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Nicomachean Ethics   


towards intimates and those who are not so, except that in each of
these cases he will behave as is befitting; for it is not proper to
have the same care for intimates and for strangers, nor again is it
the same conditions that make it right to give pain to them. Now we
have said generally that he will associate with people in the right
way; but it is by reference to what is honourable and expedient that
he will aim at not giving pain or at contributing pleasure. For he
seems to be concerned with the pleasures and pains of social life; and
wherever it is not honourable, or is harmful, for him to contribute
pleasure, he will refuse, and will choose rather to give pain; also if
his acquiescence in another's action would bring disgrace, and that in
a high degree, or injury, on that other, while his opposition brings a
little pain, he will not acquiesce but will decline. He will associate
differently with people in high station and with ordinary people, with
closer and more distant acquaintances, and so too with regard to all
other differences, rendering to each class what is befitting, and
while for its own sake he chooses to contribute pleasure, and avoids
the giving of pain, he will be guided by the consequences, if these
are greater, i.e. honour and expediency. For the sake of a great
future pleasure, too, he will inflict small pains.
The man who attains the mean, then, is such as we have described, but
has not received a name; of those who contribute pleasure, the man who
aims at being pleasant with no ulterior object is obsequious, but the
man who does so in order that he may get some advantage in the
direction of money or the things that money buys is a flatterer; while
the man who quarrels with everything is, as has been said, churlish
and contentious. And the extremes seem to be contradictory to each
other because the mean is without a name.
7
The mean opposed to boastfulness is found in almost the same sphere;
and this also is without a name. It will be no bad plan to describe
these states as well; for we shall both know the facts about character
better if we go through them in detail, and we shall be convinced that
the virtues are means if we see this to be so in all cases. In the
field of social life those who make the giving of pleasure or pain
their object in associating with others have been described; let us
now describe those who pursue truth or falsehood alike in words and
deeds and in the claims they put forward. The boastful man, then, is
thought to be apt to claim the things that bring glory, when he has
not got them, or to claim more of them than he has, and the
mock-modest man on the other hand to disclaim what he has or belittle
it, while the man who observes the mean is one who calls a thing by
its own name, being truthful both in life and in word, owning to what
he has, and neither more nor less. Now each of these courses may be
adopted either with or without an object. But each man speaks and acts
and lives in accordance with his character, if he is not acting for
some ulterior object. And falsehood is in itself mean and culpable,
and truth noble and worthy of praise. Thus the truthful man is another
case of a man who, being in the mean, is worthy of praise, and both
forms of untruthful man are culpable, and particularly the boastful
man.
Let us discuss them both, but first of all the truthful man. We are
not speaking of the man who keeps faith in his agreements, i.e. in the
things that pertain to justice or injustice (for this would belong to
another virtue), but the man who in the matters in which nothing of
this sort is at stake is true both in word and in life because his
character is such. But such a man would seem to be as a matter of fact
equitable. For the man who loves truth, and is truthful where nothing
is at stake, will still more be truthful where something is at stake;
he will avoid falsehood as something base, seeing that he avoided it
even for its own sake; and such a man is worthy of praise. He inclines
rather to understate the truth; for this seems in better taste because
exaggerations are wearisome.
He who claims more than he has with no ulterior object is a

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