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Nicomachean Ethics   


and acting are different (for their nature we treat even the
discussions outside our school as reliable); so that the reasoned
state of capacity to act is different from the reasoned state of
capacity to make. Hence too they are not included one in the other;
for neither is acting making nor is making acting. Now since
architecture is an art and is essentially a reasoned state of capacity
to make, and there is neither any art that is not such a state nor any
such state that is not an art, art is identical with a state of
capacity to make, involving a true course of reasoning. All art is
concerned with coming into being, i.e. with contriving and considering
how something may come into being which is capable of either being or
not being, and whose origin is in the maker and not in the thing made;
for art is concerned neither with things that are, or come into being,
by necessity, nor with things that do so in accordance with nature
(since these have their origin in themselves). Making and acting being
different, art must be a matter of making, not of acting. And in a
sense chance and art are concerned with the same objects; as Agathon
says, 'art loves chance and chance loves art'. Art, then, as has been
is a state concerned with making, involving a true course of
reasoning, and lack of art on the contrary is a state concerned with
making, involving a false course of reasoning; both are concerned with
the variable.
5
Regarding practical wisdom we shall get at the truth by considering
who are the persons we credit with it. Now it is thought to be the
mark of a man of practical wisdom to be able to deliberate well about
what is good and expedient for himself, not in some particular
respect, e.g. about what sorts of thing conduce to health or to
strength, but about what sorts of thing conduce to the good life in
general. This is shown by the fact that we credit men with practical
wisdom in some particular respect when they have calculated well with
a view to some good end which is one of those that are not the object
of any art. It follows that in the general sense also the man who is
capable of deliberating has practical wisdom. Now no one deliberates
about things that are invariable, nor about things that it is
impossible for him to do. Therefore, since scientific knowledge
involves demonstration, but there is no demonstration of things whose
first principles are variable (for all such things might actually be
otherwise), and since it is impossible to deliberate about things that
are of necessity, practical wisdom cannot be scientific knowledge nor
art; not science because that which can be done is capable of being
otherwise, not art because action and making are different kinds of
thing. The remaining alternative, then, is that it is a true and
reasoned state of capacity to act with regard to the things that are
good or bad for man. For while making has an end other than itself,
action cannot; for good action itself is its end. It is for this
reason that we think Pericles and men like him have practical wisdom,
viz. because they can see what is good for themselves and what is good
for men in general; we consider that those can do this who are good at
managing households or states. (This is why we call temperance
(sophrosune) by this name; we imply that it preserves one's practical
wisdom (sozousa tan phronsin). Now what it preserves is a judgement of
the kind we have described. For it is not any and every judgement that
pleasant and painful objects destroy and pervert, e.g. the judgement
that the triangle has or has not its angles equal to two right angles,
but only judgements about what is to be done. For the originating
causes of the things that are done consist in the end at which they
are aimed; but the man who has been ruined by pleasure or pain
forthwith fails to see any such originating cause-to see that for the
sake of this or because of this he ought to choose and do whatever he
chooses and does; for vice is destructive of the originating cause of
action.) Practical wisdom, then, must be a reasoned and true state of
capacity to act with regard to human goods. But further, while there
is such a thing as excellence in art, there is no such thing as

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