possess certain qualities, and have reference in a certain respect to something good and worthy. But this also is evident from the praises which pertain to the gods; for they appear to be ridiculous when referred to us. This, however, happens, as we have said, because praise subsists from relation. But if praise is given to things of this kind, it is evident that no praise can be given to the most excellent things, but something greater and better pertains to them, as also appears to be the case. For we proclaim the gods to be blessed and happy, and we also proclaim the most divine of men to be blessed; and in a similar manner we celebrate what is good. For no one praises happiness, in the same way as he does justice, but he proclaims it to be blessed, as something more divine and excellent than justice. Eudoxus, likewise, in his defense of pleasure, appears to have given it the palm of victory in a proper manner; for in consequence of its not being praised, as being among the number of good things, he considered this as an indication that it was more excellent than things that are laudable. But god and the good are things of this kind; for other things also are referred to these. For praise, indeed, is given to virtue; since from this we are enabled to perform beautiful deeds. Encomiums, however, pertain to deeds, and in a similar manner to bodies and souls. The accurate discussion, however, of these things, is perhaps more adapted to a treatise on Encomiums; but to us it is evident, from what has been said, that happiness is among the number of things honorable and perfect. It seems, likewise, that it is so, because it is a principle; for we all of us do everything else for the sake of this; but we admit that the principle and the cause of what is good, is something honorable and divine.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I, Chapter 13
Since, however, happiness is a certain energy of the soul, according to perfect virtue, we must direct our attention to virtue; for perhaps we shall thus also speculate better concerning happiness. But it seems that he who is skilled in the administration of public affairs, labors especially about this; for he wishes to make the citizens worthy persons, and obedient to the laws; and as an example of these we have the legislators of the Cretans and Lacedaemonians, and any others there may have been of this kind. If, however, the speculation itself is of the political science, it is evident that the enquiry will be conformable to our intention from the beginning. But our discussion must be concerning virtue, viz. human virtue; for we investigate human good, and human happiness; and we call human virtue, not the virtue of the body, but of the soul; and we say that happiness is the energy of the soul. If, however, this be the case, it is evident that he who is skilled in the administration of public affairs, ought to know whatever pertains to the soul; just as he who intends to cure the eyes ought to have a knowledge of the whole body; and this in a greater degree, by how much more honorable, and excellent, the political is than the medicinal science. Of physicians, likewise, the more elegant are busily employed about the knowledge of the body. He, therefore, who is skilled in the administration of public affairs, must direct his attention to the soul; but he must direct his attention to it for the sake of these things, and so far as is sufficient to the objects of enquiry. For to consider the soul still more accurately, is perhaps more laborious and difficult than the present discussion requires. We have also said some things sufficiently concerning it in our popular writings, and those must be consulted; such as that one part of the soul is irrational, but another rational. But whether these parts are separated, in the same manner as the parts of the body, and everything which is partible, or they are two parts in definition alone, and are naturally inseparable, as in the periphery of a circle the convex and the concave, is of no consequence in the present discussion. Of the irrational part, however, one part resembles the common and vegetative power; I mean the power which is the cause of nutrition and increase. For such a power as this may be admitted to exist in everything that is nourished, in embryos, and also in perfect animals; since it is more reasonable that this power should exist in them than any other. The virtue, therefore, of this power appears to be common and not human. For this part seems especially to energize in sleep, but a good and a bad man can in the smallest degree be distinguished in sleep; whence it is said that the happy differ in no respect from the miserable during the half of life. But this happens reasonably; for sleep is an inactivity both of the worthy and the depraved soul; except so far as certain motions gradually arrive at the soul, and on this account the phantasms of worthy are better than those of worthless men. But of these things enough. The nutritive part, therefore, must be omitted, since it is naturally destitute of human virtue.
There appears, however, to be another certain irrational nature of the soul, which nevertheless participates in a certain respect of reason; for we praise the reason of the continent, and also of the incontinent man, and that part of the soul which possesses reason; for it rightly excites to the most excellent deeds. There appears, however, to be in them, i.e., both in the continent and incontinent, something else naturally contrary to reason, which wars against and resists reason. For, indeed, as the paralyzed parts of the body, if we wish to move them to the right hand, are on the contrary moved to the left, thus, also, it is in the soul. For the impulses of the incontinent are in a direction contrary to the dictates of reason. In bodies, however, we see that which is moved contrary to the intention of the will, but in the soul we do not see that which is moved contrary to reason; though perhaps we ought nevertheless to think that in the soul, also, there is something opposite to reason, which is adverse and proceeds in a direction contrary to it; but it is of no consequence in what manner it is different from reason. This part, however, appears, as we have said, to participate of reason. It is obedient, therefore, to the reason of the continent man; and perhaps it is still more obedient to the reason of the temperate and brave man; for all things are in concord with his reason. It appears, therefore, that the irrational part is twofold; for the vegetable part in no respect participates of reason; but the part which desires, and, in short, the orectic part, participate in a certain respect of reason, so far as they are attentive and obedient to it. In this way, therefore, we say that a man has a regard for, or pays attention to his father and his friends, and not after the same manner as he has a regard for the mathematical sciences.
But that the irrational part is in a certain respect obedient to reason, admonition and all reproof and exhortation indicate. If, however, it be requisite to say that this part also possesses reason, that which possesses reason will be twofold; the one, indeed, properly, and in itself; but the other resembling a child attentive to his father. Virtue, likewise, is distributed according to this difference. For we say that of the virtues some are dianoetic or belong to the power which reasons scientifically, but others ethical. And we denominate, indeed, wisdom, intelligence, and prudence, dianoetic virtues; but liberality and temperance ethical virtues. For when we speak concerning the manners of a man, we do not say that he is wise, or intelligent, but that he is mild or temperate. We likewise praise a wise man according to habit; but we call the laudable habits, virtues.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 1
Since, however, virtue is twofold, one kind being dianoetic, but the other ethic; the dianoetic, indeed, for the most part receives both its generation and increase from doctrine; on which account it requires experience and time; but the ethic is produced from custom, from whence, also, it derives its name, which declines but a little from ethos (custom). From which, likewise, it is evident, that no one of the ethical virtues is ingenerated in us by nature; for nothing that has a natural subsistence can by custom be brought to act differently from its natural tendency. Thus a stone, which naturally tends downward, cannot be accustomed to tend upward, though some one should hurl it upward ten thousand times; nor can fire be accustomed to tend downward, nor can any thing else among the things which have natural tendencies different from these, be accustomed to any other tendency than that which it has from nature. The virtues, therefore, are neither from nature, nor are ingenerated in us preternaturally; but they are produced in us in consequence of our being naturally adapted to receive them and becoming perfect through habit. Again, with respect to such things as are ingenerated in us by nature, of these, we first receive the powers, but afterwards employ the energies of those powers; which is evident in the senses. For it is not from frequently seeing, or frequently hearing, that we receive these senses, but, on the contrary, having these senses we use them, and we do not have them by using them. With respect to the virtues, however, we receive them by first energizing according to them, in the same manner as in the other arts; for those things which it is necessary to do, in consequence of having learnt how to do them, these by doing we learn how to do. Thus, by building we become builders, and by playing on the harp we become harpers. Thus too, by acting justly we become just, prudent by acting prudently, and brave by acting bravely. But what happens in cities bears testimony to the truth of this. For the legislators by accustoming the citizens to virtue, render them worthy characters; and this indeed is the intention of every legislator; but such as do not effect this well, err. And in this one polity differs from another, the good from the bad. Farther still, from the same things, and through the same things, every virtue is generated and corrupted; and in a similar manner every art. For from playing on the harp, both good and bad harpers are produced; and analogously builders of houses, and all other artists. For from building well, they will be good builders, but bad from building ill; since if it were not so, there would be no occasion for a preceptor, but all men would be naturally good or bad artists. The like also takes place in the virtues. For by acting in our compacts with men, we become some of us indeed just, but others unjust; and by acting in things of a dreadful nature, and by being accustomed either to be terrified or to be confident in danger, some of us become brave, but others timid. The reasoning, likewise, is similar with respect to desire and anger; for some men, indeed, become temperate and mild, but others intemperate and irascible; these from being in this way conversant with these things, but those from being conversant with them in that way. And in one word, habits are produced from similar energies. Hence, it is necessary to render energies endued with a certain quality; for habits follow from the differences of these. It is of no small consequence, therefore, to be thus or thus accustomed immediately from our youth, but it is of very great consequence; or rather, it is everything.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 2
Since, therefore, the present treatise is not for the sake of theory, like other discussions; for our attention is not directed to this business, that we may know what virtue is, but that we may become good men, since otherwise no advantage would be derived from it;-this being the case, it is necessary to consider with respect to actions how they are to be performed; for as we have said, they are the mistresses of the qualities which habits possess. To act, therefore, according to right reason is common, ‘ and is now assumed to be so. We shall, however, hereafter speak concerning this, and show what right reason is,” and how it subsists with reference to the other virtues. But this must be previously granted, that every treatise of practical affairs ought only to be an adumbration, and not an accurate discussion, as also we observed in the beginning, because reasonings are required conformable to the subject matter; and in practical affairs, and things contributing to them, there is nothing stable, as neither is there in things which are salubrious.’ Such, therefore, being the universal reason, in a still greater degree will the discussion of particulars be deficient in accuracy; for it neither falls under art, nor under any precept. It is, however, necessary that those who are engaged in practical affairs should always direct their attention to an opportune time, in the same manner as in medicine, and in the pilot’s art. But though the present discussion is of this nature, we must endeavor to give it assistance.
In the first place, therefore, this must be observed, that things of this kind, viz. actions which produce in us the habits of the virtues, are naturally adapted to be corrupted by excess and defect, as we see in strength and health, which are the virtues of the body; for it is necessary to use things apparent as testimonies, in things which are unapparent, since exercises which are excessive, and also those which are deficient, corrupt the strength of the body. In like manner meat and drink, when taken in too great or too small a quantity, corrupt the health; but these, when commensurate, produce increase, and preserve it. This, therefore, is also the case in temperance and fortitude, and the other virtues. For he who flies from and is afraid of all things, and endures nothing, becomes timid; and he who in short is afraid of nothing, but marches up to all things, becomes audacious. In a similar manner, he indeed who gives himself up to the enjoyment of every pleasure, and abstains from none, is intemperate; but he who flies from all pleasures, like rustic men, is an insensate person. For temperance and fortitude are corrupted by excess and defect, but are preserved by mediocrity. Not only, however, generations, increments and corruptions, are produced from and by the same things, but the energies also of the virtues will subsist after the same manner; since this likewise is the case in other things which are more apparent; as, for instance, in strength. For strength is produced by taking much food, and enduring many labors, and the strong man is especially able to do both these. Thus, too, it is in the virtues; for by abstaining from pleasures we become temperate, and having become temperate we are especially able to abstain from them. The like also takes place in fortitude; for by being accustomed to despise things of a terrible nature, and to endure them, we become brave, and having become brave, we are especially able to endure terrible things.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 3
It is necessary, however, to consider as an indication of habits the pleasure or pain which is attendant on actions. For he who abstains from corporeal pleasures, and is delighted in so doing, is a temperate man; but he who is grieved when he abstains from them, is intemperate. And he, indeed, who endures dreadful things, and is delighted with his endurance, or feels no pain from it, is a brave man; but he who feels pain from the endurance of them, is a timid man. For ethical virtue is conversant with pleasures and pains. For we act basely through the influence of pleasure; but we abstain from beautiful conduct through the influence of pain. Hence it is necessary, as Plato says, to be so educated in a certain respect immediately after our youth, that we may be delighted and pained with things from which it is requisite to feel pleasure or pain; for this is right education. Farther still, if the virtues are conversant with actions and passions, but pleasure and pain are consequent to every passion and action, on this account also virtue will be conversant with pleasures and pains. The punishments, likewise, which are inflicted through these, indicate the truth of this; for they are certain remedies; but remedies are naturally adapted to operate through contraries. Again, as we have also before observed, the nature of every habit of the soul is referred to and conversant with those things, by which it is adapted to become better and worse. But habits become depraved through pleasures and pains, by pursuing or avoiding these, either such as ought not to be pursued or avoided, or when it is not proper, or in such a way as is not proper, or in as many other modes as such things are distinguished by reason. Hence, some persons define the virtues to be certain apathies and tranquilities; but they do not define them well, because they speak simply, and do not add, in such a way as is proper, and when it is proper, and such other additions as are usually made. It is admitted, therefore, that virtue is a thing of this kind, which is conversant with pleasures and pains, and practices things of the most excellent nature; but vice is the contrary. From what has been said, likewise, we may obtain still greater evidence about these things. For as there are three things which pertain to choice, and also three which pertain to aversion, viz. the beautiful in conduct, the advantageous, and the delightful, and three the contraries to these, the base, the disadvantageous, and the painful; the good man, indeed, acts rightly in all these, but the bad man erroneously, and especially in what pertains to pleasure. For pleasure is common to all animals, and is consequent to everything which is the object of choice; for the beautiful and the advantageous appear to be delightful. Again, pleasure is co-nourished with all of us from our infancy; on which account also it is difficult to wipe away this passion, with which our life is imbued. We likewise direct our actions by pleasure and pain, as by a rule, some of us in a greater, and others in a less degree. On this account, therefore, it is necessary that the whole of this discussion should be conversant with these things; for to rejoice or be pained properly or improperly, is of no small consequence in actions. Farther still, it is more difficult to fight with pleasure, than with anger, as Heraclitus says. But both art and virtue are always conversant with that which is more difficult; for that which is well done, is better when it is effected with greater difficulty. Hence, on this account, also, the whole business both of ethics and politics is conversant with pleasures and pains. For he who employs these well will be a good man, but he will be a bad man who employs them badly. We have shown, therefore, that virtue is conversant with pleasures and pains, and that it is increased and corrupted by the same things by which it is produced, when they do not exist after the same manner; and that it likewise energizes about the things from which it originated.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 4
It may, however, be doubted what our meaning is in asserting that men by acting justly become just, and temperate by acting temperately; for if they act justly and temperately, they are already just and temperate; just as those who perform things pertaining to grammar and music, are grammarians and musicians. Or shall we say, that this is not the case in the arts? For it is possible that a man may do something grammatical both from chance and the suggestion of another person. He will, therefore, then be a grammarian if he both does something grammatical and grammatically, that is, according to the grammatical art which he possesses. Again, neither is the thing similar in the arts and the virtues; for things produced by the arts contain in themselves efficient excellence. It is sufficient, therefore, to these to be effected with a certain mode of subsistence; but things which are performed according to the virtues, are not done justly or temperately, if they subsist in a certain way, but if he who does them does them in consequence of being disposed in a certain way. And, in the first place, indeed, if he does them knowingly, in the next place, if with deliberate choice, and also deliberately choosing to do them on their own account; and, in the third place, if he does them with a firm and immutable disposition of mind. These things, however, are not connumerated as requisites to the possession of the other arts, except the knowledge of them alone. But to the acquisition of the virtues, the knowledge of them is of little or no efficacy, while the other particulars pertaining to them are capable of effecting no small thing, but are all-powerful; and these are obtained from frequently acting justly and temperately. Things, therefore, are said to be just and temperate, when they are such as a just or temperate man would perform. But he is a just and temperate man, not who merely does these things, but who does them so as just and temperate men do them. It is well said, therefore, that a man becomes just from acting justly, and temperate from acting temperately, but that from not doing these things, no one will ever become a good man. The multitude, however, do not thus act, but flying to words they fancy they shall philosophize, and thus become worthy characters; acting similarly to sick persons, who attentively indeed hear what the physicians say, but do nothing which they order them to do. As, therefore, these by such a method of cure, never have their body in a healthy condition, so neither is the soul of those ever well who thus philosophize.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 5
In the next place, we must consider what virtue is. Since, therefore, three things are produced in the soul, viz. passions, powers, and habits, virtue will be some one of these. But I call passions, indeed, desire,’ anger, audacity, envy, joy, love, hatred, cupidity, emulation, pity, and, in short, those things to which pleasure or pain are consequent. And I denominate powers, those things according to which we are said to be susceptible of the passions; viz. according to which we are able to be angry, or pained, or are inclined to pity. But I call habits those things according to which we are well or ill-disposed towards the passions. Thus, for instance, with respect to being angry, if we are vehemently or remissly disposed towards it, we are badly affected; but if moderately, we are well affected; and in a similar manner with respect to the other passions. Neither the virtues, therefore, nor the vices are passions; because we are not said to be worthy or depraved according to the passions, but we are said to be so according to the virtues or vices; and because according to the passions we are neither praised nor blamed. For neither he who is afraid, nor he who is angry is praised, nor is he who is simply angry blamed, but he who is angry after a certain manner; but we are praised or blamed according to the virtues and vices. Farther still, we may be angry and afraid without any deliberate intention of being so; but the virtues are certain deliberate elections, or are not without deliberate choice. In addition to this also, we are said to be moved according to the passions, but we are not said to be moved according to the virtues and vices, but to be disposed in a certain way. On this account neither are the virtues powers; for we are neither said to be good nor bad from being able simply to suffer, nor are we through this either praised or blamed. And again, we possess powers indeed from nature; but from nature we do not become either good or bad. We have, however, spoken concerning this before. If, therefore, the virtues are neither passions nor powers, it remains that they are habits. And thus we have shown what virtue is generically.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 6
It is necessary, however, not only to show that virtue is a habit, but likewise to show what kind of a habit it is. We must say, therefore, that every virtue, renders that of which it is the virtue well disposed, and causes its work to be well accomplished. Thus, for instance, the virtue of the eye, causes both the eye and the work of it to be good; for by the virtue of the eye we see well. In a similar manner the virtue of a horse causes the horse to be good for the race, for carrying his rider, and sustaining the enemy in battle. But if this be the case in all things, the virtue of man also will be a habit, from which man becomes good, and from which he accomplishes his own work. And how this indeed will be effected we have already shown; but it will again be now manifest, if we consider what the quality is of the nature of virtue. In everything, therefore, which is continued and divisible, it is possible, indeed, to assume the more, the less, and the equal; and this either with respect to the thing itself, or with reference to us. But the equal is a certain middle between excess and defect. I call, however, the middle of a thing, that which is equally distant from each of the extremes, and which is one and the same in all things. But with reference to us the middle is that which neither exceeds nor falls short of the becoming. This, however, is neither one nor the same in all things. Thus, for instance, if ten things are many, but two a few, six are assumed as a medium with reference to the thing, for six equally surpasses and is surpassed. But this is a middle according to arithmetical proportion. The middle or medium, however, with reference to us, is not thus to be assumed. For if to eat ten pounds, is to eat much, but two pounds a little, it does not follow that the master of the gymnastic exercises will order six pounds to be eaten; for this perhaps will be too much or too little for him who is to take food. For Milo, indeed, it would be too little; but for him who is beginning the exercises it would be too much. And the like must be understood of the course and wrestling. Thus, therefore, every scientific man will avoid excess and defect, but will search for the medium, and make this the object of his choice. He will, however, explore that medium, which is not the middle of the thing, but is a middle with reference to us. If, therefore, every science thus well accomplishes its work, when it looks to the middle, and refers its works to this; whence it is usual to say of works that are well finished, that nothing can be added to or taken away from them, acknowledging by this, that excess and defect corrupt that which is excellent in them, but that mediocrity preserves this; and if good artists, as we say, operate looking to this, but virtue, in the same manner as nature, is more accurate and better than all art; if this be the case, it will tend to the medium as a boundary. I speak, however, of ethical virtue; for this is conversant with passions and actions; but in these there is excess and defect, and the middle. Thus, for instance, it is possible to be afraid, to be confident, to desire and abhor, to be angry and to pity, and, in short, to be pleased and pained in a greater and less degree, and to be both these improperly. But to have these passions when it is proper, and in such things, towards such persons, and for the sake of that which, and as, it is proper—this is the middle and the best, and pertains to virtue. In a similar manner also in actions, there is excess and defect, and the middle; but virtue is conversant with passions and actions, in which the excess indeed is erroneous, and the defect is blamed, but the medium is praised and possesses rectitude: and both these pertain to virtue. Hence, virtue is a certain medium, and tends to the middle as a boundary. Again, to err is manifold; for evil, as the Pythagoreans conjecture, belongs to the infinite, and good to the finite; but it is only possible to act rightly in one way. Hence, the one is easy, but the other difficult; it is easy, indeed, to deviate from the mark, but difficult to hit it; and on this account, excess and defect belong to vice, but the medium to virtue. For,
Simple the good, all-various are the bad.
Virtue, therefore, is a pre-elective habit, or a habit accompanied with deliberate choice existing in a medium with reference to us, and which is defined by reason, and in such a way as a prudent man would define it. It is also the medium between two vices, the one being characterized by excess, but the other by defect. And farther still, it is defined by this, that some of the vices fall short of, but others surpass the becoming, both in passions and actions, but virtue both discovers and chooses the medium. Hence, according to essence, and the definition which explains the very nature of a thing, virtue is a medium; but according to that which is best, and subsists well, it is a summit. Not every action, however, nor every passion, receives a medium; for some passions, as soon as they are named, are complicated with depravity, such as malevolence, rejoicing in the evils of others, impudence, envy; and in actions, adultery, theft, and murder. For all these, and others of the like kind, are thus denominated, because they are themselves bad, and not the excesses, nor the defects of them. Hence, it is not possible at any time to act rightly in these, but they are always attended with error. Nor does acting well, or not acting well, in things of this kind, consist in committing adultery, when, and as it is proper, but simply to do any of these things is to act wrong. To require, therefore, a medium in these, is just as if some one should think it proper that there should be a medium, excess, and defect, in doing an injury, and in acting timidly and intemperately; for thus there would be a middle of excess and defect, and an excess of excess, and a deficiency of defect. As, however, there is no excess and defect of temperance and fortitude, because the middle is in a certain respect the summit; so neither is there a middle, excess and defect in those passions and actions, but in whatever manner they are exerted they are attended with error. For, in short, neither is there a middle of excess or defect, nor are there excess and defect of the middle.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 7
It is necessary, however, not only to assert this universally, but also to adapt it to particulars. For in what is said concerning actions, universal assertions indeed are more common; but those that are particular are more true; since actions are conversant with particulars, with which assertions ought to accord. These, therefore, are to be assumed from description. Of fear and confidence, therefore, fortitude is the medium. Of the characters, however, which exceed, the one indeed which exceeds by a privation of fear is anonymous; but that which exceeds in confidence is audacious. And he who exceeds in being afraid, but is deficient in confidence, is timid. In pleasures and pains, however, though not in all pleasures, but in such as are corporeal, and in those especially which pertain to the touch, and in a less degree in pains, the medium indeed is temperance, but the excess intemperance. But those who are deficient in the pursuit of pleasures do not very frequently occur; on which account neither have they obtained a name. They may, however, be called insensate. In giving and receiving money, the medium indeed is liberality, but the excess and defect are prodigality and illiberality; in which men exceed and are deficient in a contrary way. For the prodigal indeed exceeds in spending money, but is deficient in receiving it; and the illiberal man exceeds in receiving, but is deficient in spending money. At present, therefore, we think it sufficient summarily to adumbrate these things; but afterwards we shall discuss them more accurately. With respect to wealth, however, there are also other dispositions of the mind; and the medium, indeed, is magnificence. For the magnificent differs from the liberal man in this, that the former is conversant with great, but the latter with small things. The excess, however, is an ignorance of elegance and decorum, and illiberal profusion; but the defect is an indecorous parsimony in spending money. And these vices differ from those which surround liberality; but in what they differ, we shall afterwards show. With respect to honor and ignominy, the medium indeed is magnanimity, but the excess is called a certain inflation of the mind, and the defect pusillanimity. As we have said, however, that liberality corresponds to magnificence, but differs from it in this, that it is conversant with small things; so to magnanimity which is conversant with great honor, another certain virtue corresponds, and which also is itself conversant with what is small. For it is possible to aspire after honor in such a manner as is proper, and more and less than is proper. But he who exceeds in his desires of honor is said to be ambitious, he who is deficient is unambitious, and the middle character between both is anonymous. The dispositions also are anonymous, except the disposition of the ambitious man, which is denominated ambition. Hence, the extremes contend for the middle place. And we indeed sometimes call the middle character ambitious, and sometimes unambitious; and sometimes we praise the ambitious, and sometimes the unambitious man. But from what cause we do this, will be shown hereafter, Now, however, conformably to the manner in which we begun, let us speak about the rest.
With respect to anger, therefore, there is likewise excess, defect, and a medium; but since these are nearly anonymous, we call the middle character a mild man, and the medium mildness. But of the extremes, let him who exceeds be wrathful, and the vice be wrathfulness. And let him who is deficient be a man void of anger, and the defect a privation of anger. There are likewise three other media, which have, indeed, a certain similitude to each other, but differ from each other. For all of them are conversant with the communion of words and actions; but they differ, because one of them is conversant with the truth which is in them, but the others are conversant with the delectable. And of this, viz. the delectable, one kind consists in jest; but another, in all the concerns of life. We must, therefore, also speak concerning these, in order that we may in a greater degree perceive, that in everything the medium is laudable, but the extremes are neither right nor laudable, but reprehensible. Of these, therefore, the greater part also are anonymous; but we must endeavor, in the same manner as in the rest, to give names to them, for the sake of perspicuity, and the facility of understanding what follows.
With respect to truth, therefore, the middle character may be called veracious, and the medium, truth; but of dissimulation, that kind which exaggerates may be called arrogance, and he who possesses it an arrogant man; and that which extenuates may be called irony, and he who employs it may be denominated ironical, or a dissembler. With respect, however, to the delectable, and that kind which consists in jest, the middle character, indeed, may be called facetious, and the disposition itself facetiousness; but the excess may be denominated scurrility, and he who possesses it a scurrilous man; and he who is deficient may be called a rustic man, and the habit itself, rusticity. In the other species of the delectable, which pertains to the concerns of life, he who delights in such a way as is proper, is a friend, and the medium is friendship; but he who exceeds, if it is not with a view to any advantage, is studious of pleasing, but if for the sake of advantage, is a flatterer. And he who is deficient, and in all things unpleasant, is contentious, and difficult to be pleased. There are, likewise, media in the passions, and in things pertaining to the passions; for bashfulness is not a virtue, and yet the modest man is praised. For in these things, one indeed is called the middle character, another is said to exceed, and another to be deficient. And he indeed who exceeds, and is bashful in all things, is as it were astounded; but he who is deficient, and is not ashamed of any thing, is impudent; and the middle character is the modest man. Indignation is a medium between envy and joy for the calamities of others; but these habits are conversant with the pain and pleasure arising from what happens to others. For he who is propense to indignation, is indeed pained from those that do well undeservedly; but he who is envious, surpassing the indignant man, is pained from all that do well; and he who rejoices in the calamities of others, is so much deficient in feeling pain from the prosperity of bad men, that he is delighted with it. These things, however, are discussed by us elsewhere, i.e., in the 2nd book of the Rhetoric. With respect to justice, however, since it is not predicated simply, we shall make it the subject of discussion hereafter, viz. in the 5th book, I and show how each of its parts is a medium. In a similar manner, also, we shall speak concerning the rational or intellectual virtues in the 6th book.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 8
Since, however, there are three dispositions of the soul, two indeed of vices, of which the one subsists according to excess, but the other according to defect, and since virtue is one of these dispositions, and is a medium, all these three dispositions are in a certain respect opposed to all. For the extremes are contrary to the middle, and to each other, but the middle is contrary to the extremes. For as the equal is, with reference to the less, greater, but with reference to the greater, less; thus the middle habits exceed with reference to the deficiencies, but are defective with reference to the excesses, both in passions and actions. For the brave with reference to the timid man appears to be audacious, but with reference to the audacious man, timid. In a similar manner, also, the temperate man with reference to him who is insensate appears to be intemperate, but with reference to the intemperate man, insensate. But the liberal when contrasted with the illiberal man appears to be a prodigal, but when compared with the prodigal, illiberal. Hence, the extremes propel the medium each to the other, and the timid calls indeed the brave man audacious, but the audacious man calls him timid; and analogously in the other extremes. These, however, being thus opposed to each other, there is a greater contrariety in the extremes to each other, than to the medium; for these are more remote from each other than from the medium; just as the great is more remote from the small, and the small from the great, than both of them are from the equal. Farther still, in some extremes there appears to be a certain similitude to the medium, as in audacity to fortitude, and in prodigality to liberality; but in the extremes there is the greatest dissimilitude to each other. Things, however, which are very distant from each other, are defined to be contraries; so that those things which are more distant are more contrary to each other. But to the medium, in some things, indeed, the deficiency is more opposed, and in others the excess. Thus, to fortitude, audacity, indeed, which is an excess, is not opposed, but timidity, which is a defect; and to temperance, the want of sensibility, which is an indigence, is not opposed, but intemperance, which is an excess. This, however, happens from two causes; one indeed from the thing itself; for one of the extremes being nearer to, and more similar to the medium than the other, hence, not this, but the contrary, is more opposed to it. Thus, for instance, since audacity appears to be more similar and nearer to fortitude, but timidity appears to be more dissimilar, on this account we oppose the latter to fortitude rather than the former. For things which are more distant from the medium, appear to be more contrary. This, therefore, is one cause from the thing itself; but another cause is from ourselves. For those vices to which we are naturally more adapted, appear to be more contrary to the medium. Thus, because we are naturally more adapted to pleasures, we are more easily impelled to intemperance than to moderation in the pursuit of pleasure. Those things, therefore, are said to be in a greater degree contraries, to which a greater accession is made; and on this account intemperance, which is an excess, is more contrary to temperance than the other extreme.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book II, Chapter 9
That ethical virtue, therefore, is a medium, and how it is so, and that it is a medium between two vices, the one existing according to excess, but the other according to defect, and that it is such in consequence of looking to the medium in passions and actions as to a mark, has been sufficiently shown. Hence, also, it is laborious to be worthy; for in everything it is laborious to obtain the middle. Thus, the middle of a circle cannot be discovered by everyone, but by him who is skilled in geometry. In like manner, to be angry, and to give and spend money, is in the power of every one, and is easy; but to be angry, and to give and spend money to whom, and as much, and when, and on what account, and as it is proper, cannot be accomplished by every one, nor is it easy. For this is to act rightly, and is rare, and laudable, and beautiful. Hence, it is necessary that he whose attention is directed to the medium as to a mark, should first recede from that which is more contrary, as Calypso also admonishes:
Far from the smoke and waves direct the helm.
For of the extremes, the one, indeed, is more erroneous, but the other less. Since, therefore, it is difficult to obtain the medium accurately, by making a second navigation, as they say, the least of the evils must be assumed; but this will especially be affected in the way we have mentioned. It is likewise requisite to consider what the vices are to which we are most propense; for different men are naturally prone to different vices. But this will be known from the pleasure and pain with which we are affected. We ought, however, to draw ourselves to the contrary part; for by removing ourselves very far from error, we shall arrive at the medium, which those do who straighten distorted pieces of wood. But in everything we should especially avoid the delectable and pleasure; for we are not uncorrupted judges of it. In the same manner, therefore, as the Trojan nobles were affected towards Helen, we ought to be affected towards pleasure, and in everything where pleasure is concerned, to employ their decision; for thus, by dismissing it, we shall err in a less degree. By thus acting, therefore, in short, we shall be especially able to obtain the medium. Perhaps, however, this is difficult, and principally in particulars; for it is not easy to determine how, and with whom, and on what account, and for how long a time, it is requisite to be angry. For we, indeed, sometimes praise those who are defective in anger, and call them mild; but at other times we praise those who are exasperated, and call them virile. He, however, who deviates but a little from rectitude, whether he inclines to the more or to the less, is not blamed; but he who deviates much from it; for the error of such a one is not latent, It cannot, however, be easily determined to what extent, and how much he is blamable; as neither is this easy in any other sensible thing. But things of this kind rank among particulars, and the judgment of them pertains to sense. Thus much, therefore, is indeed manifest, that the middle habit is in all things laudable; and that it is necessary at one time to incline to excess, and at another to deficiency; for thus we shall easily obtain the medium, and rectitude of conduct.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 1
Since, therefore, virtue is conversant with passions and actions, and praise and blame accompany things of a voluntary nature, but pardon, and sometimes pity, such as are voluntary, it is perhaps necessary that those who speculate concerning virtue, should define the voluntary and involuntary. This will also be useful to legislators, in conferring rewards, and inflicting punishments. But those actions appear to be involuntary which are done by force, or through ignorance. And the violent is that the principle of which is external, being of such a nature, that it contributes nothing to the advantage of him who acts, or of him who suffers; as if, for instance, the wind, or men who are the masters of some one, should bring him to a certain place. With respect to such things, however, as are performed through the fear of greater evils, or for the sake of something beautiful in conduct; as if a tyrant who is the lord of parents and children, should command some one to do a certain base action, and on these conditions, that if he did it, his parents and children should be saved, but if he did not, they should die;—with respect to such things as these, it is dubious whether they are involuntary, or voluntary. Something of the like kind also happens in losses at sea, when in a tempest the goods of the ship are thrown overboard; for simply considered, no one throws them into the sea willingly, but every one who is endued with intellect does so for his own safety and that of the rest of the crew. Such like actions, therefore, are mixed; but they are more similar to voluntary actions; for they are then eligible when they are performed; but the end of the action is according to opportunity. A thing, there. fore, must be said to be done voluntarily or involuntarily, then when it is done. But he threw his goods into the sea voluntarily; for the principle of moving the organic arts in such like actions is in the man himself. But those things of which the principle is in himself, he has the power to perform or not. Such things, therefore, are voluntary. Simply considered, however, they are perhaps involuntary; for no one would choose any one of these on its own account. But in such like actions, men are sometimes praised, when they endure something disgraceful or painful, for the sake of great and beautiful circumstances; and if they do otherwise, they are blamed. For to endure the most disgraceful things, with a view to nothing beautiful or moderate, is the part of a bad man. To other things, however, no praise is given, but pardon is granted to them, when a man does what he ought not to do, in consequence of being compelled by such things as surpass human nature, and which no one can endure. And perhaps there are some things which we ought never to do by any compulsion, but we ought to suffer the most dreadful evils, and die rather than do them; for those circumstances appear to be ridiculous which compelled the Alcmaeon of Euripides to kill his mother. It is, however, sometimes difficult to judge what is to be chosen in preference to something else, and whether this is to be endured instead of that; and it is still more difficult to persevere in our decisions; since, for the most part, things which are expected, are attended with molestation, and things which we are compelled to do are base. Hence, both praise and blame are given to those that act from compulsion, and to those who do not. What kind of things, therefore, are to be called violent? Shall we say, that they are then simply to be called so, when the cause is in things external, and the agent contributes nothing to the action? But things which are of themselves involuntary, indeed, but are now eligible, and are eligible instead of certain other things, and the principle of which is in the agent, these are of themselves indeed, involuntary, but now, and instead of certain other things, are voluntary. They are, however, more similar to voluntary actions; for actions are conversant with particulars; and these are voluntarily performed. It is not, however, easy to show what things are to be chosen in preference to others, for there are many differences in particulars. But if it should be said that things delectable and beautiful are violent; for they compel us to act, being external;—if this should be said, all things will thus be violent. For all men do everything for the sake of these. And those, indeed, who act from violence, and unwillingly, act painfully; but those who are influenced by the delectable, act with plea. sure. It is therefore ridiculous for a man to accuse external things, and not himself, when he is easily captivated by things of this kind, and to consider himself as the cause of beautiful actions, but delectable things as the causes of his base actions. Hence, the violent appears to be that the principle of which is external, and to which the thing compelled contributes nothing.
Everything, however, which is done from ignorance is not voluntary. But that is involuntary which is attended with pain and repentance. For he who does any thing from ignorance, and is not at all indignant with the action, does not indeed perform it willingly, because he acts from ignorance; nor yet again, does he perform it unwillingly, in consequence of feeling no pain from the action. Of those, therefore, who act from ignorance, he who repents of what he has done, appears to have acted unwillingly; but he who does not repent, since he is a different character from the other, may be said to have acted not willingly. For since he is a different character, it is better that he should have a proper name. To act from ignorance, likewise, appears to be a different thing from acting ignorantly; for he who is intoxicated or enraged, does not appear to act from ignorance, but from some one of the above-mentioned circumstances; yet not knowingly, but ignorantly. Every depraved man, therefore, is ignorant what ought to be done, and from what actions he should abstain; and from error of this kind, men become unjust, and in short bad. But an action ought to be called involuntary, not if he who does it is ignorant of what is advantageous; for ignorance in the deliberate choice of a thing, is not the cause of involuntary conduct, but of depravity. Nor is the ignorance of universal, the cause of it; for men are blamed on this account; but it arises from the ignorance of particulars, in which, and about which, every action is conversant. For in these there is pity and pardon; since he who is ignorant of any one of these, acts involuntarily. Perhaps, however, it will not be amiss, to define what, and how many the particular circumstances are which render an action involuntary. They are, therefore, the circumstance of the principal agent, the circumstance of the instrumental agent, the circumstance of the end, and the circumstances of the action itself. No one, therefore, will be ignorant of all these unless he is insane. But it is evident that neither will he who acts be ignorant of them; for how can he be ignorant of himself. A man, however, may be ignorant of what he does; as is the case with those who say that they have spoken unawares, or that they did not know that what they said was arcane, as Aeschylus with respect to the mysteries; or as when someone throws a catapulta, not knowing what he throws. A person, also, may fancy, like Merope, that a son is an enemy, and that a spear which has a sharp point, is blunt like a ball, or that a stone is a pumice. A man, likewise, striking another with a view to his safety, may kill him, and wishing to show the mode of exercise in wrestling, he may strike him whom he wished to instruct. As there is ignorance, therefore, in all these particulars, in which there is action, he who is ignorant of some one of them, appears to have acted involuntarily, and especially in those things which are of principal importance. But those appear to be of principal importance, in which there is action, and that for the sake of which action is undertaken. Since the involuntary, therefore, is denominated from an ignorance of this kind, it is besides this necessary that the action should be painful, and attended with repentance. But as the involuntary is that which is done from violence, and through ignorance, the voluntary will appear to be that of which the principle is in the agent, who knows the particulars in which the action consists. For perhaps it is not well said, that actions which are produced through anger or desire are involuntary. For in the first place, indeed, if this were admitted, no other animal would act voluntarily, nor would children. And in the next place, whether are any of the actions which we perform through the influence of desire or anger, done by us voluntarily Or, shall we say that worthy actions are performed by us voluntarily, but base actions involuntarily? Or would not this be ridiculous, since there is one cause of both these? Perhaps too, it is absurd, to call those things involuntary, after which it is requisite to aspire. But it is necessary to be angry with certain things, and to desire others, such as health and discipline. It appears, however, that things involuntary are painful, but that those which are the objects of desire are delectable. Again, what difference is there between the errors which are caused by reason or by anger, with respect to their being involuntary. For both are to be avoided. The irrational passions, also, do not appear to be less human; but the actions of man proceed both from anger and desire. It would be absurd, therefore, to consider these as involuntary.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 2
Having, therefore, defined the voluntary and involuntary, it follows that we should discuss pre-election, or deliberate choice. For deliberate choice appears to be most allied to virtue, and by this, as a rule, a judgment may be formed of manners more than by actions. Deliberate choice, therefore, appears indeed to be a voluntary thing, yet it is not the same with what is voluntary, but the voluntary is more extended. For of the voluntary, children, and other animals, partake, but they do not partake of deliberate choice. And we say, indeed, that things which we do suddenly, are done voluntarily, but not according to deliberate choice. But those who call it desire, or anger, or will, or a certain opinion, do not appear to speak rightly. For deliberate choice is not common to us and irrational animals; but desire and anger are. And the incontinent man, indeed, acts from the influence of desire, but not from deliberate choice. On the contrary, the continent man acts from deliberate choice, and not from the impulse of desire. And desire indeed is contrary to deliberate choice, but desire is not contrary to desire. Desire, likewise, is conversant both with that which is delectable, and that which is painful; but deliberate choice is neither conversant with the painful, nor the delectable. Much less is deliberate choice anger; for in the smallest degree do things which are effected through anger appear to be effected by deliberate choice. Nor yet is it will, though will appears to be near to it. For deliberate choice, indeed, is not among the number of things impossible; and if anyone should say that he deliberately chooses impossibilities, he would appear to be stupid. The will, however, is directed to things which are impossible, as, for instance, to immortality. And the will, indeed, is also conversant with things which can by no means be accomplished by him who wills; as that a certain player, or person engaged in athletic contests, may be victorious. No one, however, deliberately chooses things of this kind, but such only as he thinks can be effected through himself. Farther still, the will, indeed, is more directed to the end, but deliberate choice to things pertaining to the end. Thus, we wish to be well, but we deliberately choose those things through which we become well; and we wish indeed to be happy, and we say that this is our wish; but it is not fit to say, that we deliberately choose to be happy. For, in short, deliberate choice appears to be conversant with the things that are in our power. Neither, therefore, will deliberate choice be opinion; for opinion, indeed, appears to be conversant with all things, and no less with things eternal and impossible, than with things in our power. Opinion, likewise, is divided into the false and the true, and not into good and evil; but deliberate choice is rather divided into the latter than into the former. In short, therefore, perhaps no one will say that deliberate choice is either the same with opinion in general, or with some particular opinion. For by deliberately choosing good or evil, we become affected with a certain quality; but this does not happen to us through forming an opinion. And we deliberately choose indeed, to obtain, or avoid, or to do something of the like kind; but we form an opinion of what it is, or to what it is advantageous, or in what manner; and we do not very much opine to obtain or avoid it. And deliberate choice indeed is praised, because it pertains to that of which it is necessary to partake more abundantly, or with rectitude; but opinion is praised for its truth. We likewise deliberately choose those things which we especially know to be good; but we form an opinion of things which are not very much known to us. And the same persons do not appear to deliberately choose and opine the most excellent things; but some indeed opine that which is better, but from vice choose those things which ought not to be the objects of choice. It is, however, of no consequence whether opinion precedes or follows deliberate choice; for our attention is not directed to this, but to the consideration whether deliberate choice is the same with a certain opinion. What then, or what kind of a thing is deliberate choice, since it is no one of the above-mentioned particulars? It appears, therefore, to be a voluntary thing. Not everything, however, which is voluntary is the object of deliberate choice, but that which has been the subject of previous deliberation; for deliberate choice is accompanied with reason and the discursive energy of reason. And this the name appears to signify, the object of deliberate choice being that which is eligible in preference to other things.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 3
But whether do men consult about all things, and is everything a subject of consultation, or about certain things is there no consultation? Perhaps, however, that must be called a subject of consultation, not about which some stupid or insane person consults, but which is an object of consultation to a man endued with intellect. Concerning eternal things, however, no one consults, such … as concerning the world, or the diagonal and side of a square, because they are incommensurable. Nor does any one consult about things which are in motion, but which are always passing into existence after the same manner,” whether from necessity, or naturally, or from some other cause, such as conversions and risings. Nor does any one consult about things which subsist differently at different times, such as about drought and rain; nor about fortuitous events, such as the discovery of a treasure; nor yet about all human concerns; for no Lacedaemonian consults how the polity of the Scythians may be governed in the best manner; since none of these things can be effected by us. But we consult about things which can be performed by us; and these are the rest of things which we have not mentioned. For nature, necessity, and fortune, appear to be causes; and besides these intellect, and everything which energizes through man. The individuals, however, of the human species consult about things which may be performed by them. And indeed in those sciences which are accurate and sufficient to themselves, there is no consultation; as for instance, there is no consultation about letters; for there is no contention how we should write. But such things as are effected by us, yet not always after the same manner, about these we consult; as about things pertaining to medicine, and the art of procuring money, and about the art of the pilot more than about the gymnastic art, because the former is much less accurate than the latter. In a similar manner also, we consult about the rest; but we consult more in the arts than in the sciences; for we dissent more about them. Consultation, however, takes place in things which have a frequency of subsistence, but of which the event is immanifest, and in things in which there is the indefinite. In things also which are of great importance, we employ counsellors, distrusting our own judgment as not sufficient. We consult, however, not about ends, but about things pertaining to ends. For neither does a physician consult whether he shall heal the sick, nor a rhetorician whether he shall persuade, nor the politician whether he shall establish equitable legislation, nor does any one of the remaining characters consult about the end; but proposing a certain end, they consider how, and by what means it may be obtained. If also it appears that this end is to be obtained through many media, they consider through which of them it may be obtained in the easiest and best manner. But if through one medium, they consider how it may be accomplished through this, and through what likewise this may be obtained, until they arrive at the first cause, which is discovered in the last place. For he who consults appears to investigate and analyze in the above-mentioned manner, as if he were investigating and analyzing a diagram.” It appears, however, that not every investigation is a consultation; for mathematical inquiries are not consultations; but every consultation is an investigation; and that which is last in analysis is first in generation. And if indeed in consulting, we meet with an impossibility, we desist from consultation; as if there should be occasion for money, and this cannot be procured. But if that about which we consult appears to be possible, then we endeavor to obtain it. Those things, however, are possible which may be accomplished through ourselves; for things which are accomplished through our friends, are in a certain respect effected
He who consults, the end being proposed which is not immediately in his power, investigates the medium by which it may be obtained; and if this medium also is not immediately in his power, he explores another, and afterwards another, till he discovers the first medium, which is immediately in his power, and in the discovery of which the consultation is terminated, and the accomplishment begins, through which the end is generated and obtained. The first medium, therefore, which is the last in the analysis, or investigation, is the first in generation or accomplishment. For that which is immediately in our power, as it is discovered last, is arranged first through ourselves; since the principle is in us. But at one time instruments are explored, and at another time the use of them, and in a similar manner in other things; at one time, indeed, that being investigated through which the end may be obtained, and at another time the manner. Man, therefore, as we have said, appears to be the principle of actions; but consultation is about things which may be performed by man; and actions are for the sake of other things. Hence the end will not be the object of consultation, but things which pertain to ends. Neither, therefore, will particulars be the objects of consultation; as, whether this thing is bread, or is well baked, or is made as it ought to be; for these things pertain to sense; but if a man always consults, there will be a procession to infinity. The object of consultation, however, and the pre-eligible or object of deliberate choice, are the same, except that the object of pre-election or deliberate choice is something which is now definite; for the pre-eligible is that which is preferred from consultation. For every one ceases to investigate how he shall act, when he has reduced the principle to himself, and to that part of himself which ranks as the leader; since this part is that which he deliberately chooses. But this also is evident from the ancient polities which Homer has imitated; for the kings of these polities announced to the people what they had deliberately chosen to do. Since, however, that which is pre-eligible is an object of consultation, appetible of things which are in our power, pre-election also, or deliberate choice, will be an appetite of or tendency to things in our power, accompanied with consultation; for forming a judgment in consequence of having consulted, we desire conformably to consultation. We have, therefore, adumbrated what pre-election is, and what the things are with which it is conversant, and have shown that it belongs to things which have reference to ends.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 4
That will, however, pertains to the end, we have shown; but this end to some persons appears to be the good, and to others apparent good. But it happens to those who say that the object of the will is the good, that what he wills who does not choose rightly, is not an object of will; for if it were an object of will, it would also be good. It may, however, happen to be bad. And it happens to those who say that the object of the will is apparent good, that the object of the will has not a natural subsistence, but is what appears to any one to be eligible. A different thing, however, appears to be eligible to a different person; and if it should so happen, contraries appear to be eligible. If, therefore, these things are not approved, we must say that simply and in reality the good is indeed the object of the will, but that apparent good is the object of the will to every one. To the worthy man, therefore, real good is the object of the will, but to the bad man casual good; just as in bodies, to such as are well-disposed, those things are salubrious which are in reality so, but other things to such as are diseased. And the like takes place in things that are bitter, sweet, hot, heavy, and each of the rest. For the worthy man judges of everything rightly, and in everything the truth presents itself to his view. For according to every habit, there are things beautiful and delectable which are peculiar to that habit. And perhaps the worthy man very much excels others in this, that he sees the truth in everything, being as it were the rule and measure of things. But with the multitude deception is present on account of pleasure; for pleasure, though not good, appears to be so. The multitude, therefore, choose the delectable as good, but fly from pain as an evil.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 5
Since the end, therefore, is the object of the will, but things pertaining to the end are the objects of consultation and deliberate choice, the actions which are conversant with these, will be actions of deliberate choice and voluntary. But with these the energies of the virtues are conversant. Virtue, therefore, also is in our power; and in a similar manner vice. For in those things in which to act is in our power, not to act is also in our power; and in those things in which we have the power not to act, we have likewise the power to act. Hence, if to act worthily is in our power, not to act basely will likewise be in our power; and if we have the power of not acting worthily, we have also the power of acting basely. But if to act, and in a similar manner not to act worthily and basely, are in our power, and this is to be good or bad, it will be in our power to be worthy or depraved characters. And to say, with a certain tragic poet, that “No one is willingly depraved nor unwillingly blessed,” seems to be partly false, and partly true. For no one is unwillingly blessed, but depravity is voluntary; or unless this is admitted, what we have just now asserted must be controverted, and it must not be said that man is the principle and generator of actions in the same manner as he is of children. But if these things are admitted, and we cannot refer them to any other principles than those which are in our power, it follows that those things are in our power, and are voluntary, of which also the principles are in our power. The truth of this appears to be attested, both privately by individuals, and publicly by legislators themselves; for they castigate and punish those who act depravedly, if they do not act from compulsion or from ignorance of which they were not the causes. But they honor those that act well, in order that they may excite these, and impede those. No one, however, exhorts others to the performance of such actions, as are neither in our power, nor are voluntary; because no advantage can be derived from persuading us not to be hot, or be in pain, or be hungry, or any thing else of the like kind; for notwithstanding the persuasion we shall no less suffer these things. For legislators also punish a man for his ignorance, if he appears to be the cause of his ignorance. Thus double punishments are ordained for those that are intoxicated; for the principle is in themselves, because they have the power of not becoming intoxicated; and this, i.e., intoxication, is the cause of their ignorance. They likewise punish those who are ignorant of any thing which is legally established, which ought to be known, and which it is not difficult to know. And in a similar manner in other things, which men appear to be ignorant of from negligence, and of which it is in their power not to be ignorant; for it is in our power to pay attention to what ought to be known.
