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Chapter 1

Nicomachean Ethics, Book I, Chapter 1, by Aristotle (384-322 BC)  Translated by Thomas Taylor (1758-1835)

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, howeever, 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 abovementioned sciences.

Study this reading in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy’s Classical Ethics course.