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Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

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

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Book I

“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….” (Nicomachean Ethics, Book I)

Book II

“Since, however, virtue is twofold, one kind being dianoëtic, but the other ethic; the dianoëtic, 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…” (Nicomachean Ethics, Book II)

Book III

“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…” (Nicomachean Ethics, Book III)

Book IV

“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…” (Nicomachean Ethics, Book IV)

Book V

“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 practise just things, (or are inclined to the works of justice, I and through which we act justly, and wish what is just…” (Nicomachean Ethics, Book V)

Book VI

Book VII


Book IX

Book X

A full PDF edition of this book is available here.