Perhaps, however, it may be said that a man is a person of such a character, that he cannot pay attention; but such persons are themselves the causes of their characteristic qualities, in consequence of living negligently. The causes likewise of men being unjust, or intemperate, are in themselves, in consequence of the former acting wickedly, and of the latter spending their time in drinking, and things of the like kind. For energies in everything render those who employ them similar to such energies. . This, however, is evident from those who exercise themselves in any contest or action; for they persevere in energizing. To be ignorant, therefore, that in everything, from energizing about that thing, habits are produced, is the province of a very insensate man. Again, it is absurd to suppose, that he who acts unjustly is unwilling to be unjust, or that he who acts intemperately is unwilling to be intemperate. But if any one does those things from which he will be unjust, not ignorantly, he will be unjust willingly. Nevertheless, though he should wish, he will not cease to be unjust, and become just; for neither does he who is diseased become well by wishing to be so, even though it should happen that he is voluntarily diseased, by living intemperately and disobeying his physicians. Prior, therefore, to his living intemperately, it was in his power not to be diseased, but after having abandoned himself to intemperance, it was no longer possible; as neither is it possible for him who has thrown a stone, to resume it. At the same time it was in his power to emit from his hand and hurl the stone; for he contained the principle of action in himself. Thus, also, to the unjust and intemperate man, it was possible, from the beginning, not to be unjust and intemperate; on which account they are voluntarily so; but when they are become such characters, it is no longer possible for them not to be so.
Not only, however, the vices of the soul are voluntary, but in some persons, also, the vices of the body, which likewise we reprehend; for no one reprehends those who are naturally deformed; but we blame those who are so through the want of exercise, and from negligence. The like also takes place in imbecility, and mutilation. For no one would reproach a man who is blind from nature, or disease, or a blow, but would rather pity him; but everyone would reprove him who is blind from drinking wine to excess, or from any other species of intemperance. Of the vices, therefore, pertaining to the body, those indeed that are in our power are blamed, but those which are not, are not reprehended. But if this be the case, in other things, also, the vices which are reprehended, will be in our power. If, however, someone should say that all men aspire after apparent good, but that we have no authority over the phantasy, and that such as everyone is, such also does the end appear to him to be – if, indeed, everyone is to himself in a certain respect the cause of habit, he will also be in a certain respect the cause to himself of the phantasy, i.e., of the conception which he forms of a thing in his imagination. But if no one is the cause to himself of bad conduct, but he acts evilly from an ignorance of the end, fancying that by so acting, he shall obtain the greatest good; and if the desire of the end is not spontaneous, but it is requisite that everyone should be born endued as it were with sight, by which he may judge rightly, and may choose real good; and if, also, he is naturally of a good disposition in whom this is well implanted by nature; for that which is greatest and most beautiful, and which can neither be obtained nor learnt from another person, but which such as a man is naturally, such he possesses, and to be naturally inclined to this well and beautifully, will be a perfect and true natural goodness of disposition – if these things are true, why will virtue more than vice be voluntary. For the end appears, and is similarly posited both to the good and the bad man, either by nature, or in some other way; but referring other things to this, they act in any manner whatever. Whether, therefore, the end, whatever it may be, is not apparent to everyone from nature, but there is also something with him who acts, or whether the end is natural, yet because a worthy man performs other things voluntarily, and therefore virtue is voluntary, vice also will be no less voluntary. For in a bad as well as in a good man, there is similarly a power of acting from himself in what he does, though the intention of the end is not in our power. If, therefore, as we have said, the virtues are voluntary; for we ourselves in a certain respect are the concauses of habits, and in consequence of being disposed in a certain way, we propose to ourselves a certain end – if this be the case, the vices also will be voluntary, for a similar reason. We have, therefore, spoken in common concerning the virtues, have adumbrated the genus of them, and have shown that they are media and habits; we have likewise unfolded what the things are from which they are produced, and have shown that they are caused by energies, and are the principles of energies, similar to those by which they are generated; that they are likewise in our power, and are voluntary things, and this in such a way as right reason shall ordain. Actions, however, and habits are not similarly voluntary; for of actions we are the lords from the beginning to the end, since we have a knowledge of particulars; but of habits, we are only lords of the principle. The accession, however, of particulars is not known as it is in diseases; but because it is in our power thus to use, or not to use particulars; on this account our habits are voluntary. Resuming, therefore, the discussion of each of the virtues, let us show what they are, what the quality of the things is with which they are conversant, and how they subsist; but at the same time it will be manifest how many there are. And in the first place let us consider fortitude.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 6
That fortitude, therefore, is indeed a medium which is conversant with fear and audacity, has been already observed by us. But we evidently fear things of a terrible nature; and these are, in short, evils. Hence, also, fear is defined to be the expectation of evil. We fear, therefore, all things that are evil; such as infamy, poverty, disease, the want of friends, and death. The brave man, however, does not appear to be conversant with all evils; for it is necessary and beautiful to be afraid of some things, and not to be afraid of them is base; as for instance, not to be afraid of infamy. For he who is afraid of this, is a worthy and modest man; but he who is not afraid of it is impudent. He is, however, metaphorically called by some a brave man, for he has something similar to the brave man, since the brave man also is fearless. But perhaps it is not proper to fear poverty or disease, or, in short, such things as neither proceed from vice, nor from ourselves; yet neither is he who is fearless with respect to these a brave man. We denominate him, however, brave from similitude; for some men, who in the dangers of war are timid, are liberal, and possess a proper confidence in the loss of money. Neither, therefore, is he timid who dreads insolent conduct towards his children and wife, or envy, or anything of the like kind; nor is he a brave man if he is confident when he is about to be whipt. With what kind of dreadful things, therefore, is the brave man conversant? Shall we say with such as are the greatest? For no one endures dreadful things better. But death is the most dreadful of things; for it is the end of life; and nothing farther appears to remain for him who is dead, either good or bad. But neither does the brave man appear to be conversant with every kind of death; as, for instance, death in the sea, or from disease. With what kinds of death, therefore, is he conversant? Shall we not say, with those that are most beautiful? But these are the deaths which happen in war; for such a death is attended with the greatest and most beautiful danger. And the truth of this is confirmed by the honors which cities and monarchs confer on those who conduct themselves bravely in war. He, therefore, may properly be called a brave man who is intrepid with respect to a beautiful death, and such things as are the causes of death when they are near. But things of this kind are especially such as happen in war. Nevertheless in the sea, and in diseases, the brave man is intrepid; yet not in the same manner as sailors are; for brave men, when they despair of their safety, indignantly bear a death of this kind; but sailors have good hope of escaping, from their experience. At the same time brave men act with fortitude in those things in which strength of mind is requisite, or it is beautiful to die; but neither of these exists in such-like destructions as we have mentioned.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 7
The same thing; however, is not terrible to all men; but we say that there is also something which is above man; ‘this, therefore, is indeed terrible to every one endued with intellect. But the terrible things which do not exceed the endurance of human nature, differ in magnitude, and in the more and the less. And the like takes place in things pertaining to confidence. The brave man, however, is unterrified, as a man. He will therefore, indeed, dread things of this kind, yet in such a manner as is proper, and as reason prescribes, for the sake of the beautiful in conduct; for this is the end of virtue. But it is possible to be terrified at these in a greater and less degree, and it is also possible to dread things which are not dreadful, as if they were so. Of the errors, however, in the endurance of things terrible, one consists in dreading what it is not proper to dread, another, in dreading not as is proper, but another, in not. dreading when it is proper, or something of this kind. And in a similar manner in what pertains to confidence. He, therefore, who endures and fears things which it is requisite to endure and fear, and for the sake of that for which it is requisite, and in such a way as and when it is requisite, and in a similar manner he who thus confides, is a brave man; for the brave man suffers and acts according to the importance of the thing, and conformably to reason. But the end of every energy is the end according to habit, i.e., the beautiful in conduct; and to the brave man fortitude is beautiful. The end, also, is a thing of this kind; for everything is defined by the end. For the sake of the beautiful in conduct, therefore, the brave man endures and performs all that pertains to fortitude. Of the characters, however, which exceed, he indeed who exceeds in fearlessness, is anonymous; but it has been before observed by us, that many things are anonymous. He, however, who fears nothing, neither earthquakes, nor inundations, as it is said of the Celtae, will be an insane person, or one who has no sense of pain; but he who exceeds in confidence respecting things of a terrible nature, will be audacious. The audacious man also appears to be arrogant, and a pretender to fortitude. Such, therefore, as the brave man is with respect to things of a terrible nature, such does the audacious man wish to appear; and hence, in those things in which he is able, he imitates him. On this account, also, many audacious persons have timidity united with audacity; for in consequence of their audacity when danger is not imminent, they do not endure things of a dreadful nature when they occur. But he who exceeds in fearing is timid; for he fears what he ought not, and in such a manner as he ought not to fear, and all such things are consequent to him; but he is deficient in confiding. As he exceeds, however, in pains, he is more apparent. The timid man, therefore, is hopeless; for he fears all things. But the brave man is the contrary; for confidence is the province of the man who hopes for the best. The timid, the audacious, and the brave man, therefore, are conversant with the same things; but they are differently affected towards them. For the timid and the audacious man exceed and are deficient; but the brave man is disposed towards things dreadful in the middle way, and in such a manner as is proper. And audacious men, indeed, are precipitate, and wish to encounter dangers before they arrive; but when they arrive they are deficient in fortitude. Brave men, however, are ardent in encountering danger, but before it arrives they are quiet. As we have said, therefore, fortitude is a medium conversant with those things of a dreadful nature, and such as pertain to confidence, which we have mentioned; and it chooses and endures them, because it is beautiful to do so, or not to do so is base. But to die, in order to avoid poverty, or on account of love, or something painful, is not the province of a brave, but rather of a timid man. For it is effeminate to fly from things laborious; and such do not endure death because it is beautiful to endure it, but in order to fly from evil. Fortitude, therefore, is a certain thing of this kind.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 8
Other kinds of fortitude, also, are denominated according to four modes; and in the first place, indeed, political fortitude, since this most resembles fortitude truly so called. For citizens appear to endure dangers, on account of the punishments and disgrace inflicted by the laws, and also on account of the honors they confer. Hence, the most brave men appear to be found among those with whom the timid are disgraced, and the brave are honored. Homer, likewise, introduces such persons, as, for instance, Diomed and Hector:
Shall proud Polydamas before the gate
Proclaim, his counsels are obey’d too late,
Which timely follow’d but the former night,
What numbers had been saved by Hector’s flight.
But ah! what grief should haughty Hector boast;
I fled inglorious to the guarded coast!
This species of fortitude, however, is especially similar to the before-mentioned, because it is produced from virtue; for it is generated through shame and a desire of the beautiful in conduct, for it is through a desire of honor and a flight from disgrace, which is dishonorable. Those also may be ranked among brave men, who are compelled to be brave by their rulers; but they are inferior to the former, i.e., the politically brave, because their conduct is not produced through shame, but through fear, and is not the consequence of flying from what is base, but from what is painful; for they are compelled by their masters. Thus Hector—
On rush’d bold Hector, gloomy as the night;
Forbids to plunder, animates the fight;
Points to the fleet; for by the gods, who flies,
Who dares but linger, by this hand he dies;
No weeping sister his cold eye shall close,
No friendly hand his funeral pile compose.
Who stops to plunder at this signal hour,
The birds shall, tear him, and the dogs devour.
And the generals scourge the soldiers if they desert their ranks. The same thing also is done by those who dispose their troops before losses, and adopt other methods of the like kind; for all these employ force. It is necessary, however, not to be brave from necessity, but because it is beautiful to be so. But experience about particulars appears to be a certain fortitude; whence also Socrates thought that fortitude was a science. And indeed, there are other such persons in other things; but soldiers are such in warlike affairs. For it seems that there are many vain terrors in war, of which soldiers are especially aware. Soldiers, therefore, appear to be brave, because other persons do not understand the nature of these alarms. In the next place, they are especially able, from their experience, to attack their enemies without receiving any injury themselves. They also know how to guard against, and strike their enemies, in consequence of being able to use their arms, and having armor of such a kind, as is most excellent for the purpose of attacking, without being injured by their adversaries. They fight, therefore, like armed with unarmed men, and like athletes with those that are unskilled in athletic exercises. For in such-like contests, not the most brave are the most adapted to fight, but those who are most strong, and whose bodies are in the most excellent condition. But soldiers become timid when the danger is excessive, and they are deficient in numbers and warlike apparatus. For the merely skillful are the first that fly; but those who act bravely, according to political circumstances, die remaining at their post, as it happened at the Hermaeus; since to citizens flight is base, and death is more eligible than such a preservation. But the soldiers in this battle at Hermaeus encountered the danger at first, as thinking themselves superior to their enemies; but when they saw the full extent of the danger, they fled, dreading death more than disgrace. The brave man, however, is not a person of this description. Anger, also, is referred to fortitude; for men likewise appear to be brave on account of anger, just as wild beasts rush on those that wound them; because: brave men also are irascible. Whence Homer says,
Strength be to anger added.
his ardor and his wrath he rous’d.
Pungent fury from his nostrils flow’d.
his blood boil’d.
For everything of this kind appears to signify the energy and impulse of anger. Brave men, therefore, act on account of the beautiful in conduct; but anger cooperates with them. And savage animals act through the influence of pain; for they act because they are wounded or terrified; since if they are in a wood, or in a marsh, they do not attack any one. Hence those persons are not brave who are impelled to danger by pain and anger, foreseeing nothing that is dreadful; since thus asses also would be brave when they are hungry; for they cannot, even by blows, be driven from their pasture. Adulterers, likewise, perform many audacious. deeds through their lustful desire. Those, therefore, are not brave, who are impelled to danger through pain or anger. The fortitude, however, appears to be most natural, which subsists on account of anger, and which assumes deliberate choice, and that for the sake of which a thing is done, or the final cause. Men, also, when they are angry, are pained, but are delighted when they take vengeance on the authors of their anger. Those, however, who act under the influence of these causes are indeed pugnacious, but not brave; for they do not act with a view to the beautiful in conduct, nor from the dictates of reason, but from the influence of passion. But they possess something similar to fortitude. Nor yet are those who are full of good hope brave: for in consequence of having frequently conquered, and conquered many, they are confident in dangers. But they are similar to brave men, because both these characters are confident. Brave men, however, are indeed confident, for the reasons we have already assigned; but these, because they fancy they are superior to others, and that they shall suffer no evil from their opponents. Those also that are intoxicated act after this manner: for they become full of good hope; but when they are frustrated of their expectations, they fly from danger. It is, however, the province of a brave man to endure things which are, and appear to be dreadful to man, because it is beautiful to do so, and base not to endure them. Hence also it appears to be the part of a more brave man, to be fearless and without perturbation in sudden terrors, rather than in such as were foreseen. For this rather proceeds from habit, and in a less degree from preparation. For things, indeed, which were foreseen, may be chosen from deliberation and reason; but in things which suddenly happen, a man can only conduct himself fearlessly from the habit of fortitude. Those persons, likewise, appear to be brave, who are ignorant of danger; and they are not very remote from those who are full of good hope. They are, however, inferior to them, because they have no preconceived opinion of vanquishing the evil; but the former have. Hence, the fortitude of those who are full of good hope continues for a certain time; but the fortitude of those who are ignorant of danger ceases as soon as the deception is apparent; as was the case with the Argives, when they met with the Lacedaemonians, and thought them to be the Sicyonians. And thus we have shown what kind of men the brave are, and those who appear to be brave.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 9
Since, however, fortitude is conversant with confidence and fear, yet it is not similarly conversant with both, but in a greater degree with things of a terrible nature. For he who is without perturbation in these, and who conducts himself in them as he ought, is more brave than he who does so in things pertaining to confidence. Brave men, therefore, as we have before observed, are called brave, from enduring things of a painful nature. Hence also fortitude is unaccompanied with pain, and is justly praised; for it is more difficult to endure pain, than to abstain from pleasure. Nevertheless the end, according to fortitude, may appear to be pleasant, but to be obscured and obliterated by surrounding circumstances; just as it happens in gymnastic contests. For to pugilists, indeed, the end for the sake of which they contend is pleasing, viz. a crown and honors; but to be beat, since this pertains to the flesh, is painful, as is likewise every labor. Because, however, the circumstances which produce pain are many, and that for the sake of which they contend is small, it appears to possess nothing delectable. If, therefore, a thing of this kind also pertains to fortitude, death indeed and wounds will be painful to a brave man, and to one who is unwilling to endure them. The brave-man, however, endures them because it is beautiful so to do, or because it is base not to endure them. And, by how much the more he possesses every virtue, and is more happy, by so much the more will he be pained by death.” For such a man most eminently deserves to live, and he is knowingly deprived by death of the greatest goods; but this is painful. He is, however, no less brave; and perhaps he is more brave, because he chooses that conduct in battle which is beautiful, in preference to these goods. To energize, therefore, delectably, does not pertain to all the virtues, except so far as they come into contact with the end. But perhaps nothing prevents not only those from being most excellent soldiers, who are most brave; but also those who are less brave, and possess no other good; for these are prepared for danger, and to lose their life for a small gain. And thus much concerning fortitude. And it is not difficult from what has been said to adumbrate what it is.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 10
In the next place, let us speak concerning temperance; for these, i.e., fortitude and temperance, appear to be the virtues of the irrational parts. That temperance, therefore, is a medium conversant with pleasures, has been already observed by us; for it is conversant in a less degree, and not similarly with pains; but about pleasures and pains intemperance also is employed. What the pleasures, therefore, are, with which temperance is conversant, we must now explain. Let pleasures, however, be divided into those pertaining to the soul, and those pertaining to the body. Thus, for instance, the pleasures pertaining to the soul are, ambition, and the love of learning; for each of these is delighted with that which is the object of its desire, the body not being at all affected, but rather the rational part; and those who are conversant with such-like pleasures, are neither denominated temperate, nor intemperate. Thus too, with respect to such other pleasures as are not corporeal; for we call those who are lovers of fables and narrations, and who consume the day in such casual circumstances as present themselves, triflers, but not intemperate. Nor do we call those intemperate who are pained by the loss of riches or friends. Temperance, however, will be conversant with corporeal pleasures, yet neither will it be conversant with all such pleasures. For those persons are not called either temperate or intemperate who are delighted with objects of sight, such as colors, and figures, and pictures; though it would seem that there is also a proper manner of being delighted with these, and that it is possible to be pleased with them according to excess and defect. Thus too in things pertaining to the hearing; for no one calls those persons intemperate, who are excessively delighted with melodies, or players; nor those temperate, who are delighted with them in a proper manner. Nor are those denominated temperate or intemperate, who are delighted with odors, except from accident. For we do not call those persons intemperate, who are delighted with the smell of apples, or roses, or odoriferous fumigations; but we rather denominate those persons so, who are delighted with the smell of ointments and food; for intemperate persons are pleased with these, because through these the recollection of the objects of their desires is produced. Others also may be seen, who when they are hungry are delighted with the smell of food; but to be delighted with things of this kind is the province of an intemperate man; for to such a one these things are objects of desire. Nor do other animals receive pleasure from these senses, except by accident. For neither are dogs delighted with the smell, but with the eating, of hares; the smell producing the sense, i.e., causing them to perceive food present; nor is the lion delighted with the voice of the ox, but with eating him; but he perceives through the voice of the ox that he is near, and is seen to be delighted with this perception. In like manner, neither is the lion delighted with seeing or finding a stag, or a wild goat; but he is pleased on seeing that from which he shall obtain food. Temperance and intemperance, therefore, are conversant with pleasures of this kind, of which also irrational animals partake. Hence these pleasures appear to be servile and savage; and they are the pleasures pertaining to the touch and the taste. Temperance and intemperance, however, appear to use the taste, but in a small degree, or not at all; for the judgment of sapors is the province of the taste; which those persons employ who make trial of wines and season food. The intemperate, however, are not very much delighted with these sapors, but with the enjoyment of the food; the whole of which is effected through the touch, in meats and drinks, and in what are called venereal concerns. Hence, a certain person named Philoxenus, the son of Eryx, who was most voracious in eating, wished that he had a neck longer than that of a crane, as being one who was delighted with the touch. The touch, therefore, with which intemperance is conversant is the most common of all the senses; and will appear to be justly disgraceful, because it exists in us not so far as we are men, but so far. as we are animals. To be delighted, therefore, with, and especially enamored of such pleasures, is beastly; for the most liberal of the pleasures which are perceived through the touch, are not to be numerated with these; such for instance as the pleasures in gymnastic exercises, produced through friction and heat; since the touch of the intemperate man does not pertain to the whole body, but to certain parts of it.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 11
Of desires, however, some appear to be common, but others peculiar and adventitious. Thus, for instance, the desire of food is indeed natural; for every one, when in want, desires either dry or moist nutriment; and sometimes both. And, as Homer’ says, both the young man, and he who is in the vigor of his age, desire the joys of love; but every one does not desire this or that food, nor the same food. Hence, this desire appears to be properly ours; and it possesses also something natural; for different things are pleasing to different persons, and the same thing is more agreeable to some persons than to others. Few, therefore, err in natural desires; and they err in these in one way, viz. in excess; for to eat or drink what casually presents itself, till an excessive fulness is produced, is to surpass, in multitude, what is conformable to nature; since natural desire is the replenishing of indigence. Hence, such persons are called gluttons, as replenishing the indigence of nature beyond what is becoming; and those who are very servile become men of this description. But in those pleasures which are peculiar, or proper, many persons err, and in many ways; for they are denominated lovers of things of this kind, either from being delighted with things which are not proper, or being pleased with them more than is proper, as is the case with the multitude, or not in such away as is proper, or not in that respect in which it is proper. The intemperate, however, exceed in all things; for they are delighted with somethings with which it is not proper to be delighted, since they are odious; and if it is requisite to be delighted with some of such things, they are delighted with them more than is proper, and after the manner of the multitude. That excess, therefore, in pleasures is intemperance, and that it is blamable, is evident. In pains, however, a man is not said to be temperate by enduring them, as in fortitude; nor intemperate by not enduring them; but he indeed is intemperate, who is pained more than is requisite, because he does not partake of pleasures; so that the pleasure gives him pain in consequence of being desired by him above measure. And he is said to be a temperate man, who is not pained by the absence of pleasure, and by abstaining from it. The intemperate man, therefore, desires all pleasant things, or those which are most eminently pleasant; and is led by desire, so as to choose what is most pleasant in preference to other things. Hence, also, he is pained, both when he is frustrated of pleasure, and when he desires it; for desire is accompanied with pain; though it seems to be absurd that a man should be pained on account of pleasure. Those, however, who are deficient in pleasures, and are delighted with them less than is proper, are not very frequent. For an insensibility of this kind is not human; since other animals also distinguish food, and are delighted with some kinds of it, and not with others. But he to whom nothing is delectable, and with whom one thing does not differ from another, is very remote from human nature; such a one also is without a name, because he does not very frequently exist. The temperate man, however, with respect to these things, subsists in a middle condition; for neither is he delighted with those things with which the intemperate man is especially delighted, but he is rather indignant with them; nor, in short, does he rejoice in things in which he ought not, nor is he very much delighted with any thing of this kind; nor is he pained if it is absent; nor does he desire it, except moderately, nor more than is proper, nor at a time when he ought not, nor, in short, any thing of this kind. But such things as, being delectable, contribute to health, or to a good habit of body – these he desires moderately, and in such a way as is proper. He also desires other delectable things, which are not an impediment to these, or which are not adverse to the beautiful in conduct, or above his income; for he who is thus affected, loves such pleasures beyond their desert. The temperate man, however, is not a person of this description, but is one who acts conformably to right reason.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book III, Chapter 12
Intemperance, however, appears to be more similar to the voluntary than timidity; for the former subsists on account of pleasure, but the latter on account of pain; of which, the one indeed is eligible, but the other is to be avoided. And pain indeed astounds and disturbs the nature of its possessor; but pleasure produces nothing of this kind. It is, therefore, more voluntary; and on this account also it is more disgraceful. For it is more easy to be accustomed to these things, since there are many such in life; and the being accustomed to them is unattended with danger. But the contrary takes place in things of a dreadful nature. Timidity, likewise, may appear not to be similarly voluntary with particulars. For timidity, indeed, is without pain; but particulars so astound men through pain, that they throw away their arms, and act in other things indecorously; and on this account they appear to be violent. The contrary, however, takes place with the intemperate man; for particulars with him are voluntary; since he desires them, and his appetite is directed to them. But the whole of an intemperate life is less voluntary; for no one desires to be intemperate. We transfer also the name of intemperance to puerile errors; for they possess a certain similitude; but which of these is denominated from the other, is of no consequence to the present discussion. It is, however, evident, that the latter is denominated from the former; nor does the transition appear to be badly made. For that which desires what is base is to be punished, and which has an abundant increase. But desires in a child are especially a thing of this kind; for children live according to desire, and in these the appetite of the delectable especially flourishes. If, therefore, this appetite is not obedient, and subject to the governor, reason, it increases abundantly. For the appetite of the delectable is insatiable, and in the stupid man is every way diffused; and the energy of desire increases that which is allied to it, so that if the desires are great and vehement, they expel the reasoning power. Hence, it is necessary that they should be moderate and few, and in no respect adverse to reason. But we call a thing of this kind obedient, and reformed by correction; for as it is necessary that a child should live conformably to the mandate of his preceptor, thus also it is requisite that the part of the soul which energizes according to desire should live conformably to reason. Hence it is necessary that this part of the soul in the temperate man should accord with reason; for the end proposed by both, i.e., by reason and desire in the temperate man, is the beautiful in conduct. And the temperate man desires those things which it is proper to desire, and as, and when it is proper. But reason likewise thus ordains. And thus much concerning temperance.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 1
In the next place, let us speak concerning liberality. But it appears to be a medium about riches. For the liberal man is praised, not in warlike concerns, nor in those things in which the temperate man is praised, nor, again, in judicial affairs, but in the giving and receiving of riches; and more in the giving, than the receiving. We call, however, riches everything, the worth of which is measured by money. But prodigality and illiberality are excesses and defects about riches. And we always, indeed, ascribe illiberality to those, who pay more attention to riches than is proper; but combining, we sometimes attribute prodigality to the intemperate. For we call both the incontinent, and those who consume their property in intemperance, prodigals. Hence, men of this description appear to be most depraved; for at one and the same time they have many vices. They are not however, appropriately denominated. For he is a prodigal, who has one certain vice, viz. the consumption of his property. For he is a prodigal, who is destroyed through himself; since the consumption of his property appears to be a certain destruction of himself, as through this the means of living are obtained. In this way, therefore, we consider prodigality.
With respect to those things, however, of which there is a certain use, it is possible to use them well or ill. But wealth is among the number of things useful. And he uses everything in the best manner, who possesses the virtue pertaining to each thing. He, therefore, will use wealth in the best manner, who has the virtue pertaining to riches; and he is the liberal man. The use, however, of riches appears to be expense and donation; but the accepting and preservation of riches, is rather possession. Hence, it is more the province of a liberal man to give to those to whom it is proper, than to receive whence it is proper, and not to receive whence it is not proper. For it is more the province of virtue to benefit than to be benefited, and to perform things which are beautiful, than not to perform things which are base. It is not, however, immanifest, that to giving, to benefit and to act beautifully are consequent; but to receiving, to be benefited, or not to act basely. Thanks, also, are presented to the giver, but not to the receiver; and praise is rather bestowed on the former than the latter. It is, likewise, more easy not to receive than to give; for men are less willing to bestow what is their own, than not to receive what belongs to another. Those, also, who bestow are called liberal; but those who do not receive, are not praised for liberality, but are no less praised for justice. Those, however, who receive, are not very much praised. But of all those who are loved on account of virtue, the liberal are nearly beloved the most; for they benefit others; and this consists in giving. The actions, however, according to virtue are beautiful, and are for the sake of the beautiful. The liberal man, therefore, gives for the sake of the beautiful, and gives rightly; for he gives to those to whom it is proper, and such things as are proper, and when it is proper, and whatever other particulars are consequent to giving rightly; and this he does either delectably, or without pain. For that which is conformable to virtue is delectable or without pain, but is in the smallest degree painful. But he who gives to those to whom it is not proper, or not for the sake of the beautiful, but from some other cause, is not liberal, but must be called by some other name. Nor is he liberal who gives with pain; for such a one would prefer riches to a beautiful action; but this is not the province of a liberal man. Nor does the liberal man receive from whence it is not proper to receive; for neither is such a kind of receiving the province of one who does not honor riches. Neither will the liberal man be readily disposed to ask a favor; for it is not the province of him who benefits, to be benefited easily. But he will take whence it is proper; as, for instance, from his own possessions, not as a thing beautiful, but as necessary, in order that he may have the means of giving. Nor will he neglect his own affairs, because he wishes, through these, to supply the wants of certain persons. Nor will he give to any casual persons, in order that he may have to give to those to whom it is proper, and when it is proper, and where it is beautiful to give. It is, likewise, very much the province of a liberal man, so to exceed in giving, as to leave but little for himself; for it is the property of a liberal man not to consider himself. But liberality is denominated according to the property which is possessed; for the liberal does not consist in the multitude of gifts, but in the habit of the giver; and this habit gives according to the means of giving. Nothing, however, hinders but that he may be a more liberal man who gives fewer things, if he gives them from less means. But those persons appear to be more liberal, who have not acquired property themselves, but have received it from others; for they have had no experience of want, and all men are more attached to their own works, as is evident in parents and poets. It is not, however, easy for the liberal man to be rich, since he is neither anxious to receive nor preserve wealth, but is more disposed to give, and does not honor riches on their own account, but for the sake of giving. Hence, also, fortune is accused, because those who most deserve to be, are in the smallest degree, wealthy. This, however, does not happen unreasonably; for it is not possible that he should be rich, who pays no attention to the means of obtaining wealth; as is also the case in other things. Nevertheless, the liberal man will not give to those to whom he ought not, nor when he ought not, and other things of the like kind; for if he did, he would no longer act conformably to liberality; and by thus consuming his wealth improperly, he would not have the means of giving to those to whom he ought to give. For as we have said, he is a liberal man who spends according to his property, and on things on which he ought to spend; but he who exceeds his means in spending, is a prodigal. Hence, we do not call tyrants prodigals; for it does not seem to be easy by gifts and expenses to exceed the abundance of their possessions. Since, therefore, liberality is a medium which is conversant about giving and receiving riches, the liberal man will give and spend on things on which he ought, and as much as he ought, as well in small things as in great; and he will thus act willingly, and with pleasure. He will likewise receive whence it is proper, and such things as he ought to receive. For since this virtue is a medium about giving and receiving, he will do both these in such a way as is proper; since a receiving of this kind is consequent to giving equitably; but a receiving which is not of this kind, is the contrary. Things, therefore, which are consequent may subsist together in the same thing; but it is evident that contraries cannot. But if it should happen to the liberal man that he should spend beyond what he ought, and beyond what is becoming, he will be pained, yet moderately, and in such a manner as is proper. For it is the province of virtue to be pleased and pained with those things with which it is proper to be so, and in such a way as is proper. The liberal man, also, is very pliable in pecuniary contracts. For he may be injured, since he does not honor riches; and he is more indignant if he has not spent what he ought, than pained if he has spent what he ought not; for he does not assent to Simonides.’ But the prodigal errs, also, in these things. For he is neither pleased nor pained with things with which he ought, nor as he ought; but this will be more evident as we proceed.
It has, however, been observed by us, that prodigality and illiberality are excesses and defects; and in two things, viz. in giving and receiving. For we place expense in the same class with giving. Prodigality, therefore, exceeds in giving and not receiving, but it fails in receiving. And illiberality fails, indeed, in giving, but exceeds in receiving, except in small things. The peculiarities, therefore, of prodigality cannot be very much conjoined. For it is not easy for him who receives nothing, to give to every one; since the property of those private individuals rapidly fails, who also appear to be prodigals. For a man of this description does seem to be better, though not much, than the illiberal man; for he is easily cured by age, and by want, and may arrive at the medium. For he has the properties of the liberal man; since he gives, and does not receive; yet neither as he ought, nor in a becoming manner. If, therefore, he should happen to be accustomed to this, or in some other way should be changed, he would become liberal; for he would give to those to whom it is proper, and would not receive whence it is not proper. Hence, the prodigal does not appear to be depraved in his manners; for it is not the property of a bad, or ignoble, but of a stupid man, to exceed in giving and not receiving. But the who is prodigal after this manner, appears to be much better than the illiberal man, for the above-mentioned reasons, and also because the one benefits many, but the other no one, and not even himself. The multitude of prodigals, however, as we have said, receive whence they ought not, and according to this are illiberal. But they become prompt to receive, because, through being willing to spend, they are unable to do this with facility; for the means of spending rapidly fail them. Hence, they are compelled to procure money elsewhere; but at the same time, because they pay no attention to the beautiful in conduct, they receive negligently, and from every one indiscriminately. For they desire to give; but it is of no consequence to them how, or whence they give. On this account, neither are their gifts liberal; for they are not beautiful, nor for the sake of this very thing the beautiful in conduct, nor are they bestowed as they ought to be; but sometimes they cause those to be rich who ought to be poor, and give nothing to men whose manners are moderate, but bestow much, on flatterers, or those who are the means of procuring them any other pleasures. Hence, also, most of them are intemperate; for as they spend their money easily, they likewise spend profusely, on things of an intemperate nature; and because they do not live with a view to the beautiful in conduct, they incline to pleasures. The prodigal, therefore, unless he is corrected, falls into these vices; but by care and diligence, he may arrive at the medium, and to what is becoming in conduct.
Illiberality, however, is incurable; for old age, and every infirmity, appear to render men illiberal, and it is more congenial to them than prodigality. For the multitude are more desirous of gain, than disposed to give. Illiberality, likewise, extends widely, and is multiform; since there appear to be many modes of it. For, consisting in two things, a deficiency in giving, and excess in receiving, it is not wholly and entirely present with all illiberal men, but sometimes it is divided; and some, in deed, exceed in receiving, but others are deficient in giving. For all those to whom such appellations apply, as, niggardly, tenacious, and sordid, are deficient in giving; but they do not desire the property of others, nor do they wish to receive, some, indeed, through a certain probity, and an avoidance of base conduct. For some of them seem to take care of their own property, or at least say that they do so, in order that they may not at any time be compelled to do any thing base. Of these characters, however, the skinflint, and every one of the like kind, is so denominated from giving to no one in excess. But others of these abstain from property which is not their own, through fear, because it is not easy for him who takes what belongs to others, to preserve his own property unviolated. Hence, they are disposed neither to receive nor give. Others, again, exceed in receiving, in consequence of receiving on all sides and everything; such as those who perform illiberal works, together with panders, usurers, gamesters, sharpers, and other depredators, and those who for the sake of a little, subject themselves to great infamy. For all these receive whence they ought not, and what they ought not. The acquisition, however, of base gain appears to be common to these; for all of them endure disgrace for the sake of gain, and this small. For we do not call those illiberal, who receive great things whence they ought not, and such as they ought not, as, for instance, tyrants, the subverters of cities, and the plunderers of temples; but we rather call them depraved and impious, and unjust. The gamester, indeed, the highwayman, and the sharper, are among the number of illiberal characters; for they are addicted to base gain; since, for the sake of gain, they devote themselves to these employments, and endure disgrace. And some, indeed, expose themselves to the greatest dangers for the sake of what they may get; but others gain something from their friends to whom they ought to give. Both these, therefore, since they wish to enrich themselves whence they ought not, are addicted to base gain; and all such receivings are illiberal. Reasonably, also, is illiberality said to be contrary to liberality; for it is a greater evil than prodigality, and men err more in this than in the prodigality of which we have spoken above. And thus much concerning liberality, and the opposite vices.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 2
It would seem to follow that we should, in the next place, discuss magnificence; for it also appears to be a certain virtue which is conversant with riches. It does not, however, in the same manner as liberality, extend to all pecuniary actions, but only to those that are sumptuous. … But in these it surpasses liberality in magnitude; for, as its name signifies, it is a becoming costliness in great things. Magnitude, however, is a relative; for the same expense does not become the commander of a three-ranked galley, and the president of a public spectacle. The becoming, therefore, subsists with reference to him who spends, and to the thing on which he spends his money, and the money which is spent. He, however, who spends with decorum in small, or in moderate things, is not called magnificent; such as,
To vagrant mendicants I oft have giv’n;
but he who spends appropriately in great things. For the magnificent is a liberal man; but the liberal man is not, because liberal, magnificent. Of a habit, however, of this kind, the deficiency indeed is called parsimony; but the excess, vulgar ostentation, and ignorance of what is elegant; and such other appellations as belong to habits which do not exceed in magnitude about things in which great expense is becoming, but exhibit a splendid profusion, in things in which such profusion is not. proper. Concerning these, however, we shall speak hereafter. But the magnificent resembles the scientific man; for he is able to survey what is decorous, and can spend largely with elegance. For, as we said in the beginning, habit is defined by energies, and by those things of which it is the habit. But the expenses of the magnificent man are great and becoming; and such also are his deeds; for thus the expense will be great, and adapted to the deed. Hence, it is necessary that the deed should be worthy the expense, and the expense worthy the deed, or even surpassing it. The magnificent man, therefore, spends after this manner for the sake of the beautiful in conduct; for this is common to the virtues; and he also spends with pleasure and largely, because an accurate attention to expense, is the province of a parsimonious man. The magnificent man, likewise, will rather consider how he may accomplish the most beautiful and becoming work, than the money it will cost, and how it may be accomplished with the least expense. It is necessary, therefore, that the magnificent should also be a liberal man; for the liberal man spends what he ought, and as he ought. But in these things whatever is great pertains to the magnificent man, magnificence being as it were a certain magnitude of liberality. Since, however, liberality is conversant with the same things as magnificence, the magnificent man will produce a more magnificent work from an equal expense. For there is not the same virtue of possession and a work; since the virtue of a possession is, to be of great worth, and most precious, as gold; but the virtue of a work is to be great and beautiful. For the survey of a thing of this kind is admirable. But the magnificent is admirable; and the virtue of a work is magnificence in magnitude. Among expenses, however, which we call honorable, are such as pertain to the worship of the gods, gifts dedicated to divinity, the building of temples, and sacrifices; and in a similar manner such things as pertain to every demoniacal nature, and such as are bestowed on the community at large from a laudable ambition. Thus the expenses of the magnificent man will be of this kind, if he should think it requisite to furnish public spectacles splendidly, or three-ranked gallies, or to feast the city. But in all things, as we have said, it must be considered who the agent is, and what the means are which he possesses. For the expense ought to be such as is worthy of the means, and not only adapted to the work, but also to him by whom it is effected. Hence a poor cannot be a magnificent man; for he has not the means of spending much in a becoming manner. The poor man, therefore, who endeavors to do so is stupid; for such an endeavor is repugnant to his means and to the becoming. But that which is done rightly, is done according to virtue. Such expense, however, becomes those who possess hereditary wealth, or have procured it themselves, or have derived it from their ancestors, or by legacy. And it likewise becomes those who are noble and renowned, and other persons of the like kind; for all these have magnitude and dignity. The magnificent man, therefore, is especially a person of this description; and magnificence, as we have said, consists in such-like expenses; for they are the greatest, and the most honorable.
