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Nicomachean Ethics   


his friends in order to bring about battle and slaughter); but the
action of the statesman is also unleisurely, and-apart from the
political action itself-aims at despotic power and honours, or at all
events happiness, for him and his fellow citizens-a happiness
different from political action, and evidently sought as being
different. So if among virtuous actions political and military actions
are distinguished by nobility and greatness, and these are unleisurely
and aim at an end and are not desirable for their own sake, but the
activity of reason, which is contemplative, seems both to be superior
in serious worth and to aim at no end beyond itself, and to have its
pleasure proper to itself (and this augments the activity), and the
self-sufficiency, leisureliness, unweariedness (so far as this is
possible for man), and all the other attributes ascribed to the
supremely happy man are evidently those connected with this activity,
it follows that this will be the complete happiness of man, if it be
allowed a complete term of life (for none of the attributes of
happiness is incomplete).
But such a life would be too high for man; for it is not in so far as
he is man that he will live so, but in so far as something divine is
present in him; and by so much as this is superior to our composite
nature is its activity superior to that which is the exercise of the
other kind of virtue. If reason is divine, then, in comparison with
man, the life according to it is divine in comparison with human life.
But we must not follow those who advise us, being men, to think of
human things, and, being mortal, of mortal things, but must, so far as
we can, make ourselves immortal, and strain every nerve to live in
accordance with the best thing in us; for even if it be small in bulk,
much more does it in power and worth surpass everything. This would
seem, too, to be each man himself, since it is the authoritative and
better part of him. It would be strange, then, if he were to choose
not the life of his self but that of something else. And what we said
before' will apply now; that which is proper to each thing is by
nature best and most pleasant for each thing; for man, therefore, the
life according to reason is best and pleasantest, since reason more
than anything else is man. This life therefore is also the happiest.
8
But in a secondary degree the life in accordance with the other kind
of virtue is happy; for the activities in accordance with this befit
our human estate. Just and brave acts, and other virtuous acts, we do
in relation to each other, observing our respective duties with regard
to contracts and services and all manner of actions and with regard to
passions; and all of these seem to be typically human. Some of them
seem even to arise from the body, and virtue of character to be in
many ways bound up with the passions. Practical wisdom, too, is linked
to virtue of character, and this to practical wisdom, since the
principles of practical wisdom are in accordance with the moral
virtues and rightness in morals is in accordance with practical
wisdom. Being connected with the passions also, the moral virtues must
belong to our composite nature; and the virtues of our composite
nature are human; so, therefore, are the life and the happiness which
correspond to these. The excellence of the reason is a thing apart; we
must be content to say this much about it, for to describe it
precisely is a task greater than our purpose requires. It would seem,
however, also to need external equipment but little, or less than
moral virtue does. Grant that both need the necessaries, and do so
equally, even if the statesman's work is the more concerned with the
body and things of that sort; for there will be little difference
there; but in what they need for the exercise of their activities
there will be much difference. The liberal man will need money for the
doing of his liberal deeds, and the just man too will need it for the
returning of services (for wishes are hard to discern, and even people
who are not just pretend to wish to act justly); and the brave man
will need power if he is to accomplish any of the acts that correspond
to his virtue, and the temperate man will need opportunity; for how

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