This is a rather difficult read. Not because of the language, this translation
seemed very easy to read, but because of how much you are forced to considered
much of what is said. The most basic of human traits, that everyone will be
familiar with, are discussed in great detail. It reminds me of the old saying
along the lines of "an unexamined life is a life not worth living." This work
will help examine a life. Even still, it should not be taken as gospel but as a
starting point and a feast for thought.
// designates my notes.
// Political science dictates all other
// The "end" is good for one man, but "godlike" for a
// precision is relative
for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of
things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning
from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific
// Youth follows passion not knowledge, for action not
political science aims at and what is the highest of all goods achievable by
there is a difference between arguments from and those to the first
principles. For Plato, too, was right in raising this question and asking, as
he used to do, 'are we on the way from or to the first principles?'
- // Three types of lives:
- Political (seeking honor)
the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a
life suitable to beasts, but they get some ground for their view from the
fact that many of those in high places share the tastes of Sardanapallus.
possession of virtue seems actually compatible with being asleep, or with
lifelong inactivity, and, further, with the greatest sufferings and
The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is
evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake
of something else.
Yet it would perhaps be thought to be better, indeed to be our duty, for the
sake of maintaining the truth even to destroy what
touches us closely, especially as we are philosophers or lovers of
wisdom; for, while both are dear, piety requires us to
honour truth above our friends.
since 'good' has as many senses as 'being' (for it is predicated both in the
category of substance, as of God and of reason, and in quality, i.e. of the
virtues, and in quantity, i.e. of that which is moderate, and in relation, i.e.
of the useful, and in time, i.e. of the right opportunity, and in place, i.e.
of the right locality and the like), clearly it cannot be something universally
present in all cases and single; for then it could not have been predicated in
all the categories but in one only.
// No conclusion to what is universal good.
// Should we even care about a :good itself"? How would
this benefit anyone? Even a doctor studies the health of men, not "health
// Things done for their ends are not as final as things
done for their own sake
// Happiness is done for itself, where as other things,
like wealth, are done for their sake plus happiness.
of goods the greater is always more desirable.
// Function of man? A lyre and a lyre player, function to
play and well
if this is the case, and we state the function of man to be a certain kind
of life, and this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a rational
if this is the case, human good turns out to be activity of soul in
accordance with virtue
// Rough outline of the good
And we must also remember what has been said before, and not look for
precision in all things alike, but in each class of
things such precision as accords with the subject-matter, and so much as
is appropriate to the inquiry. For a carpenter and a
geometer investigate the right angle in different ways; the former does
so in so far as the right angle is useful for his work, while the latter inquires what it is or what sort of thing it is;
for he is a spectator of the truth. We must act in the same way, then,
in all other matters as well, that our main task may not be subordinated to
// State the first
principles carefully as what follows is influenced greatly.
For the beginning is thought to be more than half of the whole
those who act win
Happiness then is the best, noblest, and most pleasant thing in the world,
and these attributes are not severed as in the inscription at Delos --
Most noble is that which is justest, and best is health;
But pleasantest is it to win what we love.
For all these properties belong to the best activities;
and these, or one -- the best -- of these, we identify with happiness.
// Is happiness in justice, health, AND love? or OR?
// To have happiness is often predicated on access to instruments such as
friends, riches, and political influence.
// Learned or trained happiness?
// Reiterates that political science is the "best end".
// Animals can not be happy b/c they don't take part in thinks like politics.
In the same way children can not be happy b/c they are "not capable of such
// One who lives happily, but meets a misfortune in old age is not called
virtuous activities or their opposites are what constitute happiness or the
// One who engages in virtuous action will always be happy.
If activities are, as we said, what gives life its
character, no happy man can become miserable; for he will never do the acts
that are hateful and mean. For the man who is truly good and wise, we
think, bears all the chances life becomingly and always makes the best of
circumstances, as a good general makes the best military use of the army at his
command and a good shoemaker makes the best shoes out of the hides that are
given him; and so with all other craftsmen.
- //"Blessedness" ~= happiness + success
- Praise is for strong men, skilled artisans, etc. Pleasure is not praised, it
is prized. Likewise for happiness.
The true student of politics, too, is thought to have studied virtue above
all things; for he wishes to make his fellow citizens good and obedient to
politics is more prized and better than medicine
The student of politics, then, must study the soul
while goodness and badness are least manifest in sleep (whence comes the
saying that the happy are not better off than the wretched for half their
// Half their lives? Only a saying or did they sleep longer?
the impulses of incontinent people move in contrary directions.
in the continent man it obeys the rational principle and presumably in the
temperate and brave man it is still more obedient; for in him it speaks, on
all matters, with the same voice as the rational principle.