With respect to private expenses, however, those pertain to the magnificent man, which are incurred but once; such as marriage, and whatever also there may be of the like kind, and that about which the whole city is earnestly occupied, or those who are in a dignified situation. Also such expenses as pertain to the receiving and dismissing of strangers, together with gifts and remunerations. For the magnificent man does not spend sumptuously on himself, but on the public. But gifts have something similar to things consecrated to the gods. It is also the province of a magnificent man to build a house in a manner adapted to wealth, for this also is a certain ornament; and to bestow more upon those works which are more lasting; for these are most beautiful. It is likewise his province, in each of these to observe the becoming; for the same things are not adapted to gods and men, either in building a temple or a sepulcher. And every essence, indeed, is great in its own kind; and that is most magnificent which is great in a great thing; but that is so in the second place which is great in these things. For there is a difference between magnitude in a work, and magnitude in expense; since a ball, indeed, or a most beautiful jug, possess the magnificence of a childish gift; but the price of these is small and illiberal. On this account it is the province of a magnificent man to do magnificently whatever he may do, in every genus of things. For a thing of this kind cannot easily be transcended, and the magnitude of the expense is appropriate. Such, therefore, is the magnificent man. But he who exceeds and is vulgarly ostentatious, exceeds by spending, as we have before observed, beyond what is becoming. For in small things, and which require but small expense, he consumes much money, and is discordantly splendid. Thus, for instance, he will prepare a wedding dinner through ostentation, and give money to players who are present at the entertainment, as if it were for the public advantage. And in plays he will introduce a purple curtain before the scenes, as is done by the Megarensians. He will likewise do everything of this kind, not for the sake of the beautiful in conduct, but that he may display his wealth, and fancies that on account of these things he shall be admired. In things likewise where much expense is required, he spends but little; but where little expense is required, he spends largely. The parsimonious man, however, is deficient in everything; and when he has incurred a great expense, then looking to the completion of the work, by a too accurate investigation, he leaves it imperfect through too little expense. Everything also which he does is accompanied with delay and consideration; and on this account he laments, and fancies that he does everything on a larger scale than he ought. These habits, therefore, are vices; yet they do not bring with them disgrace, because they are neither injurious to others, nor base in the extreme.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 3
But magnanimity is conversant with great things, as is evident from the very name. What the quality of the things is, however, with which it is conversant, we must in the first place consider. But it makes no difference whether we survey the habit, or him who subsists according to the habit. He, however, appears to be magnanimous who deserving great things thinks that he deserves them; for he who thinks thus of himself undeservedly, is stupid. But no one who is endued with virtue, is either stupid or a fool. The above-mentioned character, therefore, is magnanimous. For he who deserves small things, and thinks that he deserves them, is a modest, but not a magnanimous man; since magnanimity consists in magnitude, just as beauty consists in a large body; for small men are elegant, and have symmetry of form, but are not beautiful. He, however, who thinks that he deserves great things, but thus thinks undeservedly, is proud; though not every one is proud, who, deserving many things, thinks he deserves more. But he who estimates himself less than he deserves is pusillanimous, if, deserving things of a moderate or small nature, he thinks himself to deserve still less than these. And he will especially appear to be a character of this kind, who, deserving great things, has this humiliating opinion of himself. For what would he do if he were not deserving of such things? The magnanimous man, therefore, is in magnitude the summit, but in that which is requisite the middle; for he thinks himself deserving of that which he does deserve; but the other characters exceed and are deficient. Hence, if deserving great things he thinks that he deserves them, and especially if he deserves the greatest things, he will principally be conversant with one thing. What this is, therefore, must be assumed from desert, and desert is denominated with reference to external goods. We must, however, consider that as the greatest of external goods, which we attribute to the Gods, after which those who are in a dignified situation especially aspire, and which is the reward of the most beautiful deeds. But honor is a thing of this kind; for this is the greatest of external goods. The magnanimous man, therefore, is conversant with honor and dishonor, in such a manner as is proper. And indeed, without any reasoning process, the magnanimous appear to be conversant with honor; for great men especially think themselves deserving of honor; but they think so deservedly. The pusillanimous man, however, is deficient both with respect to himself, and the desert of the magnanimous man. But the proud man exceeds, indeed, with respect to himself, yet not with respect to the magnanimous man. The magnanimous man, however, if he is deserving of the greatest things, will be the best of men; for a better character always deserves something greater, and the best of characters deserves the greatest of things. Hence it is necessary, that the truly magnanimous man should be a good man; and that which is great in every virtue will appear to belong to the magnanimous man. Nor does it by any means accord with the character of the magnanimous man to fly, agitated with fear, or to injure any one. For on what account will he act basely, to whom nothing is great. But from a survey of particulars, the magnanimous man will appear to be ridiculous, if he is not a good man. Nor, indeed, will he be worthy of honor if he is a bad man; for honor is the reward of virtue, and is conferred on good men. Magnanimity, therefore, appears to be, as it were, a certain ornament of the virtues; for it causes them to be greater, and does not exist without them. On this account it is truly difficult to be magnanimous; for it is not possible to be so without integrity and worth.
The magnanimous man, therefore, is especially conversant with honor and dishonor. And with great honors, indeed, and those which are conferred by worthy men, he is moderately pleased, as being things familiar and adapted to him, or rather less than he deserves; for there can be no honor equal to the desert of all-perfect virtue. Nevertheless, he will admit these honors, because they have not anything greater to confer upon him. But he will entirely despise the honor which is paid him by casual persons, and for things of a trifling nature; for these do not accord with his desert. And in a similar manner he will despise dishonor; for it will not justly befall him. The magnanimous man, therefore, as we have said, is especially conversant with honor. Nevertheless, with respect to wealth also, and power, and all prosperous and adverse fortune, he will conduct himself in these moderately, in whatever manner they may take place. And neither in prosperity will he be very much elated, nor in adversity very much dejected. For neither is he affected with respect to honor, as if it were the greatest of things, since dominion and wealth are eligible on account of honor. Those, therefore, who possess these, wish through them to be honored.” To him, however, to whom honor is a small thing, other things also will be small. Hence, likewise, magnanimous men appear to be supercilious. Prosperity, however, seems to contribute to magnanimity. For those that are nobly born are thought worthy of honor; and also men in authority, and those that are rich; for they surpass others. But everything which excels in good, is more honorable. Hence also things of this kind cause men to be more magnanimous; for they are honored by certain persons on account of them. In reality, however, the good man alone is to be honored; but he who possesses both these, i.e., good fortune and virtue, is reckoned more deserving of honor. Those, however, who possess such-like goods without virtue, neither justly think themselves worthy of great things, nor are rightly called magnanimous men; for magnanimity cannot exist without all-perfect virtue. But those who possess things of this kind become supercilious and insolent, and bad men; for without virtue, it is not easy to bear prosperity elegantly. But not being able to bear prosperity, and fancying that they surpass other men, they despise them, and act in a casual manner. For they imitate the magnanimous man without resembling him; and they do this in those things in which they are able. They do not, therefore, act conformably to virtue, but they despise other men. The magnanimous man, however, justly despises others; for he forms a true opinion of men and things; but the opinion of the multitude is casually formed.
The magnanimous man also neither exposes himself to small dangers, nor is a lover of danger, because there are but few things which he considers to be of great importance. But he exposes himself to great dangers, and when he is in danger, is not sparing of his life, because he does not consider life as a thing of great importance. He is likewise disposed to benefit others, but is ashamed to be benefited; for the former is the province of one who surpasses, but the latter of one who is surpassed. And the benefit which he returns exceeds what he received. For thus it will come to pass, that he who first ‘bestowed the benefit, will be his debtor, and will be benefited by him. Magnanimous men also appear to remember those whom they have benefited, but not those from whom they have derived any advantage; for he who receives, is inferior to him who confers, the benefit. But the magnanimous man wishes to excel. Hence, neither does Thetis mention the benefits she had conferred on Jupiter, nor the Lacedaemonians those which they had conferred on the Athenians, but those which they had received from them. It is likewise the property of a magnanimous man to ask nothing of any one, or scarcely to do so, but to administer readily to the wants of others. And towards those indeed who are in a dignified situation, and in prosperous circumstances, to be great in his behavior, but moderate towards those who are in a middle condition. For to surpass the former is difficult and venerable, but it is easy to excel the latter. And, to conduct himself with dignity among the former is not ignoble, but among the lower class of men it is arrogant, in the same manner as it would be for a man to display his strength among the infirm. It is also the property of the magnanimous man not to betake himself to things which are held in honorable estimation, or where others possess the principal place. Likewise, to be at leisure, and given to delay, except where great honor is to be obtained, or some great work is to be accomplished; and to perform a few things, indeed, but these great and celebrated. It is also necessary that he should openly hate and openly love; for to conceal love or hatred is the province of one who is afraid. It is likewise the property of the magnanimous man, to regard truth more than opinion. And also to speak and act openly; for this is the province of the man who despises others. Hence he uses the greatest freedom of speech; for this pertains to him who speaks freely. Hence, too, he is a despiser of others, and a lover of truth, unless when he speaks ironically; but his language is ironical to the vulgar. The magnanimous man, likewise, is unable to live with any other person than a friend; for it is servile. Hence all flatterers are mercenary; and all humble men are flatterers. Nor is he given to admiration; for to him nothing is great in human affairs. Nor is he mindful of injuries; for it is not the province of a magnanimous man to be mindful, and especially of evils; but rather to overlook them. Nor does he speak about men; for neither does he speak about himself, nor about another person. For he is not concerned, either that he himself may be praised, or that others may be blamed. Nor again, is he addicted to praise. Hence, neither does he defame any one, not even his enemies, unless in order to remove contumely from himself. And in necessary, or small affairs, he is by no means querulous and suppliant; for to be so is the province of a man who considers such affairs as of great consequence. He is likewise so disposed, as to prefer the possession of things beautiful and unattended with advantage, to such as are advantageous and useful; for this is more the province of one who is sufficient to himself. The motion, also, of the magnanimous man is slow, his voice is grave, and his diction stable. For he who is earnestly attentive to but few things is not prone to be hasty; nor is he vehemently strenuous, who considers nothing in human affairs as great. But acuteness of voice, and rapidity of motion, are produced from vehemence, and considering human affairs as important. Such, therefore, is the magnanimous man.
He, however, who is deficient in magnanimity, is pusillanimous; but he who exceeds, is proud and arrogant. Neither, however, do these characters appear to be bad; for they are not malevolent, but wander from the medium. For the pusillanimous man, indeed, deserving good things, deprives himself of what he deserves; and appears to have something depraved, in consequence of not thinking himself to deserve what is good. He, also, is ignorant of himself; for if he were not, he would aspire after things of which he is worthy, such things being good. Such men, however, do not appear to be stupid, but rather to be sluggish. But an opinion of this kind seems to render them worse; for every one desires what is adapted to his desert. They, likewise, withdraw themselves from beautiful actions and pursuits, as if they were unworthy of them; and in a similar manner, from external goods. But the proud and arrogant are stupid, and ignorant of themselves, and this obviously; for they endeavor to obtain honorable things, as if they deserved them, and afterwards are reprobated by others for so doing. They also study the ornament of dress, graceful deportment, and the like; and they wish that their prosperity may be apparent; and they speak of themselves, as if they were to be honored on account of these things. Pusillanimity, however, is more opposed to magnanimity than pride and arrogance; for it more frequently occurs, and is a worse evil. Magnanimity therefore is, as we have said, conversant with great honor.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 4
It seems, however, that a certain virtue is conversant with honor, as we have before observed, which would appear to have a similar relation to magnanimity, that liberality has to magnificence; for both these virtues are remote from magnitude, but dispose us in such a way as is proper with respect to things moderate and small. But as in the receiving and giving of money there are a medium, excess, and defect; thus, also, in the appetition of honor, there are the more and the less than is proper, and whence it is proper, and as it is proper. For we blame the ambitious man, as aspiring after honor more than is proper, and whence it is not proper to obtain it; and we blame the unambitious man, as not deliberately choosing to be honored even for actions that are beautiful. Sometimes, however, we praise the ambitious man as virile, and a lover of beautiful conduct; but the unambitious man as modest and temperate, as we have before observed. But it is evident, that since the lover of a certain thing is said to be so multifariously, we do not always refer the lover of honor to the same thing; but when we praise him, it is because he desires honor more than the vulgar desire it, and when we blame him, it is because he desires it more than is proper. Since, however, the medium is anonymous, the extremes appear to contend for it as for a solitary place. But in those things in which there are excess and defect, there is also a medium. Men, also, aspire after honor more or less than is proper; and, therefore, they also aspire after it in such a way as is proper. Hence, this habit is praised, which is an anonymous medium about honor. It appears, however, with reference to ambition, to be a privation of ambition, and to be ambition with reference to a privation of ambition; and to be in a certain respect both with reference to both. This also appears to be the case in the other virtues. Here, however, the extremes are seen to be opposed to each other, because the middle is without a name.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 5
But mildness is, indeed, a medium conversant with anger. Since, however, the virtue which conducts itself moderately with respect to anger, is anonymous, and this is, also, nearly the case with the extremes, we refer mildness to the medium, though it appears to incline rather to the deficiency in anger, which deficiency is anonymous. But the excess may be called a certain angriness. For the passion is anger; but the causes of it are many and various. He, therefore, who is angry from causes, and with persons with which it is proper to be angry, and farther still, in such a manner as is proper, and when, and as long as it is proper, is praised. Hence, he will be a mild man, since mildness is praised. For the mild man wishes to be without perturbation, and not to be led by passion; but to be angry as reason may ordain in these things, and for as long a time as it prescribes. He appears, however, rather to err in the deficiency with respect to anger; for the mild man is not given to revenge, but is rather inclined to pardon. But the deficiency, whether it be a certain lenity, or whatever it may be, is blamed. For those who are not angry from causes for which it is proper to be angry, appear to be stupid; and this is also the case with those who are not angry as it is proper, nor when it is proper, nor with those persons with whom it is proper; since they appear to be without sensation, and to be void of pain. And, also, since they are not angry, they are not inclined to revenge. For it is servile for a man to endure the insolent behavior of others towards himself, and his own relations. Excess, however, in anger has a manifold subsistence. For it is possible to be angry with persons and from causes with which it is not proper, and also more and less, and for a longer time than is proper. All these excesses, however, are not inherent in the same person; for it is not possible that they should be. For evil destroys itself, and if it is perfect and entire is intolerable. Those, therefore, who are irascible rapidly become angry, and with things and from causes with which they ought not to be angry, and also more than is proper; but they quickly cease to be angry, which is a most excellent thing. But this happens to them because they do not restrain their anger, but return an injury as soon as they have received it. Hence their anger, on account of its celerity, is manifest; but afterwards they cease to be angry. The extremely irascible, however, are excessively rapid in their anger, and are angry with everything, and on every occasion, whence, also, they derive their appellation. But the bitterly angry, are with difficulty liberated from anger, and are angry for a long time; for they detain their anger from bursting forth. They cease, however, to be angry when they have taken vengeance on those that angered them; for vengeance appeases anger, producing pleasure instead of pain. But if vengeance does not take place, they are oppressed with a heavy burden; for because the manner in which they are affected is not apparent, neither does any one persuade them to be appeased. Time, however, is requisite for them to concoct their anger. But men of this description, are most troublesome to themselves, and to those who are especially their friends. We, likewise, call those men severe in their anger, who are angry from causes for which they ought not, and in a greater degree, and for a longer time than is proper, and who cannot be appeased without revenge or punishment. To mildness, however, we rather oppose the excess than the defect; for it is more frequent; since it is more human to revenge an injury. Severe men, also, are worse for the purpose of association. But that which we before observed, is also manifest from what we now say. For it is not easy to define how, and with what persons, and from what causes, and for how long a time, a man should be angry, and also to what extent he may be so rightly, or erroneously. For he who transgresses in a small degree is not blamed, whether he inclines to the more, or to the less; since we sometimes praise those that are deficient, and call them mild; and sometimes we call those who are severely angry, virile, as being men who are able to govern others. It is not, therefore, easy to explain in words, the quantity and mode of transgression which is blamable; for the judgment of this is situated in particulars, and in sense. Thus much, however, is evident, that the middle habit indeed is laudable, according to which we are angry with those persons, and from those causes that it is proper to be so, and in such a manner as is proper, and everything else of the like kind. But the excesses and defects are blamable. And these, indeed, if they deviate but a little from the medium, are blamable in a small degree; if more, in a greater degree; and if much, they are very blamable. It is evident, therefore, that the middle habit must be retained. And thus we have discussed the habits pertaining to anger.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 6
In the associations, however, of men with each other, and in the communication of words and deeds, some persons appear to be placid and obsequious, who praise everything with a view to the pleasure of those with whom they associate, and are not their opponents in any thing, in consequence of fancying that they ought not, by any means, to offend them. Others, on the contrary, are adverse to their associates in everything, and are not at all concerned about whom they may offend; and these are called morose and litigious. That the abovementioned habits, therefore, are blamable, is not immanifest; and, also, that the medium between these is laudable, according to which a man admits what he ought, and as he ought, and is in a similar manner indignant. No name, however, is given to this medium; but it seems especially to resemble friendship. For he who subsists according to this middle habit, is such a one as we wish a worthy friend to be, if he also assumes, in conjunction with it, a love resembling filial love. But it differs from friendship, because it is without passion and a love resembling filial love, towards those upon whom it is exercised. For it does not admit everything in such a manner as is fit, in consequence of loving or hating, but from a habit of approving or reprehending properly. For he who possesses this habit, will be similarly affable to those whom he does not, and to those whom he does know, to his associates, and to those with whom he does not associate, except that to each of these his affability will be appropriate. For it is not fit similarly to pay attention, or give pain, to familiars and strangers. We have, therefore, universally shown, that he will conduct himself in his associations in such a manner as is proper; but referring his actions to the beautiful in conduct and the useful, his aim will be neither to give pain to, nor delight others, by obsequiousness. For this virtue appears to be conversant with the pains and pleasures which take place in associations. But when the possessor of this virtue cannot delight his associates worthily, or without injuring them, he is indignant, and deliberately chooses to give them pain, rather than to injure them by obsequiousness. He, also, will not permit another person to be obsequious to him in those things which are attended with no small disgrace, or injury, and the contrary to which produces but little pain; but he will rather be indignant. He will, likewise, associate differently with those who are in a dignified situation, and any casual persons, and with those who are more or less known to him. In a similar manner, also, in other differences, he will attribute to every one what it is fit for each person to receive. And he will, indeed, choose to give delight to others, as a thing of itself eligible, but will cautiously avoid giving them pain. And with respect to events, if they are greater, he will follow them; I mean, he will follow the beautiful in conduct and the advantageous; and for the sake of great pleasure afterwards, he will give pain in a small degree. Such, therefore, is the middle character, but he is without a name. With respect, however, to those who delight others, he who aims at pleasing, and nothing else, may be called accommodating; but he who does this in order that he may derive some pecuniary advantage, or such things as are procured through money, is a flatterer. And he who is indignant with everything, we have already said, is morose and litigious. The extremes, however, appear to be opposed to each other, because the medium is anonymous.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 7
The medium of arrogance, also, is nearly conversant with the same things; but this medium, likewise, is anonymous. It will not, however, be foreign from the purpose to discuss such-like habits; for by discussing each particular we shall know more of what pertains to manners, and shall be persuaded that the virtues are media, when we understand what takes place in all of them. With respect, therefore, to the associations of men with each other, we have already spoken concerning those who associate with a view to pleasure and pain. But let us now consider those who are men of veracity or falsehood, alike in words and deeds, and dissimulation. The arrogant man, therefore, appears to be one who pretends to things of a splendid nature which he does not possess, or to such as are more splendid than he possesses. The dissembler, on the contrary, denies what he possesses, or makes it to be less than it is. But the middle character, forming a just opinion of himself, is a man of veracity in his life, and in his words, acknowledging that he possesses what he does possess, and neither more nor less. Each of these, however, may be done for the sake of something, or for the sake of nothing. But such as a man is, such also will be his words and actions, and such also will be his life, unless he acts for the sake of something. Of itself, however, falsehood is bad and blamable; but truth is beautiful and laudable. Hence, the man of veracity, indeed, being a middle character, is laudable; but of the two characters who want veracity, both indeed are blamable; but the arrogant man more than the other. We s shall, however, speak concerning each of these, and in the first place concerning the man of veracity. For we do not speak of the man who has veracity in compacts, and in things which pertain to injustice or justice; for this will belong to another virtue; but we speak of him who, though nothing of this kind should occur, is a man of veracity both in words and in his life, because he is such from habit. But such a one will appear to be a worthy man. For he who is a lover of truth, and who speaks the truth in things in which it is of no consequence whether he does or not, will in a still greater degree speak the truth in things in which it is of consequence. For he will avoid what is false as base, and which also he will of itself avoid; but such a man is worthy of praise. He will, however, if it should be requisite to deviate from the medium rather incline to what is less than the truth; for this appears to be more elegant, because excesses are troublesome and invidious. But he who pretends that he possesses things of greater consequence than he really does, and this for the sake of nothing else, resembles indeed the depraved man; for otherwise he would not be delighted with falsehood; yet he seems to be rather a vain than a bad man. If, however, he does this for the sake of something, such as glory or honor, he is not very blamable, as the arrogant man is; but if he does it for the sake of money, or of things which pertain to money, he is more base. But the arrogant man is not characterized by capacity or power, but by deliberate choice; for he is arrogant according to habit, and because he is such a character. Thus also with respect to the man who is without veracity; one delights in falsehood itself, but another delights in it in consequence of aspiring after glory or gain. Those, therefore, who are arrogant for the sake of glory, pretend to the possession of those things for which men are praised, or proclaimed to be happy; but those who are arrogant for the sake of gain, pretend to be those characters with which others are delighted, and of which the non-possession may be latent; such as to be a physician, or a prophet, or a wise man. On this account, most men pretend and arrogate to themselves things of this kind; for they possess the above-mentioned qualities. Dissemblers, or the ironical, however, who speak less than the truth, appear indeed to be more elegant in their manners; for they do not seem to speak for the sake of gain, but in consequence of avoiding fastidiousness. But these persons especially deny that they possess things of an illustrious nature; as also Socrates did. Those, however, who pretend that they do not possess small things, and which are obvious, are called crafty or delicate deceivers, and are very contemptible men. Sometimes, also, this species of dissimulation: appears to be arrogance; such, for instance, as the garments of the Lacedaemonians. For excess and very great deficiency, alike pertain to arrogance. But those who moderately use irony, and are ironical in things which are not very much known and obvious, appear to be elegant men. The o arrogant man, however, seems to be opposed to the man of veracity; for he is a worse character.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 8
Since, however, there is a certain relaxation in life, and rest from labor, and since this remission is accompanied with jesting; it appears that here also there is a certain elegant method of conversation, in which such things are said as are proper, and are delivered in a proper manner; and similarly with respect to hearing what it is proper to hear, and hearing it in such a way as is fit. But there is a difference in speaking to some persons rather than to others, and in hearing some things rather than others. It is evident, however, that in these things also there is an excess and deficiency with respect to the medium. Those, therefore, who exceed in the ridiculous, appear to be scurrilous and troublesome; for they entirely affect the ridiculous, and aim more at exciting laughter, than at speaking in a becoming manner, and not giving pain to the object of their ridicule. But those who do not say themselves anything ridiculous, and are indignant with those who do, appear to be rustic and rigorous. Those, however, who jest elegantly, are called facetious and versatile, as being of a flexible genius; for of manners there appear to be such-like motions. But as a judgment is formed of bodies from motions, so likewise of manners. Since, however, there is a redundancy of the ridiculous, and most men delight in jests and caviling more than is proper; the scurrilous also are called versatile, as being polite and pleasant men. But that they differ, and in no small degree, is evident from what has been said.
To the middle habit, also, dexterity is appropriate. But it is the province of a dexterous man to say and hear such things, as are adapted to a worthy and liberal man; for there are certain things which it becomes such a one to say and hear in jest. And the jesting of a liberal differs from that of a servile man, and again, the jesting of an erudite differs from that of an inerudite man. But the truth of this may be seen, both from ancient and modern comedies; for in the former, the ridiculous consisted in obscenity; but in the latter, the suspicion of obscenity rather excited laughter. These things, however, differ in no small degree with respect to the decorous and elegant. Whether, therefore, is he who ridicules well to be defined by this, that he says what it becomes a liberal man to say?, or by this, that he does not pain, or that he delights the hearer? Or shall we say that a thing of this kind is indefinite? For a different thing is odious and pleasing to a different person. He will also hear things of this kind, viz. things which are adapted to a worthy and liberal man; for such things as a man endures to hear, such also he appears to do. He will not, therefore, do or say everything; for caviling is a certain invective. Legislators, however, forbid certain invectives; and perhaps it would be proper that they should also forbid caviling. The elegant and liberal man, therefore, will so conduct himself, as if he were a law
to himself. Hence, the middle character is a man of this description, whether he is to be denominated dexterous or versatile. But the scurrilous man is vanquished by the ridiculous, and neither spares himself, nor others, if he can excite laughter. He likewise says such things, as the elegant man would never say; and some things that he says, the elegant man would not even endure to hear. The rustic man, however, is useless with respect to such conversations; for contributing nothing, he is indignant with all of them. But relaxation and jesting appear to be necessary to the life of man. There are, therefore, the above-mentioned three media in life; but all of them are conversant with the communion of certain words and actions. They differ, however, because one of them is conversant with truth, but the others are conversant with the delectable… But of the media which pertain to pleasure, one indeed is conversant with jests, but the other with the associations which belong to the rest of life.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IV, Chapter 9
With respect to shame, it is not fit to speak of it as of a certain virtue; for it resembles passion more than habit. It is defined, therefore, to be a certain dread of infamy; and, similar to fear, it is exercised about dreadful things. For those who are under the influence of shame become red, or blush; but those who have the fear of death upon them are pale. Hence both these appear to be in a certain respect corporeal; which seems rather to belong to passion than to habit. This passion, however, is not adapted to every age, but to youth. For we think it requisite that young persons should be bashful, because they commit many errors in consequence of living from passion, but are restrained from the commission of them by shame. And we praise indeed bashful young men; but no one praises a bashful old man. For we think that he ought not to do any thing for which he should be ashamed; for neither does shame pertain to a worthy man, since it is produced by bad conduct; for the things which cause shame are not to be done. But it makes no difference, whether some things are in reality base, but others only base according to opinion; for neither of these are to be done; so that shame is not to be admitted. A thing of this kind also, viz. to do something base, is the province of a bad man. But for a man to be so disposed, as to be ashamed if he should do any thing that is base, and to fancy himself on this account to be a worthy character, is absurd. For shame pertains to voluntary actions; but a worthy man never voluntarily acts basely. Shame, however, from hypothesis, may seem to be good; for if a worthy man should act basely, he would be ashamed. But this does not pertain to the virtues; nor if impudence is a bad thing, and not to be ashamed when acting basely, will it be at all a more worthy thing, to be ashamed when performing base deeds? Neither is continence a virtue, but a certain mixt thing. This, however, we shall discuss hereafter. But let us now speak concerning justice.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 1
Now, therefore, let us direct our attention to justice and injustice; and consider with what kind of actions they are conversant; what kind of medium justice is, and of what things the just is the medium. But let our survey be made according to the same method as the preceding discussions. We see, therefore, that all men are willing to call that kind of habit justice, through which we practice just things, or are inclined to the works of justice, I and through which we act justly, and wish what is just. And after the same manner injustice is that habit through which men act unjustly, and wish what is unjust. Hence, these things must be first adumbrated by us; since there is not the same mode of subsistence in the sciences, in powers, and in habits. For there is the same power indeed, and the same science of contraries; but there is not the same habit of contraries. Thus, for instance, contrary operations are not performed by health, but those only which are salubrious; for we say that a man walks in a healthy manner, when he walks in such a way as a healthy man walks. Frequently, therefore, a contrary habit is known from a contrary habit; but frequently habits are known from their subjects. For if a good habit of body is apparent, a bad habit of body will also be apparent. And from things which produce a good habit of body, this good habit will be known, and from this good habit its producing causes will be known. For if a good habit of body is a density of the flesh, a bad habit of body will necessarily be a rarity of the flesh; and that which produces a good habit of body, will be productive of density in the flesh. It follows, however, for the most part, that if one contrary is predicated multifariously, the other “also will be multifariously predicated; ‘ as, if the just, so likewise the unjust. But justice and injustice are predicated multifariously, though, through the proximity of their homonymy, this is latent; nor is it more apparent, as is the case in those “things” which are remote.” For the difference according to idea or form is great. Thus, for instance, kleis (key) is predicated homonymously; for it signifies both that part which is under the neck of animals, and that by which gates are shut, viz, a key. We must consider, therefore, in how many ways an unjust man is denominated. But it appears that he is an unjust man who acts illegally, and he who takes to himself more of external goods than he ought, or who is avaricious, and also he who is unequal, i.e., who takes to himself less of evils than is equitable; so that it is evident that he will be a just man who acts legally, and he who is equal or equitable. The just, therefore, will be both the legal and the equal; but the unjust will be the illegal and the unequal. Since, – however, the unjust man is avaricious, he will be conversant with good, yet not with every kind of good, but with that in which there is prosperous and adverse for… tune; and which is indeed simply always good, but to a certain person not always. But men pray for and pursue this good, though they ought not. For they should pray, indeed, that things which are simply good, such as riches, etc. may also be good to them; but they should choose such things as are good to their possessor, such as virtue and wisdom. The unjust man, however, does not always choose that which is more, but in things which are simply evil he chooses the less. But because a less evil appears in a certain respect to be good, and of what is good, there is a desire of possessing more of it than is equitable, on this account the unjust man appears to be avaricious. He is also unequal, and acts illegally; for this very thing the acting illegally, or inequality, comprehends all injustice, and is common to all injustice. Since, however, he who acts illegally is unjust, but he who acts legally is just, it is evident that everything which is legal is in a certain respect just. For the things which are defined by the legislative science are legal; and we say that each of these is just; but the laws speak about everything, looking either to that which is advantageous in common to all men, or to the best of men, or to those in authority, and this either according to virtue, or some other mode. Hence, after one manner we call those things just, which are capable of producing and preserving happiness, and the parts of it, by political communion. The law, however, ordains that the works of the brave man should be done, such as that a soldier shall not leave his rank, nor fly from the enemy, nor. throw away his arms; and likewise that the works of the temperate man shall be done, such as not to commit adultery, nor behave with insolent wantonness; and also those of the mild man, such as not to strike another person, , nor defame anyone. And the law ordains similarly with 4 respect to the other virtues and vices, partly commanding, and partly, forbidding; the law indeed, doing this rightly, . which is rightly framed, but that which is rashly framed, erroneously. This justice, therefore, i.e., legal justice, is indeed a perfect virtue, yet not simply, but with reference to another thing. And on this account justice frequently appears to be the best of the virtues; nor is either the evening or the morning star so admirable. We likewise say proverbially, Every virtue is comprehended in justice. And legal justice is especially a perfect virtue, because it is the use of perfect virtue. But it is perfect, because he who possesses it, is also able to employ virtue towards another person, and not only towards himself. For many persons are indeed able to employ virtue in their own affairs, but not in the affairs of others. And on this account it appears to have been well said by Bias, that dominion shows the man; for he who governs has relation to another person, and is now conversant with the communion of life. For the very same reason also, justice alone, of all the virtues, appears to be a foreign good, because it has reference to another person; since it performs what is advantageous to another, viz. either to a ruler, or to the community at large. He, therefore, is the worst of characters, who acts depravedly both towards himself and towards his friends; but he is the best of men, not who acts virtuously towards himself, but towards another person; for this is a difficult work. This justice, therefore, is not a part of virtue, but is universal virtue; nor is the injustice which is contrary to it a part of vice, but universal vice. What the difference, however, is between virtue and this justice, is evident from what has been already said; for it is indeed the same with it, but not essentially. For so far, indeed, as it has reference to another person, it is justice; but so far as it is a habit of a certain description, it is simply virtue.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 2
We investigate, however, that justice which is a part of virtue; for there is, as we say, such a justice; and in a similar manner we investigate the injustice which is a part of vice. But that there is such a justice is indicated by this, that he who energizes according to other depravities, acts unjustly, indeed, but does not assume to himself more of external good than he ought; such, for instance, as the man who throws away his shield through timidity, or he who speaks ill of another from asperity, or who does not give pecuniary assistance to another, through illiberality. But when he assumes to himself more than he ought, he frequently is not vicious according to any one of such vices, nor yet according to all the vices, but according to a certain depravity; for we blame him, and for injustice. There is, therefore, a certain other injustice, as being a certain part of universal injustice, and a certain something unjust, which is a part of the whole of the unjust that is contrary to law. Farther still, if one person, indeed, should commit adultery for the sake of gain, and should receive money for so doing, but another should give money and sustain an injury in his property, by doing it, in consequence of being under the influence of strong desire, the latter, indeed, will rather appear to be intemperate, than one who assumes to himself more than he ought, but the former will be unjust, but not intemperate; and it is evident that he will not, because he acts with a view to gain. Again, in all other unjust deeds, there is always a reference to a certain depravity. Thus, if a man commits adultery, the reference is to intemperance; if he abandons his post in battle, the reference is to timidity; but if he strikes another person, to anger. If, however, he obtains money by it, the reference is to no other depravity, than to injustice. Hence, it is evident that there is a certain other injustice which ranks as a part, besides universal injustice, and which is synonymous with it; because the definition of each is in the same genus. For both possess their power in a reference to another person. But the injustice which ranks as a part is conversant with honor, or riches, or safety, or if all these could be comprehended in one name, it is conversant with them; and this on account of the pleasure which results from gain. Universal injustice, however, is conversant with all such things, as a worthy man is conversant with, in the exercise of justice. That there are many kinds of justice, therefore, and that there is a certain justice which is different from universal virtue, is evident. What it is, however, and what kind of a thing it is, must be explained.
The unjust, therefore, has been distinguished by us into the illegal and the unequal; and the just into the le. gal and the equal. But the prior injustice of which we have spoken subsists according to the illegal. Since, however, the illegal and the unequal are not the same, but different, as a part with reference to a whole; for everything unequal is illegal, but not everything which is illegal is unequal; hence, the unjust and injustice are not the same with these, but different from them, in the same manner as parts and wholes. For this injustice is a part of the whole of injustice; and, in a similar manner, this justice is a part of the whole of justice. We must, therefore, speak concerning the justice and injustice which rank as parts, and after the same manner concerning the partially just and unjust. The justice, therefore, and injustice which are arranged according to universal virtue, and of which the former is the use of the whole of virtue, and the latter of the whole of vice, with reference to another person, we shall omit. It is, likewise, evident how the just and the unjust which are arranged conformably to these, are to be distinguished. For nearly most of those things which are legal are ordained from universal virtue. For the law orders men to live conformably to every virtue, and forbids them from acting conformably to any one of the vices. But the efficient causes of the whole of virtue, are those legal actions which are established by the laws for the purposes of public discipline. Concerning the discipline, however, of an individual, according to which he is simply a good man, whether it pertains to the political, or another science, will be determined hereafter. For perhaps it is not the same thing to be a good man, and a good citizen. But there is one species of the justice which subsists according to a part, and of the just pertaining to it, and which consists in the distributions either of honor, or riches, or such other things as may be divided among those who partake of the same polity. For in these it is possible that one person may share unequally, and equally, with another. But another species of justice, is that which possesses a corrective power in contracts. Of this, however, there are two, parts. For of contracts some are voluntary, but others are involuntary. The voluntary, indeed, are, buying, selling, putting out money at interest, suretyship, lending anything on hire, pledging, and hiring a slave or an artificer. But these contracts are said to be voluntary, because the principle of them is voluntary. And of involuntary contracts, some are clandestine, such as theft, adultery, witchcraft, prostitution, deceiving, the slave of another person, insidious murder, and bearing false witness. But the violent are, such as blows, bonds, death, plunder, mutilation, slander and contumely.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 3
Since, however, the unjust man is unequal, and, also, the unjust belongs to the unequal, it is evident that there is a certain medium of the unequal; but this is the equal. For in whatever action there is the more and the less, there is also the equal. If, therefore, the unjust is unequal, the just will be equal; which, indeed, without any reasoning process, is manifest to all men. But since the equal is a medium, the just will be a certain medium. The equal, however, is in two things at least. It is necessary, therefore, that the just, which is a medium and equal, should be referred to a certain thing, and to certain things. And so far, indeed, as it is a medium, it is referred to certain things; but these are the more and the less. And so far as it is equal, it is referred to two things; but so far as it is the just, it is referred to certain things. Hence, it is necessary that the just should be in four things at least; for the persons to whom the just pertains are two, and the things in which it consists are two. And there will be the same equality between the persons to whom justice pertains, and the things in which it consists; for as is the relation of the former to each other, such, also, is that of the latter. For if the persons are not equal, they will not have equal things. Battles, however, and accusations hence originate, when either equal persons do not obtain equal things, or those that are not equal have an equal distribution of things. This, also, is evident from distribution according to desert; for all men acknowledge, that the just in distributions should be made according to a certain desert. All men, however, do not say that there is the same desert; but democratic men, indeed, say that desert is liberty; and of the oligarchists, some say that it is wealth, but others that it is nobility; but the aristocrats say that it is virtue. The just, therefore, is something analogous; for the analogous is not only the peculiarity of monadic number or number consisting of units, but of number universally. For analogy or proportion is equality of ratio, and consists in four things at least. That disjunct proportion, therefore, consists in four terms is evident; and this is also the case with continued proportion. For this uses one thing as two things; as, for instance, as A is to B, so is B to C. Hence, B is twice assumed; so that if B is placed twice, the analogous things will be four. But the just, also, consists in four things at least, and the reason is the same; for the persons to whom justice is distributed, and the things which are distributed, are similarly divided. As the term A, therefore, is to B, so will C be to D. And, therefore, alternately, as A is to C, so is B to D. Hence, the whole will be compared with the whole, which the distribution conjoins; and if they are thus compounded, they will be justly conjoined. The conjunction, therefore, of the term. A with C, and of B with D, forms the justice which is in distribution; and the just is the medium of that which is foreign from the analogous. For the analogous is a medium; and the just is analogous. Mathematicians, however, call such an analogy or proportion as this geometrical; for in geometrical proportion it happens that the whole is to the whole as all the parts to all. But this proportion is not continued; for the same thing is not assumed as the person to whom a distribution is made, and as the thing distributed. This justice, therefore, consists in proportion; but the unjust is foreign from proportion. And hence, one person has more, but another less than he ought; which, also, happens to be the case in actions. For he, indeed, who does an injury has more, but he who is injured has less of good than he ought. The contrary, however, takes place in evil; for a less evil has the relation of good with respect to a greater evil. For a less is more eligible than a greater evil. But the eligible is good; and that which is more eligible is a greater good. This, therefore, is one species of the just.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 4
The other remaining species of justice is corrective, which is conversant both with voluntary and involuntary contracts. But the form of this justice is different from the former. For the justice which is distributive of common things, or things of a public nature, always subsists according to the above-mentioned proportion. For if the distribution is made from common property, it will be according to the same ratio as the things introduced have to each other; and the unjust which is opposed to this justice, is foreign from proportion. The just, however, which is in contracts, is, indeed, a certain equality, and the unjust is inequality; yet not according to geometrical, but arithmetical proportion. For it makes no difference, whether a worthy deprives a bad man of his property, or a bad a worthy man; nor whether a worthy or a bad man commits adultery. But the law only looks to the difference of the injury, and uses the persons as if they were equal, though the one, indeed, should injure, but the other should be injured, and though the one should do, but the other should suffer, harm. Hence, this injustice, since it is unequal, the judge endeavors to equalize. For when one man, indeed, inflicts a blow, but another is struck, or one man kills, but another is killed, the suffering and the action are divided into unequal parts; but the judge, by the punishment which he inflicts, endeavors to produce an equality, by detracting from the gain. For in things of this kind, in short, though to some things the name will not be appropriate, the injury is denominated gain, and the endurance of the injury loss. But when the suffering is measured, the one is called loss but the other gain. Hence, of the more and the less, the equal is the medium. With respect to loss and gain, however, the one is more, but the other less contrarily; for the more of good, but the less of evil is gain, and the contrary is loss; of which the equal is the medium, which we say is the just. Hence, the justice which is corrective will be the medium of loss and gain. Hence, too, when men contend with each other about legal affairs they fly to the judge; but to go to a judge is to go to justice. For a judge is nothing else than as it were animated justice. They, also, search for a judge who is a medium; and some persons. call judges mediators, as if they should obtain justice if they obtained the medium. The just, therefore, is a certain medium, since the judge is also. But the judge equalizes, and as if a line were cut into unequal parts, he takes away from the greater section that by which it exceeds the half, and adds it to the less section. When, however, the whole is divided into two equal parts, then men say they have what is their own, when they obtain the equal. But the equal is the middle of the greater and the less according to arithmetical proportion.
Hence, also, the just (δικαιον) is denominated, because it is divided into two equal parts (οτι διχα εστιν), just as if it should be said to be δικαιον; and a judge is called δικαστης, as if he were δικαστης, or one who divides a thing into two equal parts. For if when two things are equal, that which is taken from the one, is added to the other, the latter will exceed what the former then becomes, by two such parts. For if what is taken away from one of the equal things were not added to the other, the one would exceed the other by one such part only. The thing, therefore, to which something is added exceeds the medium by one part; and the medium, also, exceeds by one part that from which something is taken away. By this, therefore, we may know, what ought to be taken away from him who has more, and what ought to be added to him who has less. For it is necessary to add to him who has less, that by which the medium exceeds, but to take away from the greatest that by which the medium is exceeded. Let there be three lines AA, BB, CC, equal to each other. From AA let AE be taken, and added to CC, and let that part be CD. Hence, the whole line DCC, will exceed the line AE, by the line CD, and the line FC; and, therefore, it will exceed the line BB by the line CD.
