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Nicomachean Ethics   


After these matters we ought perhaps next to discuss pleasure. For it
is thought to be most intimately connected with our human nature,
which is the reason why in educating the young we steer them by the
rudders of pleasure and pain; it is thought, too, that to enjoy the
things we ought and to hate the things we ought has the greatest
bearing on virtue of character. For these things extend right through
life, with a weight and power of their own in respect both to virtue
and to the happy life, since men choose what is pleasant and avoid
what is painful; and such things, it will be thought, we should least
of all omit to discuss, especially since they admit of much dispute.
For some say pleasure is the good, while others, on the contrary, say
it is thoroughly bad-some no doubt being persuaded that the facts are
so, and others thinking it has a better effect on our life to exhibit
pleasure as a bad thing even if it is not; for most people (they
think) incline towards it and are the slaves of their pleasures, for
which reason they ought to lead them in the opposite direction, since
thus they will reach the middle state. But surely this is not correct.
For arguments about matters concerned with feelings and actions are
less reliable than facts: and so when they clash with the facts of
perception they are despised, and discredit the truth as well; if a
man who runs down pleasure is once seen to be alming at it, his
inclining towards it is thought to imply that it is all worthy of
being aimed at; for most people are not good at drawing distinctions.
True arguments seem, then, most useful, not only with a view to
knowledge, but with a view to life also; for since they harmonize with
the facts they are believed, and so they stimulate those who
understand them to live according to them.-Enough of such questions;
let us proceed to review the opinions that have been expressed about
pleasure.
2
Eudoxus thought pleasure was the good because he saw all things, both
rational and irrational, aiming at it, and because in all things that
which is the object of choice is what is excellent, and that which is
most the object of choice the greatest good; thus the fact that all
things moved towards the same object indicated that this was for all
things the chief good (for each thing, he argued, finds its own good,
as it finds its own nourishment); and that which is good for all
things and at which all aim was the good. His arguments were credited
more because of the excellence of his character than for their own
sake; he was thought to be remarkably self-controlled, and therefore
it was thought that he was not saying what he did say as a friend of
pleasure, but that the facts really were so. He believed that the same
conclusion followed no less plainly from a study of the contrary of
pleasure; pain was in itself an object of aversion to all things, and
therefore its contrary must be similarly an object of choice. And
again that is most an object of choice which we choose not because or
for the sake of something else, and pleasure is admittedly of this
nature; for no one asks to what end he is pleased, thus implying that
pleasure is in itself an object of choice. Further, he argued that
pleasure when added to any good, e.g. to just or temperate action,
makes it more worthy of choice, and that it is only by itself that the
good can be increased.
This argument seems to show it to be one of the goods, and no more a
good than any other; for every good is more worthy of choice along
with another good than taken alone. And so it is by an argument of
this kind that Plato proves the good not to be pleasure; he argues
that the pleasant life is more desirable with wisdom than without, and
that if the mixture is better, pleasure is not the good; for the good
cannot become more desirable by the addition of anything to it. Now it
is clear that nothing else, any more than pleasure, can be the good if
it is made more desirable by the addition of any of the things that
are good in themselves. What, then, is there that satisfies this
criterion, which at the same time we can participate in? It is
something of this sort that we are looking for. Those who object that

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