// Both of these impulses (ir/rational) are present in most mens' bodies, and
presumably their souls.
// 2 kinds of morals: intellectual (from teaching) and moral (from habit).
// Men become by doing. A builder is so because they build. Brave by being
brave. You get the good and bad from this doing. A bad lyre player is still a
...legislators make the citizens good by forming
habits in them...
It makes no small difference, then, whether we form
habits of one kind or of another from our very youth; it makes a very
great difference, or rather all the difference.
for to gain light on things imperceptible we must use the evidence of
// Excess and neglect both destroy, a middle path best. Not a coward or rash,
but brave. So to for other virtues.
For moral excellence is concerned with pleasures and pains; it is on account
of the pleasure that we do bad things, and on account of the pain that we
abstain from noble ones. Hence we ought to have been brought up in a particular way from our very youth, as
Plato says, so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we
ought; for this is the right education.
virtue and vice are concerned with these same things.
the noble, the advantageous, the pleasant, and their contraries, the base,
the injurious, the painful, about all of these the good man tends to go right
and the bad man to go wrong,
it is harder to fight with pleasure than with anger, to use Heraclitus'
phrase', but both art and virtue are always concerned with what is harder
// it is virtuous to take pleasure in fighting?
// One becomes just or temperate by being just or temperate.
But most people do not do these, but take refuge in theory and think they are
being philosophers and will become good in this way, behaving somewhat like
patients who listen attentively to their doctors, but do none of the things
they are ordered to do. As the latter will not be made well in body by such a
course of treatment, the former will not be made well in soul by such a course
Again, we feel anger and fear without choice, but the virtues are modes of
choice or involve choice. Further, in respect of the passions we are said to
be moved, but in respect of the virtues and the vices we are said not to be
moved but to be disposed in a particular way.
If, then, the virtues are neither passions nor faculties, all that remains is
that they should be states of character.
// Avoid relative excesses and scarcity. A wrestler needs to eat more than a
scribe, but both can eat too much or little.
Now virtue is concerned with passions and actions, in which excess is a form
of failure, and so is defect, while the intermediate is praised and is a form
of success; and being praised and being successful are both characteristics of
virtue. Therefore virtue is a kind of mean, since, as we have seen, it aims at
what is intermediate.
excess and defect are characteristic of vice, and the
mean of virtue;
// Some things, like theft, are bad in and of themselves, not their
the man who exceeds in his desires is called ambitious, the man who falls
short unambitious, while the intermediate person has no name.
// Many of the means or extremes have no name.
- For the brave man appears rash relatively to the coward, and cowardly
relatively to the rash man
Hence he who aims at the intermediate must first depart from what is the more
contrary to it
For of the extremes one is more erroneous, one less
so; therefore, since to hit the mean is hard in the extreme, we must as a
second best, as people say, take the least of the evils
for if we dismiss pleasure thus we are less likely to go astray. It is by
doing this, then, (to sum the matter up) that we shall best be able to hit
the decision rests with perception
Everything that is done by reason of ignorance is not voluntary; it is only
what produces pain and repentance that is involuntary. For the man who has
done something owing to ignorance, and feels not the least vexation at his
action, has not acted voluntarily, since he did not know what he was doing, nor
yet involuntarily, since he is not pained. Of people, then, who act by reason
of ignorance he who repents is thought an involuntary agent, and the man who
does not repent may, since he is different, be called a not voluntary agent;
for, since he differs from the other, it is better that he should have a name
of his own.
Perhaps it is just as well, therefore, to determine their nature and number.
A man may be ignorant, then, of who he is, what he is doing, what or whom he
is acting on, and sometimes also what (e.g. what instrument) he is doing it
with, and to what end (e.g. he may think his act will conduce to some one's
safety), and how he is doing it (e.g. whether gently or violently). Now of all
of these no one could be ignorant unless he were mad, and evidently also he
could not be ignorant of the agent; for how could he not know himself?
Again, what is the difference in respect of involuntariness between errors
committed upon calculation and those committed in anger? Both are to be
avoided, but the irrational passions are thought not less human than reason is,
and therefore also the actions which proceed from anger or appetite are the
// Choice is not opinion.