This, also, takes place in other arts; for they would be subverted, unless that which suffers, suffers the same in quantity and quality as that which acts. But these appellations, loss and gain, are derived from voluntary contracts. For when a man obtains more than his own, he is said to gain; but when he has less than what he had at first, he is said to have lost; as in buying and selling, and such other things as the law permits. When, however, men have neither more nor less, but give as much as they receive, they are said to have their own, and neither to lose, nor gain. Hence, the just is the medium of a certain gain and loss in things which are not voluntary; so that each of those who form a contract may have as much afterwards as before.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 5
To some persons, however, retaliation appears to be simply just, and this also was the opinion of the Pythagoreans; for they defined the just to be simply retaliation. But retaliation is neither adapted to distributive nor to corrective justice; though Rhadamanthus (in Aeschylus) appears to assert, that justice is this, “and that the punishment will be equitable when a man suffers the same thing as he has done.” For retaliation is frequently discordant. Thus, for instance, if a magistrate should strike a man, it is not proper that the man should strike him in return; and if any one strikes a magistrate, he ought not only to be struck, but to be punished more severely. Again, there is a great difference between the voluntary and the involuntary. But commercial intercourse is preserved by a justice of this kind, if the retaliation is made according to proportion, and not according to equality. For by analogous retaliation, the union of a city becomes permanent. For men either endeavor to return evil for evil; for it appears to be slavery if they cannot retaliate; or they wish when they benefit others to be themselves benefited in return; since if this does not take place there is no compensation, by which the permanent union of society is effected. Hence, the temple of the Graces is built in a conspicuous part of the city, for the purpose of producing remuneration; for this is the peculiarity of grace or favor. For it is requisite to return a favor to him who has conferred one, and he again should begin to confer a favor. But a conjunction according to a diameter, produces the retribution which is according to analogy. Thus for instance, let the builder of a house be A, a shoemaker B, the house C, and the shoe D.
The builder of a house. A shoemaker.
The house. The shoe.
It is necessary, therefore, that the builder of the house should receive from the shoemaker his work, and give his work to him in return. Hence, if the first equality is that which is according to analogy, and afterwards a retaliation is made, it will be that which we have mentioned; but if not, there will neither be equality, nor will the bond of society remain; for nothing hinders but that the work of the one may be more excellent than the work of the other. It is necessary, therefore, that these should be equalized. But this also takes place in the other arts; for they would be subverted, unless that which is passive suffered the same in quantity and quality, as the agent effects. For the communion of society is not produced from two physicians, but from a physician and a husbandman, and in short, from different, and not from equal characters; but it is necessary that these should be equalized. Hence, it is requisite that all things should be capable of being compared with each other of which there is an exchange; and for this purpose money was adopted, and becomes, in a certain respect, a measure. For it measures all things; so that it likewise measures excess and defect; and therefore determines how many shoes are equal to a house, or to nutriment. It is necessary, therefore, that such as the ratio is of the builder of a house to a shoemaker, such should be the ratio of the number of shoes to a house, or to nutriment. For if this does not take place, there will neither be exchange nor communion. And it will not take place, unless the things compared are in a certain respect equal. Hence, it is necessary, as has been before observed, that all things should be measured by, one certain thing; and this is, in reality, indigence, which connects all things. For if mankind were not in want of anything, or if they were not similarly in want, either there would be no exchange, or not the same. But money was adopted by compact, as a subsidiary exchange for indigence; and on this account money was called (νομισμα), because it is not established by nature, but by law, (νομῳ); and it is in our power to change it, and render it useless. Retaliation, therefore, will then take place, when there is an equalization. Hence, as the husbandman is to the shoemaker, so is the work of the shoemaker to the work of the husbandman. But it is necessary to bring them to the form of proportion, when an exchange takes place; for without this, one of the extremes will have both the excesses. When, however, each person has his own, they will thus be equal, and communicate with each other, because this equality can be produced among them. Let the husbandman be A, the nutriment C, and the work of the shoemaker, equal to the nutriment, be D.
The husbandman. The shoemaker.
The nutriment. The work of the shoemaker equal to the nutriment.
But without this retaliation there would be no communion of society. That indigence, however, connects, as being one certain thing, is evident, because when men are not in want of each other, either both, or one of them, no exchange takes place, as it does when one is in want of what the other possesses; as, for instance, wine, for which an exportation of corn is granted. It is necessary, therefore, that this should be equalized. In order to future exchange, however, if nothing should at present be wanted, that it may be obtained when it is wanted, money becomes as it were a surety to us. For it is requisite that he who brings money, should take what he wants in exchange for it. Money, therefore, also suffers this very same thing; for it does not always possess an equal power, but at the same time it is more permanent. Hence, it is necessary that all things should be estimated; for thus there will always be an exchange; and if there is an exchange, there will be communion. Money, therefore, as a measure having made things commensurate, equalizes them. For there would be no communion without exchange, nor exchange without equality, nor equality without commensuration. In reality, therefore, it is impossible that things which so much differ, should become commensurate; but for the purposes of indigence, this is sufficiently possible. Hence, it is necessary that there should be one certain thing has a measure, and this from assumption. Hence, it is called (νομισμα) money. For this causes all things to be commensurate; since all things are measured by money.
Let a house be A, ten minae B, and a bed C. A, therefore, will be the half of B, if the house is worth five minae, or is equal to the value of five minae. But let the bed C be the tenth part of B. It is evident, therefore, how many beds are equal in value to the house, viz. five. That such, however, was the exchange before there was money, is manifest; for it makes no difference whether five beds, or as much as the worth of five beds, are given for the house. Thus, therefore, we have shown what the unjust, and also what the just is.
But these things being determined, it is evident that a just action is a medium between doing and receiving an injury; for the former is to have more, but the latter less than is just. Justice, however, is a medium, not after the same manner with the former virtues, but because it pertains to a medium between the more and the less; but injustice pertains to extremes. And justice, indeed, is that according to which a just man is said to act justly from deliberate choice, and to distribute justice both to himself, in making a compact with another person, and to another who makes a compact with another; yet not so, as to attribute more of what is eligible to himself, and less to his neighbor, and the contrary of that which is hurtful, but so as to distribute the equal to himself and others according to analogy. And he adopts the same mode of conduct towards another person who forms a compact with another. Injustice, on the contrary, is that according to which an unjust man is said to act unjustly from deliberate choice, and to distribute injustice both to himself and others; but this is the excess and deficiency of that which is beneficial or hurtful, contrary to the analogous. Hence, injustice is excess and deficiency, because it pertains to excess and deficiency. To the unjust man himself, indeed, it is an excess of that which is simply beneficial, but a deficiency of that which is hurtful; but to others it distributes in a manner wholly similar; and in whatever way the distribution may happen to be made, it is contrary to the analogous. Of an unjust action, however, the less extreme is, to be injured, and the greater, to injure. After this manner, therefore, we have discussed justice and injustice, and have shown what is the nature of each; and similarly we have discussed universally the just and the unjust.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 6
Since, however, it is possible that he who acts unjustly may not yet be unjust, from what kind of iniquitous deeds will a man be unjust, according to each species of injustice? For instance, will it be as a thief, or as an adulterer, or as a robber. Or thus, indeed, will the difficulty still remain: For a man may have connection with a woman knowing who she is, yet not from a principle of deliberate choice, but from passion. Hence, in this case, he acts unjustly, but is not unjust; as neither is a thief, though he may have committed theft; nor an adulterer, though he may have committed adultery; and in a similar manner in other things. In what manner, therefore, retaliation subsists, with reference to justice, has been shown by us before. It is necessary, however, not to be ignorant that what we at present investigate, is the simply just, and the politically just. But this justice takes place among men connected together in society, and these liberal and equal men, either according to analogy, or according to number, with a view to a sufficiency. of the necessaries of life. Hence, those among whom this is not found, have no political justice towards each: other, but a certain justice, and which subsists according to a similitude to political justice. For there is justice among those with whom there is also law; but there is law among those with whom there is injustice. For justice is the judgment of the just and the unjust. But. with those with whom there is injustice, there is also acting unjustly; but with all those with whom there is acting unjustly, there is not injustice. But injustice consists in a man distributing to himself more of what is simply good, and less of what is simply evil than he ought. Hence, we do not suffer a man to govern, but reason; because he does this to himself, i.e., distributes to himself more of what is good, and less of what is evil, and becomes a tyrant. He, however, who governs, is the guardian of justice; but if of justice, he is also the guardian of the equal. But since, if he is a just man, it does not appear that he possesses more of external good than others; for he does not distribute more of what is simply good to himself, unless it belongs to him by analogy; hence, he distributes the simply good to another; and on this account it is said that justice is a foreign good, as we have before observed. A certain reward, therefore, must be given to him; but this is honor and a gift. Those persons, however, to whom these are not sufficient, become tyrants. But despotic and paternal justice, or the justice of a master towards his servants, and of a father towards his children, are not the same with this, but similar to it. For there is no injustice simply of a man towards his own property; but a possession, or a slave, and a child, while he is little and not yet separated from his parents, are as it were a part of the man. And no one deliberately chooses to injure himself. Hence, there is no injustice of a man towards himself; and consequently neither is there injustice, nor political justice. For justice is conformable to law, and subsists among those with whom law is naturally adapted to exist. But these are persons with whom there is an equality of governing, and being governed. Hence, there is more of political justice between a man and his wife, than between a father and his children, or a master and his servants. For this latter is economical justice; but this is different from political justice.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 7
With respect, however, to political justice, one kind is natural, but the other legal. And the natural, indeed, is that which has everywhere the same power, and this not because it appears or does not appear to be justice. But the legal is that respecting which from the first it is of no consequence, whether it is established in this or in that way, but when it is established, is of consequence; such, for instance, as that captives shall be redeemed for a mina; or that a goat shall be sacrificed, and not two sheep. And farther still, such laws as are promulgated about particulars; such as that sacrifices shall be offered to Brasidas, and whatever is established by public decrees. To some persons, however, all political justice appears to be of this kind, because that which has a natural subsistence is mutable, and everywhere possesses the same power; just as fire burns both here and in Persia; but just things are seen to be mutable. This, however, is not entirely, but only partially the case; though perhaps with the gods, it is by no means to be admitted that justice is mutable; but with us there is something which is naturally mutable, though not everything. But at the same time justice is partly from nature and partly not. What, however, the justice is which is from nature is evident from contingencies, and things which have a various subsistence, and also what the justice is which is not from nature, but is legal, and established by compact, since both are similarly mutable. The same distinction, likewise, will be adapted to other things. For the right hand is naturally more excellent, i.e., is more adapted to motion, than the left; though it is possible that some persons may be ambidexter. The justice, however, which is from compact and utility resembles measures. For the measures of wine and corn are not everywhere equal; but with those who buy wine and corn they are greater, and with those who sell them less. In a similar manner justice, which is not natural, but human, is not everywhere the same; since neither are polities, but everywhere one polity alone is conformable to nature, viz. that which is the most excellent. Everything just, however, and everything legal are, as universals to particulars. For actions are many, but each of them is one thing; for it is a universal. But an unjust action and the just differ, and also a just action and the just. For the unjust subsists either by nature or by order. But the very same thing which when done is an unjust action, is not so before it is done, but is unjust; and in a similar manner with respect to a just action. But that which is common is rather called a deed justly done; but the correction of an unjust deed, a just deed. With respect to each of these, however, what the quality and number of their species are, and what the particulars are with which they are conversant, we shall hereafter consider.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 8
Since, therefore, things just and unjust are those which we have enumerated, a man then indeed does an injury, or acts justly, when he thus acts voluntarily; but when involuntarily, he neither does an injury, nor acts justly, except from accident. For it happens that the things which he does are either just or unjust; but a deed unjustly done, and a just action, are defined by the voluntary and the involuntary; for when an action is voluntary, it is blamed; but at the same time it is then a deed unjustly done. Hence, there will be something unjust, which is not yet a deed unjustly done, unless the voluntary is added to it. But I call the voluntary indeed, as has been before observed, that which a man does of things which it is in his power to do knowingly, and not ignorantly, viz, not being ignorant of the circumstances of the action; as for instance, who it is he strikes, and with what he strikes, and on what account, and when he does this, neither from accident, nor by compulsion; as would be the case, if someone taking his hand, should strike another person with it. For he would then not strike willingly, because it was not in his power to avoid giving the blow. It may happen, however, that he who is struck is a father; but he who strikes him may merely know that he is a man, or some one of those who are present, but may be ignorant that it is his father. A similar distinction also must be made in that for the sake of which a thing is done, and concerning the whole action. Hence, that which is not known, or which is known indeed, but is not in the power of him who acts, or which he is compelled to do, is done involuntarily. For we both do and suffer many things which have a natural subsistence knowingly, no one of which is either voluntary or involuntary; such as to grow old, or to die. That which is accidental, however, similarly takes place in things unjust and just. For if a man returns a deposit unwillingly, and from fear, he cannot be said either to perform a just deed, or to act justly; except from accident. In a similar manner he who, from compulsion and unwillingly, does not return a deposit, must be said to be unjust, and to do an unjust deed from accident. But of voluntary actions, some indeed we perform with previous choice, and others without previous choice; with previous choice, such as have been the subjects of previous deliberation, but without it, such as have not been deliberated on previously.
Since, therefore, there are three kinds of harm in social communion, those which are accompanied with ignorance are errors, when a man neither apprehends who the person that is injured is, nor the mode, nor the instrument, nor that for the sake of which the harm is done. For in this case, he will think either that he has not struck the person, or not with this instrument, or not this person, or not on this account, but something else happened different from what he expected. Thus one man may strike another not for the purpose of wounding, but of stimulating him, and in so doing may accidentally wound him; or he may not strike the person whom he intended to strike, or not in the way he intended. When, therefore, harm is done unintentionally, it is a misfortune; but when it is done not unintentionally, yet without vice, it is an error. For a man then errs, when the principle of the cause is in himself; but he is unfortunate when the principle is external to him. When, however, harm is done knowingly, but without previous deliberation, it is a deed unjustly done; as for instance, whatever happens to men through anger, or other passions which are necessary or natural. For those who injure others, and err through the influence of these passions, act indeed unjustly, and their deeds are unjustly ‘done; nevertheless they are not yet unjust on account of these actions, nor depraved; for the harm which they did was not through depravity. But when a man injures another from deliberate choice, he is unjust and depraved. Hence, those deeds which are the effect of anger are well judged not to be the result of previous design. For the principle of action is not in him who is angry, but in him who excited his anger. Again, when one man hurts another from anger there is no controversy about the deed, as to its having been done, but about the justice of it; for anger is excited on account of apparent injustice. For here there is no controversy about the existence of the thing, as there is in contracts, in which it is necessary that one of the contractors should be a depraved character, unless his conduct is the effect of oblivion; but acknowledging the fact, they controvert the justice of it. He, however, who hurts another person deliberately, is not ignorant of the deed. Hence, the one of these thinks he is injured, but the other thinks he is not. But he who does harm to another person from deliberate choice, acts unjustly; and he who injures another, according to those deeds which are done unjustly, is unjust, when he acts contrary to proportion, or to the equal. In a similar manner also, he is just when he acts justly from previous choice; but he acts justly, if he only acts willingly. Of involuntary actions, however, some deserve to be pardoned, but others do not. For such involuntary errors. as are not only committed ignorantly, but also through ignorance, deserve to be pardoned; but such as are not committed through ignorance, but ignorantly, yet from passion neither natural nor human, do not deserve to be pardoned.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 9
It may, however, be doubted whether a distinction has been sufficiently made by us, between being injured, and injuring. In the first place, indeed, if the thing is as Euripides asserts it to be, when he absurdly says, “To speak briefly I may kill my mother, both of us being willing; or I being unwilling, and she willing.” For is it true or not, that a person can be willingly injured? Or is every one unwillingly injured, in the same manner as everyone who does an injury does it willingly: Or do some persons suffer an injury voluntarily, and others involuntarily And a similar inquiry may also be made with respect to obtaining justice; for to act justly is wholly a voluntary thing. Hence, the being injured and obtaining justice, are deservedly opposed in a similar manner to each other, so that they are either voluntary or involuntary. It may, however, appear to be absurd, that in obtaining justice, the whole should be voluntary; for some persons obtain justice unwillingly. And this also may be doubted, whether everyone who suffers something unjust is injured; or whether as it is in acting, so it is in suffering. For it is possible in both these to obtain what is just from accident. And it is evident that the like may also take place in things unjust. For it is not the same thing, to do unjust things, and to do an injury; for is it the same thing to suffer unjust things, and to be injured. The like also takes place in acting justly and obtaining justice. For it is impossible to be injured unless there is someone who does the injury; or to obtain justice, unless there is someone who acts justly. But if to do an injury is simply to hurt someone willingly, and to hurt willingly is to do so knowing the person who is hurt, and the instrument, and the manner in which he is hurt; but the intemperate man willingly hurts himself; if this be the case, he will be voluntarily injured, and it will be possible for a man to injure himself. This, however, is also one of the things which are dubious, whether it is possible for a man to injure himself. Farther still, a man may voluntarily, through intemperance, be injured by another person; so that it will be possible for a man to be injured voluntarily. Or shall we say that the definition which we have given of doing an injury, viz. that it is to hurt someone voluntarily, is not right, but we must add the words, to hurt, knowing the person who is hurt, and the instrument, and the manner in which he is hurt, contrary to his will? A man, therefore, may be hurt, and suffer unjust things willingly; but no one is willingly injured. For no one wishes to be injured, not even the intemperate man; but he acts contrary to his will. For neither does anyone wish for that which he does not fancy to be good; but the intemperate man does that, which he does not think ought to be done. But he who gives what is his own, as Homer says Glaucus gave to Diomed,
For Diomed’s brass arms of mean device,
For which nine oxen paid, a vulgar price,
He gave his own of gold divinely wrought,
A hundred beeves the shining purchase bought.
is not injured; for it is in his power to give or not to give. But to be injured is not in his power, but it is necessary that the person should exist by whom the injury is done. Concerning the being injured, therefore, it is evident that it is not voluntary.
Of those things, however, which we proposed to discuss, two particulars remain to be explained; whether he does an injury who distributes to another person more than he deserves, or the person who receives the distribution. For if what we before observed is possible, and . he who distributes, but not he who possesses more, does the injury, if any one distributes to another more than to himself, knowingly and willingly, he will himself injure himself; which modest men appear to do. For a worthy man distributes less to himself than to others. Or shall we say that neither is this thing simple: For he who distributes less to himself than to others of certain good things, will vindicate to himself more of some other good, if it should so happen; as for instance, of renown, or of that which is simply beautiful in conduct. Again, the doubt is also dissolved from the definition of doing an injury; for he who does it, suffers nothing contrary to his will. Hence he is not, on this account, injured; but even admitting that he is, he is only hurt. It is also evident that he who distributes more than the receiver deserves, does an injury, but not the receiver. For it is not the person in whom injustice is inherent who does the injury, but he to whom to do this is voluntary; but this is the man from whom the principle of the action proceeds, which is in the distributor, but not in the receiver.
Farther still, since to act is predicated multifariously, and things inanimate in a certain respect kill, the hand as well as the servant by the command of his master; these indeed do not act injuriously, but they do unjust things. Again, if a man being indeed ignorant judges, he does not do an injury according to the legally just, nor is his judgment unjust, yet in a certain respect it is unjust. For the legally just differs from the first justice, or that which has a natural subsistence. But if he should judge unjustly knowingly, he will vindicate to himself more either of favor, or of vengeance. As, therefore, if someone should partake of a deed unjustly done, thus also he who on account of these things judges unjustly, will possess more; for in those things he who adjudges a field to another person, receives in return, not a field, but money. Men, however, are of opinion that it is in their power to do an injury, and that on this account it is easy to be just. But it is not so; for to have connection with the wife of a neighbor, to strike another person, and to give money with the hand, are things easy, and in the power of those who do them; but to do these things with a certain disposition of mind,’ is neither easy, nor in the power of those who do them. In a similar manner, also, the multitude fancy that there is no portion of wisdom in knowing what is just, and what is unjust, because it is not difficult to understand those things about which the laws speak. These things, however, are not just, except from accident, but they are then just, when they are performed after a certain manner, and distributed after a certain manner. But this is a greater work than to know things that are salubrious. For there, indeed, it is easy to know honey and wine, and hellebore, and burning and cutting; but how it is necessary to distribute these, in order to produce health, and to whom, and when they are to be distributed, is as great a work as to be a physician. On this very account the multitude fancy that it is no less the province of a just than of an unjust man, to do an injury; because the just man is no less, but is even more able to do each of these, than the unjust man. For according to them, a just man may have connection with the wife of another man, and may strike another person, and a brave man may throw away his shield, and betaking himself to flight may run where he pleases. To act cowardly, however, and to do an injury, is not merely to do these things, except from accident, but it consists in doing them with a certain disposition of mind, i.e., with promptitude and delight; just as to perform the office of a physician, and to restore to health, does not merely consist in cutting, or not cutting, in giving or not giving medicine, but in doing these after a certain manner. But just things subsist among those with whom there is a participation of things which are simply good; and in these there is also excess and defect. For to some beings, as perhaps to the gods, justice is not a good, because in them there is no excess, or deficiency; but to others, as to men incurable and vicious, no part of things simply good is beneficial, but all of them are noxious; and to others they are useful to a certain extent; and on this account justice is a human good.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 10
It now follows that we should speak concerning equity, and the equitable, and show how equity, indeed, subsists with reference to justice, and the equitable with reference to the just; for to those who consider rightly, the equitable appears to be neither simply the same, nor yet different in genus from the just. And at one time, indeed, we praise the equitable, and the man of equity; so that, also, transferring this name to other things, we praise a man by calling him a more equitable, instead of a good man, manifesting by this, that it is a better appellation. But at another time, to those who follow reason, it appears to be absurd, that the equitable, if it is something different from the just, should be laudable. For either the just is not a worthy thing, or the equitable is not just, if it is different from the just; or if they are both worthy things, both are the same. The doubt, therefore, concerning the equitable, nearly happens through these particulars. All these, however, are after a certain manner right, and there is nothing in them , which is contrary and adverse to itself. For the equitable being something that is just, is a better just thing; and is not better than the just, as if it were some other genus, The just, therefore, and the equitable are the same thing; and both of them being worthy things, the equitable is the more excellent of the two. A doubt, however, still remains, that though the equitable is indeed just, yet it is not the legally just, but is a correction of it. But the cause of this is, that every law, indeed, is universal; but it cannot speak universally with rectitude about certain particulars. In those things, therefore, in which it is necessary to speak universally, but in which this cannot be done rightly, the law assumes that which happens for the most part, not being ignorant of the fault which has been committed. And in thus doing, it acts no less rightly; for the fault is not in the law, nor in the legislator, but in the nature of the thing; for such directly is the matter of the things which pertain to action. When the law, therefore, speaks universally, and something after this should happen besides, then it is right to correct what the legislator has omitted, and the error which he has committed in speaking simply, since the legislator himself would adopt such correction if he were present, and would have legally established this if he had known it. Hence, the equitable is just, and is better than a certain justice. It is not, however, better than what is simply just, but it is better than the justice which errs through speaking simply and generally. And this is the nature of the equitable, that it is a correction of law, where law is deficient on account of speaking universally. For this is the cause why all things are not according to law, that concerning certain things it is impossible to establish a law. Hence, a decree is necessary; for of the indefinite the rule also is indefinite, just as of a Lesbian building the rule is leaden; since the rule is bent conformable to the figure of the stone, and does not remain the same. Thus, also, a decree is adapted to things themselves. It is evident, therefore, what the equitable and the just are, and what the justice is which the equitable excels. It is likewise manifest from this who is an equitable man. For he who deliberately chooses and practices things of this kind, and who is not an accurate distributor of justice in the rigid sense of the word, but remits something of the rigor of the law, though the law is favorable to such rigor, is an equitable man. And the habit itself is equity, being a certain justice and not a different habit.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book V, Chapter 11
From what has been said, also, it is evident whether it is possible for a man to injure himself or not. For there are some just things established by law, which pertain to the whole of virtue. Thus, for instance, the law does not order a man to destroy himself; and it forbids what it does not command. Again, when one man hurts another contrary to law, who has not hurt him, he does an injury willingly; but he does an injury willingly, who does it knowing the person whom he injures, and the instrument, and the manner in which he does it. But he who destroys himself through anger, does this willingly contrary to right reason, which the law does not permit. Hence, he does an injury; but to whom? Is it not to the city, but not to himself? For he voluntarily suffers; but no one is voluntarily injured. Hence, also, the city punishes him, and a certain disgrace is attached to him who destroys himself, as one who injures the city. Farther still, it is not possible for a man to injure himself in that way in which he is unjust, who only acts unjustly, and is not entirely depraved; for this character is different from him. For the unjust man is in a certain respect so depraved, as the timid man is; but not as possessing the whole of depravity. Hence, neither according to this improbity does he do himself an injury; for if he did, the same thing might be taken away and added at the same time to the same thing; but this is impossible. It is, however, necessary that the just and the unjust should always existing more than one person. Again, he who does an injury does it voluntarily, and from deliberate choice, and with a precedency in time. For he who injures another because he has been injured by him, does not appear to act unjustly; but he who injures himself, suffers and does the same things at the same time. Farther still, a man would be injured willingly. To which may be added, that no one does an injury without a particular species of injustice; but no one commits adultery with his own wife, nor does anyone dig through his own wall, nor commit a theft on his own property. In short, the impossibility that a man should injure himself is evident from the conclusions made by us respecting the being voluntarily injured. It is likewise evident, that both to be injured and to injure are bad things; for the one is to have less, but the other more than the medium; in the same manner as the salubrious in medicine, and that which contributes to a good habit of body in the gymnastic art. At the same time, however, it is worse to injure than to be injured. For to do an injury is accompanied with vice, and is blamable; and with vice which is either perfect, and simply vice, or nearly so. For not everything which is voluntary is accompanied with injustice; but to be injured is without vice and injustice. Essentially, therefore, it is less bad to be . injured than to do an injury; but from accident nothing prevents it from being a greater evil. Art, however, pays no attention to this; but it says that the pleurisy is a greater disease than a lame foot, though it may happen that the latter may be a greater evil than the former, if a man, in consequence of being lame, should fall, and thus be taken by enemies, and put to death. Metaphorically speaking, however, and from similitude, the whole man is not just to the whole of himself, but one part of him towards another part; yet not according to every kind of justice, but according to the despotic, or economic; for in these discussions, it must be admitted that the rational differs from the irrational part of the soul. And if we look to these, it appears that there is a certain injustice of a man towards him. self, because it is possible in these parts for a man to suffer something adverse to his own appetites. As, therefore, between a governor and him who is governed, there is a certain justice towards each other, this is also the case between these parts of the soul. After this manner, therefore, we have discussed justice, and the other ethical virtues.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 1
Since, however, we have before observed that it is necessary the medium in conduct should be chosen, and neither excess nor deficiency, but the medium is to act as right reason prescribes, let us now consider what right reason is. For in all the above-mentioned habits, as in other things, there is a certain scope, to which he who possesses reason, looking, acts with intension and remission; and there is a certain boundary of media, which we say are situated between excess and defect, and which exist conformably to right reason. Thus, to speak, however, is indeed true, but is not at all clear. For in other pursuits, also, with which science is conversant, it is, indeed, true to say that it is not proper to labor either more or less, nor to be indolent, but to labor moderately, and as right reason prescribes. He, however, who alone knows this, will know nothing more; as, if on inquiring what kind of things are to be administered to the body, it should be said, they are such as medicine and he who possesses the medical art prescribe. Hence, it is necessary with respect to the habits of the soul, that this should not only be truly said, but that it should also be definitely shown what right reason is, and what is the definition of it. But we have distributed the virtues of the soul, and have said, that some of them are ethical, and others dianoetical, or belonging to the discursive power of the soul. With respect to the ethical virtues, therefore, we have indeed discussed them; but with respect to the remaining virtues, these we shall discuss, after we have first spoken concerning the soul. It has, therefore, been before observed by us, that there are two parts of the soul, that which possesses reason, and that which is irrational. But now we shall make a division after the same manner of the part which possesses reason; and it must be admitted that there are two parts possessing reason; one, indeed, by which we survey those kind of beings, the principles of which cannot subsist otherwise than they do, and the other, by which we survey things of a contingent nature. For since the objects of knowledge are specifically different, it follows that there are, also, different species of knowledge. For it is necessary that knowledge should be similar to the thing known, and that the knowledge of that which is necessary should be necessary, but contingent of that which is contingent. For all knowledge subsists according to similitude and affinity; since it is a certain adaptation and contact of that which is known, and that which knows. But of these parts of the soul, the one is called scientific, but the other ratiocinative; for to consult and reason are the same thing. No one, however, consults about things which cannot subsist otherwise than they do; so that the ratiocinative power is one certain part of the rational part of the soul. It must, therefore, be shown what is the best habit of each of these. For this is the virtue of each. But virtue is referred to its proper work.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 2
There are, however, three things in the soul, which have dominion over action and truth, viz. sense, intellect, and appetite. But of these, sense is the principle of no one action; which is evident from this, that brutes have, indeed, sense, but have no communion with action so as to have dominion over it. What, however, affirmation and negation are in the discursive energy of the rational part, that pursuit and avoidance are in appetite.
Hence, since ethical virtue is a habit accompanied with deliberate choice, but deliberate choice is an appetite adapted to consultation; hence, it is necessary that reason should be true, and the appetite right, if the deliberate choice is good, and that the one should assert, and the other pursue the same things. This discursive energy of the soul, therefore, by which we judge that something is to be desired, is practical reason, and practical truth. But of the discursive energy of reason which is contemplative, and neither practical nor effective, the good and the evil are truth and falsehood; for this is the work of the whole of the discursive power. The work, however, of the practical, and at the same time discursive energy of reason, is truth subsisting in concord with right appetite. The principle, therefore, of action, whence motion is derived, is deliberate choice, though this principle is not the final cause of action. But appetite, and that reason which is for the sake of something, or which is directed to the final cause, are the principles of deliberate choice. Hence, deliberate choice is not without intellect, and the discursive energy of reason; nor is it without the ethical habit; for good conduct, and the contrary to it in action, are not without the discursive energy of reason and manners. The discursive energy, however, of reason itself, does not move anything, except that which is for the sake of something, and is practical; since this has dominion over that which is effective. For every one who effects anything, does it for the sake of something; and that which is effected is not simply the end, but is a relative and pertains to something, though this is not the case with that which is practicable. For good conduct is the end of action; but appetite is directed to the end. Hence, deliberate choice is either orectic intellect, or appetite possessing a discursive energy; and man is a principle of this kind. Nothing, however, that has been done is an object of deliberate choice. Thus, for instance, no one deliberately chooses to subvert Troy; for neither does anyone deliberate about what is past, but about that which is future and contingent. But it is not possible that what has been done should not be done. Hence, Agatho says rightly,
All things to God are possible but one,
That to undo which is already done.
Of both the intellective parts, therefore, the work is truth. Hence, those habits according to which each of these parts enunciates the truth are the virtues of both.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 3
Assuming, therefore, a more elevated exordium, let us again speak concerning these virtues. Let, therefore, the habits by which the soul enunciates truth in affirming or denying, be five in number. But these are art, science, prudence, wisdom, and intellect; for it is possible that both hypolepsis and opinion may assert what is false. What science therefore is, will be from hence evident, if it is necessary to investigate accurately, and not to follow similitudes. For all of us are of opinion that it is not possible for that which we know scientifically to subsist otherwise than it does. But with respect to things which may subsist otherwise, of these when they are out of our view we are ignorant whether they exist or not. The object of scientific knowledge, therefore, is from necessity. Hence, it is eternal. For all beings which are simply from necessity are eternal; but things eternal are without generation and incorruptible. Again, all science appears to be capable of being taught, and the object of scientific knowledge may be obtained by discipline. But all doctrine is produced from things previously known, as we have said in the Analytics; for it partly subsists through induction, and partly from syllogism. Induction, therefore, is indeed a principle, and the principle of universal; but syllogism is from universal. The principles, therefore, from which syllogism consists, are things of which there is no syllogism. Hence, they are obtained by induction. Science, therefore, is indeed a demonstrative habit, and such other things as we have added to the definition of it in the Analytics. For when a man believes that a thing is after a certain manner, and the principles of it are known to him, he has a scientific knowledge of that thing. For if the principles are not more known to him than the conclusion, he will have a scientific knowledge from accident. Let these things, therefore, be admitted concerning science.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 4
Of that, however, which may subsist otherwise than it does, or which has a various subsistence, and is contingent, there is something which is effective, and something which is practicable. But production and action differ. Credibility, however, may be obtained concerning these things from exoteric discussions; so that the practic habit in conjunction with reason, is different from the effective, or productive habit in conjunction with reason. And neither are they contained by each other; for neither is action effection; nor is effection action. But since the building art is a habit effective in conjunction with reason, and neither is there any art which is not a habit effective in conjunction with reason, nor any such habit which is not art; art and habit effective in conjunction with true reason will be the same. All art, however, is conversant with generation, and machinates and contemplates in order that something may be produced which is capable either of existing, or not existing; and of which the principle is in the maker, but not in the thing made. For art neither belongs to things which necessarily are, or are necessarily generated, nor to things which have a natural subsistence; for these contain in themselves the principle. Since, however, production and action are different, it is necessary that art should pertain to production, but not to action. And after a certain manner, fortune and art are conversant with the same things, as, also, Agatho says,
Art fortune loves, and fortune art.
Art, therefore, as we have said, is a certain habit effective in conjunction with true reason. But the privation of art, on the contrary or the inartificial habit, is a habit effective in conjunction with false reason, about that which may have a various subsistence.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 5
With respect to prudence, we shall apprehend what it is, if we survey who those are whom we denominate prudent persons. It appears, therefore, to be the province of a prudent man to be able to consult well about things which are good and advantageous to him, not partially, as about what contributes to health or strength, but about what universally contributes to a happy life. But this is indicated by our calling men prudent about anything, when they reason well, with a view to some worthy end, in things in which there is no art. So that, in short, he who is adapted to consultation will be a prudent man. No one, however, consults about things which cannot subsist otherwise than they do, nor about things which it is impossible for him to perform. Hence, if science indeed subsists in conjunction with demonstration; but of those things of which the principles may have a various subsistence, of these there is no demonstration; for all these are contingent; and if it is not possible to consult about things which subsist from necessity, prudence will neither be science nor art. It will not be science, because that which is practicable may have a various subsistence; and it will not be art, because the genus of action is different from the genus of production. It remains, therefore, that it is a true habit in conjunction with reason, practical about human good and evil. For the end of production indeed is different from the production, but the end of action is not always different from action. Hence we are of opinion that Pericles, and such like persons, are prudent men, because they are able to survey what is good for themselves, and for mankind; and we also think that economists and politicians are persons of this description. Hence, also, we call temperance by this name, sophrosyne, as preserving prudence. But it preserves an opinion of this kind. For the delectable and the painful do not corrupt or distort every opinion; such as that a triangle has or has not angles equal to two right; but those opinions which pertain to what is practicable. For the principles indeed of practicable things are those things for the sake of which they are performed. But to him who is corrupted through pleasure or pain, the principle is not immediately apparent, nor does he perceive, that for the sake of this, and through this, it is necessary to choose and perform all things. For vice is destructive of the principle. Hence it is necessary that prudence should be a habit in conjunction with true reason, practical about human good. Moreover, of art indeed there is a virtue, but of prudence there is not. And in art, indeed, he who voluntarily errs, is to be preferred to him who errs involuntarily; but in prudence he who voluntarily errs is a subordinate character, in the same manner as in the virtues. It is evident, therefore, that prudence is a certain virtue, and not art. But since there are two parts of the rational soul, prudence will be the virtue of the doxastic part, or that part which forms opinions of things. For both opinion and prudence are conversant with that which may have a various subsistence, Nor yet is prudence a habit alone in conjunction with reason; of which this is an indication, that there may be an oblivion of such a habit, i.e., it may be lost through oblivion; but there cannot be of prudence.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 6
Since, however, science is an assent to universals and things which have a necessary subsistence, but there are principles of things demonstrable, and of every science; for science is accompanied with reason; this being the case, there will neither be science, nor art, nor prudence of the principle of the object of science. For the object of science is demonstrable; but art and prudence are conversant with things which may have a various subsistence; neither, therefore, will wisdom be that through which this principle is known; for it is the province of a wise man to have demonstration about certain things. Hence, if the habits by which we enunciate the truth, and are never deceived about things which cannot, or which can have a various subsistence, are science and prudence, wisdom and intellect, but no one of these three, can be the habit by which we know principles; but by the three, I mean prudence, wisdom, and science; it remains that intellect is the habit by which principles are known.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 7
We attribute, however, wisdom in the arts, to those who are most accurately skilled in the arts. Thus we say that Phidias was a wise sculptor, and Polycletus a wise statuary. Here, therefore, we signify nothing else by wisdom, than that it is the virtue of art. But, in short, we think that certain persons are wise, not partially, and that they are not anything else than wise men, as Homer says in his Margites,
The gods nor miner him, nor ploughman made;
Nor wise in anything beside;
so that it is evident that wisdom will be the most accurate of the sciences. Hence it is necessary that the wise man should not only know those things which are inferred from principles or the conclusions of scientific reasoning, but that he should also perceive and enunciate the truth about principles themselves. Wisdom, therefore, will be intellect and science, and will possess as a head or summit the science of the most honorable things, i.e., of divine natures. For it would be absurd for anyone to fancy that the political science, or prudence, is a thing of all others the most excellent, unless man is the best of everything the world contains. If, however, what is salubrious and good is to man one thing, and another to fishes, but that which is white and that which is straight are always the same, all men will acknowledge that a wise man is the same, but the prudent man is a mutable character. For they will say that the being is prudent who surveys what is excellent in particulars according to the nature of each, and to him they will commit these particulars. Hence also they say that some brutes are prudent, viz. such as appear to have a providential power about what pertains to their life. It is evident, however, that the political science and wisdom are not the same. For if it should be said that wisdom is that which is conversant with what is useful to mankind, there will be many kinds of wisdom; since there is not one science which is conversant with the good of all animals, but a different science is conversant with a different good; unless indeed there is one medical science which extends to all beings. Nor is it of any consequence, if it should be said that man is the most excellent of all other animals; for there are many animals naturally more divine than man, such as those most apparent beings from which the world is composed. From what has been said, therefore, it is evident that wisdom is the science and intellect of things most honorable by nature. Hence the multitude say that Anaxagoras and Thales, and such-like persons, were indeed wise, but not prudent men, in consequence of perceiving that they were ignorant of what was advantageous to them with respect to a corporeal life; and they say, that they knew indeed things superfluous and admirable, difficult and divine, but which are useless, because they did not investigate human good. Prudence, however, is conversant with human affairs, and with those things which are the subjects of consultation; for we say that this is especially the work of a prudent man, to consult well. But no one consults about things which cannot subsist otherwise than they do, nor about things of which there is not a certain end, and this, practical good. He, however, simply consults well, who conjectures, by a reasoning process, what is best to man among practicable things. Nor is prudence only directed to universals, but it is also necessary that it should know particulars; for it is practical; but action is conversant with particulars. Hence, also, some persons who have only experimental knowledge without science, are more adapted for practical affairs, than those who possess a scientific knowledge without experience. For he who knows that light flesh is easily concocted, but is ignorant what flesh is light, will not produce health; but he will rather produce it who knows that the flesh of birds is light and salubrious. Prudence, however, is practical; so that it is necessary to possess both, viz. a knowledge of what is to be done universally, and in particular circumstances, or rather the latter than the former. But prudence here also, i.e., among the practical powers, will be a certain architectonic power or a power belonging to a master art.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 8
The political science, however, and prudence are indeed the same habit, though they have not the same essence. But of the science pertaining to a city, the one part which is legislative, is as it were architectonic prudence, but the other, in the same manner as particulars, is denominated by a common name, the political science. This, however, is practical, and occupied in consultation; for a decree is a thing practicable as the extreme. Hence those alone who possess the political science are said to act in a political capacity; for they alone act in the same manner as manual artificers. That also appears to be especially prudence which a man employs about himself, and about one thing; and this is called by a common name, prudence. But of these species of prudence, the one is economy, another legislation, and another the political science; and of this last, one part pertains to consultation, but another is judicial. For a man, therefore, to know his own concerns will be one species of knowledge. Nevertheless, it possesses a great difference. And he who knows things pertaining to himself, and is conversant with them, appears to be a prudent man; but those who apply themselves to the management of public affairs, are busily employed in a multitude of concerns. Hence also Euripides says,
How can the name of wise to me belong,
Who might have mingled in the martial throng;
Unvex’d with business, and exempt from care,
Taking of spoils my honorable share;
Yet chose by over-anxious thought to move
The direful hate of all-commanding Jove.
For these men explore what is good for themselves, and are of opinion that it is necessary to do this. From this opinion, therefore, it comes to pass that these men are prudent; though perhaps it is not possible for a man to know his own concerns without economic and political prudence. Again, how a man ought to manage his own affairs, is a thing immanifest, and requires consideration. But as an indication of the truth of what has been said, a youth may become a geometrician and a mathematician, and may be skilled in things of this kind; but it does not appear that he will be prudent. The cause, however, of this is, that prudence pertains to particulars, without experience, which is produced by length of time. Since this also deserves to be considered, why a boy may become a mathematician, but cannot be wise, or a physiologist; shall we say it is because mathematical objects subsist by an ablation from matter; but the principles of the objects of wisdom and physiology are derived from experience. And with respect to metaphysical principles indeed, youth do not believe in, but admit them; but with respect to mathematical principles, it is not immanifest what they are. Farther still, error in consultation either pertains to universals, or particulars. For, in order that a man may not drink heavy, and therefore, bad water, it is requisite he should know, either that all heavy water is bad, or that this particular water is heavy. But it is evident that prudence is not science; for it pertains to the extreme, as we have before observed; since that which is practicable is a thing of this kind. It is, therefore, indeed opposed to intellect. For intellect is conversant with terms, i.e., universals, which are the extremes upward, and above which there are no other principles; but prudence is conversant with the extremes downward, which are particulars, of which there is no science, but only a sensible perception, and this not a sensible perception of peculiarities; but such as that by which we perceive in mathematics that a triangle is the extreme; for we stop there. It is, therefore, rather this sense which is prudence, but of that there is another species.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 9
To investigate, however, and to consult differ; for to consult is to investigate something. But it is necessary to discuss good-consultation, and show what it is, whether it is a certain science, or opinion, or good-conjecture, or some other genus. It is not, therefore, science. For men do not investigate about things which they know; but good-consultation is a certain consultation; and he who consults investigates and reasons. Neither is it good-conjecture; for good-conjecture is without reasoning, and is something which is accomplished with celerity; but men consult for a long time, and say that the objects of consultation ought to be performed rapidly, but that consultation should be done slowly. Again, sagacity and good-consultation also differ from each other; but sagacity is a certain good-conjecture. Neither, therefore, is any good-consultation opinion, But since he who consults badly errs, but he who consults well consults rightly; it is evident that good-consultation is a certain rectitude. Nor is good consultation either science or opinion; for of science, indeed, there is no rectitude, because there is no error; but truth is the rectitude of opinion; and at the same time everything of which there is an opinion is definite and determined. Nevertheless good-consultation is not without reasoning. It falls short, therefore, of dianoia or the discursive energy of reason; for this is not yet enunciation; since opinion is not investigation, but is now a certain enunciation. He, however, who consults, whether he consults well or ill, investigates something and reasons. But good-consultation is a certain rectitude of consultation; on which account, it must in the first place be inquired what consultation is, and with what it is conversant.
