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Nicomachean Ethics   


In medicine this is health, in strategy victory, in architecture a
house, in any other sphere something else, and in every action and
pursuit the end; for it is for the sake of this that all men do
whatever else they do. Therefore, if there is an end for all that we
do, this will be the good achievable by action, and if there are more
than one, these will be the goods achievable by action.
So the argument has by a different course reached the same point; but
we must try to state this even more clearly. Since there are evidently
more than one end, and we choose some of these (e.g. wealth, flutes,
and in general instruments) for the sake of something else, clearly
not all ends are final ends; but the chief good is evidently something
final. Therefore, if there is only one final end, this will be what we
are seeking, and if there are more than one, the most final of these
will be what we are seeking. Now we call that which is in itself
worthy of pursuit more final than that which is worthy of pursuit for
the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable for the
sake of something else more final than the things that are desirable
both in themselves and for the sake of that other thing, and therefore
we call final without qualification that which is always desirable in
itself and never for the sake of something else.
Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for this we
choose always for self and never for the sake of something else, but
honour, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed for
themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should still choose
each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of happiness,
judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness, on the
other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in general, for
anything other than itself.
From the point of view of self-sufficiency the same result seems to
follow; for the final good is thought to be self-sufficient. Now by
self-sufficient we do not mean that which is sufficient for a man by
himself, for one who lives a solitary life, but also for parents,
children, wife, and in general for his friends and fellow citizens,
since man is born for citizenship. But some limit must be set to this;
for if we extend our requirement to ancestors and descendants and
friends' friends we are in for an infinite series. Let us examine this
question, however, on another occasion; the self-sufficient we now
define as that which when isolated makes life desirable and lacking in
nothing; and such we think happiness to be; and further we think it
most desirable of all things, without being counted as one good thing
among others- if it were so counted it would clearly be made more
desirable by the addition of even the least of goods; for that which
is added becomes an excess of goods, and of goods the greater is
always more desirable. Happiness, then, is something final and
self-sufficient, and is the end of action.
Presumably, however, to say that happiness is the chief good seems a
platitude, and a clearer account of what it is still desired. This
might perhaps be given, if we could first ascertain the function of
man. For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, and, in
general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and
the 'well' is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to
be for man, if he has a function. Have the carpenter, then, and the
tanner certain functions or activities, and has man none? Is he born
without a function? Or as eye, hand, foot, and in general each of the
parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man similarly
has a function apart from all these? What then can this be? Life seems
to be common even to plants, but we are seeking what is peculiar to
man. Let us exclude, therefore, the life of nutrition and growth. Next
there would be a life of perception, but it also seems to be common
even to the horse, the ox, and every animal. There remains, then, an
active life of the element that has a rational principle; of this, one
part has such a principle in the sense of being obedient to one, the
other in the sense of possessing one and exercising thought. And, as
'life of the rational element' also has two meanings, we must state

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