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Nicomachean Ethics   


bound up together and not to admit of separation, since without
activity pleasure does not arise, and every activity is completed by
the attendant pleasure.
5
For this reason pleasures seem, too, to differ in kind. For things
different in kind are, we think, completed by different things (we see
this to be true both of natural objects and of things produced by art,
e.g. animals, trees, a painting, a sculpture, a house, an implement);
and, similarly, we think that activities differing in kind are
completed by things differing in kind. Now the activities of thought
differ from those of the senses, and both differ among themselves, in
kind; so, therefore, do the pleasures that complete them.
This may be seen, too, from the fact that each of the pleasures is
bound up with the activity it completes. For an activity is
intensified by its proper pleasure, since each class of things is
better judged of and brought to precision by those who engage in the
activity with pleasure; e.g. it is those who enjoy geometrical
thinking that become geometers and grasp the various propositions
better, and, similarly, 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, but things different in kind have properties
different in kind.
This will be even more apparent from the fact that activities are
hindered by pleasures arising from other sources. For people who are
fond of playing the flute are incapable of attending to arguments if
they overhear some one playing the flute, since they enjoy
flute-playing more than the activity in hand; so the pleasure
connected with fluteplaying destroys the activity concerned with
argument. This happens, similarly, in all other cases, when one is
active about two things at once; the more pleasant activity drives out
the other, and if it is much more pleasant does so all the more, so
that one even ceases from the other. This is why when we enjoy
anything very much we do not throw ourselves into anything else, and
do one thing only when we are not much pleased by another; e.g. in the
theatre the people who eat sweets do so most when the actors are poor.
Now since activities are made precise and more enduring and better by
their proper pleasure, and injured by alien pleasures, evidently the
two kinds of pleasure are far apart. For alien pleasures do pretty
much what proper pains do, since activities are destroyed by their
proper pains; e.g. if a man finds writing or doing sums unpleasant and
painful, he does not write, or does not do sums, because the activity
is painful. So an activity suffers contrary effects from its proper
pleasures and pains, i.e. from those that supervene on it in virtue of
its own nature. And alien pleasures have been stated to do much the
same as pain; they destroy the activity, only not to the same degree.
Now since activities differ in respect of goodness and badness, and
some are worthy to be chosen, others to be avoided, and others
neutral, so, too, are the pleasures; for to each activity there is a
proper pleasure. The pleasure proper to a worthy activity is good and
that proper to an unworthy activity bad; just as the appetites for
noble objects are laudable, those for base objects culpable. But the
pleasures involved in activities are more proper to them than the
desires; for the latter are separated both in time and in nature,
while the former are close to the activities, and so hard to
distinguish from them that it admits of dispute whether the activity
is not the same as the pleasure. (Still, pleasure does not seem to be
thought or perception-that would be strange; but because they are not
found apart they appear to some people the same.) As activities are
different, then, so are the corresponding pleasures. Now sight is
superior to touch in purity, and hearing and smell to taste; the
pleasures, therefore, are similarly superior, and those of thought
superior to these, and within each of the two kinds some are superior
to others.

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