Since, however, rectitude is multifariously predicated, it is evident that not every rectitude is good-consultation. For the incontinent and the bad man, obtain from reasoning that which they propose to see; so that they will have consulted rightly, but have procured for themselves a great evil. But to have consulted well, appears to be a certain good; for such a rectitude of consultation, as becomes the mean of obtaining good, is good consultation. Good, however, may be obtained by false reasoning; and a man indeed may obtain that which ought to be done, yet not through a proper medium, but the middle term may be false. Hence, neither will that be good-consultation according to which that is obtained which ought to be obtained, yet not through a proper medium. Farther still, it is possible that one man may obtain the object of his wishes by consulting for a long time, but another, by consulting rapidly. Hence neither is that yet good-consultation; but the rectitude which subsists according to utility, and to what is proper, and as, and when it is proper. Again, it is possible simply to consult well, and also with a view to a certain end. Good consultation, therefore, simply is that which proceeds with rectitude to an end simply; but a certain good consultation, is that which proceeds with rectitude to a certain end. Hence, if to consult well is the province of prudent men, good consultation will be a rectitude according to utility with a view to a certain end, of which prudence is the true hypothesis.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 10
Intelligence, however, and the privation of intelligence, according to which we denominate men intelligent or unintelligent, is neither wholly the same with science or opinion; for if it were, all men would be intelligent.
Nor is intelligence some one of the particular sciences, such as medicine, for it would be conversant with health; or geometry, for it would be conversant with magnitudes. For neither is intelligence conversant with things which always are, and are immoveable, nor with things which are passing into existence; but with those which may be the subject of doubt and consultation. Hence it is conversant with the same things as prudence; yet intelligence and prudence are not the same. For prudence, indeed, is of a commanding nature; for the end of it is, what ought, or what ought not to be done. But intelligence is alone of a judiciary nature. For intelligence is the same as right intelligence; since intelligent men are also rightly intelligent. Intelligence, however, is neither the possession, nor the acquisition of prudence. But as he who learns is said to understand what he learns, when he uses science, the like also takes place in the use of opinion in forming a judgment of those things with which prudence is conversant, and judging of them well, when another person is speaking. For what is well is the same with what is beautifully done. And hence the name intelligence was derived, according to which men are said to be rightly intelligent, viz. from intelligence in learning; for we frequently use the verb to learn as equivalent to the verb to understand.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 11
But what is called upright decision, according to which we say that men decide rightly, is the right judgment of the equitable man. As an indication of this, however, we say that the equitable man is especially inclined to pardon others, and that it is equitable to pardon certain things. But pardon is an upright judiciary decision of the equitable man; and the decision is upright which is made by a man observant of truth. All these habits, however, reasonably tend to the same thing. For we speak of upright decision, intelligence, prudence, and intellect with reference to the same persons, when we say that they are men of upright decision, are endued with intellect, are prudent and intelligent. For all these powers pertain to the extremes downward, I and to particulars. And an intelligent man, and one who decides rightly, or a man disposed to pardon, will be one who possesses a judiciary power about things with which the prudent man is conversant; for things of an equitable nature are common to all good men, in their intercourse with others. Everything, however, of a practicable nature pertains to particulars, and the downward extremes. For it is necessary that a prudent man should have a knowledge of these; and intelligence and equitable decision are conversant with things of a practicable nature; but these are extremes. And intellect pertains both to the upward and downward extremes. For intellect, and not the discursive energy of reason, is conversant with both first and last terms, i.e., with universal principles; the one indeed, i.e., the intellect, which is the principle of the demonstrative sciences, is conversant with immutable and first terms; but the intellect, which is occupied in practical affairs, or which is the principle of prudence, is conversant with the extreme, and with that which is contingent, and the other proposition. For these are the principles of that for the sake of which a thing is done, or the final cause; for universal is from particulars. Of these, therefore, it is necessary to have a sensible perception; but this is the practical intellect. Hence, these habits appear to be natural. And no one indeed is wise by nature; but every one possesses naturally the power of deciding rightly, together with intelligence and intellect. But as an indication of this, we are of opinion that these habits are attendants on the ages of the life of men; and we say that this age, i.e., old age, possesses intellect and upright decision, as if nature were the cause of this. Hence, also, intellect is both the principle and the end; for from these demonstrations are framed, and with these they are conversant,
Hence, in practical affairs it is no less necessary to attend to the undemonstrated assertions and opinions of elderly or prudent men, than to demonstrations; for in consequence of possessing an eye from experience, they perceive the principles of things of a practicable nature. And thus we have shown what wisdom and prudence are, and with what particulars each is conversant, and that: each is the virtue of a different part of the soul.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 12
Someone, however, may doubt concerning these, in what their utility consists. For wisdom, indeed, contemplates none of those things from which men will obtain happiness; since it is not conversant with anything which is in generation, or which is becoming to be, or passing into existence. But prudence, indeed, does consider those things from which humans happiness is derived; yet on what account is it necessary that it should, since prudence is conversant with just and beautiful things, and which are good to man. We do not, however, become at all more practically virtuous by knowing these things, since the virtues are habits; as neither are things said to be salubrious, or to conduce to a good habit of body, because they have an active power, but because they proceed from habit. For we are not at all more practical, from possessing the medical or gymnastic art. But if a man is not to be considered as prudent for the sake of these things, but for the sake of becoming worthy, they will not be at all useful to those who are worthy. Again, neither will prudence be useful to those who are not worthy; for it is of no consequence whether they are prudent, or are persuaded by others that are; since this will be sufficient, in the same manner as in what pertains to health. For when we wish to be well, we do not at the same time learn the medical art. To which we may add, that it will appear to be absurd, that prudence, which is subordinate to wisdom, should possess a greater authority; for that which is effective, governs and presides in everything. These things, therefore, must be discussed, for now the doubt is concerning them alone. In the first place, therefore, we say, that these virtues, wisdom and prudence, are necessarily eligible per se, since they are the virtues of each part of the soul, though neither of them should effect anything. In the next place, they do indeed effect something, yet not in the same manner as medicine produces health; but as health produces the energies of a good habit of body, thus also wisdom produces happiness. For being a part of the whole of virtue, by the possession and the energy of it, it renders a man happy. Farther still, the work is accomplished by prudence and ethical virtue. For virtue renders the scope proposed by the agent right; but prudence gives rectitude to things which tend to the scope. A virtue, however, of this kind, does not belong to the fourth, or nutritive part of the soul, because its energies are not in our power, nor are rational, either essentially or by participation. But with respect to our not being at all more adapted to the practice of things beautiful and just, through prudence, in answer to this objection we must begin a little higher, assuming the following principle: For as we say that certain persons who perform just things, are not yet just, such as those who do what is ordered by the laws, either unwillingly, or from ignorance, or from some other cause, and not on account of the things themselves, though they do those things which ought to be done, and such as a worthy man ought to do; thus also, as it seems, it is possible to do everything with a certain disposition of mind, so as to be a good man. I mean for instance, that it is possible to do everything with which virtue is concerned from deliberate choice, and for the sake of the things which are done. Virtue, therefore, produces a right deliberate choice; but it is not the business of virtue, but of some other power, to render the deliberate choice disposed to embrace what truly contributes to the end.
It is requisite, however, to speak more clearly on this subject. There is, therefore, a certain power which is called skill. But this is a power of such a kind, that by its assistance those things may be performed and obtained, which contribute to the proposed scope, And if, indeed, the scope is beautiful, this power is laudable; but if the scope is bad, this power becomes craft; on which account, also, we say that prudent men are skillful, and not crafty. Prudence, however, is not this power, yet does not subsist without it. But habit is not acquired by this eye of the soul without virtue, as we have said, and is evident. For the syllogisms of practical affairs rank as a principle; since the end is a thing of this kind, and that which is best, whatever it may be. Let the end, for instance, be something casual; but this is not apparent except to a good man. For depravity distorts the judgment, and produces deception about the practical principles. Hence it is evident, that it is impossible for anyone to be a prudent, unless he is a good man.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VI, Chapter 13
Again, therefore, let us direct our attention to virtue, For as prudence is not the same, indeed, but is similar to sagacity, thus, also, natural virtue subsists similarly, with reference to that which is properly so called. For the several manners appear to all men to subsist in a certain respect naturally; since we are just, and temperate, and brave, and possess the other virtues immediately from our birth. At the same time, however, we investigate something else, as that which is properly good, and are of opinion that such-like virtues are inherent after another manner. For the physical habits are inherent in children and brutes; but they are seen to be noxious without intellect. Thus much, indeed, is apparent, that as it happens that a strong body, which is moved without sight, very much errs in its motions, in consequence of being deprived of sight; this, likewise, is the case here with respect to the physical virtues. But if the possessor of these virtues obtains intellect, also, he will excel in his actions. The habit, however, being similar, will then be properly virtue. Hence, as in the doxastic. part of the soul, or that part which is characterized by opinion, there are two species, skill and prudence; thus, also, in the ethical part, there are two species, one of which is physical virtue, but the other is virtue properly so called. And of these, virtue properly so called, is not without prudence. Hence, it is said, that all the virtues are prudences. And Socrates, indeed, investigated partly with rectitude, and partly with error. For because he thought that all the virtues are prudences, he erred; but it is well said by him, that the virtues are not without prudence. But as an indication of this, all men now, when they define virtue, add to the definition habit, and that they energize according to right reason. And right reason is that which subsists according to prudence. All men, therefore, appear in a certain respect to prophesy, that a habit of this kind, which subsists according to prudence, is virtue. It is necessary, however, to change, in a small degree, the definition; for not only a habit according to right reason, but also a habit in conjunction with right reason, is virtue. But prudence is right reason energizing about things of this kind. So crates therefore thought, that the virtues, indeed, were reasons; because all of them are sciences; but we think that they subsist in conjunction with reason. Hence, it is evident, from what has been said, that it is not possible to be a good man, properly, without prudence; nor a prudent man without ethical virtue. After this manner, also, the reasoning may be dissolved, by which someone may contend, that the virtues are separated from each other; for the same person is not naturally well adapted to all the virtues. Hence, he has now obtained this, but not yet that virtue; for this may, indeed, happen according to the physical virtues, but is not possible in those virtues, according to which a man is said to be simply a good man. For all the virtues are present, at the same time that prudence, which is one virtue, is present. But it is evident, that though prudence were not a practical thing, it would be necessary, because it is the virtue of a part of the soul, and because deliberate choice will not be right without prudence, nor without virtue; for one of these is the end, but the other causes us to do things which contribute to the end. Prudence, however, neither has dominion over wisdom, nor over the better part of the soul, as neither has the medical science dominion over health; for it does not use health, but considers how it may be obtained. It prescribes, therefore, for the sake of health, but has no dominion over it. Again, to say that prudence rules over wisdom, is just as if someone should say, that the political science rules over the gods, because it orders everything which is done in the city.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 1
After these things, making another beginning, it must be observed by us, that there are three species of things which are to be avoided in manners, viz. vice, incontinence, and brutality. But the contraries to two of these are indeed evident; for we call one of the contraries virtue, and the other continence. To brutality, however, it will be most appropriate to say, that the virtue is opposed, which is a certain heroical and divine virtue, as Homer represents Priam saying of Hector, that he was a very good man:
Wretch that I am my bravest offspring slain,
You the disgrace of Priam’s house remain.
Nestor the brave, renown’d in ranks of war,
With Troilus, dreadful in his rushing car;
And last, great Hector, more than man divine,
For sure he seem’d not of terrestrial line!
Hence, if, as it is said, men from being men become gods through excess of virtue, the habit which is opposed to a brutal habit, will, indeed, be such as this. For as there is neither the vice nor virtue of a brute, so neither is there of a god; but the one habit, indeed, is more honorable than virtue, and the other is of a different genus from vice. Since, however, the existence of a divine man is rare, just as the Lacedaemonians, when they very much admire a man, are accustomed to say, “O divine man”, thus, also the brutal nature is rare among men; but when it does exist, it is principally found among the barbarians. Some men, however, become brutalized through diseases and mutilations of the body. And we thus denominate, by a defamatory appellation, those who surpass other men in vice. But of such a disposition of the soul as this, we shall hereafter make mention; and we have before spoken concerning vice. Let us now, therefore, speak concerning incontinence, and effeminacy, and luxury, and concerning their opposites, I continence and endurance. For each of these must not be considered as if they were the same habits with virtue and vice, nor yet as if they were of a genus different from them. It is necessary, however, as we have done in other things, having first premised what is apparent, i.e., what is commonly admitted as true, and proposed doubts, in the next place to show everything which is especially probable, about these passions; but if not everything, at least the greater part, and the principal. For if such doubts as are difficult are dissolved, and those things which are probable are left, we shall have sufficiently accomplished our purpose.
Continence, therefore, and endurance, appear to be among the number of worthy and laudable things; but incontinence and effeminacy, among the number of things bad and blamable. And the continent man, and he who abides in the decision of reason, are the same person; and the incontinent man is the same with him who departs from the decision of reason. And the incontinent man, indeed, knowing that the things are bad, does them through passion; but the continent man, knowing that desires are bad, does not follow them, in consequence of being obedient to reason. And all men, indeed, admit that the temperate man is continent, and possesses the virtue of endurance; but with respect to a man of this description, some say that he is in every respect temperate, but others say that he is not. And some confusedly say, that the intemperate man is incontinent, and the incontinent man is intemperate; but others say that they differ from each other. But with respect to the prudent man, sometimes they say that he cannot be incontinent; and sometimes, that certain persons who are prudent and skillful are incontinent. And farther still, men are said to be incontinent of anger, of honor, and of gain. Such, therefore, are the assertions concerning continence and incontinence.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 2
It may, however, be doubted, how he who thinks rightly can act incontinently. Some say, therefore, that it is impossible for a man to act incontinently who knows that he ought not; for it would be a dreadful thing, when science is inherent as Socrates thought, that anything else should have dominion, and draw the man about like a slave. For Socrates, in short, opposed reason by this opinion, as if there were no such thing as incontinence; since he said that no one acted contrary to what he apprehended it was best to do, except from ignorance of what was best. This assertion, therefore, is adverse to those things which are clearly apparent; and it is requisite to inquire concerning the passion, if any one acts incontinently through ignorance, what the mode of this ignorance is? For it is evident, that he who acts incontinently does not think he ought so to act, till he is under the influence of the passion. There are, however, certain persons who admit some of these things, but not others. For they grant, indeed, that nothing is better than science; but they do not admit that no one acts contrary to what appears to him to be better. And on this account they say, that the incontinent man, not having science but opinion, is vanquished by pleasures. If, however, it is opinion, and neither science nor a strong but a weak hypolepsis which resists, as it is in those who are dubious, pardon is to be granted to him who yields to strong desires; but improbity is not to be pardoned, nor anything else which is blamable. The incontinent man, therefore, is vanquished by desire, prudence at the same time resisting; for this is most strong. But this is absurd; for the same person will be, at the same time, prudent and incontinent. No one, however, will say that it is the province of a prudent man. to perform voluntarily the most base actions. To which may be added, what we have before shown, that the prudent is a practical man; for he is conversant with. particulars, and possesses the other virtues.
Again, if the continent man consists in having strong and base desires, the temperate man will not be a continent man, nor the continent a temperate man; for it is not the province of the temperate man to have too much desire or to have base desires. But it would be requisite that he should, if this were admitted; for if, indeed, the desires are good, the habit which prevents a man from following them is bad; so that not all continence will be good. If, however, the desires are weak, but not bad, there is nothing venerable in continence; and if they are bad and weak, there is nothing great in it. Farther still, if continence gives permanency to every opinion, and even to false opinion, it is a bad thing; and if incontinence produces a departure from every opinion, there will be a certain incontinence which is good; such as that of Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes of Sophocles. For he is to be praised for not persevering in what he was persuaded to do by Ulysses, because it was painful to him to lie. Again, that reasoning of the sophists; which is denominated lying or dissembling, is perplexed with doubt. For with these men, in consequence of wishing to produce an assent to paradoxes, in order that when they obtain their end, they may appear to be skillful persons, the syllogism formed by their reasoning becomes very dubious. For the discursive energy of reason is bound, when the person whose assent they wish to procure is unwilling to persist, because the conclusion does not please him; but is unable to proceed, because he cannot dissolve the argument. From a certain reason, however, it may happen, that imprudence, together with incontinence, is a virtue. For a man through incontinence may do the contrary to what he apprehends ought to be done; but he apprehends that good things are evil, and that they ought not to be done. Hence, he will do what is good, and not what is evil. Again, he who performs and pursues what is delectable, in consequence of being persuaded, and deliberately choosing so to do, will appear to be a better character than the man who does so, not from reasoning, but from incontinence; for he may be more easily cured, because he may be induced to change his opinion. But the incontinent man is obnoxious to the proverb, in which we say, “When water suffocates, what occasion is there to drink?”. For if, indeed, he were persuaded to do what he did, if he had been induced to change his opinion he would have desisted; but now, not being persuaded, he nevertheless acts in this manner. Farther still, if incontinence and continence are conversant with all things, who is the man that is simply incontinent? For no one has every species of incontinence; and we say that some persons are simply incontinent. Such, therefore, are the doubts which happen on this subject. But of these, it is necessary to take away some, and to leave others; for the solution of a doubt is the discovery of what is investigated.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 3
In the first place, therefore, it must be considered, whether the incontinent act knowingly, or not, and in what manner they act knowingly. In the next place, with what kind of things the incontinent and the continent man are conversant. I mean, whether they are conversant with all pleasure and pain, or with certain definite pleasures and pains; and whether the continent and the enduring man are the same, or different characters. And in a similar manner we must consider such other things as are allied to this theory. The beginning, however, of the speculation is, whether the continent and incontinent man differ in the things with which they are conversant, or in the mode in which they are conversant with them. My meaning is this, whether the incontinent man is alone incontinent, or not, because he is conversant with these particular things? or whether it is because he is thus affected, or not, or whether it is from both these? In the next place, whether incontinence and continence are conversant with all things, or not? For he who is simply incontinent is not conversant with all things, but with those things with which the intemperate man is conversant; nor is he denominated incontinent from being simply affected towards these; for if he were, incontinence would be the same with intemperance; but from being affected towards them in this particular manner. For the intemperate man, indeed, is led by his desires from deliberate choice, thinking that it is always necessary to pursue the present delight; but the incontinent man does not think this is necessary; yet pursues it. With respect, therefore, to the assertion that it is true opinion and not science, through, which men act incontinently, it is of no consequence to the present discussion; for some of those who form opinions of things, entertain no doubt of their truth, but think that they know accurately. . If, therefore, those who form an opinion, act in a greater degree contrary to their opinion, than those who have a scientific knowledge, because they believe negligently, science will in no respect differ from opinion. For some persons believe no less firmly in things of which they form an opinion, than others in things which they know scientifically. But this is evident from Heraclitus. Since, however, we say that a man knows scientifically in a two-fold respect; for both he who possesses science, indeed, but does not use it, and he who uses it, are said to have scientific knowledge; it makes a difference whether a man possessing science, but not contemplating, does what he ought not to do, or whether possessing science and contemplating, he acts improperly. For this appears to be absurd, but it is not if he does not contemplate. Again, since there are two modes of propositions, i.e., universal and particular propositions, nothing hinders but that he who possesses both these, may act contrary to science; using indeed the universal proposition, but not the particular one; for particulars are practicable. There is a difference, also, as to the universal; for one difference, indeed, is in the man himself, but the other is in the thing. Thus, for instance, a man may know that dry food is beneficial to every man; and that this person is a man; or that a thing of such a kind is dry food; but whether this is a thing of such a kind, he either does not know, or he does not energize as if he did know. There is an immense difference, therefore, according to these modes; so that no absurdity follows, for a man thus to know; but for him to know in any other way, it would be wonderful. Farther still, science may be inherent in men in a way different from that which we have just now mentioned. For we see that habit differs in possessing, indeed, but not using science; so that a man possesses, in a certain respect, and does not possess science; as is the case with him who is asleep, or insane, or intoxicated. But in this way men are disposed, who are under the influence of the passions; for anger, and the desire of venereal pleasures, and certain other things of this kind, evidently produce a change in the body; and in some persons, also, they produce insanity. It is manifest, therefore, that the incontinent man must be said to be affected similarly to these persons. Nor is it any indication of the contrary, if such persons utter sentences which are the progeny of science; for those who are under the influence of these passions, will recite demonstrations, and the verses of Empedocles. And those who first learn a science connect indeed the words, but do not yet know their meaning; for it is necessary that science should increase with advancing age; but this requires time. Hence, it must be admitted that the incontinent speak after the manner of players, i.e., without attending to the meaning of what they say.
Again, the cause of this may also be physically surveyed as follows: opinion, indeed, is either universal or particular, of which latter sense is now the mistress. But when one reason is produced from both these, it is necessary that, so far as pertains to theory, the soul should enunciate the conclusion, but so far as pertains to practice, should immediately act. Thus, for instance, if everything sweet ought to be tasted, but this thing is sweet as being some one of particulars, it necessarily follows, that he who is able, and is not impeded, must at the same time that he says this, act, i.e., taste the sweet thing . When, therefore, the universal proposition is indeed inherent, which prohibits a thing from being tasted; but another proposition says, that everything which is sweet is delectable; and another, that this particular thing is sweet; and this causes the man to energize; and when, also, desire happens to be inherent – then the universal proposition, indeed, says, this thing is to be avoided, but desire leads to the fruition of it. For each of the parts of the soul is able to move, or excite. Hence it happens, that a man acts incontinently both from reason, in a certain respect, and opinion; though opinion is not essentially, but from accident, contrary to reason. For desire, but not opinion, is contrary to right reason. Hence, on this account, also, brutes are not incontinent, because they have not a perception of universal, but an imagination and memory of particulars. With respect to the manner, however, in which ignorance is dissolved, and the incontinent man again becomes in possession of scientific knowledge, the reasoning is the same as concerning him who is intoxicated or asleep, and is not peculiar to this passion; but the explanation of it must be obtained from physiologists. Because, however, the last proposition is the opinion of the sensible object, and is the mistress of actions, he who is under the influence of passion either has not this proposition, or he has it in such a way, that from possessing he has not a scientific knowledge of it, but merely enunciates it, just as he who is intoxicated recites the verses of Empedocles; and likewise because the last proposition is not universal, and does not appear to be similarly scientific with that proposition which is universal. That also which Socrates’ investigated, appears in this case to happen. For the passion is not produced, when that which is science, properly so called, is seen to be present; nor is this science drawn about so as to cooperate with passion, but this must be asserted of the sensitive power. And thus much concerning the knowledge and ignorance of the incontinent man, and how he may act incontinently accompanied with knowledge.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 4
But whether any one is simply incontinent, or all that are incontinent are partially so, and if there is anyone who is simply incontinent, what the things are with which he is conversant, must in the next place be shown by us. That the continent, therefore, and men of endurance, and that the incontinent and effeminate, are conversant with pleasures and pains, is evident. Of those things, however, which produce pleasure, some indeed are necessary; but others, though they are eligible of themselves, yet have excess. But necessaries, indeed, are things which have reference to the body; I mean such things as pertain to food, and the use of venereal pleasures, and such-like corporeal concerns, about which we place intemperance and temperance. Other things, however, are not indeed necessary, yet are eligible of themselves; I mean such as victory, honor, wealth, and such-like good and delectable things. Those, therefore, who exceed in these contrary to the right reason which is in them, we do not indeed denominate simply incontinent, but with an addition we call them incontinent of riches, of gain, of honor, and of anger; but we do not call them simply incontinent, as being different from those that are so, and denominated from similitude; just as the name of a certain person who was victorious in the Olympic games, was Anthropos, i.e., man; for he had as a proper the common name of man, and yet at the same time he was different from man universal, or the species man, as being an individual. As an indication of this, incontinence indeed is blamed, not only as an error, but also as a certain vice, either simply, or partially; but no one blames those who are incontinent of honor, or gain, etc. as simply bad. With respect, however, to those who are conversant with corporeal enjoyments, with which we say the temperate and intemperate man are conversant, he who without deliberate choice pursues the excesses of delectable, and avoids the excesses of painful things, viz. hunger and thirst, heat and cold, and everything pertaining to the touch and the taste, yet contrary to deliberate choice and the reasoning power, is called incontinent, not with an addition of this or that thing, as of anger, but he is only simply called incontinent. But as an indication of this, those who are conversant with the one are called effeminate, but not those who are conversant with the other. Hence, we arrange the incontinent and intemperate, and also the continent and temperate man, in the same class, but not those who are incontinent of honor, or gain, etc. because they are, in a certain respect, conversant with the same pleasures and pains. Though, however, they are conversant with the same things, yet not after the same manner; for the intemperate, indeed, pursue depraved pleasures from deliberate choice, but the incontinent do not. Hence, we rather call him intemperate, who either not at all desiring, or desiring slightly, pursues excessive pleasures, and avoids moderate pains, than him who pursues the one and avoids the other, in consequence of being influenced by vehement desire. For what would the former character do if he were impelled by robust desire, and suffered violent pain from the want of necessary things? Since, however, of desires and pleasures, some rank in the genus of things beautiful and worthy; for of things delectable, some are naturally eligible, others are contrary to these, and others have an intermediate subsistence, agreeably to the division we have before made; and these last are such as riches, gain, victory, and honor: in all these, therefore, and things of the like kind, and in those that have an intermediate subsistence, men are not blamed for being merely influenced by the passions, and for desiring and loving, but for the manner in which they are influenced by them, and for indulging them to excess. Hence, with respect to those who are vanquished by the passions, or pursue any thing naturally beautiful and good, contrary to reason, such as those who pursue honor more than is proper, or are irrationally attached to their parents and children; for these also rank among the number of things that are good, and those who pay attention to these are praised; yet there is at the same time a certain excess even in these things, if any one, like Niobe, contends about them even with the gods, or like Satyrus, who for his attachment to his father was called Philopator; for he appeared through this attachment to be very infatuated. There is, therefore, no depravity, indeed, in these things, for the reason already assigned, because each of these things is naturally eligible of itself; but the excesses of them are bad, and are to be avoided. This, however, is not the case with incontinence; for incontinence is not only to be avoided, but is also among the number of blamable things. But from the similitude of the passion, in speaking about each of these, it is usual to add the term incontinence, just as we say, that a man is a bad physician, or a bad player, whom we should not simply call a bad man. As, therefore, we do not here call these, simply bad men, because each of these is not a vice, but similar to vice from analogy; so likewise there, viz. in the immoderate pursuit of honor, gain, etc., those things only are to be considered as incontinence and continence, which are conversant with the same things as temperance and intemperance. But with respect to incontinence in anger, we speak of it from similitude. Hence, also, by making an addition, we say that a man is incontinent of anger, just as we say, that he is incontinent of honor or gain.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 5
Since, however, some things are naturally delectable, and of these some are simply so, but others to the genera of animals and men; but other things are not naturally delectable, but some things are pleasing in consequence of mutilations, and others are so partly from custom, and partly from depraved natures – this being the case, similar habits may be perceived in each of these. But by savage habits, I mean such a habit as that of the woman who is said to have cut open the bellies of pregnant women, and to have devoured the foetus; or such habits as certain savage nations about Pontus are said to possess. For of these, some are delighted to feed on raw, and others on human flesh, and others at banquets feast each other with their own children. Or such a habit as Phalaris is said to have possessed, for he is reported to have eaten his own son. These habits, therefore, are savage. Some of these habits, however, are produced in certain persons from disease and insanity, as was the case with him who immolated and eat his mother, and also with him who eat the liver of his fellow-servant. But other savage habits, either originate from disease, or from custom, such as evulsions of the hairs, biting the nails, and besides these eating coals and earth; to which may be added the venereal connection of males with males. For these habits are produced in some persons by nature, but in others from custom; as being accustomed to them from childhood. No one, therefore, would call those in whom nature is the cause of these habits, incontinent; as neither are women called incontinent, because in the venereal connection they are not active, but passive. And in a similar manner those are not called incontinent, who are in a diseased condition from custom. The possession, therefore, of each of these, is something beyond the boundaries of vice, in the same manner as a savage nature. But when possessing these propensities, to subdue, or be subdued by them, is not simple continence or incontinence, but is only so from similitude, just as he who subsists after this manner with respect to anger is incontinent of this passion, but passion is not be called incontinent. For every vice, folly, timidity, intemperance and ferocity, when excessive, is either savage or the effect of disease. For he who is naturally so disposed as to be afraid of everything, even though a mouse should make a noise, is timid according to a savage timidity; but he who is afraid of a cat is timid from disease. And among the number of the stupid, those who are most irrational from nature, and live only from sense, resemble savage animals, as is the case with some nations of remote barbarians; but those who are so from disease, such as epilepsy, or insanity, these are in a morbid state. It is, however, possible, that someone may sometimes possess these habits, and yet not be vanquished by them; I mean, as if, for instance, Phalaris desiring to eat his son should refrain from so doing, or should abstain from absurd venereal pleasure. And it is not only possible to have these propensities, but also to be vanquished by them. As, therefore, with respect to depravity, that which pertains to man, is simply said to be depravity; but that which subsists with an addition, is said to be a savage or diseased depravity, but is not simple depravity; after the same manner with respect to incontinence, it is evident that one kind is savage, but another the effect of disease, while that alone is simply incontinence which subsists according to human intemperance. It is evident, therefore, that incontinence and continence are alone conversant with those things with which intemperance and temperance are conversant, and that another species of incontinence subsists about other things, which is denominated metaphorically, and not simply.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 6
Let us, however, now consider whether the incontinence of anger is not less base than the incontinence of desires. For anger, indeed, seems to hear something of reason, but to hear it negligently; just like hasty servants, who run away before they have heard the whole of what is said to them, and thus err in the performance of what they are ordered to do; or like dogs who bark at a noise alone, before they perceive whether he who makes it is a friend or not. Thus also anger, through the heat and celerity of its nature, hears, indeed, reason, but does not hear its mandates, in consequence of impetuously tending to vengeance. For reason, indeed, or the imagination, renders it evident that something has been done attended with insolence or contempt; but anger, as if syllogistically concluding that it is necessary to be hostile to one who has acted in this manner, is immediately enraged. Desire, however, if sense, or reason corrupted by sense, only says that a thing is delectable, rushes to the enjoyment of it. Hence, anger in a certain respect follows reason; but desire does not. Desire, therefore, is more base than anger. For he who is incontinent of anger, is after a manner vanquished by reason; but he who is incontinent of desire, is subdued by desire, and not by reason. Again, it is more pardon able to follow the natural appetites, since such desires as are common to all men are more pardonable, and so far as they are common. But anger and asperity are more natural than desires which are excessive, and which are not necessary. Thus one who was accused of striking his father said, as an apology for it, that his own father, and even his grandfather, committed the same fault; and pointing to his child, he likewise, said he, will strike me when he becomes a man; for this is a family failing. A certain person, also, being dragged about by his son, ordered him to stop at the gates of his house; for he likewise had dragged his father as far as to that place. Farther still, those who act more insidiously are more unjust. The irascible man, therefore, is not insidious, nor is anger, but he is open in what he does. Desire, however, is fraudulent, as it is said of Venus,
The Cyprian goddess, skill’d in weaving wiles.
And as Homer says, speaking of her cestus,
In this was every art, and every charm,
To win the wisest, and the coldest warm;
Fond love, the gentle vow, the gay desire,
The kind deceit, the still reviving fire,
Persuasive speech, and more persuasive sighs,
Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.
Hence, if this incontinence is more unjust, it is also more base than that which pertains to anger, and this is simply incontinence, and in a certain respect vice. Again, no one who is pained acts insolently, i.e., lasciviously, towards another person; but everyone who acts from the impulse of anger, acts with pain. He, however, who conducts himself insolently towards another, acts with pleasure. If, therefore, those things with which it is especially just to be angry are more unjust, the incontinence, also, which subsists through desire is more unjust; for anger is not attended with insolence. Hence, it is evident that the incontinence which is conversant with desires, is more base than that which is conversant with anger, and, also, that continence and incontinence are conversant with corporeal pleasures. The differences, however, of these must be assumed. For, as we said in the beginning, some desires are human and natural, both in their genus and magnitude; but others are savage; and others subsist from mutilations and diseases, But with the first of these, temperance and intemperance are alone conversant. Hence, we neither call brutes temperate, nor intemperate, except metaphorically, though one genus of animals differs in short from another, in insolence, in salaciousness, and in voracity. For they have neither any deliberate choice, nor reasoning process; but they revolt from nature, in the same manner as insane men. Ferocity, however, is a less evil than vice, but it is more terrible; for that which is most excellent, is not corrupted through this, as it is in men; but those that labor under this malady are deprived of it, i.e., of reason. It is just, therefore, as if that which is inanimate should be compared with that which is animated, in order to know which of the two is the worse. For the improbity is always more innoxious which is without a principle; but intellect is a principle. Hence, a similar thing takes place, as if injustice should be compared with an unjust man; for it is possible that the one may be worse than the other. For a bad man may be the cause of an infinitely greater number of evils than a brute.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 7
With respect, however, to the pleasures and pains which subsist through the touch and the taste, and also with respect to the desires and aversions pertaining to these, about which intemperance and temperance have been before defined; it is possible, indeed, that a man may be so disposed, as to be vanquished by those pleasures and pains, to which the multitude are superior; and it is also possible, that he may vanquish those by which the multitude are vanquished. But of these characters, he who is vanquished by pleasures is incontinent, and he who vanquishes them is continent. He, also, who is vanquished by pains is effeminate, but he who vanquishes them is a man of endurance. The habits, however, of most men are between these, though they rather verge to the worse habits. Since, however, of pleasures, some are necessary, but others are not, and those that are necessary are so to a certain extent; but the excesses and defects are not necessary; and the like also takes place in desires and pains – this being the case, he who pursues the excesses of pleasures, or who pursues pleasures excessively, or from deliberate choice, and on their own account, and not from anything else which may happen, is an intemperate man. For this man will necessarily not repent of his conduct; so that he is incurable. But he who is deficient in the pursuit of pleasures, is opposed to this character; and he who subsists in a medium between both, is the temperate man. In a similar manner, also, he is intemperate, who avoids corporeal pains, not because he is vanquished by them, but from deliberate choice. But of those who pursue pleasures, yet not from deliberate choice, one, indeed, is led to the pursuit through pleasure; but another through an avoidance of pain; so that they differ from each other. It will, however, be obvious to everyone, that he is a worse character, who not desiring, or desiring but slightly, does anything which is base, than him who desires vehemently; and also that he who not being angry strikes a man, is a worse character than the man who strikes another through the impulse of anger. For what would such a one do, if he were influenced by passion? Hence, the intemperate is worse than the incontinent man. Of the characters, therefore, that we have mentioned, the one has more the form of effeminacy, but the other is incontinent. But the continent is opposed to the incontinent, and the man of endurance to the effeminate man. For endurance, indeed, consists in resisting, but continence in subduing. It is one thing, however, to resist, and another to subdue, just as it is one thing not to be vanquished, and another to vanquish. Hence, continence is more eligible than endurance. But he who fails in those things in which the multitude resist, and are able to resist, is effeminate and luxuriously delicate. For luxurious delicacy is a certain effeminacy; as when a man draws his garment on the ground lest he should be pained by the labor of holding it up; and by his manner of living imitates one who is ill, yet does not think he is miserable, though he resembles one who is miserable. The like, also, takes place with respect to continence and incontinence. For it is not wonderful if a man is vanquished by strong and transcendent pleasures or pains; but he deserves to be pardoned, if, though vanquished, he makes a resistance, like the Philoctetes of Theodectes, when bit by a viper, or the Cercyon of Carcinus in his Alope; or like those who endeavoring to restrain their laughter burst forth into a profuse laugh, as it happened to Xenophantus. But he is very blamable who is vanquished by those pleasures which the multitude are able to resist, and is unable to oppose them; and this not through the nature of his race, or from disease, as is the case with the Persian kings, with whom effeminacy is hereditary, and who on this account are as females when compared to males. The jocose man, also, appears to be intemperate, but he is effeminate; for jesting is a relaxation, since it is a repose from serious and laborious pursuits. But the jocose man ranks among the number of those who exceed in this relaxation. With respect to incontinence, however, one kind is precipitate, but another is from imbecility. For some, indeed, having deliberated, do not persist in what they have deliberated, on account of passion; but others, in consequence of not having deliberated, are led captive by passion. For some persons, just as those who have previously tickled themselves, are not tickled by others, so these, in consequence of previously perceiving, and foreseeing the future perturbation, and having pre-excited themselves, and their reasoning power, are not vanquished by passion, whether it be delectable, or painful. But persons of acute feelings, and those who are melancholy, are especially incontinent, according to precipitate incontinence. For the former, indeed, through celerity, and the latter through vehemence, do not wait for the decision of reason, because they are disposed to follow the imagination.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 8
The intemperate man, however, as we have before observed, is not inclined to repentance; for he persists in his deliberate choice; but every incontinent man is inclined to repent. Hence, the thing is not as we doubted it might be; but the intemperate man, indeed, is incurable, and the incontinent man is curable. For depravity appears to resemble the diseases of the dropsy and consumption, but incontinence seems to resemble the epilepsy; since the former, indeed, is continued without interruption, but the latter is not a continued improbity. And, in short, the genus of incontinence is different from that of vice; for vice, indeed, is latent, but incontinence is not latent. But of these characters, the precipitately incontinent are better than those who possess reason, indeed, but do not abide in its decisions; for the latter are vanquished by a less passion, and not without previous deliberation, like the former. For the man who is incontinent from imbecility, resembles those who become rapidly intoxicated, and from a little wine, and from less than that through which most men become intoxicated. That incontinence, therefore, is not a vice is evident; but perhaps it is partially so. For incontinence is contrary, but vice is conformable to deliberate choice. The intemperate, and the incontinent man, however, are similar in their actions, just as Demodocus said of the Milesians: viz. “The Milesians are not indeed foolish, yet they act as if they were so.” Thus, also, incontinent men are not indeed unjust, yet they act unjustly. Since, therefore, the incontinent man is one who does not pursue corporeal pleasures in excess and contrary to right reason, from persuasion, but the intemperate man because he is intemperate is persuaded to pursue such pleasures – this being the case, the former is easily induced to change his opinion, but the latter is not. For virtue preserves the principle of right conduct, but depravity corrupts it; and in actions that for the sake of which or the end is the principle, in the same manner as hypotheses are principles in the mathematics. Hence, neither in the mathematics, nor here, are principles to be taught; but virtue, either physical or ethical, is the cause of right opinion concerning the principle of conduct. A man of this description, therefore, is temperate, but the contrary character is an intemperate man. There is also a certain person who through passion departs from right reason, whom passion, indeed, so subdues, that he does not act conformably to right reason; but yet passion does not so far subdue him as to cause him to be persuaded, that pleasures of this description ought to be largely pursued. This person is the incontinent man, who is better than the intemperate, and is not absolutely a bad man. For in him that which is best, the principle of right conduct, is saved. But there is another person contrary to this, viz. the continent man, who persists in the decision of reason, and is not diverted from it through passion. From these things, therefore, it is evident, that one of these habits is worthy, but the other bad.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 9
Whether, therefore, is he the continent man, who persists in any kind of reason, and in any kind of deliberate choice, or he who persists in right reason? And whether is he the incontinent man, who does not persist in any kind of deliberate choice, nor in any kind of reason, or he who persists in a false reason, and in an erroneous deliberate choice, as it was doubted by us before? Or shall we say that the continent man is one who persists from accident in any kind of reason and deliberate choice, but essentially in true reason, and right deliberate choice, but that the incontinent man does not thus persist? For if any one chooses, or pursues, that thing on account of this, he pursues, indeed, and chooses this thing per se; but the former thing from accident. We speak, however, of that which is perse simply. Hence, it is possible that the one may persist in any kind of opinion, but that the other may abandon any kind of opinion; but the one simply persists in true opinion, and the other does not. There are, however, some persons who are disposed to persist in an opinion, and these are those who are called pertinacious, such as the obstinate, and those who are not easily persuaded to relinquish their opinion, who have, indeed, something similar to the continent man, in the same manner as the prodigal has to the liberal, and the audacious to the confident man; but in many things they are different. For the confident man, indeed, is not changed through passion and desire; since when it so happens, he is easily persuaded. But the pertinacious man is not persuaded by reason; since most of this description admit desire, and are led by pleasures. Those persons, however, are pertinacious, who have certain opinions of their own, and also unlearned and rustic men. And those, indeed, who have certain opinions of their own, are pertinacious through pleasure and pain. For they rejoice when they are victorious, if they are not induced to change their opinion, and they are grieved when their opinions, as if they were decrees, are without efficacy. Hence, they resemble the incontinent more than the continent man. But there are certain persons who do not persist in their opinions, yet not through incontinence, such as Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes of Sophocles; since he did not persist in his opinion, yet, not on account of pleasure, but on account of the beautiful in conduct. For to him it was beautiful to speak the truth, though he was persuaded by Ulysses to lie. For not everyone who does anything on account of pleasure is intemperate, or a bad, or an incontinent man; but he is intemperate who does it on account of base pleasure. Since, however, there is a character of such a kind as to be delighted less than is proper with corporeal pleasures, and not to abide in the decisions of reason, the continent man is a medium between this character and the incontinent man. For the incontinent man, indeed, does not abide in the decisions of reason, because he is delighted with corporeal pleasures more than is proper, but this man, because he is delighted with them less than is proper. The continent man, however, abides in the decision of reason, and is not changed through anything else. It is also necessary, if continence is a good thing, that both the contrary habits should be bad, as it appears that they are. Because, however, one of these characters, viz. the man who is delighted less than is proper with corporeal pleasures, exists but among a few men, and is rarely seen; hence, as temperance appears to be contrary to intemperance alone, thus, also, continence to incontinence. But since many things are denominated from similitude, the continence also of the temperate man follows according to similitude. For both the continent and the temperate man, do nothing contrary to reason, through the influence of corporeal pleasures; but the one, indeed, viz. the continent man possesses, but the other does not possess depraved desires. And the one, indeed, is a man of such a description, as not to be delighted contrary to reason, but the other is delighted, indeed, yet is not led by this delight. The incontinent, and the intemperate man, also resemble each other, though, indeed, they are different characters. Both, however, pursue corporeal delights; but the latter, indeed, thinking that it is proper, and the other not thinking that it is proper, to pursue them.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 10
Nor is it possible that the same person can at one and the same time be prudent and incontinent; for it has been shown by us that a prudent man, is at the same time a man of worthy manners. Again, a man is not only prudent from knowing what ought to be done, but also from acting properly; but the incontinent man does not act properly. Nothing, however, prevents the incontinent man from being skillful. Hence, also, sometimes certain persons appear to be prudent, but incontinent, because skillfulness differs from prudence, in the way we have before explained; and these, so far as pertains to reason, indeed, are near to each other, but they differ according to deliberate choice. Neither, therefore, does the incontinent man possess reason as one who knows and contemplates, but as one who is asleep, or intoxicated. And he acts, indeed, voluntarily; for after a certain manner he acts knowing both what he does, and for the sake of what he acts as he does. But he is not depraved; for his deliberate choice is good; so that he is half depraved, and not unjust, because he is not insidious. For one incontinent man, indeed, i.e., the man who is incontinent from debility, does not persist in what he has deliberated; and he who is of a melancholy temperament, i.e., the man who is precipitately incontinent, is not, in short, disposed to deliberate. The incontinent man, therefore, resembles a city, which decrees, indeed, everything that is proper, and has good laws, but uses none of them, as Anaxandrides revilingly said,
The state consults, but its own laws neglects.
