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Nicomachean Ethics   


men, so they should to bad men and to good. Now, as we have often
maintained, those things are both valuable and pleasant which are such
to the good man; and to each man the activity in accordance with his
own disposition is most desirable, and, therefore, to the good man
that which is in accordance with virtue. Happiness, therefore, does
not lie in amusement; it would, indeed, be strange if the end were
amusement, and one were to take trouble and suffer hardship all one's
life in order to amuse oneself. For, in a word, everything that we
choose we choose for the sake of something else-except happiness,
which is an end. Now to exert oneself and work for the sake of
amusement seems silly and utterly childish. But to amuse oneself in
order that one may exert oneself, as Anacharsis puts it, seems right;
for amusement is a sort of relaxation, and we need relaxation because
we cannot work continuously. Relaxation, then, is not an end; for it
is taken for the sake of activity.
The happy life is thought to be virtuous; now a virtuous life requires
exertion, and does not consist in amusement. And we say that serious
things are better than laughable things and those connected with
amusement, and that the activity of the better of any two
things-whether it be two elements of our being or two men-is the more
serious; but the activity of the better is ipso facto superior and
more of the nature of happiness. And any chance person-even a
slave-can enjoy the bodily pleasures no less than the best man; but no
one assigns to a slave a share in happiness-unless he assigns to him
also a share in human life. For happiness does not lie in such
occupations, but, as we have said before, in virtuous activities.
7
If happiness is activity in accordance with virtue, it is reasonable
that it should be in accordance with the highest virtue; and this will
be that of the best thing in us. Whether it be reason or something
else that is this element which is thought to be our natural ruler and
guide and to take thought of things noble and divine, whether it be
itself also divine or only the most divine element in us, the activity
of this in accordance with its proper virtue will be perfect
happiness. That this activity is contemplative we have already said.
Now this would seem to be in agreement both with what we said before
and with the truth. For, firstly, this activity is the best (since not
only is reason the best thing in us, but the objects of reason are the
best of knowable objects); and secondly, it is the most continuous,
since we can contemplate truth more continuously than we can do
anything. And we think happiness has pleasure mingled with it, but the
activity of philosophic wisdom is admittedly the pleasantest of
virtuous activities; at all events the pursuit of it is thought to
offer pleasures marvellous for their purity and their enduringness,
and it is to be expected that those who know will pass their time more
pleasantly than those who inquire. And the self-sufficiency that is
spoken of must belong most to the contemplative activity. For while a
philosopher, as well as a just man or one possessing any other virtue,
needs the necessaries of life, when they are sufficiently equipped
with things of that sort the just man needs people towards whom and
with whom he shall act justly, and the temperate man, the brave man,
and each of the others is in the same case, but the philosopher, even
when by himself, can contemplate truth, and the better the wiser he
is; he can perhaps do so better if he has fellow-workers, but still he
is the most self-sufficient. And this activity alone would seem to be
loved for its own sake; for nothing arises from it apart from the
contemplating, while from practical activities we gain more or less
apart from the action. And happiness is thought to depend on leisure;
for we are busy that we may have leisure, and make war that we may
live in peace. Now the activity of the practical virtues is exhibited
in political or military affairs, but the actions concerned with these
seem to be unleisurely. Warlike actions are completely so (for no one
chooses to be at war, or provokes war, for the sake of being at war;
any one would seem absolutely murderous if he were to make enemies of

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