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Nicomachean Ethics   


a habit than to change one's nature; even habit is hard to change just
because it is like nature, as Evenus says:
I say that habit's but a long practice, friend,
And this becomes men's nature in the end.
We have now stated what continence, incontinence, endurance, and
softness are, and how these states are related to each other.
11
The study of pleasure and pain belongs to the province of the
political philosopher; for he is the architect of the end, with a view
to which we call one thing bad and another good without qualification.
Further, it is one of our necessary tasks to consider them; for not
only did we lay it down that moral virtue and vice are concerned with
pains and pleasures, but most people say that happiness involves
pleasure; this is why the blessed man is called by a name derived from
a word meaning enjoyment.
Now (1) some people think that no pleasure is a good, either in itself
or incidentally, since the good and pleasure are not the same; (2)
others think that some pleasures are good but that most are bad. (3)
Again there is a third view, that even if all pleasures are good, yet
the best thing in the world cannot be pleasure. (1) The reasons given
for the view that pleasure is not a good at all are (a) that every
pleasure is a perceptible process to a natural state, and that no
process is of the same kind as its end, e.g. no process of building of
the same kind as a house. (b) A temperate man avoids pleasures. (c) A
man of practical wisdom pursues what is free from pain, not what is
pleasant. (d) The pleasures are a hindrance to thought, and the more
so the more one delights in them, e.g. in sexual pleasure; for no one
could think of anything while absorbed in this. (e) There is no art of
pleasure; but every good is the product of some art. (f) Children and
the brutes pursue pleasures. (2) The reasons for the view that not all
pleasures are good are that (a) there are pleasures that are actually
base and objects of reproach, and (b) there are harmful pleasures; for
some pleasant things are unhealthy. (3) The reason for the view that
the best thing in the world is not pleasure is that pleasure is not an
end but a process.
12
These are pretty much the things that are said. That it does not
follow from these grounds that pleasure is not a good, or even the
chief good, is plain from the following considerations. (A) (a) First,
since that which is good may be so in either of two senses (one thing
good simply and another good for a particular person), natural
constitutions and states of being, and therefore also the
corresponding movements and processes, will be correspondingly
divisible. Of those which are thought to be bad some will be bad if
taken without qualification but not bad for a particular person, but
worthy of his choice, and some will not be worthy of choice even for a
particular person, but only at a particular time and for a short
period, though not without qualification; while others are not even
pleasures, but seem to be so, viz. all those which involve pain and
whose end is curative, e.g. the processes that go on in sick persons.
(b) Further, one kind of good being activity and another being state,
the processes that restore us to our natural state are only
incidentally pleasant; for that matter the activity at work in the
appetites for them is the activity of so much of our state and nature
as has remained unimpaired; for there are actually pleasures that
involve no pain or appetite (e.g. those of contemplation), the nature
in such a case not being defective at all. That the others are
incidental is indicated by the fact that men do not enjoy the same
pleasant objects when their nature is in its settled state as they do
when it is being replenished, but in the former case they enjoy the
things that are pleasant without qualification, in the latter the
contraries of these as well; for then they enjoy even sharp and bitter
things, none of which is pleasant either by nature or without
qualification. The states they produce, therefore, are not pleasures

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