But the bad man resembles a city, which uses indeed laws, but uses bad laws. Incontinence, however, and continence, are conversant with that which exceeds the habit of the multitude; for the continent man persists more, but the incontinent man less, than the multitude are able to do, in the decisions of reason. The incontinence, however, of the melancholy, is more easily cured, than the incontinence of those who deliberate, indeed, but do not persist in doing what they have deliberated to do. Those, also, who are incontinent from custom, may be more easily cured than those who are naturally so; for it is more easy to change custom than nature. For on this very account it is difficult to change custom, viz. because it resembles nature, as Evenus also says,
By long attention custom is produc’d,
And is at length as nature to mankind.
We have shown, therefore, what continence and incontinence, and also what endurance and effeminacy are, and how these habits subsist with reference to each other.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 11
The discussion, however, of pleasure and pain, pertains to him who philosophizes about the political sciences for he is the architect as it were of the end, which we say that one thing is evil, but another is simply good. Again, it is likewise necessary that we should make these the objects of consideration. For we admit that ethical virtue and vice are conversant with pleasures and pains; and most men assert that happiness is accompanied with pleasure. Hence, also, they denominate the blessed man, (μακαριον), from especially rejoicing (απο του μαλιστα χαιρειν). To some, therefore, no pleasure appears to be good, neither essentially, nor from accident; for good and pleasure are not the same thing. But to others, some pleasures appear to be good, but many of them to be bad. Others again in the third place assert, that though all pleasures were good, yet at the same time that which is most excellent cannot be pleasure. In short, therefore, they say, pleasure is not good, because all pleasure is a generation tending to a sensible nature as to its end; but no generation is allied to ends; as no act of building a house, i.e., the energy of building, (οικοδομησις), is allied to the house. Again, the temperate man avoids pleasures. Farther still, the prudent man pursues a freedom from pain, and not the delectable. To which may be added, that pleasures are an impediment to the energy of prudence, and this in proportion to the delight which they afford; as is the case with venereal pleasure; for no one, when engaged in this pleasure, can intellectually perceive anything. Again, pleasure is not the offspring of art; though everything which is good, is the work of art. Farther still, children and brutes pursue pleasures. But that all pleasures are not worthy is indicated by this, that some are base, and disgraceful, and pernicious; for some pleasures produce disease. It is also evident that pleasure is not the best of things, because it is not an end, but generation. Such, therefore, nearly are the assertions respecting pleasure.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 12
That it does not happen, however, from these arguments that pleasure is neither good, nor the best of things, is evident from the following considerations:—In the first place, indeed, because good is predicated in a twofold respect; for one kind of good is simply and absolutely good, but another is good to a certain person. And natures and habits receive the same division; so that this will also be the case with motions and generations. With respect to those pleasures likewise which appear to be bad, some indeed are simply bad, but are not bad to a certain person, but to him are eligible; and some are not pleasures to this person, except once and for a short time, but they are not eligible to him. And some are not pleasures, but only appear to be so, viz. those which are attended with pain, and are: for the sake of a remedy, such as those of the sick.
Again, since of good one kind is energy, but another is. habit, those pleasures which restore their possessor to his natural habit are delectable. In desires, however, there. is the energy of an indigent and imperfect habit and nature. There are also pleasures which are unaccompanied with pain and desire, such as the energies of contemplation, nature in these not being indigent. But that some pleasures are delectable of themselves, and others. only on account of the indigence which they remove; is indicated by this, that men are not pleased with the same delectable thing when the indigence of nature is removed, and when it is not. For, in the former case, they are delighted with things simply and absolutely pleasant; but in the latter, with their contraries. For they are then. delighted with things sharp and bitter, none of which are either naturally, or absolutely delectable; so that neither are they pleasures. For as things delectable are to each other, so likewise are the pleasures produced by these. Farther still, it is not necessary that something else should be better than pleasure, as some say the end of generation is better than generation; for pleasures are not generations, nor are all of them accompanied with generation, but they are energies, and an end. Nor do pleasures happen when things are passing into existence, but from the use of things. Nor is the end of all pleasures something different from them, but of those only which lead to the perfection of nature. Hence, it is not well said, that pleasure is a sensible generation; but it must rather be said that it is the energy of habit according to nature; and instead of saying that it is a sensible, it must be said that it is an unimpeded generation. It appears, however, to be a certain generation, because it is properly good; for they fancied that energy is generation; but it is different from it. To say, also, that pleasures are bad, because some delectable things produce diseases, is what may likewise be said of things salubrious; for some of these are bad as to pecuniary affairs. In this respect, therefore, both will be bad, and yet they are not on this account bad. For contemplation is likewise sometimes injurious to health; yet the pleasure proceeding from each habit, is neither an impediment to prudence, nor to any habit; but the pleasures which are an impediment to these are such as are foreign; since the pleasures arising from contemplation and discipline, produce in a greater degree contemplation and learning. But it reasonably happens that no pleasure is the work of art; since neither is there an art of any other energy but of power; though the arts pertaining to unguents and cooking appear to be the arts of pleasure. With respect to the assertions, also, that the temperate man avoids pleasures, and that the prudent man pursues a life unattended with pain, and that children and brutes pursue pleasure – all these are solved after the same manner. For since we have shown how all pleasures are, in a certain respect, simply good, and how they are not good, hence, children and brutes pursue such pleasures as are accompanied with desire and pain, and are corporeal, and the prudent man pursues a freedom of pain from these; for of such a kind are these pleasures; viz. they are accompanied with pain. Children and brutes also pursue the excesses of these according to which the intemperate man becomes intemperate. Hence, the temperate man avoids these; since there are also pleasures which belong to the temperate man.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 13
It is also admitted, that pain is an evil and is to be avoided; for one kind of pain, indeed, is simply evil, but another in a certain respect, because it is an impediment. That, however, which is contrary to what is to be avoided, so far as it is something to be avoided and is evil, is good. Pleasure, therefore, is necessarily something good. For the solution of Speusippus is not appropriate, viz. that pleasure is contrary to pain, just as the greater is contrary to the less and the equal; since no one will say that pleasure is a certain evil. But nothing prevents a certain pleasure from being the best of things, if certain pleasures are bad, just as a certain science, viz. wisdom, is the best of sciences, though some sciences are bad. Perhaps too, it must necessarily be the case, that if of every habit there are unimpeded energies, whether happiness is the energy of all the habits, or of some one of them, this energy, if it is unimpeded, is most eligible. But this is pleasure; so that a certain pleasure will be the best of things, many pleasures, if it should so happen, being simply bad. And on this account all men are of opinion that a happy is a delectable life, and they reasonably connect pleasure with happiness. For no energy is perfect when it is impeded; but happiness is among the number of perfect energies. Hence, the happy man requires the goods pertaining to the body, and external possessions, and also good fortune, lest the want of these should be an impediment to his happiness. Those, however, who say, that a man, if he is a good man, may be happy, though he should be tormented in a wheel, and fall into the greatest calamities, say nothing to the purpose, whether they assert this willingly or unwillingly. Because, however, the happy man requires good fortune, prosperity appears to some persons to be the same with happiness, though it is not the same; since prosperity, when it is excessive, is an impediment to happiness. Perhaps, likewise, it is no longer just to call prosperity when it is excessive good fortune; for the definition of prosperity has a reference to happiness. That all brutes too, and all men, pursue pleasure, is an indication that pleasure is in a certain respect the best of things.
That fame which crowds of human kind extol,
Will ne’er completely perish.
Because, however, neither the same nature, nor the same habit, either is, or appears to be the best, neither do all men pursue the same pleasure, though pleasure is pursued by all men. Perhaps, also, they pursue not the pleasure which they fancy, nor that which they say they pursue, but the same pleasure; for all things naturally possess something divine. Corporeal pleasures, however, obtain the inheritance of the name, because men are for the most part occupied in them, and all animals partake of them. Because, therefore, these pleasures alone are generally known, these are the only pleasures which are fancied to have an existence. It is, however, evident, that unless pleasure is good, and also energy, it will not be possible for the happy man to live delectably. For on what account would delight be requisite to a happy life, if it is not good? But it would also be possible for life to be happy, though attended with pain; for pain will neither be evil nor good, if pleasure is not good. Why, therefore, is pain to be avoided? Neither, therefore, will the life of the worthy man be more delectable, unless his energies are more delectable,
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII, Chapter 14
With respect, however, to corporeal pleasures, we must direct our attention to the assertions of those who say, that some pleasures are very eligible, viz. Such as are worthy; but not corporeal pleasures, with which the intemperate man is conversant. Why, therefore, are the pains contrary to these pleasures depraved: For good is contrary to evil. Or shall we say, that necessary pleasures are so far good, because that which is not evil is good, or that they are good to a certain extent? For in those habits and motions, in which there is no excess of that which is better, there is no excess of pleasure; but in those in which there is an excess of what is better, there is also an excess of pleasure. But of corporeal goods there is an excess; and the bad man becomes bad by pursuing the excess of pleasure, and not necessary pleasures. For all depraved men are delighted with meats and wine, and venery, but not in such a manner as is proper. And they are affected in a contrary way with respect to pain; for they do not avoid the excess of pain, but pain altogether. For pain is not contrary to excess, but to him who pursues excess. Since, however, it is not only necessary to speak the truth, but also to assign the cause of a false assertion; for this contributes to credibility; since when the cause why a thing seems to be true, though it is not, appears to be reasonable, it then gives greater credibility to the truth; this being the case, it must be shown why corporeal pleasures appear to be more eligible. In the first place, therefore, they appear to be so, because they expel pain, and because excessive, and in short, corporeal pleasure is pursued on account of the excesses of pain, as a remedy. But the remedies are vehement, and on this account corporeal pleasures are pursued, because they become more apparent when placed by that which is contrary to them. Pleasure, therefore, does not appear to be good, for these two reasons, as we have before observed; because some pleasures, indeed, are the actions of a depraved nature, either from the birth of the animal, as those of a brute, or they originate from custom, such as those of bad men; but other pleasures are remedies, because they are the pleasures of that which is in want, and it is better to have them, than for them to be passing into existence; and others happen to be the pleasures of that which is in a perfect condition. From accident, therefore, they are worthy pleasures. Again, pleasures that are vehement, are pursued by those who are incapable of being delighted with other pleasures. These, therefore, procure for themselves certain thirsts. Hence, when pleasures are innoxious, they are not to be reprehended; but when they are noxious, they are bad. For those that pursue these pleasures have no other with which they are delighted; and if neither these, nor any others are present, the vulgar are in pain, through the indigence of nature. For the animal always labors, as physical arguments testify, since, as physiologists say, to see and to hear are painful, but we are now accustomed to these energies, and therefore do not perceive the pain. In a similar manner in youth, in consequence of the augmentation which then takes place, we are affected like those who are intoxicated, and youth is a delectable period of human life. But the melancholic naturally always require a remedy; for their body experiences a continual molestation from its temperament, through the acrimony of the bile; and they are always agitated with vehement appetite. Pleasure, however, always expels pain, as well the pain which is contrary to pleasure, as that which is casual, if the pleasure is strong; and on this account the melancholic become intemperate and depraved. But the pleasures which are without pain have no excess; and these are such as are derived from things naturally delectable, and which are not accidentally so. I mean, however, by things delectable from accident, remedies; for because it happens that we are cured of a malady, the part which, is sane performing something, on this account, the remedies appear to be delectable. But by things naturally delectable, I mean, those which produce the action of such a nature, i.e., which produce an energy essentially adapted to such a nature. Nothing, however, which remains the same, is always delectable, because our nature is not simple, but there is also something in it different, according to which it is corruptible.
Hence, if the one part does anything, this to the other nature is preternatural. But when both the parts are equalized, that which is performed, neither appears to be painful nor pleasing. For if there is any being, the nature of which is simple, to this being the same action will always be most delectable. Hence, God always rejoices according to one simple pleasure; for there is not only an energy of corporeal motion, but also of immobility; and pleasure exists more abundantly in rest than in motion. But mutation is the sweetest of all things, according to the poet, through a certain depravity. For as a depraved man is mutable, so likewise is the nature which requires mutation; for it is neither simple, nor good. And thus we have spoken concerning continence and incontinence, pleasure and pain, and have shown what each of them is, and how some of them are good, but others bad. It now remains that we speak concerning friendship.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 1
After these things, it follows that we should discuss friendship; for it is a certain virtue, or subsists in conjunction with virtue. And besides this, it is most necessary to life; for no one would choose to live without friends, though he possessed every other good. For the rich, princes, and magistrates, appear to be especially in want of friends. For what advantage is there in a prosperity of this kind, if beneficence is taken away, which is especially exerted towards friends, and is most praised when thus exerted Or how can prosperity be preserved and saved, without friends? For by how much the greater, by so much the more insecure it is. But in poverty and other misfortunes, friends are considered to be the only refuge. Friendship, also, is useful to youth, in preventing them from error, and to elderly men, by the attention which it pays to their wants, and the assistance it affords to their deficiency in action, arising from the imbecility of age. To those likewise in the acme of life it is useful, because it aids them in the performance of beautiful actions.
When two in concord meet.
For they are more able through it both to conceive and act. Friendship, also, appears to be naturally inherent in that which begets towards that which is begotten; and this not only in the human race, but likewise in birds, in most animals, in those of the same nation towards each other, and especially among men; and hence, we praise those that are philanthropic. It may also be seen, in travelling, how accommodating and friendly every man is to man. It seems, too, that friendship connects cities together; and legislators pay more attention to it than to justice. For concord appears to be something similar to friendship; but this legislators are especially desirous of effecting, and they principally expel sedition, which is hostile to concord. And when the citizens, indeed, are friends, there is no need of justice; but though they are just, they require friendship. Among just things, also, that which is especially just, appears to be of a friendly nature. Nor is friendship alone necessary, but it is also a beautiful thing. For we praise those who are lovers of friends; and an abundance of friends, appears to be one among the number of beautiful things. Again, some are of opinion that the same persons are good men and friends. There is, however, no small controversy concerning friendship. For some consider it to be a certain similitude, and that similar persons are friends; whence, also, it is said “like tends to like, a jackdaw to a jackdaw,” etc. Others on the contrary say, that all such persons are potters to each other. And they investigate concerning these things from a higher and more physical origin; Euripides, indeed, saying,
Earth, when she’s dry, rejoices in the rain;
And venerable heav’n, with rain when fill’d,
On earth delights to fall.
And Heraclitus asserting “that what is adverse is advantageous; that the most beautiful harmony results from things of a different nature; and that all things originate from strife.” Others, however, are of a contrary opinion respecting friendship, and among these is Empedocles. For he says, “that the similar aspires after the similar.” Such of these doubts, therefore, as are of a physical nature we shall omit; for they are not adapted to the present speculation. But we shall direct our attention to such of them as pertain to human affairs, and to the manners and passions of men; such as, whether there is friendship among all men, or it is not possible that depraved men can be friends? And whether there is one, or many species of friendship? For those who are of opinion that there is but one species of it, because it receives the more and the less, do not found their opinion on a sufficient argument. For things specifically different receive the more and the less: but of these we have spoken before.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 2
These things, however, will perhaps become evident, when that which is the object of friendly love is known; for it seems that not everything is beloved, but that only which is the object of love; but this is either what is good, or what is delectable, or what is useful. That, however, may appear to be useful through which some good or pleasure is procured. Hence, the good and the delectable will be objects of love, as ends. Whether, therefore, do men love that which is simply good, or that which is good to them? For these sometimes are discordant. A similar inquiry, also, may be made concerning the delectable. It appears, however, that everyone loves that which is good to himself; and that good is that which is simply the object of love, but that what is good to each person, is the object of love to each. Each person, however, loves not that which is really good to him, but that which appears to be so. But this makes no difference; for that which appears to be good, will be the object of love. Since, however, there are three things through which love is produced, viz. the good, the delectable, and the useful, in the love of things inanimate there is not said to be friendship; for there is no reciprocal love, nor a wish that any good may befall them. For it would be perhaps ridiculous to wish that some good might befall wine; but if a man does, he wishes that it may be preserved, in order that he may have it. But it is said to be requisite to wish well to a friend for his own sake; and those who entertain this wish for their friends, are said to be benevolent, though the same wish should not be made by them. For it is said that benevolence, in reciprocal regard, is friendship; to which perhaps it should be added, if the benevolence is not latent. For many persons are benevolent to those whom they never saw, in consequence of believing them to be worthy or useful men. And those whom they never saw may also be benevolent to them. They appear, therefore, indeed, to be benevolent to each other; but how can it be said that they are friends, when they are ignorant of the manner in which they are mutually affected? Hence, it is necessary, in order to their being friends, that they should be benevolent to, and wish well to each other, on account of one of the things we have mentioned, viz. on account of the good, the delectable, or the useful.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 3
These, however, are specifically different from each other; and, therefore, the loves also, and the friendships differ. For there are three species of friendship, equal in number to the objects of friendly love; since in each there is a reciprocal love which is not latent, But those who love each other, wish well to each other, so far as they love. Those, therefore, who love each other on account of utility, do not mutually love for their own sake, but so far as they obtain some good from each other. This is also the case with those who love on account of pleasure. For they do not love those who are versatile, because they possess certain qualities, but because they afford them pleasure. And those who love on account of utility, possess this friendly love on account of the good which they derive from it. Those, likewise, who love on account of pleasure, love on account of that which is delectable to them. And the attachment of these is not personal, but is produced so far as the object of their attachment is useful or delectable. These friendships, therefore, are accidental; for the object of their attachment is not beloved, so far as he is such a person as he is, but so far as he administers to them some good, or some pleasure. Such friendships, therefore, are easily dissolved, the objects of them not remaining in a similar condition; for if they are no longer delectable or useful, they cease to be beloved. And the useful is not permanent, but at a different time becomes different. Hence, that through which they were friends being dissolved, their friendship also is dissolved, in consequence of existing for the sake of it. A friendship, however, of this kind, appears especially to subsist among elderly men; for those who have arrived at this period of life, do not pursue the delectable, but the useful; nor is the delectable pursued by such young men in the acme of life, as make utility the object of their pursuit. But such persons do not very much live together; for sometimes they are not pleasing to each other. They do not, therefore, require an association of this kind, unless they are useful; for they are delectable to each other so far as they hope for some good. Among these friendships, also, viz. those of utility, hospitable friendship is ranked. But the friendship of young men appears to subsist on account of pleasure; for they live according to passion, and especially pursue that which is delectable to them, and that which is present. In consequence of the mutation of age, however, other things become delectable; on which account they rapidly become and cease to be friends. For their friendship is changed together with that which is delectable. But the mutation of such a pleasure is rapid. Young men also are amorous; for much of the amatory propensity subsists according to passion, and on account of pleasure. Hence they love, and rapidly cease to love, frequently changing in the same day. They wish, however, to spend the day with each other, and to live together; for thus they obtain what friendship requires. The friendship, however, of good men, and of those who are similar in virtue, is perfect; for they similarly wish well. to each other, so far as they are good; but they are good of themselves. But those who wish well to their friends for their sake, are especially friends; for they are thus affected towards them on their own account, i.e., personally, and not from accident. The friendship, therefore, of these remains as long as they are good men; but virtue is stable. And each of these is simply good, and good to his friend; for good men are simply good, and are useful to each other. In a similar manner, also, they are delectable to each other; for good men are simply and mutually delectable. For to each their proper actions, and such-like actions, viz. such as are similarly virtuous, are attended with pleasure. But the actions of good men are such as these, or resemble them. It reasonably follows, also, that such a friendship is stable; for all such things subsist in it connectedly as ought to be present with friends. For all friendship is on account of good, or on account of pleasure, either simply, or to him who loves, and this according to a certain similitude. But in this friendship i.e., in the friendship founded on virtue, all the above-mentioned particulars are essentially inherent; since in this all the rest are similar, and that which is simply good is also simply delectable. These things, however, are especially lovely; and in these the most excellent love and friendship principally subsist. But it is likely that such friendships are rare; for persons of this description are few. Farther still, virtuous friendship requires time and custom; for according to the proverb, it is not possible for men to know each other till they have eaten a peck of salt together. Nor is it proper for one person to become intimate with, or a friend to another, till he appears to be amiable to him, and worthy of belief. But those who rapidly perform towards each other the offices of friendship, wish indeed to be friends, but are not, unless they are amiable, and know that they are so. They rapidly, therefore, contract the wish to be friends, but they do not contract friendship. Hence, virtuous friendship is perfect according to time, as being lasting, and according to other things, and consists from all these. Each friend, likewise, is in this friendship similar to each, which is a thing necessary to friends.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 4
The friendship, however, which subsists on account of the delectable, has a similitude to virtuous friendship; for good men also are delectable to each other. This is likewise the case with the friendship which subsists on account of utility; for good men are also such, i.e., useful, to each other. But among these, viz. those who are friends through the delectable, friendships are especially permanent, when an equality, as for instance, of pleasure subsists between them. And not only so, but likewise from the same thing, as is the case with men of versatile manners, and not as between the lover and the beloved person. For these are not delighted with the same things, but the lover is delighted with the sight of the beloved person, and he who is beloved is delighted with the attention which is paid him by the lover. When the flower of age, however, is no more, sometimes the friendship also ends. For to the one the sight of his friend is no longer pleasing, and to the other bland attention is no longer paid. Many of these, however, continue permanent in their friendship, if each loves the manners of each from custom, in consequence of possessing similar manners. Those, however, who do not reciprocally exchange delight in amatory affairs, but utility, are friends in a less degree, and their friendship is less permanent. But the friendship of those who are friends on account of utility, is dissolved together with advantage; for they were not friends of each other, but of the profitable. On account of pleasure, therefore, and on account of utility, it is possible for bad men to be friends to each other, and also for worthy with bad men, and for those who are neither good nor bad with each other, and with the good or the bad; but it is evident that the good alone can be friends through or on account of themselves. For bad men are not delighted with each other, unless each derives some advantage from the other. And the friendship of good men alone is unattended with calumny; for it is not easy to believe anything bad of him, who has been tried by us for a long time. Among these also there is mutual credibility, and a confidence that the one will not injure the other, and such other particulars as are thought worthy to be ranked in true friendship. In other friendships, however, there is nothing to prevent things of this kind from taking place. For since men denominate friends those who are connected together on account of utility, in the same manner as cities, for to cities warlike confederacies appear to take place for the sake of advantage; and since those likewise are called friends who like boys love each other on account of pleasure, perhaps, indeed, it is necessary that we also should call such persons friends, and should admit that there are many species of friendship. And we must denominate, indeed, the friendship of good men so far as they are good, that which is primarily and properly so called; but we must admit that the rest are called friendships from similitude. For they are friends so far as there is something good and similar among them; since the delectable is something good to the lovers of pleasure. These friendships, however, are not very much conjoined, nor do the same persons become friends on account of the useful and the delectable; for things which are from accident are not very much united. But friendship being distributed into these species, bad men, indeed, will be friends on account of pleasure or advantage, through which they are similar; but good men will be friends on their own account; for they are friends so far as they are good. These, therefore, are simply friends; but those from accident, and from being assimilated to these.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 5
As, however, in the virtues, some men are said to be good according to habit, but others according to energy, thus also it is in friendship. For those friends who live together are delighted with, and impart good to each other; but those who are asleep, or are separated by places, do not indeed energize, and yet they are so disposed as to be able to energize in such a way as friendship requires. For places do not dissolve friendship simply, but only the energy of it. If, however, the absence is long, it seems to produce an oblivion of friendship; whence it is said, that taciturnity dissolves many friendships. But neither elderly nor austere men appear to be adapted to friendship; for in them there is but little of pleasure. No one, however, can constantly associate with one who is sorrowful, or with one who is not pleasant. For nature appears especially to avoid the painful, and to aspire after the pleasing. But those who admit the company of each other, and yet do not live together, rather resemble benevolent persons than friends; since nothing is so much the province of friends as living together. For those who are in want aspire after advantage. Those, also, who are blessed constantly associate with each other; for it is not in the smallest degree fit that these should lead a solitary life. But it is not possible for men to live together whose company is not delightful, and who are not pleased with the same things, which fellowship appears to possess. The friendship, therefore, of good men is eminently friendship, as we have frequently observed. For that which is simply good or delectable, appears to be lovely and eligible; but to everyone that is lovely and eligible which is to him a thing of this kind. A good man, however, is lovely and eligible to a good man through both these. Dilection, however, is similar to passion, but friendship to habit; for dilection is no less exerted towards inanimate things. But reciprocal love exists in conjunction with deliberate choice; and deliberate choice is from habit. We, likewise, wish well to those whom we love for their own sake, not according to passion, but according to habit. And those who love a friend, love that which is good to themselves; for a good man becoming a friend, becomes a good to him to whom he is a friend. Each, therefore, loves that which is good to himself, and they mutually impart to each other that which is equal, both in wishing well and affording delight; for equality is said to be friendship. But these things are especially present with the friendship of good men.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 6
Friendship, however, subsists in a less degree among austere and elderly men, in proportion as they are more morose, and less delighted with associations; for these appear to be especially friendly, and effective of friendship. Hence, young men rapidly become friends, but not elderly men; for they do not become friends to those with whom they are not delighted. In a similar manner neither do the austere become rapidly friends. But men of this description are indeed benevolent to each other; for they wish well, and afford assistance to the wants of each other. They are not, however, very much friends, because they do not constantly associate, nor are delighted with each other; which things appear to be especially of a friendly nature. But it is not possible to be a friend to many, according to perfect friendship, as neither is it possible to love many at one and the same time; for this resembles excess; and a thing of this kind is naturally adapted to take place towards one person. Moreover, it is not easy for many persons to please the same person very much at one and the same time, nor perhaps would it be a good thing if it were easy. Experience and custom, likewise, are necessary to a perfect friendship, which are very difficult things. But it is possible to please many persons, on account of utility and delight; for there are many of this description, viz. who are thus to be pleased, and a little experience is sufficient for this purpose. Of these two, however, the friendship which subsists through the delectable is more similar, to true friendship, when the same things are effected by both persons, and they are delighted with each other, or with the same things; as is the case in the friendships of young men; for there is more of the liberal in these friendships. But the friendship which subsists on account of utility, is the friendship of merchants, and of those who are occupied in sordid and illiberal pursuits. And those who are blessed, indeed, viz. who are as happy as the condition of human nature will permit, are not in want of anything useful or delectable, because they already possess everything of this kind. For they wish to live with certain persons; and they endure what is painful but for a short time; since no one could endure it continually, not even good itself, if it were attended with molestation. Hence, they search for friends who can procure them delight. It is, however, perhaps necessary to search for good men who are such, i.e., who are delectable, and who are also such to their friends; for thus those things will be present with them, which ought to be present with friends. But men in authority and power, appear to use their friends by making a distinction between them; for some are useful, and others delectable to them. The same things, however, are not very much effected by both these. For neither do they search for those who are delectable in conjunction with virtue, nor for those who are useful for worthy purposes; but aspiring after pleasure, they search for men of versatile manners, and for those who are skillful in accomplishing what they are ordered to do. But these qualifications are not very much found in the same person. We have, however, already observed, that the worthy man is at the same time pleasing and useful. But such a one will not be the friend of the man who surpasses others in power and authority, unless he also surpasses others in virtue; but if he does not, he who surpasses will not equalize according to the analogous. Men of this description, however, are rare. The abovementioned friendships, therefore, are in equality. For either the same things are effected by both, and they mutually wish the same things, or they exchange one thing for another, as for instance, pleasure for utility. But that these are friendships in a less degree, and that they are less permanent, has been already observed by us. They appear, however, through a similitude and dissimilitude of the same thing, to be and not to be friendships. For from their similitude to the friendship which is according to virtue, they appear to be friendships; since the one of these has the delectable, but the other the useful. But both these are inherent in virtuous friendship. They differ, however, in this, that virtuous friendship is free from calumny, and is stable; but these are rapidly changed, and they also differ in many other things. And from this dissimilitude to the friendship which is according to virtue, they do not appear to be friendships.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 7
There is, however, another species of friendship, which subsists according to transcendency; such as that between a father and his son, and in short between a more elderly and a younger man, between a husband and his wife, and between every governor and him who is governed. But these friendships, also, differ from each other. For there is not the same friendship between parents and children, as there is between governors and the governed; nor between a father and son, as between a son and his father; nor between a husband and wife, as between a wife and husband. For the virtue and also the work of each of these are different; and the things are different on account of which they love. Their loves, therefore, and their friendships are different. Hence, neither are the same things effected by each towards each, nor is it fit they should be required. But when children, indeed, bestow on their parents those things which offspring ought to bestow on those by whom they were begotten, and parents bestow on their children those things which it is proper to bestow on their offspring, then the friendship between such as these will be stable and worthy. It is, however, necessary in all the friendships which subsist according to transcendency, that the love should be analogous; as, for instance, that the better character should be beloved in a greater degree than he loves, and that this should also be the case with the more useful character, and in a similar manner with each of the rest. For when love exists according to desert, then in a certain respect equality is produced; which appears to be the peculiarity of friendship. The equal, however, does not appear to subsist similarly in just things and in friendship. For in just things, indeed, the equality which is according to desert, ranks in the first place; but that which is according to quantity in the second place. But in friendship, the equality which is according to quantity, ranks in the first place, and that which is according to desert in the second place. This, however, becomes evident if there is a great interval of virtue or vice, or affluence, or of some other things; for then they are no longer friends, nor do they think themselves qualified to be so. But this is most apparent in the gods; for they most abundantly transcend in everything that is good. It is also evident in kings; for those who are much inferior to them, do not think themselves worthy to be their friends. Nor do those who are of no worth aspire to be friends of the best or the wisest of men. In such as these, therefore, there is no accurate definition, as long as they are the friends of someone. For many things being taken away, the friendship may yet remain; but if they are separated by a great interval from each other, as is the case with man and divinity, friendship no longer remains. Whence, also, it is doubted, whether friends would wish for their friends the greatest of goods, such, for instance, as for them to be gods; for in this case they would no longer be friends to them. Neither, therefore, would they be a good to them; for friends are a good to each other. Hence, if it is well said, that a friend wishes well to his friend for his sake, it is requisite that he should remain such as he is. But he wishes the greatest good may befall him, still remaining a man. And perhaps he does not wish that every good may befall him; for every one especially wishes to obtain good himself.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 8
The multitude, however, appear from ambition to be more desirous of being beloved than of loving. Hence, the multitude love flatterers. For a flatterer is a friend who is surpassed by him whom he flatters, or pretends to be so, and also professes to love in a greater degree than he is beloved. But to be beloved appears to be proximate to the being honored, after which the multitude aspire. It seems, however, that they do not choose honor on its own account, but from accident. For the multitude are delighted when they are honored by those in power, through the hope of the benefits they may thence derive; for they fancy they shall obtain from them that of which they are in want. They are delighted, therefore, with honor, as an indication that they shall be benefited. But those who aspire after honor from worthy and intelligent men, desire to confirm their own opinion of themselves. They rejoice, therefore, that they are worthy persons, believing in the judgment of those who say that they are worthy; but they are delighted to be beloved per se. Hence, it would seem that this is a better thing than to be honored, and that friendship is a thing eligible of itself. Friendship, however, seems to consist more in loving than in being beloved; of which this is an indication, that mothers rejoice in loving their children. For some mothers give their children to be privately educated by others, and love them knowing them to be their own offspring, but are not anxious to be beloved in return if both cannot be effected, but it appears to them to be sufficient if they see their children doing well. And they love their offspring, though the offspring are unable to pay that attention to their mother which is fit, because they are ignorant of her. Since, therefore, friendship consists rather in loving than in being beloved, and we praise those who are lovers of friends, to love appears to be the virtue of friends. Hence, those in whom this exists according to desert, are stable friends, and the friendship of such as these is stable, But thus, also, those who are unequal may especially become friends; for thus they will be equalized. Equality, however, and similitude are friendship, and especially the similitude of those who resemble each other in virtue; for being of themselves stable, they are also stable towards each other, and neither require any thing depraved, nor are subservient to anything of this kind, but, as I may say, they prohibit what is base. For it is the province of good men, neither to err themselves, nor permit their friends to be subservient to erroneous conduct, But depraved men have no stability; for they do not remain similar to themselves; but are only friends for a short time, being delighted with the depravity of each other. Useful, however, and pleasing men, remain friends for a longer time; for they continue friends as long as they impart to each other pleasure and advantage. But the friendship which subsists on account of utility, appears to be composed from contraries; such as the friendship of the poor with the rich man, and of the unlearned with the learned man. For he who is in want of anything, aspiring to the possession of it, recompenses with something else him from whom he obtains what he wants. Hither, also, may be referred the lover and the beloved, the beautiful and the deformed. Hence, lovers sometimes appear to be ridiculous when they think they ought to be beloved as much as they love. If, therefore, they are similarly amiable, perhaps it is fit they should thus think; but it is ridiculous if they possess nothing of this kind. Perhaps, also, neither does one contrary desire another essentially, but only from accident. But the appetite is directed to the medium; for this is good. Thus, for instance, it is good to a dry thing not to become moist, but to arrive at the medium between dryness and moisture; and in a similar manner to a hot thing, and to other substances. These things, however, must be omitted; for they are more foreign than is proper.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 9
It seems, however, as we said in the beginning, that both friendship and justice are conversant with and exist in the same things; for in all society there appears to be a certain justice and friendship. Men, therefore, call their fellow-sailors, and fellow-soldiers friends, and in a similar manner those who associate with them in other employments. But such as is the extent of their associations, such also is the extent of their friendship; for such likewise is the extent of justice. The proverb, too, rightly says, “that all things are common among friends;” for friendship consists in communion. Among brothers, however, and associates, all things are common; but among others they are limited to certain bounds; and to some indeed more so, but to others less; for with respect to friendship, also, some are friendships in a greater and others in a less degree. Just things, also, differ; for there is not the same justice between parents and children, as between brothers towards each other, nor as between associates and fellow-citizens. And the like takes place in other friendships. Injuries, therefore, are different towards each of these, and they receive an increase, by how much the more the persons injured are friends. Thus, for instance, it is a more dire thing to defraud an associate of money than a fellow-citizen; and not to assist a brother than to refuse assistance to a stranger; and to strike a father, than to strike any other person. But the just is naturally adapted to be increased at one and the same time with friendship, as subsisting in the same things, and being equally extended. All communions or societies, however, resemble the parts of the political or civil communion. For men journey together with a view to a certain advantage, and in order to procure something which pertains to human life. Political communion, also, appears to exist for the sake of advantage, to have been established with a view to this from the beginning, and to continue so. For the attention of legislators is directed to this, and they say that what is advantageous in common is just. Other communions, therefore, partially aspire after utility. Thus, sailors aspire after the utility pertaining to navigation, or to the acquisition of wealth, or something of the like kind; but soldiers aspire after the utility pertaining to war, whether riches are the object of their desire, or victory, or the capture of cities. The like, also, takes place among tribes and the populace. Some communions, however, appear to have been formed on account of pleasure, such as the communion from the celebration of festivals, or from societies instituted to promote good fellowship; for these subsist for the sake of sacrificing and association. But all these appear to be subject to political communion; for political communion does not aspire after present advantage, but to that which pertains to the whole of life; performing sacrifices, and for this purpose forming assemblies, bestowing honors on the gods, and affording a cessation from labor, in conjunction with pleasure. For ancient sacrifices and assemblies appear to have been instituted after collecting the fruits of the earth, as first fruits. All communions, therefore, appear to be parts of the political communion. But such-like friendships follow such-like communions.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 10
There are, however, three species of a polity, and as many deviations from them, which are, as it were, the corruptions of these polities. But the polities indeed are, a kingdom, an aristocracy, and the third is derived from the distribution of honors through the medium of wealth, which as it seems may be appropriately called a timocracy. Most men, however, are accustomed to call it simply a polity. But of these, a kingdom is the best, and a timocracy is the worst. The deviation, also, from a kingdom, is indeed a tyranny; for both are monarchies. They differ, however, very much from each other. For the tyrant, indeed, looks to his own advantage; but the king to the advantage of those whom he governs. For he is not a king who is not sufficient to himself, and who does not surpass his subjects in every kind of good. But a man of this description is in want of nothing. Hence, his attention will not be directed to what is advantageous to himself, but to the benefit of those whom he governs; for he who is not a person of this description, will be a certain elected king. A tyrant, however, is the contrary to a king properly so called; for he pursues his own good. And from this it is more evident that he is the worst of rulers; for that which is contrary to the best, is the worst. But the transition from a kingdom is into a tyranny; for a tyranny is the depravity of a monarchy. And a depraved king becomes a tyrant. The transition from an aristocracy is into an oligarchy, through the vice of the governors, who distribute civil offices in a manner contrary to desert; bestow upon themselves all, or the greater part of everything that is good, and always appoint the same persons magistrates, paying more attention to wealth than to anything else. Those, therefore, that govern are few, and are depraved instead of being the most worthy men. But the transition from a timocracy is into a democracy; since these polities border on each other. For in a timocracy, also, the multitude have dominion, and all those that are rich are equal. A democracy, however, is in the smallest degree depraved; for it deviates but little from the form of a polity, i.e., from a timocracy. After this manner, therefore, polities are especially changed; for thus they are changed the least, and the most easily. The resemblances, however, and as it were paradigms of them may be derived from families. For the communion, or society, between a father and his children has the form of a kingdom; for a father pays attention to his children for their own sakes. Hence, also, Homer calls Jupiter father; for the intention of a kingdom is to be a paternal government. But among the Persians the government of a father is tyrannical; for they use their children as slaves. The government, likewise, of a master towards his servants is tyrannical; for in this government that alone which is advantageous to the master is performed. This, therefore, appears to be right; but the Persian government is erroneous. For of things that are different, the governments also are different. But the government of man and wife appears to be aristocratic. For the man governs according to desert, and in those things in which it is proper for the man to govern; but he permits his wife to rule over such things as are adapted to be governed by a woman. If the man, however, has dominion in all things, the government is changed into an oligarchy; for he does this contrary to desert, and not so far as he is the better character. But it sometimes happens that women, in consequence of being heiresses, govern even in things pertaining to men. The government, therefore, in this case, is not according to virtue, but is through wealth and power, in the same manner as in oligarchies. And the government of brothers resembles a timocracy; for they are equal, except so far as they differ in their ages. Hence, if there is a great difference in their ages, the friendship is no longer fraternal. But a democratic government is especially to be seen in those families which are without a master: for here all govern equally. In those families, also, where he who governs is a man of a weak understanding, everyone has the power of acting as he pleases.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 11
In each of the polities, however, friendship appears to have the same extent as justice. And the friendship, indeed, between a king and his subjects, consists in transcendency of beneficence; for he benefits his subjects, since, being a good man, he is attentive to their interest like a shepherd, in order that they may do well. Whence, also, Homer calls Agamemnon the shepherd of the people. Such, likewise, is paternal friendship; but it differs in the magnitude of the benefits which it confers. For the father is the cause of the existence of his child, which appears to be a thing of the greatest consequence, and also procures him nutriment and education. The same things, likewise, are attributed to progenitors; for a father is naturally adapted to rule over his children, and progenitors over the offspring of their children, and kings over their subjects. But these friendships consist in transcendency; on which account, also, parents are honored. The just, therefore, in these is not the same, but subsists according to desert; for thus, also, the friendship subsists. There is likewise, the same friendship between a husband and wife, as in an aristocracy; for it subsists according to virtue, and a more ample good is attributed to the better character, and that which is adapted and appropriate is attributed to each. For thus, also, justice is effected. But the friendship of brothers resembles that of associates; for they are equal, and of the same age; and persons of this description, apply themselves for the most part to the same disciplines, and are similar in their manners. The friendship, therefore, which exists in a timocracy resembles this; for in this government it is requisite that the citizens should be equal and worthy persons. Hence, they alternately and equally govern. Such, therefore, is the friendship of brothers. In corrupt polities, however, as the justice is but small, so likewise is the friendship, and it exists in the smallest degree in the worst polity. For in a tyranny there is either no friendship, or very little; since among those with whom there is nothing common between the governor and the governed, there is not any friendship; for neither is there any justice. But the friendship between them, resembles that which is between an artist and his instrument, between the soul and the body, and between a master and his servant; for these indeed are benefited by those that use them. There is not, however, any friendship with, nor justice towards things inanimate, as neither is there towards a horse or an ox, or towards a slave so far as he is a slave, since there is nothing common between these. For a slave is an animated instrument; but an instrument is an inanimate slave. So far, therefore, as he is a slave, there is no friendship between him and his master; but there may be so far as he is a man. For it appears that there is a certain justice due from every man towards every man who is able to partake of law and compact; and therefore there may also be a friendship between any one man and another, so far as each is a man. In tyrannical governments, however, there is but little friendship and justice; but there is very much of each in democracies; for among those that are equal, many things are common.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 12
All friendship, therefore, as we have before observed, consists in communion; but it may be divided into that which subsists between kindred, and that which subsists between associates. But political friendships, the friendships of those of the same tribe, of those who sail together, and such like, are more similar to the friendships of associates; for they appear to exist as it were from compact. Among these, also, hospitable friendship may be ranked. The friendship, likewise, of kindred appears to be multiform, and the whole of it depends from paternal friendship. For parents love their children, as being something of themselves; but children love their parents, as being something proceeding from them. Parents, however, have a greater knowledge of their offspring, so as to know more accurately that they are their offspring, than the offspring know that they proceeded from their parents; and that from which a thing is generated has a greater familiarity and alliance with the thing produced, than the thing produced has with its maker. For that which originates from a thing, is the property of that from which it originates; as a tooth, or a hair, or anything else, is the property of its possessor; but that from which a thing originates, is not the property of any one of the things which originate from it, or is so in a less degree.’ The love also of parents to their children is superior to that of children to their parents, by length of time; for parents love their children as soon as they are born; but children their parents in process of time, when they begin to understand or perceive that they are their parents. From these things, likewise, it is evident on what account mothers love their children more than fathers love them. Parents, indeed, therefore, love their children as themselves; for those that proceed from them are as it were their other selves, by being separated from them; but children love their parents, as proceeding from them. Brothers, however, love each other in consequence of being born from the same parents; for sameness with their parents causes them to be the same with each other. Hence it is said, that they have the same blood, the same root, and such like expressions. They are, therefore, in a certain respect, one and the same in separate bodies. The being educated together also, and equality of age, greatly contribute to friendship; for according to the proverb,
Equal delights in equal age.