[Choice] seems to be voluntary, but not all that is voluntary to be an object
Now about eternal things no one deliberates, e.g. about the material universe
or the incommensurability of the diagonal and the side of a square. But no
more do we deliberate about the things that involve movement but always happen
in the same way, whether of necessity or by nature or from any other cause,
e.g. the solstices and the risings of the stars; nor about things that happen
now in one way, now in another, e.g. droughts and rains; nor about chance
events, like the finding of treasure. But we do not deliberate even about all
human affairs; for instance, no Spartan deliberates about the best constitution
for the Scythians. For none of these things can be brought about by our own
We deliberate not about ends but about means. For a doctor does not
deliberate whether he shall heal ... They assume the end and consider how and
by what means it is to be attained
It seems, then, as has been said, that man is a moving principle of actions;
now deliberation is about the things to be done by the agent himself, and
actions are for the sake of things other than themselves.
For the end cannot be a subject of deliberation, but only the means
If we are to be always deliberating, we shall have to
go on to infinity.
- Wishes are for ends, not good or apparent good.
- We reply that if each man is somehow responsible for his state of mind, he
will also be himself somehow responsible for the appearance; but if not, no
one is responsible for his own evildoing, but every one does evil acts through
ignorance of the end, thinking that by these he will get what is best, and the
aiming at the end is not self-chosen but one must be born with an eye, as it
were, by which to judge rightly and choose what is truly good, and he is well
endowed by nature who is well endowed with this. For it is what is greatest and
most noble, and what we cannot get or learn from another, but must have just
such as it was when given us at birth, and to be well and nobly endowed with
this will be perfect and true excellence of natural endowment.
- Properly, then, he will be called brave who is fearless in face of a noble
What is terrible is not the same for all men; but we say there are things
terrible even beyond human strength. These, then, are terrible to every one
The man, then, who faces and who fears the right things and from the right
motive, in the right way and from the right time, and who feels confidence
under the corresponding conditions, is brave; for the brave man feels and acts
according to the merits of the case and in whatever way the rule directs.
courage is a mean with respect to things that inspire confidence or fear
First comes the courage of the citizen-soldier; for this is most like
Experience with regard to particular facts is also thought to be courage;
this is indeed the reason why Socrates thought courage was knowledge.
Passion also is sometimes reckoned as courage; those who act from passion,
like wild beasts rushing at those who have wounded them (Those creatures are
not brave, then, which are driven on to danger by pain or passion.)
Nor are sanguine people brave; for they are confident in danger only because
they have conquered often and against many foes.
People who are ignorant of the danger also appear brave, and they are not
far removed from those of a sanguine temper, but are inferior inasmuch as they
have no self-reliance while these have.
- It is for facing what is painful, then, as has been said, that men are called
- // Temperance deals with physical self-indulgence in an animalistic fashion.
Plainly, then, excess with regard to pleasures is self-indulgence and is
// Temperance is when excess pains are not endured from a lack of pleasures.
Self-indulgence is more like a voluntary state than cowardice.
for that which desires what is base and which develops quickly ought to be
kept in a chastened condition, and these characteristics belong above all to
appetite and to the child, since children in fact live at the beck and call of
this is what we call an obedient and chastened state -- and as the child
should live according to the direction of his tutor,
// Liberality is the "proper" giving and taking of money. Too much or the
wrong kind of giving tends to prodigality while too little or the wrong kind
of giving leads to meanness.
// Meanness is worse than prodigality, for the prodigal may one day temper
- // Magnificent men are liberal, but not necessarily vice-versa. Basically the
same as liberal spending, ie the right way, but on a larger scale.
for he [the proud man] claims what is accordance with his merits, while the
others go to excess or fall short.
// The extremes of pride are undue humility and vanity.
Pride, then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues; for it makes them
greater, and it is not found without them.
- // Honor, like anything else, can be sought too much or too little. The
extremes are ambitious and unambitious; there is on name for the middle
- // Temper can be correct, or wrong in a number of ways: timing, length, etc.
The middle is the most praiseworthy, but men that stray towards excess or
defect are often also praised.
// Don't be obsequious or contentious, give pain or pleasure as is determined
by the circumstances. This is similar to friendship without affection.
For the sake of a great future pleasure, too, he will inflict small pains.
The boastful man, then, is thought to be apt to claim the things that bring
glory, when he has not got them, or to claim more of them than he has, and
the mock-modest man on the other hand to disclaim what he has or belittle it,
while the man who observes the mean is one who calls a
thing by its own name, being truthful both in life and in word, owning to what
he has, and neither more nor less.
