these the good man tends to go right and the bad man to go wrong, and
especially about pleasure; for this is common to the animals, and also
it accompanies all objects of choice; for even the noble and the
advantageous appear pleasant.
Again, it has grown up with us all from our infancy; this is why it is
difficult to rub off this passion, engrained as it is in our life. And
we measure even our actions, some of us more and others less, by the
rule of pleasure and pain. For this reason, then, our whole inquiry
must be about these; for to feel delight and pain rightly or wrongly
has no small effect on our actions.
Again, it is harder to fight with pleasure than with anger, to use
Heraclitus' phrase', but both art and virtue are always concerned with
what is harder; for even the good is better when it is harder.
Therefore for this reason also the whole concern both of virtue and of
political science is with pleasures and pains; for the man who uses
these well will be good, he who uses them badly bad.
That virtue, then, is concerned with pleasures and pains, and that by
the acts from which it arises it is both increased and, if they are
done differently, destroyed, and that the acts from which it arose are
those in which it actualizes itself- let this be taken as said.
The question might be asked,; what we mean by saying that we must
become just by doing just acts, and temperate by doing temperate acts;
for if men do just and temperate acts, they are already just and
temperate, exactly as, if they do what is in accordance with the laws
of grammar and of music, they are grammarians and musicians.
Or is this not true even of the arts? It is possible to do something
that is in accordance with the laws of grammar, either by chance or at
the suggestion of another. A man will be a grammarian, then, only when
he has both done something grammatical and done it grammatically; and
this means doing it in accordance with the grammatical knowledge in
Again, the case of the arts and that of the virtues are not similar;
for the products of the arts have their goodness in themselves, so
that it is enough that they should have a certain character, but if
the acts that are in accordance with the virtues have themselves a
certain character it does not follow that they are done justly or
temperately. The agent also must be in a certain condition when he
does them; in the first place he must have knowledge, secondly he must
choose the acts, and choose them for their own sakes, and thirdly his
action must proceed from a firm and unchangeable character. These are
not reckoned in as conditions of the possession of the arts, except
the bare knowledge; but as a condition of the possession of the
virtues knowledge has little or no weight, while the other conditions
count not for a little but for everything, i.e. the very conditions
which result from often doing just and temperate acts.
Actions, then, are called just and temperate when they are such as the
just or the temperate man would do; but it is not the man who does
these that is just and temperate, but the man who also does them as
just and temperate men do them. It is well said, then, that it is by
doing just acts that the just man is produced, and by doing temperate
acts the temperate man; without doing these no one would have even a
prospect of becoming good.
But most people do not do these, but take refuge in theory and think
they are being philosophers and will become good in this way, behaving
somewhat like patients who listen attentively to their doctors, but do
none of the things they are ordered to do. As the latter will not be
made well in body by such a course of treatment, the former will not
be made well in soul by such a course of philosophy.
Next we must consider what virtue is. Since things that are found in
the soul are of three kinds- passions, faculties, states of character,
virtue must be one of these. By passions I mean appetite, anger, fear,
confidence, envy, joy, friendly feeling, hatred, longing, emulation,