And those who are accustomed to the same things are associates. Hence, also, fraternal friendship is assimilated to the friendship of associates. Cousins, likewise, and the remaining kindred become conjoined from the friendship of brothers, in consequence of mediately originating from the same persons. Some, however, become more united in friendship, and others less, in consequence of the source of their race being nearer, or more remote. But the friendship of children towards their parents, and of men towards the gods, is as towards that which is good and transcendent. For parents and the gods confer the greatest benefits; for they are the causes of existence and of being nourished, and when they are of a proper age, of being educated. A friendship, also, of this kind, possesses the delectable and the useful in a greater degree than the friendship of strangers, because their life is in a greater degree more common. Those things, however, are to be found in fraternal friendship, which exist in the friendship of associates; and in a greater degree in those that are worthy, and in short, in those that are similar, in proportion as they are more familiar, and love each other from their birth; and in proportion as those who are born from the same parents, who are nourished together, and similarly educated, are more similar in their manners. In this friendship, likewise, the proof which is obtained from time, is most abundant, and most firm. And things pertaining to friendship subsist analogously in the remaining gradations of kindred. But the friendship between man and wife appears to be according to nature; for man is more a connubial than a political animal; and this by how much more a family is prior to, and more necessary than a city, and the procreation of offspring is more common to all animals. In other animals, therefore, the communion proceeds thus far, i.e., as far as to the procreation of offspring; but men and women not only cohabit for the sake of begetting children, but also with a view to the necessaries and conveniences of life. For their employments are immediately divided, and those of the husband are different from those of the wife. Hence, they assist each other, referring their own private possessions to the common good of the family. On account of these things, therefore, both the useful and the delectable appear to be contained in this friendship. It will also exist on account of virtue, if the husband and wife are worthy characters. For there is a virtue pertaining to each, and they will rejoice in a thing of this kind. Children, however, appear to be a bond; and hence those marriages that are without children are more swiftly dissolved. For children are a common good to both the husband and wife; and that which is common connects. To inquire also how a husband ought to live with his wife, and in short, one friend with another, appears to be nothing else than to inquire how justice subsists between them. For it does not appear that there is the same justice between one friend and another, nor between one stranger, one associate, and one disciple, with another.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 13
Since, therefore, there are three kinds of friendship, as was observed in the beginning, and according to each some are friends in equality, but others according to transcendency; for similarly good men are friends, and between worthy men who are not equally worthy the more may be the friend of the less worthy, and in a similar manner with respect to friendships which subsist on account of delight, and on account of utility, they may be equal or unequal, and different in the advantages with which they are attended – this being the case, it is requisite that those friends who are equal should be equalized in loving and other things, pertaining to friendship, but that those who are unequal, should render to themselves that which is analogous in transcendencies. Accusations, however, and complaints reasonably take place in that friendship alone, or principally, which is founded in utility. For those who are friends on account of virtue, are readily disposed to benefit each other; for this is the peculiarity of virtue and friendship. But with those who contend with each other in kindness, there are no accusations nor contests; for no one is indignant with him who loves and benefits him; but if he is grateful, he will recompense him by benefiting him in return. He, however, who transcends in the benefits which he confers, obtaining that which he desires, will not accuse his friend; for each aspires after good. Nor do accusations and complaints very much take place in the friendships which are founded in pleasure; for at one and the same time both obtain the object of their desire, if they rejoice to live together. He, however, will appear to be ridiculous who accuses him by whom he is not delighted, when it is not possible to spend his time with him. But the friendship which is founded in utility, is full of accusations and complaints; for since they make use of each other with a view to advantage, they are always in want of more, and fancy they have less than is proper, and blame their friends because they do not obtain as much as they are in want of, though they deserve to obtain it. But those who benefit are not able to supply as much as those who are benefited require. It appears, however, that as the just is twofold, for one kind is unwritten, but the other is legal, thus also with respect to the friendship which is founded in utility, one kind indeed is ethical, but the other is legal. Accusations, therefore, then especially take place, when compacts are formed and dissolved, not with a view to the same friendship as that by which they are united. But the legal friendship founded in utility, is that which subsists by compacts; one kind, indeed, being entirely venal, from hand to hand, viz. such as takes place in buying and selling; but another kind is more liberal, in which one thing is to be given for another at a stated time, but from compact. In this, friendship, however, that which is owing is manifest, and is not ambiguous, but a friendly delay is permitted to take place. Hence, with some of these, there are no judicial processes, but they think it is requisite to love those who form compacts, from the obligation of fidelity. But the ethical friendship does not consist in compacts, but what it gives, it gives as to a friend, and this is also the case with whatever is imparted by the one to the other. He, however, who gives thinks it fit that he should receive in return an equivalent, or more than an equivalent, as if he had not given but lent; but if he does not receive the retribution which he expected from the contract, he accuses his friend. And this happens because all or most men wish to obtain things which are truly beautiful, but deliberately choose what is advantageous. But it is beautiful to benefit, not with a view to be benefited in return; and it is advantageous to be benefited. He, therefore, who is able, ought to make a retribution equivalent to the benefit he has received, and willingly; for a friend must not return kindness unwillingly. If, therefore, he has erred from the first, and has been benefited by an improper person; for he was not benefited by a friend, nor by one who did this for his sake; – if this be the case, retribution must be made, as if he had been benefited by compact. Hence, he who has been benefited by such a one, ought to promise that he will make a retribution if he can; but if he cannot, he who conferred the benefit ought not to think it fit that he should be recompensed, so that if possible, retribution is to be made. In the beginning, however, it is requisite, when a benefit is offered, to consider by whom it is offered, and with what view, so as either to accept or refuse it. But it may be doubted, whether retribution is to be measured by the advantage of him who receives it, or by the beneficence of him who made it. For those who receive it say in extenuation that they receive such things from benefactors as are of little use to them, and which they might have received from others; but, on the contrary, the benefactors say that they bestow the greatest things which it was in their power to give, and which could not be obtained from others, and that they conferred them in dangerous circumstances, or such-like necessities. Since, therefore, this friendship subsists on account of utility, the measure of it is the advantage of him who is benefited. For he is the person who is in want, and his friend assists him, in order that he may receive an equal benefit in return. The assistance, therefore, afforded by him who is benefited, will be as great as that which he received. And as much or even more must be given by him in return; for it is more beautiful and becoming. But in those friendships which are founded in virtue, there are no accusations; and the deliberate choice of him who benefits resembles a measure. For the authority of virtue and manners consists in deliberate choice.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book VIII, Chapter 14
Dissensions, however, take place in those friendships which subsist according to transcendency; for each thinks it fit that he should have more than the other. But when this takes place, the friendship is dissolved. For the better character of the two thinks it is proper that he should have more than the other; for more ought to be distributed to a good man. This is also the case with him who is the more useful person of the two; for they say it is not fit that he who is useless should have an equal portion with him who is useful; since ministrant offices will take place, and not friendship, unless what is done from friendship is according to the desert of the deeds. For they are of opinion, that as in pecuniary negotiations, those who employ a greater sum of money receive more profit, thus also it ought to be in friendship. The contrary, however, is the opinion of him who is indigent, and who is the worse character; for these think that it is the province of a good friend to assist those that are in want. For what advantage, say they, is there in being the friend of a worthy or powerful man, if no benefit is to be derived from him? It seems, however, that each thinks rightly, and that it is requisite to distribute more to each from friendship, yet not of the same thing, but more of honor indeed to him who transcends, but more of gain to him who is indigent; for honor indeed is the reward of virtue and beneficence, but gain is the auxiliary of indigence. This also appears to be the case in polities. For he is not honored who is the cause of no good to the community; since that which is common is given to him who benefits the community; but honor is something common. For it is not possible for a man at one and the same time to be enriched and honored by the community; since no one endures to have less in all things. Hence to him who is inferior in wealth honor is given; but money to him who is to be bribed by gifts. For distribution according to desert equalizes and preserves friendship, as we have before observed. In this manner, therefore, it is requisite to act towards those who are unequal; and he who is benefited either in wealth, or in virtue, should remunerate him by whom he is benefitted with honor, thus recompensing him as far as he is able. For friendship requires that which is possible, and not that which is according to desert. For a recompense according to desert is not possible in all things, as in honors conferred on the gods and parents; since no one can bestow these according to desert; but he who pays homage to them to the utmost of his power appears to be a worthy man. Hence, though it would seem not to be lawful for a son to abandon his father, yet it is lawful for a father to abandon his son. For a return ought to be made by him who is a debtor. But a son can do nothing worthy of the benefits he has received from his father; so that he will always be his debtor. Those, however, to whom others are indebted have the power of abandoning their debtors; and, therefore, a father has this power. At the same time, however, no father perhaps will abandon his son, unless the son is transcendently depraved; for, exclusive of natural friendship, it is human not to refuse giving assistance when it is wanted. But if the son is depraved, he is either to be avoided by his father, or his father must not be anxious to assist him. For the multitude wish to be benefited; but they avoid acting beneficently, as a useless thing. And thus much concerning these particulars.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 1
In all friendships, however, which are of a dissimilar species, the analogous, as we have already observed, equalizes and preserves friendship. Thus, for instance, in the political friendship, to the shoemaker a retribution is made for his shoes, according to their worth, and to the weaver, and other artificers. Here, therefore, a common measure, money, is employed; and to this everything is referred, and by this is measured. But in the amatory friendship, sometimes indeed the lover accuses the object of his love, that though he loves her beyond measure, he is not beloved in return, though, if it should so happen, he has nothing which can excite love. Frequently, however, she who is beloved complains that her lover, having formerly promised everything, now performs nothing that he had promised. But things of this kind happen, when the one indeed loves the object of his love on account of pleasure, but the other loves her lover on account of utility; and these things are not present with both. For since the friendship exists on account of these things, a dissolution of it takes place, when those things are not accomplished which are the final causes of their love. For they do not love each other, but what each possesses, which is not stable. Hence, such also are their friendships, viz. they are not stable. The friendship, however, which is founded in manners, i.e., virtuous friendship, since it exists per se, or independent of external circumstances, is permanent, as we have before observed. But friends also disagree when other things happen to them, and not those which were the objects of their desire; for when a man does not obtain that which he desired, it is just as if he obtained nothing. Thus, a certain person promised a harper that he would reward him in proportion to the excellence of his singing. But in the morning, when the harper demanded the fulfilment of his promise, he said that he had returned pleasure for pleasure. If, therefore, this, i.e., pleasure, had been the wish of each, the harper would have been sufficiently recompensed; but if the object of the one was delight, and of the other gain, and if the object of the one was accomplished, but not of the other, the compact between them was not well fulfilled.
For a man will attend to those things of which he is in want, and for the sake of them will give what is requisite. With respect, however, to the recompense which ought to be made, whether ought it to be estimated by him who gives, or by him who receives? For he who gives first, seems to leave to the receiver what the recompense should be; which they say Protagoras’ also did. For when he had taught anything, he ordered the learner to estimate what appeared to him to be the worth of the knowledge he had gained, and he received according to his valuation. But in things of this kind, to some persons it is sufficient to say,
Sufficient be the price a friend appoints.
Those, however, who having first received money, afterwards perform nothing which they had promised to do, on account of the excessive magnitude of their promise, are deservedly accused; for they do not perform what they had agreed to accomplish. But the sophists perhaps are compelled to do this, because no one would give money for those things which they know. These, therefore, because they do not perform that for which they received a reward, are justly blamed. With those persons, however, among whom there is no compact for services performed, we have already observed that those who first give to others on their own account, are not to be blamed; for of this kind is the friendship which is founded in virtue. Retribution, also, must be made according to deliberate choice; for this is the province of a friend, and of virtue. This conduct, likewise, as it seems, should be adopted by those who are associates in philosophy; for the worth of philosophy is not to be measured by money, nor can any honor be conferred equivalent to its dignity. But perhaps it is sufficient that a recompense as great as possible is made, in the same manner as towards the gods and parents. Where, however, the gift is not such as this, but is conferred with a view to a certain thing, i.e., with a view to some recompense, a remuneration perhaps ought especially to be made, which to both friends will appear to be according to desert. But if this should not happen to take place, it may not only appear to be necessary, but also to be just, that he who first received, should determine what is an equal compensation. For if as much advantage or pleasure is returned as was received, the remuneration will be according to desert. For this also appears to take place in traffic; and in some places there are laws which forbid any judicial processes respecting voluntary contracts; as if it were fit that in communions of this kind there should be no other judge, nor any other law, but that all differences should be decided by the person in whom trust is reposed, and by whom such contracts are used. For they think that he who was entrusted to estimate the retribution, will judge more justly than he who reposed that trust; since, for the most part, those who possess, and those who wish to receive any thing, do not estimate equitably. For everyone thinks that his own property and what he gives are of great value. At the same time, however, the retribution should be as great as it is determined to be by those who receive the gift. Perhaps, however, a thing is not to be estimated to be worth so much as it appeared to its possessor, but to be worth as much as he would have estimated it to be before he possessed it.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 2
Such particulars, however, as the following are dubious, viz. whether all things are to be assigned to a father, and he is to be obeyed in all things. Or whether the sick man ought indeed to obey the physician; and he who votes for the general of an army, ought to give the preference to a man skilled in warlike concerns. And in a similar manner, whether it is proper to be subservient to a friend rather than to a worthy man. And whether remuneration is rather to be made to a benefactor than to an associate, if it is impossible to make it to both. It is not therefore easy to determine all such particulars accurately; for they have many and all-various differences, in magnitude and parvitude, in the beautiful and the necessary. But it is not immanifest that not all things are to be given to the same person; and that for the most part benefits are rather to be returned to those from whom they were received, than gifts are to be bestowed on associates: just as it is more proper to return a loan to him from whom it was borrowed, than to make a present to an associate. Perhaps, however, this must not always be done. For if anyone should be made a prisoner by robbers, it may be inquired whether he who redeems him should be redeemed in his turn, be he who he may : or, whether the price of redemption should be given to him who demands it as his due, though he has not been taken prisoner; or whether, in preference to all these, a father ought to be redeemed. For it would seem that a man should rather ransom his father than himself. Universally, therefore, as we have said, a debt ought to be paid; but if the donation surpasses in the beautiful or the necessary, we should incline to it, rather than to the discharge of a debt. For sometimes it is not equitable to return a benefit which another person has first conferred, when he indeed conferred the benefit knowing that it was bestowed on a worthy man, but the retribution will be made to one whom he who is to make it believes to be a depraved man. For neither sometimes is a loan to be granted to him who has lent. For the one indeed, i.e., the depraved man, thinking that he shall receive back what he has lent, grants a loan to the worthy man, but the other, i.e., the worthy man, does not expect that what he has lent will be returned by the depraved man. Whether, therefore, the thing thus exists in reality, the merit of the parties is not equal, or whether it does not thus exist, but it is fancied that it does, they will not appear to act absurdly. Therefore, as it has frequently been observed, assertions concerning passions and actions are similarly definite and certain with the things about which they are conversant. It is not, therefore, immanifest, that the same things are not to be bestowed on all men, nor all things on a father, as neither are all things to be sacrificed to Jupiter. Since, however, different things are to be returned to parents, brothers, associates, and benefactors, a retribution is to be made to each of such things as are proper and appropriate. And thus indeed men appear to act. For they invite their kindred to weddings; since the genus of these is common, and, therefore, the actions also which are conversant with this are common. For the same reason, likewise, they think it especially necessary that kindred should be present at funerals. But it would seem that it is especially necessary to supply our parents with nutriment, because we are their debtors; and it is more beautiful to supply with these things the causes of our existence than ourselves. Honor also is to be paid to parents as to the gods; yet not every honor is to be paid to them. For neither is the same honor to be paid to a father and mother; nor again, to a wise man, or the general of an army; but to a father paternal, and to a mother maternal honor is to be paid. To every elderly man, likewise, honor is to be paid according to his age, by rising from our seat, and resigning it to him, and by other things of the like kind. To associates again, and brothers, freedom of speech must be granted, and a participation in common of all things. To kindred, also, to those of the same tribe, to fellow-citizens, and to all the rest of mankind, we should endeavor to distribute what is appropriate, and judiciously determine what pertains to each according to familiarity and virtue, or use. A judgment, therefore, may more easily be made respecting those who are of the same genus; but in those of a different genus, the decision is more difficult. We must not, however, on this account desist, but determine as far as circumstances will permit,
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 3
The dissolution also of friendships is attended with a doubt, viz. whether friendship is to be dissolved with those who do not continue to be our friends. Or shall we say that with those who are friends on account of advantage and delight, when they no longer possess these, it is by no means absurd that the friendship should be dissolved? For they were the friends of these things, viz. of things advantageous and delectable, and these failing, it is reasonable to suppose that they will no longer be attached to each other. He, however, may be justly accused, who loving another person on account of advantage or delight, pretends that he loves on account of manners, i.e., virtuously. For as we said in the beginning, numerous dissensions take place among friends, when they are not in reality such friends as they fancy they are. When, therefore, any one is deceived, and apprehends that he is beloved on account of his manners, though at the same time he does nothing that is virtuous, he should blame himself. But when he is deceived by the pretensions of the other, it is just to accuse the deceiver, and more so than those who adulterate money, because the improbity pertains to a more honorable thing. If, however, he admitted him into his friendship as a good man, but he becomes a bad man, or should appear to have become a bad man, is he still to be beloved or is this not possible? Since not everything deserves to be beloved, but that only which is good. Neither, therefore, is a bad man to be beloved, nor is it necessary that he should. For it is not fit to be a lover of what is depraved, nor to be assimilated to a bad man. And we have already observed that the similar is a friend to the similar. Is the friendship, therefore, to be immediately dissolved, or shall we say, not with all persons, but with those who are incurable on account of their depravity? For assistance ought rather to be given to the manners of those who are capable of being corrected, than to their worldly possessions, because this is better, and more adapted to friendship. He, however, who dissolves such a friendship will appear not to act at all absurdly; for he was not a friend to this man, or to a man of this description. Hence, as he cannot restore him, being thus changed, to virtue, he abandons him. But if the one indeed continues such as he was at first, I and the other should become more worthy, so as very much to transcend in virtue, is the latter still to use the former as a friend? Or is this not possible This, however, becomes especially evident in a great interval, as in the friendships formed from childhood. For if one of these should still remain a child in understanding, but the other should be a most excellent man, how can they be friends, when they are neither addicted to the same pursuits, nor delighted and pained with the same things? For neither will these be present with them towards each other. But without these they cannot be friends; for they cannot live together. Concerning these particulars, however, we have already spoken. Shall we say, therefore, that when the friendship is dissolved, I the one ought nevertheless so to conduct himself towards the other as if he had never been his friend? Or is it necessary that he should still retain the memory of their past friendship? And as we think it is proper to gratify friends rather than strangers, thus also shall we say, something must be conceded to former friends, on account of pristine friendship, when the dissolution of it was not occasioned by an excess of depravity?
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 4
With respect, however, to friendly offices, and those things by which friendships are defined, they seem to proceed from the conduct of a man towards himself. For he is defined to be a friend who wishes well to another, and performs things which are really or apparently good for his sake; or who wishes his friend to exist and live for his sake; just as mothers are affected towards their children, or friends who, for a time, are offended with each other. Others, however, define a friend to be one who lives with another person, and who chooses the same things, or mutually grieves and rejoices with him. But this also especially happens to mothers. By some one of these particulars, likewise, they define friendship. Each of these, however, exists in the worthy man towards himself; but they exist in other men, so far as they apprehend themselves to be worthy. For it seems, as we have before observed, that virtue and a worthy man are a measure to every one; since a worthy man accords with himself, and aspires after the same things with his whole soul, i.e., with both the rational and irrational part. Hence, he wishes for himself both real and apparent good, and acts conformably to his wishes. For it is the province of a worthy man to labor in what is good, and this for his own sake; since he labors for the sake of his dianoetic part, which each of us appears to be, i.e., in which our very essence consists. He also wishes that he himself may live and be preserved, and especially this part, by which he is wise; for to a worthy man existence is a good thing. Every one, however, wishes well to himself. But there is no one, who, if he should become a different person from what he is, would choose, having lost his identity, that the person into whom he is changed should possess all things. For now also God possesses good, but he always remains such as he is, whatever that may be. It would seem, however, that each of us is that which energizes intellectually, or that each of us is principally this. Such a man also wishes to live with himself; since he does this willingly. For the remembrance of what he has done is delightful to him, and his hopes of what is future are good; but such things are delectable. He abounds likewise in his dianoetic part with contemplations; and he is especially pained and pleased in conjunction with himself. For the same thing is always painful and pleasing to him, and not a different thing at a different time; since, as I may say, he is without repentance, i.e., he does nothing of which he has occasion to repent. Since, therefore, each of these things is present with the worthy man towards himself, but he is disposed towards his friend in the same manner as towards himself; for a friend is another self; this being the case, the friendship also of these appears to be something, and those with whom these things are present appear to be friends. At present, however, we shall omit the consideration whether or not there can be friendship between a man and himself. But it would seem that there may be friendship between a man and himself, when the rational and irrational parts are no longer two things but one thing through their union and consent; and also because an excess of friendship resembles the regard which a man has for himself. The particulars likewise which we have mentioned are seen to take place among the multitude, though they are depraved characters. Shall we say, therefore, that so far as they are pleasing to themselves, and apprehend themselves to be worthy, so far they participate of these things? For these things are not inherent, nor do they even appear to be inherent in any one of those who are very depraved and wicked; and nearly indeed they are not inherent even in those who are merely depraved. For they are discordant with themselves; and, like the incontinent, they desire one thing, but wish another; for they choose delectable things which are noxious, instead of those things which appear to them to be good. Others, again, through timidity and indolence abstain from doing those things which they think are best for themselves. But those by whom many and dreadful deeds are performed, and who are hated on account of their depravity, fly from life, and destroy themselves. Depraved men, likewise, search for those with whom they may pass their time, but fly from themselves; for they recollect when they are alone the many crimes they have committed, and expect the evils which are attendant on such wickedness will befall them; but they forget these when they are with others. Possessing likewise nothing amiable, they are not affected in a friendly manner towards themselves. Persons, therefore, of this description, neither rejoice nor condole with themselves; for their soul is in a state of sedition; and one part of it indeed is pained on account of depravity, when it abstains from certain things, but the other part is delighted. And the one part indeed draws this, but the other that way, the soul as it were being lacerated by sense and reason. If, however, it is not possible for him to be at one and the same time pained and pleased, yet after a short time he is pained that he was pleased, and wishes that these delectable things had not befallen him; for bad men are full of repentance. The bad man, therefore, does not appear to be disposed in a friendly manner even towards himself, because he possesses nothing amiable. But if it is very miserable to be in this condition, everyone should strenuously fly from depravity, and endeavor to be worthy; for thus a man will be disposed in a friendly manner towards himself, and will become the friend of others.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 5
Benevolence, however, resembles indeed friendship, yet is not friendship; for benevolence may be exerted towards unknown persons, and latently; but friendship cannot. These things, therefore, have been asserted before. But neither is it dilection; for it has not either impulse or appetite; and these are consequent to dilection. And dilection indeed subsists in conjunction with custom; but benevolence may be suddenly produced. Thus the spectators sometimes become suddenly benevolent towards those who contend for prizes at public solemnities, and unite with them in their wishes for success; but they do not at all co-operate with them. For, as we have said, they become suddenly benevolent towards them, and love them superficially. Benevolence, therefore, appears to be the beginning of friendship; just as the pleasure received through the sight is the beginning of love; for no one loves who has not been previously delighted with the form of the beloved object. He, however, who is delighted with this form, does not love the more on that account, but his love is then more ardent, when he longs for the object of his love when absent, and desires her presence. Thus, also, it is impossible for men to be friends, unless they have been first benevolent. But those who are benevolent only, do not on this account love each other the more; for they only wish well to those to whom they are benevolent; but they do not co-operate with them in anything, nor do they endure any molestation for their sake. Hence it may be metaphorically said, that benevolence is sluggish friendship; but by length of time and custom it may become friendship, yet not that friendship which is founded in utility, nor that which is founded in delight; for benevolence does not subsist on account of these things. For, he indeed, who is benefited, distributes benevolence in return for the favors he has received, in so doing acting justly. But he who wishes prosperity to the actions of any one, hoping that through him he shall be enriched, does not appear to be benevolent to him, but rather to himself; as neither is he a friend if he pays attention to him with a view to a certain advantage. In short, benevolence is produced through virtue, and a certain probity, when someone appears beautiful, or brave, or the like to another person; in the same manner as we said it was produced towards those who contend for prizes at public solemnities.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 6
Concord likewise appears to pertain to friendship; on which account, it is not an agreement in opinion; for this indeed may exist between those who are ignorant of each other. Nor are those said to be concordant who are unanimous about anything, as about the celestial bodies; for it does not belong to friendship to be concordant about these things. But cities are said to be concordant, when they are unanimous about things which contribute to the general good, and when they deliberately choose the same things, and do what has been deemed in common fit to be done. Men are, therefore, concordant about practical affairs, and of these, about such as surpass others in magnitude, and which may befall two persons or all men. Thus cities are in concord when it appears to all the citizens that magistrates should be elected, or that a warlike compact should be formed with the Lacedaemonians, or that Pittacus should be the archon, because he also is willing to accept this office. But when each of the citizens wishes to be himself the archon, as was the case among the Phoenicians, then they are in a state of sedition. For concord does not consist in each person forming the same conception about a thing, whatever that thing may be, but when they agree in wishing the same thing to the same person; as when the people and worthy men agree in wishing that the most excellent men may govern; for thus all the citizens obtain what, they desire. Concord, however, appears to be political friendship, as also it is said to be; for it is conversant with what is advantageous, and with those things which relate to the purposes of life. But a concord of this kind exists among worthy men; for these are in concord with themselves and with each other, since they are, as I may say, conversant with the same things. For the wishes of men of this description are permanent, and do not undergo a flux and reflux, like the Euripus. For their will is directed to things just and advantageous; and these they desire in common. But bad men cannot be concordant, except in a small degree; just as they cannot likewise be friends; since they desire in things advantageous to have the greater part themselves, but in labors and ministrant services they are deficient. Each, however, wishing that these things may befall himself, he explores how he may prevent others from obtaining that which he desires. For concord perishes when justice, which is a common good, is not preserved. It happens, therefore, that they are in a state of sedition, compelling indeed each other, but being themselves unwilling to do what is just.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 7
Benefactors, however, appear to love in a greater degree those whom they benefit, than those who are benefited do their benefactors, and the cause of this is investigated as a thing not conformable to reason. To most men, therefore, the cause appears to be this, that these are debtors, and those the persons to whom they are indebted. Hence, as in loans, debtors wish their creditors not to be in existence, but creditors are concerned for the safety of their debtors; thus, also, benefactors wish those whom they have benefited to exist, in order that they may obtain a recompense; but those who are benefited, are not concerned about making a recompense. Epicharmus, therefore, perhaps would say, that these things are asserted by most men, in consequence of looking to the depravity of mankind; but to act in this manner seems to be conformable to human nature. For the multitude are unmindful of the benefits they have received, and are more desirous to be benefited than to benefit. It would seem, however, that the cause of this is more natural, and does not resemble that which pertains to the loan of money; for creditors do not love their debtors, but wish them to be preserved, for the sake of receiving what they have lent, But benefactors love, and are fond of those they have benefited, though at present they derive no advantage from them, nor are likely to derive any in future. And this, also, happens to be the case with-artificers; for every artist loves his own work, more than he would be beloved by it, if it should become animated. Perhaps, however, this particularly happens to be the case with poets; for they love their own poems beyond measure, and have an affection for them as if they were children. Similar therefore to this is that which pertains to benefactors; for he who is benefited is their work. Hence, this person is more dear to them than a work is to him by whom it is produced. The cause however of this is, that existence is to all beings eligible and lovely; but we exist in energy; for we exist by living and acting. He, therefore, who produces a work, is in a certain respect in energy in the work. Hence, he loves the work with a parental affection, because existence also is dear to him. But this is natural; for what the agent is in capacity, is indicated by the work in energy. At the same time, also, to the benefactor, that which results from the action is beautiful, so that he is delighted with him in whom it is inherent; but to him who is benefited nothing is beautiful in the benefactor, but if anything is, it is utility; and this is in a less degree delightful and lovely. The energy, however, of present good is delectable, as is likewise the hope of future, and the memory of past good; but that good is most delectable, which subsists in energy, and in a similar manner that which is lovely. To him who benefits, therefore, the work remains; for a beautiful deed is lasting; but to him who is benefited, the advantage passes away. The memory, likewise, of beautiful deeds is delectable; but the memory of useful actions, is not very delightful, or is so in a less degree. It appears, however, that the contrary takes place with respect to expectation. And dilection, indeed, resembles production; but to be beloved is similar to the being passive. To love, therefore, and such things as pertain to friendship, are consequent to those who excel in action. Again, all men love in a greater degree things which are laboriously obtained. Thus, for instance, men love the wealth which they have themselves procured, more than that which they have received from others. It appears, therefore, that to be benefited is a thing unattended with labor; but that to benefit is laborious. On this account, also, mothers love their children in a greater degree than fathers; for the part which they sustain in the generation of them is more laborious than that which fathers sustain, and they in a greater degree know that they are their own offspring. But it would seem that this reasoning also is adapted to benefactors.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 8
It may however be doubted, whether a man ought to love himself more than some other person. For those are reprehended who love themselves transcendently; and they are called, as a thing disgraceful, lovers of themselves. And a bad man, indeed, appears to do everything for the sake of himself, and in a greater degree the more he is depraved. Hence, he is accused as doing nothing without a view to his own advantage. But the worthy man does everything on account of the beautiful in conduct, and he acts in a greater degree in this manner, and for the sake of his friend, the more worthy he is; but he neglects to act for his own sake. The deeds however of men are discordant with these assertions not unreasonably. For they say that he who is eminently a friend, ought to love his friend in an eminent degree; but he is eminently a friend who wishes well to him who is the subject of this wish for his sake, though no one should know it. These things, however, are especially inherent in a man towards himself, and therefore everything else by which a friend is defined. For we have before observed that all friendly offices proceed from himself, and pervade to others. And all proverbs accord with this; such as that friends are one soul; that among friends all things are common; that friend. ship is equality; and that the knee is near to the leg. For all these things are especially present with a man towards himself; since a man is especially a friend to himself; and therefore he is especially to be beloved by himself.
It may, however, be reasonably doubted, which of these arguments it is requisite to follow, since both of them are accompanied with probability. Perhaps, therefore, it is necessary to divide such-like arguments, and to distinguish how far, and in what respect each of them is true. If, therefore, we understand in what manner each of these denominates a man a lover of himself, perhaps the thing will become manifest. Those, therefore, who consider this as a disgraceful thing, call those men lovers of themselves, who distribute to themselves the greater part, in wealth and honors, and corporeal pleasures. For the multitude aspire after these things, and are earnestly employed in endeavoring to acquire them, as being the best of things; and on this account they become objects of contention. Hence, those who vindicate to themselves more of these things than is fit, are subservient to desires, and in short to passions, and the irrational part of the soul. But the multitude are persons of this description. Hence, also, the appellation was derived from the multitude, who are depraved. Justly, therefore, are those reprehended, who are in this way lovers of themselves. That the multitude, however, are accustomed to denominate those who distribute to themselves things of this kind, lovers of themselves, is not immanifest. For he who always earnestly endeavors to act justly, or temperately, or to act according to any other of the virtues, the most of all things, and in short, who always vindicates to himself that which is beautiful in conduct;-such a man will never be called by any one a lover of himself, nor will he be blamed by anyone. It would seem, however, that such a man as this, is in a greater degree a lover of himself; for he distributes to himself things which are most eminently beautiful and good, is gratified in his most principal part, intellect, and in all things is obedient to it. But as that which is the most principal thing in a city, appears to be most eminently the city, and this is the case in every other system of things; thus, also, that which is most principal in man is especially the man. He, therefore, who loves this principal part of himself, is especially a lover of himself, and is gratified with this. Hence, also, one man is denominated continent, and another incontinent, because in the former intellect has dominion, but has not in the latter, in consequence of every man being this, i.e., intellect. Men, likewise, appear to have performed things, and to have performed them willingly, which they have especially performed in conjunction with reason. That every man, therefore, is principally intellect, and that the worthy man principally loves this, is not immanifest. Hence, he will be especially a lover of himself, according to a different species of self-love from that which is disgraceful, and differing as much from it as to live according to reason differs from living according to passion, and as much as the desire of that which is beautiful in conduct, differs from the desire of that which appears to be advantageous. All men, therefore, approve of and applaud those who in a manner superior to others endeavor to perform beautiful actions. But if that which is really beautiful in conduct was that for which all men contended, and if they endeavored to perform the most beautiful deeds, whatever is becoming would be possessed by all men in common, and the greatest of goods by every one particularly; since virtue is a thing of this kind. Hence, it is necessary that a good man should be a lover of himself; for he himself is benefited by acting well, and he also benefits others. But it is not proper that a depraved man should be a lover of himself; for he will hurt both himself and his neighbors, in consequence of being subservient to base passions. With the depraved man, therefore, there is a dissonance between what he ought to do, and what he does; but with the worthy man, those things which he ought to do, he also does. For every intellect chooses that which is best for itself; and the worthy man is obedient to intellect. That, however, which is asserted of the worthy man is true, that for the sake of his friends and his country, he will do many things, even though it should be requisite to die for them; for he will give up riches and honors, and in short those goods which are the objects of contention with mankind, in order that he may vindicate to himself that which is beautiful in conduct. For he will rather choose to be very much delighted for a short time, than to experience a small delight for a long time, and to live worthily for one year, than casually for many years. He will also prefer one beautiful and great action, to many and small actions. And this perhaps happened to be the case with those who have died for their country, or their friends. Worthy men, therefore, choose a great good for themselves; and will give up their riches in order that they may obtain a greater number of friends. For thus, indeed, riches befall the friend of the worthy man, but that which is really beautiful befalls the worthy man himself; but he distributes to himself the greater good. There is also the same mode of conduct with him as to honors and dominion; for he will give up all these to his friend; for this to him is beautiful and laudable. Reasonably, therefore, does he appear to be a worthy man, who chooses that which is beautiful in conduct instead of these things. It may likewise happen, that he may give up actions to his friend, and that it may be better for him to be the cause of their being performed by his friend, than to do them himself. Hence, in all laudable things, the worthy man appears to distribute to himself more of that which is truly beautiful. After this manner, therefore, as we have said, it is necessary that a man should be a lover of himself, but it is not proper he should be so in the way in which the multitude love themselves.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 9
With respect to the happy man, also, it is doubted, whether he will be in want of friends or not. For it is said, that those who are blessed and sufficient to themselves have no need of friends; because things truly good are present with them. As they are, therefore, sufficient to themselves, they are not in want of anything; but a friend being a man’s other self, imparts to him those things which he cannot obtain through himself. Whence, also, it is said, “When divinity is propitious, what need is there of friends?” It seems, however, to be absurd that those who attribute every good to the happy man, should not give him friends, which appear to be the greatest of external goods. But if it is the province of a friend rather to benefit than to be benefited, and if it is also the province of a good man and of virtue to benefit, and it is better to do good to friends than to strangers, the worthy man will want those who may be benefited by him. Hence, likewise, it is inquired, whether there is more need of friends in adversity than in prosperity; because he who is unfortunate is in want of those by whom he may be benefited, and the fortunate are in want of those whom they may benefit. Perhaps, however, it is also absurd to make the blessed man a solitary being; for no one would choose to possess every good by himself; since man is a social animal, and is naturally adapted to live with others. This, therefore, will also be the case with the happy man; for he possesses those things which are naturally good. But it is evident, that it is better to pass the time with friends and worthy men, than with strangers and casual persons. Hence, the happy man has need of friends. In what respect, therefore, is the first assertion true that the happy man is not in want of friends? Is it because the multitude think those persons to be friends who are useful to them? The blessed man, therefore, will not be in any want of such persons, since real good is present with him. Neither, therefore, will he be in want of those who are friends on account of the delectable, or he will want them but for a short time; for since his life is delightful, he will be in no want of adventitious pleasure. But not being in want of friends of this description, he does not appear to be in want of friends.
This, however, perhaps is not true. For it was observed by us in the beginning, that happiness is a certain energy; but with respect to energy, it is evident that it is in generation, or is passing into existence,’ and is not present with him who energizes, like a certain possession. But if to be happy consists in living and energizing, and the energy of the good man is of itself worthy and delectable, as we observed in the beginning; if also that which is appropriate ranks among the number of things that are delightful, but we are more able to survey our neighbors than ourselves, and their actions than our own; and if the actions of worthy men that are friends, are delightful to good men, for both have those things which are naturally delectable – if this be the case, the blessed man will be in want of such friends as these, since he deliberately chooses to survey worthy and appropriate actions. But the actions of a good man who is a friend are of this description. It is likewise thought to be necessary, that the happy man should live delectably. The life, therefore, of a solitary man is indeed difficult; for it is not easy for a man to energize continually by himself, but with others, and towards others it is easy. The energy, therefore, will be more continued which is delectable by itself; which should necessarily be present with the blessed man. For the worthy man, so far as he is worthy, rejoices in the actions which are conformable to virtue, but is indignant with those which proceed from vice; just as a musician is delighted with beautiful melodies, but is pained with those that are bad. A certain exercise of virtue likewise will be produced from living with good men, as also Theognis says. To those, however, who consider this affair more physically, it appears that a worthy friend is naturally eligible to a worthy man; for it has been said by us, that what is naturally good, is of itself to a worthy man good and delectable. To live, however, is in animals defined by the power of sense, but in men by the power of sense or intellection. But power is referred to energy; and that which has the principal authority in a thing consists in energy. It seems, therefore, that to live is properly either to perceive sensibly, or intellectually; and to live is among the number of things which are good and delectable; for it is a definite thing. But that which is definite pertains to the nature of the good, as it also appeared to the Pythagoreans; and that which is naturally good, is also good to the worthy man. Hence to live appears to all men to be delightful. A depraved and corrupted life, however, ought not to be assumed, nor a life of pain; for such a life is indefinite, as well as the things which belong to it. This, however, will be more evident in what we shall say concerning pain hereafter. But if to live is itself good, it is also delectable. And it appears that it is so from this, that all men aspire after it, and especially worthy and blessed men; for to these life is most eligible, and the life of these is most blessed. He, however, who sees, perceives that he sees, he who hears, perceives that he hears, and he who walks, perceives that he walks; and in a similar manner in other things there is something which perceives that we energize. But we may perceive that we perceive, and we may understand that we understand. For us, however, to perceive that we perceive, or to understand that we understand, is for us to be; for we have said that our very being consists in perceiving sensibly or intellectually. But for a man to perceive that he lives, is among the number of things essentially delectable; for life is naturally good. And for a man to perceive that good is present with him is delightful. But to live is eligible, and especially to good men, because existence to them is good and delectable; for, having a co-sensation of essential good, they are delighted. As, however, the worthy man is disposed towards himself, thus also he is disposed towards his friend; for a friend is another self. As, therefore, it is eligible to every one for himself to exist, thus also or similarly it is eligible to him for his friend to exist. But we have said, that existence is eligible, because it is for a man to perceive himself, which is good; and a sensation of this kind is of itself delightful. It is necessary, therefore, that he should at the same time perceive that his friend exists; but this will be effected by living together with him, and in a communication with him of words and thoughts, for it would seem that in this way men are said to live together, and not as cattle, by feeding in the same place. If, therefore, existence is of itself eligible to the blessed man, since it is naturally good and delectable, the like also must be asserted of a friend; and hence a friend will be among the number of eligible things to the happy man. But that which is eligible to him, ought to be present with him; or in this respect he will be indigent. The man, therefore, who is to be happy will require worthy friends.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 10
Are numerous friends, therefore, to be procured or, as it appears to be elegantly said of hospitality,
Want not, nor be of multitudes a guest;
may it also in friendship be appropriately said, that a man should neither be without a friend, nor again should have an excessive multitude of friends? This assertion therefore, will indeed appear to be very much adapted to those who regard utility in friendship; for to be alternately subservient to many persons is laborious, and life is not sufficient to them to perform this. Hence, more friends than are sufficient for the proper purposes of life, are superfluous, and are impediments to a worthy life. Hence there is no need of them. And with respect to the friends that are procured for the sake of pleasure, a very few are sufficient; in the same manner as sauce to food. But whether or not ought a good man to have many worthy friends? Or shall we say that there is a certain measure of a multitude of friends, in the same manner as there is of a city? For a city will not consist of ten men, nor is it any longer a city if it is composed of a hundred thousand men. Perhaps, however, one certain number of citizens cannot be assigned, but every number may be admitted which is between certain definite terms. Of friends, therefore, there is also a certain definite multitude; and perhaps those persons are not numerous” with whom it is possible for a man to live; for this appears to be a thing of a most friendly nature. But that it is not possible for a man to live with many, and distribute himself among them, is not immanifest. Farther still, it is necessary, if the friends are numerous, that they should be friends to each other, if all of them intend to pass the time with each other; but this among many friends is laborious. It is likewise difficult to rejoice and grieve appropriately together with many persons; for it is probable that it may at one and the same time happen, that a man ought to rejoice together with one person, and grieve together with another. Perhaps, therefore, it is well not to endeavor to have a great number of friends, but as many as are sufficient for the purposes of social life; for it would seem that it is not possible to be very much a friend to many persons. Hence, neither is it possible to love many; for love is a certain excess of friendship. But this is confined to one person; and, therefore, vehement love must be confined to a few. That this, indeed, is the case, seems to be verified by themselves. For there are not many friends according to that friendship which subsists among associates; but the friendships which are celebrated, are said to have subsisted between two persons. Those, however, who are the friends of many persons, and are familiarly conversant with all of them, appear to be the friends of no one, except politically, and these persons are also called obsequious. It is possible, therefore, to be politically a friend to many persons, though he who is so should happen not to be obsequious, but a truly worthy man; but it is not possible to be a friend to many, on account of virtue, and for their own sake. But we must be satisfied if we can find a few such, i.e., who are true friends.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 11
But whether is there more need of friends in prosperity, or in adversity? For in both they are sought after. For those who are in adversity require assistance, and those who are in prosperity are in want of associates, and those whom they may benefit; since they wish to confer favors on others. In adversity, therefore, friends are more necessary; on which account, when this is the case, there is need of useful friends. In prosperity, however, friends are a more worthy and beautiful possession; on which account, also, men whose circumstances are prosperous, search for worthy friends; for it is more eligible to benefit these, and with these to pass through life. For the presence itself of friends is delightful both in prosperity and adversity; since the grief of those who are in affliction is lightened when their friends participate of their sorrow. Hence, likewise, it may be doubted whether friends share a part of the affliction of their friends, as if it were part of a burden. Or is this not the case; but the presence of friends being delightful, the conception that they participate of the sorrow, produces a diminution of the grief? Whether, therefore, those who are in affliction are alleviated through these causes, or through some other cause, we shall omit to investigate. What we have mentioned, however, appears to happen. But the presence of friends appears to be something mixed; for the sight itself of friends is delectable, and especially to those in adverse circumstances, and it becomes a certain auxiliary against affliction. For a friend possesses a consoling power, both in his presence and his words, if he is dexterous; since he knows the manners of his friend, and with what he is pleased and pained. It is painful, however, to perceive that our friend is afflicted by our misfortunes; for every one avoids being the cause of pain to his friends. Hence those who are of a virile nature are careful to prevent their friends from being afflicted in conjunction with themselves; unless they perceive that by subjecting their friends to a little pain, they shall themselves experience an alleviation of great affliction. And, in short, they do not permit others to lament with them, because they are not themselves addicted to lamentation. But women who are weaker than the rest of their sex, and men who resemble them, are delighted with those who groan with them, and love them as their friends, and the associates of their sorrow. In all things, however, it is necessary to imitate the better character. But the presence of friends in prosperity is attended with a pleasing association, and with the conception that they are delighted with our good fortune. Hence, it would seem to be necessary, that in prosperity we should readily and cheerfully invite our friends to partake of our good fortune; for it is beautiful to be beneficent, but that we should be remiss in inviting them to partake of our ill fortune. For it is requisite to impart to our friends as little as possible of evils. Whence it is said,
That I am wretched, is sufficient.