For the man who loves truth, and is truthful where nothing is at stake, will
still more be truthful where something is at stake; he will avoid falsehood
as something base
// The people you speak to and listen to will affect you.
// Surrounding the mean of ready-witted are the buffoon and the boor, each
owing to too much or too little jesting.
// Shame is not a virtue.
// Youth, that are guided by emotion, are "praised" for feeling shame when
they err. Good adults are expected to not partake in such activities that
would cause shame in the first place.
Since the lawless man was seen to be unjust and the law-abiding man just,
evidently all lawful acts are in a sense just acts; for the acts laid down by
the legislative art are lawful, and each of these, we say, is just.
Now the laws in their enactments on all subjects aim at the common advantage
either of all or of the best or of those who hold power, or something of the
sort; so that in one sense we call those acts just that
tend to produce and preserve happiness and its components for the political
therefore justice is often thought to be the greatest of virtues, and
'neither evening nor morning star' is so wonderful; and proverbially 'in
justice is every virtue comprehended'.
// Justice allows one to exercise virtue on other people.
the best man is not he who exercises his virtue towards himself but he who
exercises it towards another
all other unjust acts are ascribed invariably to some particular kind of
wickedness, e.g. adultery to self-indulgence, the desertion of a comrade in
battle to cowardice, physical violence to anger; but if a man makes gain, his
action is ascribed to no form of wickedness but injustice.
for practically the majority of the acts commanded by the law are those which
are prescribed from the point of view of virtue taken as a whole; for the law
bids us practise every virtue and forbids us to practise any vice.
this is the origin of quarrels and complaints -- when either equals have and
are awarded unequal shares, or unequals equal shares. Further, this is plain
from the fact that awards should be 'according to merit'; for all men agree
that what is just in distribution must be according to merit in some sense,
though they do not all specify the same sort of merit, but democrats identify it with the status of freeman, supporters
of oligarchy with wealth (or with noble birth), and supporters of aristocracy
The just, then, is a species of the proportionate (proportion being not a
property only of the kind of number which consists of abstract units, but of
number in general). For proportion is equality of ratios, and involves four
terms at least
This, then, is what the just is -- the proportional; the unjust is what
violates the proportion. Hence one term becomes too great, the other too
- corrective justice will be the intermediate between
loss and gain. This is why, when people dispute, they take refuge in
the judge; and to go to the judge is to go to justice; for the nature of the
judge is to be a sort of animate justice; and they seek the judge as an
It is for this end that money has been introduced, and it becomes in a sense
an intermediate; for it measures all things, and therefore the excess and the
defect -- how many shoes are equal to a house or to a given amount of food.
All goods must therefore be measured by some one
thing, as we said before. Now this unit is in truth demand, which holds all
things together (for if men did not need one another's goods at all, or did not
need them equally, there would be either no exchange or not the same exchange);
but money has become by convention a sort of representative of demand; and this
is why it has the name 'money' (nomisma) -- because it exists not by nature but
by law (nomos) and it is in our power to change it and make it useless.
That demand holds things together as a single unit is shown by the fact that
when men do not need one another, i.e. when neither needs the other or one
does not need the other, they do not exchange
Now the same thing happens to money itself as to goods -- it is not always
worth the same; yet it tends to be steadier.
There must, then, be a unit, and that fixed by agreement (for which reason it
is called money); for it is this that makes all things commensurate, since all things are measured by money.
it is plain that just action is intermediate between acting unjustly and
being unjustly treated; for the one is to have too much and the other to have
too little. Justice is a kind of mean, but not in the same way as the other
virtues, but because it relates to an intermediate amount, while injustice
relates to the extremes.
one who will distribute either between himself and another or between two
others not so as to give more of what is desirable to himself and less to his
neighbour (and conversely with what is harmful), but so as to give what is
equal in accordance with proportion; and similarly in distributing between two
// A man may commit an unjust act without being an unjust man. Similarly with
a just man.
// Magistrates, not tyrants, can equitably assign rewards and punishments in
the name of the law.
- // Political justice is a combination of natural justice and legal justice.
Whether an act is or is not one of injustice (or of justice) is determined by
its voluntariness or involuntariness
Therefore that which is done in ignorance, or though not done in ignorance is
not in the agent's power, or is done under compulsion, is involuntary
(1) the injury takes place contrary to reasonable expectation, it is a
misadventure. When (2) it is not contrary to reasonable expectation, but does
not imply vice, it is a mistake (for a man makes a mistake when the fault
originates in him, but is the victim of accident when the origin lies outside
him). When (3) he acts with knowledge but not after deliberation, it is an act
of injustice ... but this does not imply that the doers are unjust or wicked;
for the injury is not due to vice. But when (4) a man acts from choice, he is
an unjust man and a vicious man
Hence acts proceeding from anger are rightly judged not to be done of malice
aforethought; for it is not the man who acts in anger
but he who enraged him that starts the mischief.
