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Nicomachean Ethics   


and good men than with strangers or any chance persons. Therefore the
happy man needs friends.
What then is it that the first school means, and in what respect is it
right? Is it that most identify friends with useful people? Of such
friends indeed the supremely happy man will have no need, since he
already has the things that are good; nor will he need those whom one
makes one's friends because of their pleasantness, or he will need
them only to a small extent (for his life, being pleasant, has no need
of adventitious pleasure); and because he does not need such friends
he is thought not to need friends.
But that is surely not true. For we have said at the outset that
happiness is an activity; and activity plainly comes into being and is
not present at the start like a piece of property. If (1) happiness
lies in living and being active, and the good man's activity is
virtuous and pleasant in itself, as we have said at the outset, and
(2) a thing's being one's own is one of the attributes that make it
pleasant, and (3) we can contemplate our neighbours better than
ourselves and their actions better than our own, and if the actions of
virtuous men who are their friends are pleasant to good men (since
these have both the attributes that are naturally pleasant),-if this
be so, the supremely happy man will need friends of this sort, since
his purpose is to contemplate worthy actions and actions that are his
own, and the actions of a good man who is his friend have both these
qualities.
Further, men think that the happy man ought to live pleasantly. Now if
he were a solitary, life would be hard for him; for by oneself it is
not easy to be continuously active; but with others and towards others
it is easier. With others therefore his activity will be more
continuous, and it is in itself pleasant, as it ought to be for the
man who is supremely happy; for a good man qua good delights in
virtuous actions and is vexed at vicious ones, as a musical man enjoys
beautiful tunes but is pained at bad ones. A certain training in
virtue arises also from the company of the good, as Theognis has said
before us.
If we look deeper into the nature of things, a virtuous friend seems
to be naturally desirable for a virtuous man. For that which is good
by nature, we have said, is for the virtuous man good and pleasant in
itself. Now life is defined in the case of animals by the power of
perception in that of man by the power of perception or thought; and a
power is defined by reference to the corresponding activity, which is
the essential thing; therefore life seems to be essentially the act of
perceiving or thinking. And life is among the things that are good and
pleasant in themselves, since it is determinate and the determinate is
of the nature of the good; and that which is good by nature is also
good for the virtuous man (which is the reason why life seems pleasant
to all men); but we must not apply this to a wicked and corrupt life
nor to a life spent in pain; for such a life is indeterminate, as are
its attributes. The nature of pain will become plainer in what
follows. But if life itself is good and pleasant (which it seems to
be, from the very fact that all men desire it, and particularly those
who are good and supremely happy; for to such men life is most
desirable, and their existence is the most supremely happy) and if he
who sees perceives that he sees, and he who hears, that he hears, and
he who walks, that he walks, and in the case of all other activities
similarly there is something which perceives that we are active, so
that if we perceive, we perceive that we perceive, and if we think,
that we think; and if to perceive that we perceive or think is to
perceive that we exist (for existence was defined as perceiving or
thinking); and if perceiving that one lives is in itself one of the
things that are pleasant (for life is by nature good, and to perceive
what is good present in oneself is pleasant); and if life is
desirable, and particularly so for good men, because to them existence
is good and pleasant for they are pleased at the consciousness of the
presence in them of what is in itself good); and if as the virtuous

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