But friends are then especially to be called upon, when having received small molestations, we can be greatly benefited by their presence. On the contrary, it is perhaps proper to go to those who are in adversity uncalled and cheerfully. For it is the province of a friend to benefit, and especially to benefit those who are in want, and who do not think fit to solicit relief; for this is better and more delectable to both. With fortunate friends, however, we should cheerfully co-operate; for in prosperity also there is need of a friend. But we should slowly betake ourselves to a friend, in order to be benefited by him; for it is not beautiful to be readily and cheerfully disposed to be benefited. It is perhaps, however, requisite to be cautious that we do not conduct ourselves unpleasantly, in rejecting the beneficence of our friends; for this sometimes happens to be eligible in all things.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book IX, Chapter 12
Whether, therefore, as to lovers the sight of the beloved object is most delectable, and they prefer this sense to the rest, because love especially subsists and is produced from this, thus also, it is most eligible to friends to live together? For friendship is communion. And in the same manner as a man is affected towards himself, he is also affected towards his friend. But it is eligible to everyone to perceive with respect to himself, that he exists and lives; and, therefore, this is also eligible with respect to a friend. This energy, however, is effected among friends by living together; so that this is reasonably desired by them. And that in which to everyone his very being consists, or for the sake of which he chooses to live, in this he wishes to pass his life with his friends. Hence some friends indeed drink together, others play at dice together, others engage in gymnastic exercises and hunt together, or philosophize together. But they severally pass their time together, in that to which of all things in life they are most attached. For wishing to live with their friends, they do these things, and communicate with them in these, through which they are of opinion they associate together. The friendship, therefore, of bad men is depraved; for being unstable, they communicate with each other in bad things; and they become depraved, being assimilated to each other. But the friendship of worthy men is worthy, and is mutually increased by mutual converse. They also appear to become better by energizing with and correcting each other. For they mutually express those things with which they are delighted; whence it is said,
From good men what is good is learnt.
And thus much concerning friendship. It remains to discuss, in the next place, pleasure.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.Book X
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 1
After these things perhaps it follows that we should discuss pleasure;’ for this appears to be especially familiar and allied to our race. Hence those who educate youth regulate them by pleasure and pain, as by a rudder. But it appears to be a thing of the greatest consequence with respect to the virtue of manners to rejoice in those things in which it is proper to rejoice, and to hate those things which it is proper to hate. For these things extend through the whole of life, and have a preponderation and power towards virtue, and a happy life; since things which are delectable, are indeed the objects of deliberate choice, but those that are painful are avoided. It seems, however, that things of this kind are by no means to be passed over in silence, especially since they possess an abundant ambiguity. For some, indeed, say that good itself is pleasure, but others on the contrary assert that pleasure is a very bad thing; the former, indeed, being perhaps persuaded that it is so; but the latter thinking that it will be more beneficial to our life, to evince that pleasure ranks among bad things, even though it should not. For the multitude tend to it, and are subservient to pleasures. Hence, say they, it is necessary to lead them to the pursuit of the contrary to pleasure; for thus they may arrive at the medium. Perhaps, however, this is not well said. For words respecting things which pertain to passions and actions, are less credible than deeds. When, therefore, they are discordant with the perceptions of sense, being despised they also subvert the truth. For he who blames pleasure, if he is at any time seen to desire it, seems to incline towards it, as if every pleasure was of this attractive nature; for to distinguish one pleasure from another, is not the province of the multitude. True assertions, therefore, appear not only to be most useful with respect to knowledge, but also with respect to life; for they are believed when they accord with deeds. Hence they exhort those who understand them to live conformably to them. Of things of this kind, therefore, thus much may suffice. Let us now discuss the assertions of others concerning pleasure.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 2
Eudoxus, therefore, thought that pleasure was good itself, because all animals are seen to desire it, both such as are rational and such as are irrational. But in all things the eligible is good, and that which is especially eligible is the best of things. And because all things tend to the same thing, it is an indication that the object to which they tend, is to all things that which is most excellent. For everything discovers that which is good to it, in the same manner as it discovers nutriment. Hence that which is good to all things, and which all things desire, is good itself. These arguments, however, are rendered credible, more through the virtuous manners of their author than through themselves; for it appears that he was a remarkably temperate man. It does not seem, therefore, that he made these assertions as the friend of pleasure, but because he believed them to be true. It likewise appeared to him to be no less evident that pleasure is good itself, from the contrary. For pain is of itself avoided by all animals; and in a similar manner, the contrary to pain is eligible to all animals. But that is especially eligible, which we choose not on account of something else, nor for the sake of another thing. It is, however, acknowledged that pleasure is a thing of this kind; for no one asks another person what the final cause is why he is delighted, as if pleasure were a thing eligible of itself, and which renders the good to which it is added more eligible; such, for instance, as to act justly and temperately. The good, therefore, is itself increased by itself. This argument, therefore, evinces that pleasure ranks among the number of goods, and that it is not more good than another good. For every good in conjunction with another good, is more eligible than when it is alone. Plato also subverts an argument of this kind, that pleasure is not good itself; for he says that a delectable life, in conjunction with wisdom, is more eligible than without it. But if the mixed life is better than a life of pleasure alone, pleasure will not be good itself; for good itself will not become more eligible by anything being added to it. It is evident, however, that neither will anything else be good itself, which in conjunction with something which is of itself good, becomes more eligible. What, therefore, is the thing of this kind, of which we also participate? For a thing of this kind is the subject of investigation. Those, however, who deny that it is good which all beings desire, say nothing to the purpose; for we say that the thing which appears to all beings to exist, does exist. But he who subverts this belief, does not assert that which is very much more credible. For if they denied that to be good which is desired by beings destitute of intellect, there would be some truth in what they say; but if they also deny that to be good which beings endued with prudence and wisdom desire, how will they say anything which can be admitted? Perhaps, also, even in bad men there is a certain natural good, which transcends their depravity, and which aspires after its proper good. Neither does that which is asserted of the contrary to pleasure appear to be well said. For it does not follow, say they, that if pain is an evil, pleasure is good; since evil is opposed to evil, and both good and evil are opposed to that which is neither. And these things, indeed, are asserted by them not badly, yet they are not true when applied to the present subject. For if both pleasure and pain were bad, it would be requisite that both should be avoided; but if neither is bad, neither is to be avoided, or each is similarly to be avoided. But now, indeed, it appears that pain is avoided as an evil, and that pleasure is chosen as a good. In this manner, therefore, they are opposed to each other.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 3
Neither does it follow that if pleasure is not among the number of qualities, it is not on this account good; for neither are the energies of virtue qualities, nor is happiness a quality. They say, therefore, that good is definite, but that pleasure is indefinite, because it receives the more and the less. Hence, if they form this judgment from the being delighted, the same thing will also take place in justice, and the other virtues, in which men evidently assert that there is more and less of things of this kind; for some are more just and brave than others. It is likewise possible to act justly and to live temperately, in a greater and less degree. But if they admit this to take place in pleasures, they do not seem to have assigned the cause of it; if some pleasures indeed are unmingled, but others are mingled. What however hinders but that, in the same manner as health, which is a definite thing, receives the more and the less; this, also, may be the case with pleasure? For there is not the same symmetry in all things, nor is there always one certain symmetry in the same thing; but suffering a remission, it remains for a certain time, and differs in the more and the less. A thing of this kind, therefore, may also happen to pleasure. As they likewise admit that good itself is perfect, but that motions and generations are imperfect, they endeavor to show that pleasure is motion and generation. They do not, however, appear to assert this well, since pleasure is not motion. For to all motion swiftness and slowness appear to be appropriate, and though not per se, such as to the motion of the world, yet they are appropriate with reference to another motion. But neither of these is inherent in pleasure. For it is possible, indeed, to be rapidly delighted, in the same manner as it is possible to be swiftly enraged; but it is not possible for the delight itself to be swift or slow, not even with reference to something else. It is possible, however, that walking and augmentation, may be swift or slow, and everything else of the like kind. Hence, it is possible to be changed quickly and slowly into pleasure; but it is not possible to energize swiftly according to it; viz. to be delighted swiftly according to it.
And in what manner will pleasure be generation? For it appears that not any casual thing is generated from any casual thing, but that a thing is dissolved into that from which it was generated. And that of which pleasure is the generation, of this pain is the corruption. They also say, that pain is the indigence of that which is according to nature; but that pleasure is the complete fulness of it. But these are corporeal passions. If, therefore, pleasure is the complete fulness of that which subsists according to nature, that in which this fulness takes place will also be delighted. Hence, the body will be delighted; but it does not appear that this is the case. Pleasure, therefore, is not complete fulness. But complete fulness, indeed, taking place, someone may be delighted, and when cut he may be pained. This opinion, however, appears to have originated from the pleasures and pains pertaining to food; for when we are in want of nutriment, and have been previously pained in consequence of this want, we are delighted with being completely filled. This, however, does not happen to be the case in all pleasures. For mathematical pleasures are unattended with pain, and also those sensible pleasures which subsist through the smell, the hearing, and the sight. Many recollections, also, and hopes are unattended with pain. Of what, therefore, will these be the generations : For in these there has been no previous indigence of anything, of which these may be the complete fulness. But to those who adduce disgraceful pleasures in confirmation of this opinion, it may be said that these are not simply delectable. For it must not be admitted, that if these are delightful to those who are badly disposed, they are also simply delectable, but that they are so to these only; as neither are those things simply salubrious, or sweet, or bitter, which appear to be so to those who are diseased; nor, again, are those things white which appear to be so to those whose eyes are dimmed with rheum. It may likewise be said in reply, that pleasures are indeed eligible, yet not from these things; just as to be rich is eligible, yet not by treachery; and to be well is eligible, yet not by eating any kind of food. Or it may be said, that pleasures are specifically different. For those pleasures which are produced by worthy, are different from those which are produced by base pursuits, and it is not possible for anyone to be delighted with the pleasure of a just man who is not just, or with the pleasure of a musician who is not a lover of music; and in a similar manner in other things. A friend, also, who is a different person from a flatterer, appears to evince that pleasure is not good, or that pleasures are specifically different; for it seems that the association of a friend is with a view to good, but of a flatterer, with a view to pleasure; and the one is reprobated, but the other is praised, in consequence of their associations being directed to different ends. Besides, no one would choose to live, possessing a puerile understanding through the whole of life, and being delighted as much as possible with those things which are the objects of puerile delight; nor would any one choose so to rejoice in doing something most base, as never to be grieved for having done it. We likewise earnestly apply ourselves to many things, though they should procure us no pleasure, such as to see, to recollect, to know, and to possess the virtues. But it makes no difference, if pleasure follows these things from necessity; for we should choose these, though no pleasure should be produced from them. That pleasure, therefore, is not good itself, and that all pleasure is not eligible, appears to be evident, as likewise that some pleasures are eligible of themselves, but differ in species, or in the things from which they are produced. And thus much may suffice with respect to what is asserted by others concerning pleasure and pain.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 4
What pleasure, however, is, or what kind of thing it is, will become more evident, by resuming the consideration of it from the beginning. For the sight, indeed, seems to be perfect at any time; since it is not indigent of anything, which, taking place afterwards, will give perfection to its form. But pleasure seems to resemble a thing of this kind; for it is a certain whole. Nor can a pleasure be assumed at any time, the form of which would be perfected by the accession of a longer time. Hence, neither is it motion; for all motion is in time, and is referred to a certain end. Thus, for instance, the motion which exists in building a temple is perfect, when it effects that which it desires to accomplish. It is perfect, therefore, either in the whole of the time, or in this time. But in the parts of the time, all the motions are imperfect, and are specifically different from the whole motion, and from each other. For the composition of the stones is different from the erection of the pillar at right angles, and these motions are different from the fabrication of the temple. And the motion, indeed, employed in building the temple is perfect; for it is in want of nothing to the proposed end; but the motion employed in laying the foundation and the roof is imperfect; for each pertains to a part. The motions, therefore, are specifically different, and it is not possible to assume a motion perfect in its species in any time, except the whole time. The like also takes place in walking and other motions. For if lation is a motion from one place to another, the specific differences of this motion are, flying, walking, leaping, and the like. And not only so, but in walking itself there is a difference; for the motion from one place to another in walking, is not the same in the stadium and a part of the stadium, and in the different parts of it. Nor is the mutation of place the same in passing through this line and that, viz. in passing through a curve and a straight line. For not only a line is passed through, but a line existing in place; and this line is in a different place from that. We have, therefore, accurately discussed motion elsewhere, i.e., in the 5th book of the Physics. Hence, it appears that motion is not perfect in every time, but that the multitude of motions are imperfect, and specifically different, since they are formalized by proceeding from one place to another. The form however of pleasure is perfect in any time. It is evident, therefore, that motion and pleasure are different from each other, and that pleasure is something whole and perfect,
This would also seem to be evident, from the impossibility of being moved except in time, but the possibility of being delighted without time, i.e., in an instant; for that which is effected in the now, or an instant, is a certain whole. From these things, however, it is manifest, that it is not well said that pleasure is motion or generation; for motion and generation are not predicated of all things, but of those only which may be distributed into parts, and are not wholes. For there is not generation of sight, nor of a point, nor of the monad; nor is there either motion or generation of these. Neither, therefore, is there of pleasure; for it is a certain whole. Hence, from what has been said, it is evident that a certain pleasure is conjoined with every sense in energy, which energizes without being impeded. But the energy of the sense is perfect which is well disposed towards the most beautiful of the objects that fall under that sense; for perfect energy appears to be especially a thing of this kind. It is, however, of no consequence, whether it is said, that the sense itself energizes, or that in which it exists. But in everything, the energy is the most excellent of that which is disposed in the best manner towards the most excellent of the things which are subject to it. But this energy will be most perfect and most delightful. For there is pleasure according to every sense; and in a similar manner, according to every discursive energy of the soul, and every contemplation. But the most perfect energy is the most delectable; and that is the most perfect which is the energy of that which is well disposed towards the best of the things subject to it. Pleasure, however, perfects energy. But pleasure does not perfect energy after the same manner as the object of sense perfects sense, when both are in a good condition; just as neither are health and a physician similarly the cause of being made well. It is evident, however, that pleasure is produced according to each of the senses; for we say that things which are seen, and things which are heard, are delectable. And it is also evident, that they are especially delectable, when the sense is most excellent, and energizes about the most excellent object. But where the sensible object, and that which perceives it, are things of this kind, there will always be pleasure, the agent and patient being present. Pleasure, however, perfects energy, not as an inherent habit, but as a certain supervening end, such as the flower of age in those who are in their acme. As long, however, as that which is sensible or intelligible, is such as it ought to be, and also that which judges or contemplates, pleasure will be in energy; for when that which is passive and that which is active are similar, and subsisting after the same manner with reference to each other, the same thing is naturally adapted to be produced. How, therefore, does it happen that no one is continually delighted? Is it because he becomes at length weary? For all human concerns are incapable of energizing continually. Neither, therefore, can pleasure be generated in an uninterrupted continuity; for it is consequent to energy. Some things, however, delight when they are new; but afterwards for this reason, because pleasure cannot be generated incessantly, do not similarly delight. For at first, indeed, the discursive power of the soul inclines towards, and intently energizes about these, in the same manner as those who look intently at anything. Afterwards, however, an energy of this kind is no longer produced, but it becomes remiss. Hence, the pleasure also is obscured. It may, however, be thought that all men aspire after pleasure, because all of them desire to live; but life is a certain energy; and every one energizes about and in those things which he especially loves. Thus, for instance, the musician energizes with the hearing about melodies, but the lover of disciplines energizes with the discursive power of his soul about theorems, and in a similar manner the lover of other pursuits. But pleasure perfects energies; and it likewise perfects life, which is the object of desire. Reasonably, therefore, do all men aspire after pleasure; for it gives perfection to the life of each, which is an eligible thing. We shall, however, omit for the present to consider, whether we choose to live on account of pleasure, or choose pleasure for the sake of living; for these things appear to be conjoined, and do not admit of being separated. For pleasure is not produced without energy, and pleasure gives perfection to every energy.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 5
Hence, also, pleasures appear to be specifically different; for we are of opinion that things specifically different, are perfected through perfections specifically different. For this appears to be the case both with natural and artificial productions; as, for instance, with animals and trees, pictures and statues, houses and furniture. In a similar manner, therefore, we are of opinion, that energies specifically different, are perfected by things that differ in species. But the energies of the discursive powers of reason, differ from the energies of the senses, and these are specifically different from each other. Hence, also, the pleasures which give perfection to these are specifically different. This, however, will also become apparent from hence, that each of the pleasures is intimately familiarized with the energy which it perfects.
For appropriate pleasures co-increase energy; since those who energize in conjunction with pleasure, energize about everything more accurately, and with more exquisite judgment. Thus, for instance, those become more excellent geometricians, who are delighted to geometrize, and they understand in a greater degree everything geometrical. The like also takes place with the lovers of music, the lovers of architecture, and the lovers of the other arts; for each of these makes a proficiency in his proper employment, if he delights in it. Pleasures, therefore, co-increase energies; but things which co-increase are appropriate; and to things which are specifically different, the things also which are appropriate are specifically different. Again, this will in a greater degree become apparent, from considering that pleasures which are produced from different things are an impediment to energies. For the lovers of the flute cannot attend to discourse if they hear any one playing on the flute, in consequence of being more delighted with the melody of the flute, than with the present energy, i.e., than with what is said. The pleasure, therefore, which is produced by the melody of the flute, corrupts the energy of discourse. And in a similar manner, this also happens in other things, when a man energizes at one and the same time about two things; for the more delectable energy expels the other; and this in a still greater degree, if it very much surpasses in pleasure, so as to render it impossible to energize according to the other energy. Hence, when we are very much delighted with anything, we do not in any great degree perform anything else; but when we are only moderately pleased with certain things, we can do others. Thus, those who in the theatres eat sweetmeats, are especially accustomed to do this when the performers act badly. Since, however, appropriate pleasure gives accuracy to energies, and renders them more lasting and better, but foreign pleasures corrupt them, it is evident that these pleasures differ very much from each other. For nearly foreign pleasures effect the same thing as appropriate pains, i.e., as the pains which are consequent to certain energies. Thus, if it is unpleasant and painful to anyone to write or to any one to reason; the former, indeed, will not write, and the latter will not reason, in consequence of the energy being painful. From appropriate pleasures and pains, therefore, that which is contrary happens about energies. But those pleasures and pains are appropriate, which are essentially consequent to energy. And with respect to foreign pleasures, we have already observed, that they effect something similar to pain, for they corrupt, though not in a similar manner.
Since, however, energies differ in probity and depravity, and some of them indeed being eligible, but others to be avoided, and others being neither, pleasures also have a similar mode of subsistence; for there is an appropriate pleasure in every energy. The pleasure, therefore, which is appropriate to a worthy energy is worthy, but that which is appropriate to a bad energy, is depraved; for the desires, indeed, of things truly beautiful are laudable, but of base things are blamable. The pleasures however which are in energies, are more appropriate to the energies than desires are. For desires, indeed, are separated from energies, by times, and by nature; but pleasures are proximate to energies, and are so indistinct from them, as to render it dubious, whether energy is the same with pleasure. It does not appear, however, that pleasure is either the discursive energy of reason or sense; for it would be absurd to suppose that it is; though on account of the inseparability of pleasure from energy, it seems to certain persons to be the same with it. As, therefore, energies are different, so likewise pleasures. But the sight differs from the touch in purity, and the hearing and the smell from the taste. Hence, the pleasures also of these senses similarly differ; and those which pertain to the discursive energy of reason, likewise differ, and both these differ from each other. It seems, however, that there is an appropriate pleasure to every animal, just as there also is an appropriate work; for this pleasure is that which subsists according to energy. And this will be apparent from a survey of each particular. For there is one pleasure of a horse, another of a dog, and another of a man; and, as Heraclitus says, an ass would prefer straw to gold; because food is more delectable to asses than gold. The pleasures, therefore, of animals specifically different, are likewise specifically different, but it is reasonable to suppose that the pleasures of the same animals are without a specific difference. There is no small variety, however, in pleasures among men; for the same things are painful to some and pleasing to others; and to some, indeed, they are painful and odious, but to others delectable and lovely. This, likewise, happens to be the case in sweet things; for the same things do not appear sweet to a man in a fever, and to one who is well; nor does the same thing appear to be hot to him who is weak, and to him who is of a good habit of body. And in a similar manner this happens to be the case in other things. In all such things as these, however, that is simply delectable, which appears to be so to the worthy man. But if this is well said, as it appears that it is, and virtue is the measure of everything, and a good man so far as he is good, those things will be pleasures which appear to be so to the good man, and those things will be delectable in which he rejoices. It is, however, by no means wonderful, if things which appear to him to be of a troublesome nature, should to another person of a different character, appear to be delectable. For many corruptions and noxious circumstances happen to men; but these are not simply delectable, except to these persons, and to those who are thus disposed. With respect, therefore, to those pleasures which are acknowledged to be base, it is evident that they are not to be called pleasures, except by corrupt men. But with respect to those pleasures which appear to be worthy, what is the quality of the pleasure, or what shall we say the pleasure is, which is proper to men Or shall we say, that this is evident from energies? For pleasures are consequent to these. Whether, therefore, there is one energy, or whether there are many energies of the perfect and blessed man, the pleasures which give perfection to these, may be properly called the pleasures of man; but the remaining pleasures, in the same manner as the energies, may be denominated the pleasures of man secondarily and multifariously.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 6
Having therefore spoken concerning the virtues, and friendships, and pleasures, it remains that we should delineate happiness, since we admit that it is the end of human concerns. Hence, by recapitulating what we have before said, the discussion will be more concise. We have said, then, that happiness is not a habit; for if it were, it might be present with him who passes the whole of his life in sleep, living the life of a plant, and also with him who is involved in the greatest calamities. If, therefore, these things cannot be admitted, but happiness must rather be referred to a certain energy, as we have before observed, but of energies, some are necessary and eligible on account of other things, and others are eligible of themselves;–if this be the case, it is evident that happiness must be admitted to be some one of the energies which are of themselves eligible, and not one of those which are eligible on account of something else. For happiness is not indigent of anything, but is sufficient to itself. But those energies are eligible of themselves, from which nothing except the energy is the object of investigation. But the actions which are conformable to virtue, appear to be things of this kind; for to perform beautiful and worthy deeds is among the number of things which are of themselves eligible; and among diversions, this is also the case with those that are delectable; since they are not chosen on account of other things. For those who are addicted to them are rather injured than benefited, in consequence of neglecting their bodies and possessions. Many of those, however, who are said to be happy men, fly to diversions; on which account those who are versatile in such-like methods of spending their time are esteemed by tyrants. For they render themselves pleasing in those things which they desire; and they are in want of persons of this description. These things, therefore, appear to pertain to happiness, because men in authority and power are at leisure for these. Perhaps, however, persons of this description are no indication that these things pertain to happiness. For neither virtue, nor intellect, from which worthy energies proceed, consist in dominion and power. Nor, if these men, not having tasted of genuine and liberal pleasure, fly to corporeal pleasures, must it be supposed that on this account these pleasures are more eligible; for children also fancy that things which are honored by them, are the best of things. It is reasonable, therefore, to admit, that as different things appear to be honorable to children and men, so likewise to bad and worthy men. Hence, as we have frequently said, those things are honorable and delectable, which are so to the worthy man. But the energy to everyone is most eligible which is according to an appropriate habit; and to the worthy man the energy is most eligible which is according to virtue. Happiness, therefore, does not consist in diversions. For it is absurd to admit that diversion is the end, i.e., the chief good of man, and that the whole of life is to be busily employed, and molestations endured for the sake of indulging in sports; since, as I may say, we choose all things for the sake of something else, except happiness; for this is the end. But to act seriously, and to labor for the sake of diversion, appears to be foolish and very puerile. He, however, who engages in sports, in order that he may act seriously, which Anacharsis thought was proper, appears to be right; for diversion resembles repose. But as men are incapable of laboring incessantly, they require relaxation. Relaxation, however, is not an end; for it subsists for the sake of energy. But a happy life appears to be conformable to virtue; and this is a worthy life, and does not consist in amusements. We likewise say that serious pursuits are better than those that are ridiculous and accompanied with jesting and sport, and that the energy of the better part and the better man is always more worthy. But the energy of that which is better is more excellent, and more adapted to happiness. Any casual person, also, and a slave may enjoy corporeal pleasures no less than the best of men. No one, however, would ascribe happiness to a slave, unless they also ascribe to him a worthy life. For happiness does not consist in sports and corporeal pleasures, but in the energies according to virtue, as we have before observed.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 7
If, however, happiness is an energy according to virtue, it is reasonable to suppose that it is an energy according to the most excellent virtue; and this will be the virtue of the most excellent part or power. Whether, therefore, this be the intellect, or something else which appears to rule and be the leader by nature, and to have a conception of things beautiful and divine; or whether it is itself divine, or the most divine of all our parts – the energy of this, according to its proper virtue, will be perfect happiness. But we have said that this energy is contemplative. And this appears to accord with what we before asserted, and also with truth. For this energy is the most excellent; since intellect is the best of all our parts, and of objects of knowledge those are the most excellent about which intellect is conversant. This energy also is most continued: for we are able to contemplate more incessantly than to perform any action whatever. We likewise think that pleasure ought to be mingled with happiness; but the energy according to wisdom is acknowledged to be the most delectable of all the energies according to virtue. Wisdom, therefore, appears to possess pleasures admirable both for their purity and stability. It is reasonable also to think that those who possess knowledge, live more pleasantly than those who investigate. That, too, which is called self-sufficiency, will especially subsist about the contemplative energy. For of the necessaries of life, the wise and the just man, and the rest of those who possess the moral virtues, are in want; but even when they are sufficiently supplied with these, the just man is in want of those towards whom, and together with whom, he may act justly; and in like manner the temperate and the brave man, and each of the rest. But the wise man when alone is able to contemplate; and by how much the wiser he is, by so much the more does he possess this ability. Perhaps, indeed, he will contemplate better when he has others to co-operate with him; but at the same time he is most sufficient to himself. This energy alone, likewise, will appear to be beloved for its own sake, for nothing else is produced from it besides contemplation. But from things of a practical nature we obtain something more or less besides the action itself. Happiness also appears to consist in leisure: for we engage in business that we may be at leisure, and we wage war that we may live in peace. The energies therefore of the political virtues consist either in political or in military transactions; but the actions which are conversant with these appear to be full of employment. This indeed is perfectly the case with military transactions: for no one chooses to wage war, or prepare for it, for the sake of waging war; since he would appear to be perfectly a homicide who should make enemies of his friends for the sake of fighting and slaughter. The energy too of the politician is of a busy nature, and, besides the management of public affairs, is employed in procuring dominion and honor, or a happiness for himself and the citizens different from the political energy, which, also, as something different, we evidently investigate. If, therefore, political and military actions surpass in beauty and magnitude all other virtuous actions, but these are of a busy nature, aspire after a certain end, and are not eligible for their own sakes; but the energy of intellect, which is contemplative, appears to excel other energies in ardor, and to desire no other end besides itself; if also it possesses a proper pleasure, which increases its energy, and has, in addition to this, self-sufficiency, leisure, and unwearied power, so far as the condition of human nature will permit, with whatever else is attributed to the blessed, and appears to subsist according to this energy – if such be the case, this will be the perfect happiness of man, when it receives a perfect length of life: for nothing belonging to happiness is imperfect. Such a life, however, will be more excellent than that which is merely human; for man will not thus live so far as he is man, but so far as he contains in himself something divine. And as much as this part excels the composite, so much does its energy surpass the energy belonging to every other virtue. If, therefore, intellect is divine with respect to man, the life, also, according to intellect will be divine with respect to human life. Nor ought we, according to the exhortation of certain persons, to be wise in human affairs, since we are men, nor to regard mortal concerns, since we are mortal; but as much as possible we should immortalize ourselves, and do everything in order to live according to our most excellent part. For this part, though it is small in bulk, far excels all things in power and dignity. It would seem, also, that each of us is this part,’ since that which obtains dominion is also more excellent. It would therefore be absurd for a man not to choose his own life, but the life of something else. That too which was before asserted, accords with what is now said: for that which is intimately allied to any nature is most excellent and pleasant to that nature; and hence, a life according to intellect will be most excellent and pleasant to man, since this part is most eminently man. This life, therefore, is also most happy.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 8
But that happiness ranks in the second place which subsists according to another virtue; for the energies according to this virtue are human. For we act justly and bravely, and perform other things conformable to the virtues, towards each other, in contracts, in necessaries, in all-various actions, and in the passions, preserving to everyone that which is fit and decorous. All these things, however, appear to be human. Some things, likewise, appear to happen from the body, and the virtue of manners is in many instances conjoined, and rendered familiar with the passions. Prudence, also, is conjoined with the virtue of manners, and the virtue of manners with prudence; since the principles, indeed, of prudence subsist according to the ethical virtues, and the rectitude of the ethical virtues subsists according to prudence. These, however, are connected with the passions, and will subsist about the composite, or that which consists of soul and body. But the virtues of the composite are human. The life, therefore, and the happiness conformable to them, will also be human. The happiness, however, of intellect is separate; for thus much may be asserted concerning it;’ since to discuss it accurately is a greater undertaking than is adapted to the present treatise. It would also seem that this happiness requires but little of external supply, or less than ethical happiness. For let it be admitted that both require necessaries, and this equally; though the political character labors in a greater degree about the body and things of this kind since this is but of small consequence; yet it makes a great difference with respect to energies. For the liberal man will be in want of wealth, in order to perform liberal deeds, and also the just man, in order to make retributions. For the wills of men are immanifest, and those who are not just pretend they wish to act justly. But the brave man will be in want of power, in order to effect something conformable to the virtue of fortitude; and the temperate man will be in want of the means of acting temperately. For how will this man, or he who possesses any one of the other virtues, become manifest? It becomes, however, an object of inquiry, whether deliberate choice possesses greater authority in virtue, or whether it is possessed by actions, virtue subsisting in both these. It is evident, therefore, that the perfect will be in both. But many things are requisite to the perfection of actions; and in proportion as they are greater and more beautiful, a greater number of things are necessary. To him, however, who energizes according to theoretic virtue, there is no need of things of this kind so far as pertains to this energy, but, as I may say, they are impediments to his contemplation. Yet so far as he is a man, and lives with many others, he also chooses to perform actions conformable to virtue. He will therefore require external things in order that he may act like a man.
But that perfect happiness is a certain contemplative energy, may become apparent from hence, that we consider the gods to be especially blessed and happy. What kind of actions, however, is it fit to ascribe to them? Shall we say just actions? Or will they not appear ridiculous, if they form contracts and return deposits, and do other things of the like kind? Shall we say then that they are brave; sustaining things of a terrible nature, and encountering dangers because it is beautiful so to do? Or that they are liberal? But to whom will they give? It would, however, be absurd to suppose that there is money with them, or anything of this kind. And if they are temperate, what will this temperance be? Or is not the praise unapt which celebrates them as not having depraved desires: But if we should enumerate everything pertaining to actions, it would appear to be small and unworthy of the gods. All men, however, acknowledge that they live; and therefore that they energize; for it must not be supposed that they pass their life in sleep like Endymion. Hence, if action is taken away from that which lives, and in a still greater degree production, what remains except contemplation? So that the energy of God, since it excels in blessedness, will be contemplative. And of human energies, therefore, that which is most allied to this energy of God, will be most adapted to procure happiness. But as an indication of the truth of this, other animals which are perfectly deprived of an energy of this kind, do not partake of happiness. For the whole life of the gods is indeed blessed; but that of men is blessed so far as they possess a certain similitude of such an energy as this. Of other animals, however, no one is happy, because they do not in any respect participate of contemplation. As far, therefore, as contemplation extends itself, so far also is happiness extended; and the happiness of those beings is greater, in whom there is more of the contemplative energy; and this not from accident, but according to contemplation; for this is of itself honorable. Hence, happiness will be a certain contemplation.
External prosperity, however, will be requisite to him who energizes according to theoretic virtue, since he is a man; for human nature is not sufficient to itself for the purposes of contemplation; but it is also requisite that the body should be well, and that it should be supplied with food, and other necessaries. It must not, however, be supposed, that because it is not possible for a man to be blessed without external goods, the happy man will therefore require many of these, and such as are great; for neither a condition of being sufficient to itself, nor judgment, nor action, consists in an excess of external goods. But it is possible for those who have no dominion over the earth and sea to perform beautiful deeds; since a man, from moderate possessions, may be able to act according to virtue. The truth of this, however, may be clearly seen; for private persons appear to act no less equitably, but even more so than potentates. But moderate possessions are sufficient for this purpose; for the life of him will be happy who energizes according to virtue. And Solon perhaps well defined those who are happy, by saying, that they are such as are moderately furnished with external possessions, and who perform the most beautiful actions, and live temperately; since it is possible for those whose possessions are but moderate, to do those things which ought to be done. Anaxagoras likewise appears to have thought that the happy man was neither the rich man nor the potentate, when he says, “that it would not be at all wonderful, if I should be considered by the multitude as an absurd and miserable man.” For the multitude judge from external circumstances, having a sensible perception of these alone. The opinions, also, of the wise seem to accord with these assertions. Things of this kind, therefore, are attended with a certain credibility. A judgment, however, is to be formed of the truth in practical affairs from deeds and the life; for in these that which possesses principal authority consists. Hence, it is requisite to consider what has been before said, by referring it to deeds and the life of a man. And when the assertions accord with deeds, they are to be admitted; but when they are dissonant, they are to be considered as nothing but words. But the man who energizes according to intellect, who cultivates this, and is mentally disposed in the best manner, is also, it would seem, most dear to divinity. For if any attention is paid by the gods to human affairs, as it appears there is, it is also reasonable to suppose that they will be delighted with that which is most excellent, and most allied to themselves; but this is intellect; and likewise that they will remunerate those who especially love and honor this, as taking care of that which is dear to themselves, and acting rightly and well. It is, however, not immanifest, that all these things are especially present with the wise man. Hence, he is most dear to divinity. It is also probable that the same man is most happy. So that thus, also, the wise man will be especially happy.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book X, Chapter 9
Are we therefore to think, that if these things and the virtues, and likewise friendship and pleasure, have been sufficiently delineated, our purpose is completely effected Or shall we say, as has been before observed, that the end in practical affairs is not to survey and know each particular, but rather to perform it? Neither, therefore, is it sufficient in virtue to know it, but there should also be an endeavor to possess and use it; or in some other way must we strive to become good men. If, therefore, words were sufficient of themselves to make men worthy, they ought justly, as Theognis says, to be valued at a great price, and it would be necessary to procure them. Now, however, they appear to be sufficiently powerful to exhort and excite liberal young men, and to make those whose manners are noble, and who are truly lovers of beautiful conduct, obedient to virtue; but they are incapable of exhorting the multitude to probity. For the multitude are not naturally adapted to be obedient from shame, but from fear; nor to abstain from bad conduct through the disgrace with which it is attended, but through punishment. For, living from passion, they pursue their pleasures, and those things through which they may be procured; but they avoid the pains opposed to these. They have not, however, any conception of that which is beautiful in conduct, and truly delectable, in consequence of not having tasted of it. What discourse, therefore, can dispose such men to orderly conduct? For it is not possible, or at least it is not easy, to obliterate by words, things which have been for a long time impressed in the manners. But perhaps we must be satisfied, if everything being present with us, through which we are accustomed to become worthy, we may be able to partake of virtue.
Some, however, are of opinion that men become good from nature, others that they become good from custom, and others from doctrine. As to goodness from nature, therefore, it is evident that this is not in our power, but that it is inherent in those who are truly fortunate, through a certain divine cause. But it must be considered whether it is not true, that words and precepts are not accompanied with power towards all men, but it is requisite that the soul of the auditor should have been previously excited by manners, to rejoice and hate properly, like land which is intended to nourish seed. For he who lives under the influence of passion, will not attend to the reasoning which dissuades him from such a life. How, therefore, is it possible to induce one who is so disposed, to alter his mode of conduct? In short, passion does not appear to yield to reason, but to violence. Hence, it is necessary, that manners should pre-exist, in a certain respect appropriate to virtue, in order that their possessor may love what is beautiful, and be indignant with what is disgraceful in conduct. To obtain, however, a right education for virtue, from our youth, is difficult, without being nurtured by laws which enforce the offices of virtue. For to live temperately and accustomed to endurance, is not pleasing to the multitude, and especially to youth. Hence, it is necessary that education, studies and pursuits, should be ordained by laws; for by custom they will cease to be painful. But perhaps it is not sufficient for youth to obtain a right education, and to have proper attention paid to them, but it is also necessary, when they have arrived at the perfection of manhood, that they should study and be accustomed to these things; and in these we shall likewise require the assistance of the laws; and in short, through the whole of life. For the multitude are more obedient to necessity than to reason, and to punishment than to the beautiful in conduct. Hence, some persons are of opinion that legislators ought indeed to excite men to virtue, and exhort them to it for the sake of the beautiful in conduct, because worthy men will precedaneously from their manners obey their exhortations; but that castigations and punishments should be inflicted on those who disobey them, and who are naturally more unapt; and that the incurable should be entirely exterminated from the community. For, say they, the worthy man, and he who lives with a view to the beautiful in conduct, will be obedient to reason; but the bad man who aspires after plea-sure, is to be punished by pain, like a beast of burden. Hence, they add, it is necessary that such pains should be employed, as are especially contrary to the pleasures which they embrace.
If, therefore, as we have said, it is requisite that he who is to be a good man should be well educated, and accustomed to virtuous conduct, and afterwards should thus live in worthy studies and pursuits, and neither unwillingly nor willingly perform base deeds; and if these things may happen to those who live conformably to a certain intellect and right order, possessing power and strength;-if this be the case, the paternal mandate, indeed, is neither accompanied with strength nor necessity, nor in short the mandate of one man, unless he is a king, or a person endued with a similar, authority; but the law possesses a necessarily compelling power, being a mandate proceeding from a certain prudence and intellect. And those, indeed, who are adverse to the impulses of depraved men, though they are right in so doing, are hated by the multitude. Law, however, when it ordains what is equitable, is not attended with molestation. But in the city of the Lacedaemonians alone, the legislator appears to have paid attention to education and studies, or pursuits; while in most cities things of this kind are neglected, and every one, after the manner of the Cyclops, lives as he pleases.
By these no statutes and no rights are known,
No council held, no monarch fills the throne;
But high on hills or airy cliffs they dwell,
Or deep in caves whose entrance leads to hell.
Each rules his race, his neighbor not his care,
Heedless of others, to his own severe.
It is best, therefore, that a common and right attention should be paid to the citizens, and that there should be an ability of effecting this. But if these things are neglected in common, it would seem to be fit that everyone should contribute to the promotion of his children and friends in virtue, or should pre-determine to do so. From what has been said, however, it would seem that this may especially be effected by him who possesses the power of a legislator. For attentions to the general welfare are effected through the laws; but equitable attentions are accomplished through worthy men. It does not, however, seem to make any difference, whether the laws are written or unwritten, nor whether one person or many are disciplined by them, as neither does it make any difference in music, and gymnastic and other disciplines. For as in cities legal institutions and manners are efficacious, so in families paternal mandates and manners; and they are still more efficacious on account of alliance, and the benefits conferred by parents on their children. For children previous to these mandates loved their parents, and are naturally disposed to be obedient to them. Farther still, private differs from public education, in the same manner as in medicine particular differ from universal prescriptions. For universally, indeed, abstinence and quiet are advantageous to one who has a fever; but to this particular person perhaps they are not. And he who is a master in the pugilistic art will not perhaps enjoin the same mode of fighting to all his pupils. It would seem, however, that particulars will be more accurately managed, when private attention is paid to them; for then each individual will in a greater degree obtain that which is adapted to him. But the physician, the master of gymnastic exercises, and every other artist, will in the best manner pay attention to an individual, if they know universally what is beneficial to all persons, or to persons of a certain description; for sciences are said to be, and are in reality, of that which is common. Nothing, however, perhaps hinders but that a man may pay attention to one certain thing in a proper manner, though he is destitute of science, while he accurately surveys from experience what happens to each particular thing, just as some persons appear to be most excellent physicians to themselves, but are unable to give medical assistance to another person. Perhaps, however, it would seem notwithstanding this to be no less requisite for him who wishes to become an artist and to be theoretic, to proceed to that which is universal, and to know this as far as it can be known; for we have already observed, that sciences are conversant with this. Perhaps also it is requisite, that he who wishes to make others better by the attention which he pays to them, whether they be many or few, should endeavor to become skilled in legislation, if we can be rendered good men through the laws. Hence, it is not the province of any casual person to render some man, or one committed to his care, fitly disposed to become virtuous, but if it belongs to anyone to effect this, it is the province of the man of science; just as in medicine, and the other arts, to which a certain attention and prudence pertain. Is it requisite, therefore, after this to consider whence or how a man may acquire a legislative skill? Or, as in other arts, is this to be learned from those who are conversant with the management of public affairs? For this appears to be a part of the political science. Or shall we say that a similar thing does not seem to take place in the political science, and the other sciences and powers? For in the others, the same persons are seen to impart the powers, and to energize from them; as is evident in physicians and painters. But the sophists profess indeed to teach politics, yet no one of them acts in a political capacity. And it would seem that those who are engaged in the management of public affairs, do this by a certain power and experience, rather than by the exercise of the reasoning faculty. For they do not appear either to write or speak about things of this kind, though perhaps this would be better than to compose forensic or popular orations; nor again, is it seen that they have made either their own children political characters, or some other children of their friends. It is reasonable, however, to suppose that they would have done this, if they had been able; for neither could they have left anything better to cities, nor could they have deliberately chosen anything more excellent than this power, either for themselves, or their dearest friends. Nevertheless experience appears to contribute in no small degree to the management of public affairs; for otherwise men would not become more political through being accustomed to political affairs. Hence, experience seems to be necessary to those who desire to be skilled in the political science. Those sophists, however, who profess to teach the political science, appear to be very far from possessing this ability; for, in short, they neither know what kind of a thing it is, nor what the things are with which it is conversant. For if they did, they would not suppose it to be the same with the rhetorical art, or inferior to it; nor would they think it is easy for him to act the part of a legislator, who has collected the most celebrated and approved laws; since they say that the best laws are to be selected, just as if the selection did not require intelligence, or as if to judge rightly was not one of the greatest of things, in the same manner as in what pertains to music. For skillful men judge rightly respecting the works in which they are skilled, and understand through what means, or in what manner they may be accomplished, and what the appropriate adaptations of them are; but to the unskillful it is sufficient not to be ignorant, whether a work is well or ill done, in the same manner as in the painter’s art. Laws, however, resemble political works. How, therefore, can anyone be adapted to become a legislator from these, or to judge which of them are the best? For neither does it appear that men become skilled in medicine, by reading medical books; though these books not only endeavor to point out the cures, but likewise the remedies which are to be applied, and the methods of cure, distinguishing also the habits of each person. It seems, however, that these things are beneficial to skillful persons, but useless to the unscientific. Perhaps, therefore, collections of laws and politics may be useful to those who are able to survey and judge what is well established or the contrary, and what the appropriate adaptations are in these; but those who discuss things of this kind without the political habit, will never be able to judge well, except from chance; though perhaps they will become more intelligent in these particulars. Since, therefore, the politicians prior to us have omitted to investigate legislation, it will perhaps be better for us to consider it more attentively, and in short to discuss a polity universally, in order that the philosophy which pertains to human affairs may as much as possible be brought to perfection. In the first place, therefore, if anything has been well said by the ancients on this subject, we shall endeavor to relate it. In the next place, from the collections which have been made of polities, we shall endeavor to survey what the nature is of the things which preserve and corrupt cities and the several polities, and from what causes some of them are well but others ill governed. For these things being surveyed, perhaps we shall be able in a greater degree to perceive what kind of polity is the best; how each is to be arranged, and what laws and manners it should use. We shall begin, therefore, the discussion of politics.
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