// Men think being just is easy, but to know how and how much to appropriate,
wealth, honor, etc, "is no less an achievement than that of being a
just as to practise medicine and healing consists not in applying or not
applying the knife, in using or not using medicines, but in doing so in a
- And this is the nature of the equitable, a correction of law where it is
defective owing to its universality. In fact this is the reason why all
things are not determined by law, that about some things it is impossible to
lay down a law, so that a decree is needed.
e.g. the law does not expressly permit suicide, and what it does not expressly
permit it forbids.
he who through anger voluntarily stabs himself does this contrary to the
right rule of life, and this the law does not allow; therefore he is acting
unjustly. But towards whom? Surely towards the state, not towards himself. For
he suffers voluntarily, but no one is voluntarily treated unjustly. This is also the reason why the state punishes; a certain
loss of civil rights attaches to the man who destroys himself, on the ground
that he is treating the state unjustly.
We said before that there are two parts of the soul -- that which grasps a
rule or rational principle, and the irrational; let us now draw a similar
distinction within the part which grasps a rational principle.
And let it be assumed that there are two parts which grasp a rational
principle -- one by which we contemplate the kind of things whose originative
causes are invariable, and one by which we contemplate variable things
Now there are three things in the soul which control
action and truth -- sensation, reason, desire.
of the intellect which is contemplative, not practical nor productive, the
good and the bad state are truth and falsity
respectively (for this is the work of everything intellectual)
The origin of action -- its efficient, not its final
cause -- is choice, and that of choice is desire and reasoning with a
view to an end. This is why choice cannot exist either
without reason and intellect or without a moral state
// We don't deliberate about the past because:
hence Agathon is right in saying: For this alone is lacking even to God, To
make undone things that have once been done.
The work of both the intellectual parts, then, is truth.
Let it be assumed that the states by virtue of which the soul possesses truth
by way of affirmation or denial are five in number, i.e. art, scientific
knowledge, practical wisdom, philosophic wisdom, intuitive reason
// In accordance with scientific knowledge: "We all
suppose that what we know is not even capable of being otherwise". Seems very incorrect, I COULD be wrong about anything.
all teaching starts from what is already known
induction is the starting-point which knowledge even
of the universal presupposes
Scientific knowledge is, then, a state of capacity to demonstrate
- Making and acting being different, art must be a matter of making, not of
acting. And in a sense chance and art are concerned with the same objects; as
Agathon says, 'art loves chance and chance loves art'. Art, then, as has been
is a state concerned with making, involving a true course of reasoning
- Practical wisdom, then, must be a reasoned and true state of capacity to act
with regard to human goods.
Scientific knowledge is judgement about things that are universal and
necessary, and the conclusions of demonstration, and
all scientific knowledge, follow from first principles
it is intuitive reason that grasps the first principles.
Therefore wisdom must plainly be the most finished of the forms of
Therefore wisdom must be intuitive reason combined with scientific knowledge
philosophic wisdom is scientific knowledge, combined with intuitive reason,
of the things that are highest by nature. This is why we say Anaxagoras,
Thales, and men like them have philosophic but not practical wisdom, when we
see them ignorant of what is to their own advantage, and why we say that they
know things that are remarkable, admirable, difficult, and divine, but useless;
viz. because it is not human goods that they seek.
Practical wisdom on the other hand is concerned with things human and things
about which it is possible to deliberate
- the man who knows and concerns himself with his own interests is thought to
have practical wisdom, while politicians are thought to be busybodies
- excellence in deliberation, which is rightness with regard to the expedient
-- rightness in respect both of the end, the manner, and the time.
Hence it [understanding] is about the same objects as practical wisdom; but
understanding and practical wisdom are not the same. For practical wisdom
issues commands, since its end is what ought to be done or not to be done; but
understanding only judges.
- // Good understanding comes from from the application of the word to the grasping of
scientific truth; for we often call such grasping understanding.
judgement', is the right discrimination of the equitable.
// The other states, such as understanding or practical
wisdom, are converged into the same person and seen as the ability to utilize
good or sympathetic judgement. This requires practical wisdom (etc) to be
understood before it can be judged.
