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Nicomachean Ethics   


this one is in a different place from that. We have discussed movement
with precision in another work, but it seems that it is not complete
at any and every time, but that the many movements are incomplete and
different in kind, since the whence and whither give them their form.
But of pleasure the form is complete at any and every time. Plainly,
then, pleasure and movement must be different from each other, and
pleasure must be one of the things that are whole and complete. This
would seem to be the case, too, from the fact that it is not possible
to move otherwise than in time, but it is possible to be pleased; for
that which takes place in a moment is a whole.
From these considerations it is clear, too, that these thinkers are
not right in saying there is a movement or a coming into being of
pleasure. For these cannot be ascribed to all things, but only to
those that are divisible and not wholes; there is no coming into being
of seeing nor of a point nor of a unit, nor is any of these a movement
or coming into being; therefore there is no movement or coming into
being of pleasure either; for it is a whole.
Since every sense is active in relation to its object, and a sense
which is in good condition acts perfectly in relation to the most
beautiful of its objects (for perfect activity seems to be ideally of
this nature; whether we say that it is active, or the organ in which
it resides, may be assumed to be immaterial), it follows that in the
case of each sense the best activity is that of the best-conditioned
organ in relation to the finest of its objects. And this activity will
be the most complete and pleasant. For, while there is pleasure in
respect of any sense, and in respect of thought and contemplation no
less, the most complete is pleasantest, and that of a well-conditioned
organ in relation to the worthiest of its objects is the most
complete; and the pleasure completes the activity. But the pleasure
does not complete it in the same way as the combination of object and
sense, both good, just as health and the doctor are not in the same
way the cause of a man's being healthy. (That pleasure is produced in
respect to each sense is plain; for we speak of sights and sounds as
pleasant. It is also plain that it arises most of all when both the
sense is at its best and it is active in reference to an object which
corresponds; when both object and perceiver are of the best there will
always be pleasure, since the requisite agent and patient are both
present.) Pleasure completes the activity not as the corresponding
permanent state does, by its immanence, but as an end which supervenes
as the bloom of youth does on those in the flower of their age. So
long, then, as both the intelligible or sensible object and the
discriminating or contemplative faculty are as they should be, the
pleasure will be involved in the activity; for when both the passive
and the active factor are unchanged and are related to each other in
the same way, the same result naturally follows.
How, then, is it that no one is continuously pleased? Is it that we
grow weary? Certainly all human beings are incapable of continuous
activity. Therefore pleasure also is not continuous; for it
accompanies activity. 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.
One might think that all men desire pleasure because they all aim at
life; life is an activity, and each man is active about those things
and with those faculties that he loves most; e.g. the musician is
active with his hearing in reference to tunes, the student with his
mind in reference to theoretical questions, and so on in each case;
now pleasure completes the activities, and therefore life, which they
desire. It is with good reason, then, that they aim at pleasure too,
since for every one it completes life, which is desirable. But whether
we choose life for the sake of pleasure or pleasure for the sake of
life is a question we may dismiss for the present. For they seem to be

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