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Nicomachean Ethics   


whether good or evil penetrates to them, it must be something weak and
negligible, either in itself or for them, or if not, at least it must
be such in degree and kind as not to make happy those who are not
happy nor to take away their blessedness from those who are. The good
or bad fortunes of friends, then, seem to have some effects on the
dead, but effects of such a kind and degree as neither to make the
happy unhappy nor to produce any other change of the kind.
12
These questions having been definitely answered, let us consider
whether happiness is among the things that are praised or rather among
the things that are prized; for clearly it is not to be placed among
potentialities. Everything that is praised seems to be praised because
it is of a certain kind and is related somehow to something else; for
we praise the just or brave man and in general both the good man and
virtue itself because of the actions and functions involved, and we
praise the strong man, the good runner, and so on, because he is of a
certain kind and is related in a certain way to something good and
important. This is clear also from the praises of the gods; for it
seems absurd that the gods should be referred to our standard, but
this is done because praise involves a reference, to something else.
But if if praise is for things such as we have described, clearly what
applies to the best things is not praise, but something greater and
better, as is indeed obvious; for what we do to the gods and the most
godlike of men is to call them blessed and happy. And so too with good
things; no one praises happiness as he does justice, but rather calls
it blessed, as being something more divine and better.
Eudoxus also seems to have been right in his method of advocating the
supremacy of pleasure; he thought that the fact that, though a good,
it is not praised indicated it to be better than the things that are
praised, and that this is what God and the good are; for by reference
to these all other things are judged. Praise is appropriate to virtue,
for as a result of virtue men tend to do noble deeds, but encomia are
bestowed on acts, whether of the body or of the soul. But perhaps
nicety in these matters is more proper to those who have made a study
of encomia; to us it is clear from what has been said that happiness
is among the things that are prized and perfect. It seems to be so
also from the fact that it is a first principle; for it is for the
sake of this that we all do all that we do, and the first principle
and cause of goods is, we claim, something prized and divine.
13
Since happiness is an activity of soul in accordance with perfect
virtue, we must consider the nature of virtue; for perhaps we shall
thus see better the nature of 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 the laws. As an
example of this we have the lawgivers of the Cretans and the Spartans,
and any others of the kind that there may have been. And if this
inquiry belongs to political science, clearly the pursuit of it will
be in accordance with our original plan. But clearly the virtue we
must study is human virtue; for the good we were seeking was human
good and the happiness human happiness. By human virtue we mean not
that of the body but that of the soul; and happiness also we call an
activity of soul. But if this is so, clearly the student of politics
must know somehow the facts about soul, as the man who is to heal the
eyes or the body as a whole must know about the eyes or the body; and
all the more since politics is more prized and better than medicine;
but even among doctors the best educated spend much labour on
acquiring knowledge of the body. The student of politics, then, must
study the soul, and must study it with these objects in view, and do
so just to the extent which is sufficient for the questions we are
discussing; for further precision is perhaps something more laborious
than our purposes require.
Some things are said about it, adequately enough, even in the
discussions outside our school, and we must use these; e.g. that one

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