// You can be born with this natural quality. You do not
learn it as one learns mathematics or philosophy.
// Practical wisdom doesn't help us act noble and good, in
such the same way that knowledge of medicine does not produce health.
Therefore it is evident that it is impossible to be practically wise without
// virtues are present from birth, but children and brutes
have no idea of how to use them. Only when man acquires reason can strict
virtue be had and acted upon.
it is not possible to be good in the strict sense without practical wisdom,
nor practically wise without moral virtue.
Let us now make a fresh beginning and point out that of moral states to be
avoided there are three kinds -- vice, incontinence, brutishness.
Now (1) both continence and endurance are thought to be included among things
good and praiseworthy, and both incontinence and softness
among things bad and blameworthy; and the same man is thought to be
continent and ready to abide by the result of his calculations, or incontinent
and ready to abandon them.
// Socrates thinks there is no incontinence, that men
act in such a way out of ignorance. Others think those without knowledge act on
There is an argument from which it follows that folly coupled with
incontinence is virtue; for a man does the opposite of what he judges, owing
to incontinence, but judges what is good to be evil and something that he
should not do, and consequence he will do what is good and not what is evil.
- It is plain, then, that incontinent people must be said to be in a similar
condition to men asleep, mad, or drunk.
- I mean (A) the brutish states, as in the case of the female who, they say,
rips open pregnant women and devours the infants,
or of the things in which some of the tribes about the Black Sea that have gone
savage are said to delight -- in raw meat or in human
flesh, or in lending their children to one another to feast upon -- or
of the story told of Phalaris.
- // Men can be reasoned with when angry, at least in
theory, while incontinent men can't be reasoned with.
it possible to be in such a state as to be defeated even by those of them
which most people master, or to master even those by which most people are
The lover of amusement, too, is thought to be self-indulgent, but is really
soft. For amusement is a relaxation, since it is a rest from work;
- both the continent man and the temperate man are such as to do nothing
contrary to the rule for the sake of the bodily pleasures, but the former has
and the latter has not bad appetites, and the latter is such as not to feel
pleasure contrary to the rule, while the former is such as to feel pleasure but
not to be led by it. And the incontinent and the self-indulgent man are also
like another; they are different, but both pursue bodily pleasures -- the
latter, however, also thinking that he ought to do so, while the former does
not think this.
of the two types of incontinent man the one does not abide by the conclusions
of his deliberation, while the excitable man does not deliberate at all.
Now incontinence and continence are concerned with that which is in excess of
the state characteristic of most men; for the continent man abides by his
resolutions more and the incontinent man less than most men can.
The study of pleasure and pain belongs to the province of the political philosopher; for he is the architect of the
end, with a view to which we call one thing bad and another good without
Now (1) some people think that no pleasure is a good,
either in itself or incidentally
(1) The reasons given for the view that pleasure is
not a good at all are (a) that every pleasure is a perceptible process to a
natural state, and that no process is of the same kind as its end, e.g. no
process of building of the same kind as a house. (b) A temperate man avoids
pleasures. (c) A man of practical wisdom pursues what is free from pain, not
what is pleasant. (d) The pleasures are a hindrance to thought, and the more so
the more one delights in them, e.g. in sexual pleasure; for no one could think
of anything while absorbed in this. (e) There is no art of pleasure; but every
good is the product of some art. (f) Children and the brutes pursue
Pleasure, then, is necessarily a good.
And (F) if certain pleasures are bad, that does not prevent the chief good
from being some pleasure, just as the chief good may be some form of
knowledge though certain kinds of knowledge are bad.
Perhaps it is even necessary, if each disposition has unimpeded activities,
that, whether the activity (if unimpeded) of all our dispositions or that of
some one of them is happiness, this should be the thing most worthy of our
choice; and this activity is pleasure. Thus the chief good
would be some pleasure
// Pleasure is not good or evil. A happy or good man can
have pleasure or pain like anyone else.
For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other
goods; even rich men and those in possession of office and of dominating
power are thought to need friends most of all
// Some say friends are like: "birds of a feather flock
together", while others the opposite.
Heraclitus that "it is what opposes that helps" and "from different tones
comes the fairest tune" and "all things are produced through strife";
// My opinion is the same as Heraclitus, I believe strife
is the primary motivator.
