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Nicomachean Ethics   


man (they think), since he lives with his mind fixed on what is noble,
will submit to argument, while a bad man, whose desire is for
pleasure, is corrected by pain like a beast of burden. This is, too,
why they say the pains inflicted should be those that are most opposed
to the pleasures such men love.
However that may be, if (as we have said) the man who is to be good
must be well trained and habituated, and go on to spend his time in
worthy occupations and neither willingly nor unwillingly do bad
actions, and if this can be brought about if men live in accordance
with a sort of reason and right order, provided this has force,-if
this be so, the paternal command indeed has not the required force or
compulsive power (nor in general has the command of one man, unless he
be a king or something similar), but the law has compulsive power,
while it is at the same time a rule proceeding from a sort of
practical wisdom and reason. And while people hate men who oppose
their impulses, even if they oppose them rightly, the law in its
ordaining of what is good is not burdensome.
In the Spartan state alone, or almost alone, the legislator seems to
have paid attention to questions of nurture and occupations; in most
states such matters have been neglected, and each man lives as he
pleases, Cyclops-fashion, 'to his own wife and children dealing law'.
Now it is best that there should be a public and proper care for such
matters; but if they are neglected by the community it would seem
right for each man to help his children and friends towards virtue,
and that they should have the power, or at least the will, to do this.
It would seem from what has been said that he can do this better if he
makes himself capable of legislating. For public control is plainly
effected by laws, and good control by good laws; whether written or
unwritten would seem to make no difference, nor whether they are laws
providing for the education of individuals or of groups-any more than
it does in the case of music or gymnastics and other such pursuits.
For as in cities laws and prevailing types of character have force, so
in households do the injunctions and the habits of the father, and
these have even more because of the tie of blood and the benefits he
confers; for the children start with a natural affection and
disposition to obey. Further, private education has an advantage over
public, as private medical treatment has; for while in general rest
and abstinence from food are good for a man in a fever, for a
particular man they may not be; and a boxer presumably does not
prescribe the same style of fighting to all his pupils. It would seem,
then, that the detail is worked out with more precision if the control
is private; for each person is more likely to get what suits his case.
But the details can be best looked after, one by one, by a doctor or
gymnastic instructor or any one else who has the general knowledge of
what is good for every one or for people of a certain kind (for the
sciences both are said to be, and are, concerned with what is
universal); not but what some particular detail may perhaps be well
looked after by an unscientific person, if he has studied accurately
in the light of experience what happens in each case, just as some
people seem to be their own best doctors, though they could give no
help to any one else. None the less, it will perhaps be agreed that if
a man does wish to become master of an art or science he must go to
the universal, and come to know it as well as possible; for, as we
have said, it is with this that the sciences are concerned.
And surely he who wants to make men, whether many or few, better by
his care must try to become capable of legislating, if it is through
laws that we can become good. For to get any one whatever-any one who
is put before us-into the right condition is not for the first chance
comer; if any one can do it, it is the man who knows, just as in
medicine and all other matters which give scope for care and prudence.
Must we not, then, next examine whence or how one can learn how to
legislate? Is it, as in all other cases, from statesmen? Certainly it
was thought to be a part of statesmanship. Or is a difference apparent
between statesmanship and the other sciences and arts? In the others

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