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Nicomachean Ethics   


must have perception, and this perception is intuitive reason.
This is why these states are thought to be natural endowments-why,
while no one is thought to be a philosopher by nature, people are
thought to have by nature judgement, understanding, and intuitive
reason. This is shown by the fact that we think our powers correspond
to our time of life, and that a particular age brings with it
intuitive reason and judgement; this implies that nature is the cause.
(Hence intuitive reason is both beginning and end; for demonstrations
are from these and about these.) Therefore we ought to attend to the
undemonstrated sayings and opinions of experienced and older people or
of people of practical wisdom not less than to demonstrations; for
because experience has given them an eye they see aright.
We have stated, then, what practical and philosophic wisdom are, and
with what each of them is concerned, and we have said that each is the
virtue of a different part of the soul.
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Difficulties might be raised as to the utility of these qualities of
mind. For (1) philosophic wisdom will contemplate none of the things
that will make a man happy (for it is not concerned with any coming
into being), and though practical wisdom has this merit, for what
purpose do we need it? Practical wisdom is the quality of mind
concerned with things just and noble and good for man, but these are
the things which it is the mark of a good man to do, and we are none
the more able to act for knowing them if the virtues are states of
character, just as we are none the better able to act for knowing the
things that are healthy and sound, in the sense not of producing but
of issuing from the state of health; for we are none the more able to
act for having the art of medicine or of gymnastics. But (2) if we are
to say that a man should have practical wisdom not for the sake of
knowing moral truths but for the sake of becoming good, practical
wisdom will be of no use to those who are good; again it is of no use
to those who have not virtue; for it will make no difference whether
they have practical wisdom themselves or obey others who have it, and
it would be enough for us to do what we do in the case of health;
though we wish to become healthy, yet we do not learn the art of
medicine. (3) Besides this, it would be thought strange if practical
wisdom, being inferior to philosophic wisdom, is to be put in
authority over it, as seems to be implied by the fact that the art
which produces anything rules and issues commands about that thing.
These, then, are the questions we must discuss; so far we have only
stated the difficulties.
(1) Now first let us say that in themselves these states must be
worthy of choice because they are the virtues of the two parts of the
soul respectively, even if neither of them produce anything.
(2) Secondly, they do produce something, not as the art of medicine
produces health, however, but as health produces health; so does
philosophic wisdom produce happiness; for, being a part of virtue
entire, by being possessed and by actualizing itself it makes a man
happy.
(3) Again, the work of man is achieved only in accordance with
practical wisdom as well as with moral virtue; for virtue makes us aim
at the right mark, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means.
(Of the fourth part of the soul-the nutritive-there is no such virtue;
for there is nothing which it is in its power to do or not to do.)
(4) With regard to our being none the more able to do because of our
practical wisdom what is noble and just, let us begin a little further
back, starting with the following principle. As we say that some
people who do just acts are not necessarily just, i.e. those who do
the acts ordained by the laws either unwillingly or owing to ignorance
or for some other reason and not for the sake of the acts themselves
(though, to be sure, they do what they should and all the things that
the good man ought), so is it, it seems, that in order to be good one
must be in a certain state when one does the several acts, i.e. one
must do them as a result of choice and for the sake of the acts

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