- To be friends, then, the must be mutually recognized as bearing goodwill and
wishing well to each other
Therefore those who love for the sake of utility love
for the sake of what is good for themselves, and those who love for the sake of
pleasure do so for the sake of what is pleasant to themselves, and not in so
far as the other is the person loved but in so far as he is useful or
pleasant. And thus these friendships are only incidental; for it is not
as being the man he is that the loved person is loved, but as providing some
good or pleasure. Such friendships, then, are easily dissolved, if the parties
do not remain like themselves; for if the one party is no longer pleasant or
useful the other ceases to love him.
Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue
But it is natural that such friendships should be
infrequent; for such men are rare. Further, such friendship requires
time and familiarity; as the proverb says, men cannot know each other till they
have 'eaten salt together'
- // Bad men may be friends, but only for incidental
profit. Only true friendship can be had between good men without
- Neither old people nor sour people seem to make friends easily; for there is
little that is pleasant in them
such men [unfriendly] may bear goodwill to each other; for they wish one
another well and aid one another in need; but they are hardly friends because
they do not spend their days together nor delight in each other
People in positions of authority seem to have friends who fall into distinct
classes; some people are useful to them and others are pleasant, but the same
people are rarely both
for pleasure they seek for ready-witted people, and
their other friends they choose as being clever at doing what they are told,
and these characteristics are rarely combined.
- // Equality in friendship and justice are not the same.
In justice it is more qualitative based on merit, while in friendship it is
- // Love seems greater than honor or friendship.
- friendship and justice exist between the same persons and have an equal
The constitutions are monarchy, aristocracy, and
thirdly that which is based on a property qualification
The best of these is monarchy, the worst timocracy. The deviation from
monarchy is tyranny; for both are forms of one-man rule, but there is the
greatest difference between them
Aristocracy passes over into oligarchy by the
badness of the rulers, who distribute contrary to equity what belongs to the
city -- all or most of the good things to themselves, and office always to the
same people, paying most regard to wealth; thus the rulers are few and are bad
men instead of the most worthy. Timocracy passes over into democracy
One may find resemblances to the constitutions and, as it were, patterns of
them even in households.
Democracy is found chiefly in masterless dwellings
(for here every one is on an equality), and in those in which the ruler is
weak and every one has licence to do as he pleases.
- the slave is a living tool and the tool a lifeless
Two things that contribute greatly to friendship are a common upbringing and
similarity of age
And children seem to be a bond of union (which is the reason why childless
people part more easily); for children are a good common to both and what is
common holds them together.
all or most men, while they wish for what is noble,
choose what is advantageous
It is disputable whether we ought to measure a service by its utility to the
receiver and make the return with a view to that, or by the benevolence of
the giver. For those who have received say they have received from their
benefactors what meant little to the latter and what they might have got from
others -- minimizing the service; while the givers, on the contrary, say it was
the biggest thing they had, and what could not have been got from others, and
that it was given in times of danger or similar need.
// When someone asks for "just" 5 minutes or dollars it
is no big deal to the receiver, but the opposite to the giver.
- friendship asks a man to do what he can, not what is proportional to the
merits of the case
// Friendship is only real when both give on the same
terms. When on gives love and the other expects money, there is no
The law holds that it is more just that the person to
whom credit was given should fix the terms than that the person who gave
credit should do so.
- For sometimes it is not even fair to return the equivalent of what one has
received, when the one man has done a service to one whom he knows to be
good, while the other makes a return to one whom he believes to be bad.
- When the interval is great this becomes most plain, e.g. in the case of
childish friendships; if one friend remained a child in intellect while the
other became a fully developed man, how could they be friends when they neither
approved of the same things nor delighted in and were pained by the same
- Goodwill seems, then, to be a beginning of friendship, as the pleasure of the
eye is the beginning of love.
Unanimity seems, then, to be political
friendship, as indeed it is commonly said to be; for it is concerned
with things that are to our interest and have an influence on our life.
Now such unanimity is found among good men;
for they are unanimous both in themselves and with one another, being, so to
say, of one mind
in the case of loans, debtors wish their creditors did not exist, while
creditors actually take care of the safety of their debtors
all men love more what they have won by labour; e.g. those who have made
their money love it more than those who have inherited it; and to be well
treated seems to involve no labour, while to treat others well is a laborious
// Should a man love himself?
a city or any other systematic whole is most properly identified with the
most authoritative element in it
Therefore the good man should be a lover of self (for he will both himself
profit by doing noble acts, and will benefit his fellows), but the wicked man
should not; for he will hurt both himself and his neighbours, following as he
does evil passions.
