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Nicomachean Ethics   


neutral state is painful to many people because of their nature. For
the animal nature is always in travail, as the students of natural
science also testify, saying that sight and hearing are painful; but
we have become used to this, as they maintain. Similarly, while, in
youth, people are, owing to the growth that is going on, in a
situation like that of drunken men, and youth is pleasant, on the
other hand people of excitable nature always need relief; for even
their body is ever in torment owing to its special composition, and
they are always under the influence of violent desire; but pain is
driven out both by the contrary pleasure, and by any chance pleasure
if it be strong; and for these reasons they become self-indulgent and
bad. But the pleasures that do not involve pains do not admit of
excess; and these are among the things pleasant by nature and not
incidentally. By things pleasant incidentally I mean those that act as
cures (for because as a result people are cured, through some action
of the part that remains healthy, for this reason the process is
thought pleasant); by things naturally pleasant I mean those that
stimulate the action of the healthy nature.
There is no one thing that is always pleasant, because our nature is
not simple but there is another element in us as well, inasmuch as we
are perishable creatures, so that if the one element does something,
this is unnatural to the other nature, and when the two elements are
evenly balanced, what is done seems neither painful nor pleasant; for
if the nature of anything were simple, the same action would always be
most pleasant to it. This is why God always enjoys a single and simple
pleasure; for there is not only an activity of movement but an
activity of immobility, and pleasure is found more in rest than in
movement. But 'change in all things is sweet', as the poet says,
because of some vice; for as it is the vicious man that is changeable,
so the nature that needs change is vicious; for it is not simple nor
good.
We have now discussed continence and incontinence, and pleasure and
pain, both what each is and in what sense some of them are good and
others bad; it remains to speak of friendship.
Nicomachean Ethics
By Aristotle
Written 350 B.C.E 1
After what we have said, a discussion of friendship would naturally
follow, since it is a virtue or implies virtue, and is besides most
necessary with a view to living. For without friends no one would
choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men and those
in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to need
friends most of all; for what is the use of such prosperity without
the opportunity of beneficence, which is exercised chiefly and in its
most laudable form towards friends? Or how can prosperity be guarded
and preserved without friends? The greater it is, the more exposed is
it to risk. And in poverty and in other misfortunes men think friends
are the only refuge. It helps the young, too, to keep from error; it
aids older people by ministering to their needs and supplementing the
activities that are failing from weakness; those in the prime of life
it stimulates to noble actions-'two going together'-for with friends
men are more able both to think and to act. Again, parent seems by
nature to feel it for offspring and offspring for parent, not only
among men but among birds and among most animals; it is felt mutually
by members of the same race, and especially by men, whence we praise
lovers of their fellowmen. We may even in our travels how near and
dear every man is to every other. Friendship seems too to hold states
together, and lawgivers to care more for it than for justice; for
unanimity seems to be something like friendship, and this they aim at
most of all, and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when men are
friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they
need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought to
be a friendly quality.
But it is not only necessary but also noble; for we praise those who

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