In all the actions, therefore, that men are praised for, the good man is seen
to assign to himself the greater share in what is noble. In this sense, then,
as has been said, a man should be a lover of self; but in the sense in which
most men are so, he ought not.
whence the saying "when fortune is kind, what need of friends?"
friends, who are thought the greatest of external goods.
// Even the wealthy want someone to be good to.
Therefore the happy man needs friends.
we can contemplate our neighbours better than
ourselves and their actions better than our own
a virtuous friend seems to be naturally desirable for a virtuous man
friends in excess of those who are sufficient for our own life are
superfluous, and hindrances to the noble life
Of friends made with a view to pleasure, also, few are enough, as a little
seasoning in food is enough.
as many [good friends] as are enough for the purpose of living together
Those who have many friends and mix intimately with them all are thought to
be no one's friend
Friendship, then, is more necessary in bad fortune, and so it is useful
friends that one wants in this case; but it is more noble in good fortune
we ought to summon our friends readily to share our good fortunes (for the
beneficent character is a noble one), but summon them to our bad fortunes
with hesitation; for we ought to give them as little a share as possible in our
evils whence the saying 'enough is my misfortune'.
The presence of friends, then, seems desirable in all circumstances.
- And whatever existence means for each class of men, whatever it is for whose
sake they value life, in that they wish to occupy themselves with their
friends; and so some drink together, others dice together, others join in
athletic exercises and hunting, or in the study of philosophy, each class
spending their days together in whatever they love most in life
- Those who object that that at which all things aim is not necessarily good
are, we may surmise, talking nonsense. For we say
that that which every one thinks really is so;
- no one would choose to live with the intellect of a child throughout his
life, however much he were to be pleased at the things that children are
- Some things delight us when they are new, but later do so less, for the same
reason; for at first the mind is in a state of stimulation and intensely
active about them, as people are with respect to their vision when they look
hard at a thing, but afterwards our activity is not of this kind, but has grown
relaxed; for which reason the pleasure also is dulled.
those who are fond of music or of building, and so on, make progress in their
proper function by enjoying it; so the pleasures intensify the activities,
and what intensifies a thing is proper to it
when one is active about two things at once; the more pleasant activity
drives out the other
alien pleasures have been stated to do much the same as pain; they destroy
the activity, only not to the same degree.
in the case of men at least; the same things delight some people and pain
others, and are painful and odious to some, and pleasant to and liked by
Pleasant amusements also are thought to be of this nature [desired for their
own sake]; we choose them not for the sake of other things; for we are
injured rather than benefited by them, since we are led to neglect our bodies
and our property.
Happiness, therefore, does not lie in amusement;
Now to exert oneself and work for the sake of
amusement seems silly and utterly childish. But to amuse oneself in
order that one may exert oneself, as Anacharsis puts it, seems right; for
amusement is a sort of relaxation, and we need relaxation because we cannot
work continuously. Relaxation, then, is not an end; for it is taken for the
sake of activity.
// Contemplation is the "pleasantest of virtuous
activities". The philosopher can contemplate alone, where the brave and
noble men require other men to be brave and noble towards.
If reason is divine, then, in comparison with man, the life according to it
is divine in comparison with human life.
so far as we can, make ourselves immortal, and strain
every nerve to live in accordance with the best thing in us;
// Friends can even be a hindrance to
// Why would the Gods need justice or temperance? Isn't that
beneath their greatness? What virtue is left but contemplation.
Therefore the activity of God, which surpasses all others in blessedness,
must be contemplative;
Anaxagoras also seems to have supposed the happy man not to be rich nor a
despot, when he said that he would not be surprised if the happy man were to
seem to most people a strange person; for they judge by externals, since these
are all they perceive.
Surely, as the saying goes, where there are things to be done the end is not
to survey and recognize the various things, but rather to do them; with
regard to virtue, then, it is not enough to know, but
we must try to have and use it, or try any other way there may be of
It is hard, if not impossible, to remove by argument the traits that have
long since been incorporated in the character;
But it is difficult to get from youth up a right training for virtue if one
has not been brought up under right laws; for to live temperately and hardily
is not pleasant to most people, especially when they are young. For this reason
their nurture and occupations should be fixed by law; for they will not be
painful when they have become customary. But it is surely not enough that when
they are young they should get the right nurture and attention; since they
must, even when they are grown up, practise and be habituated to them, we shall
need laws for this as well, and generally speaking to cover the whole of life;
for most people obey necessity rather than argument, and punishments rather
than the sense of what is noble.