Aristotle – Part I


Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. Translated by D. P. Chase.  Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg, 2003. Retrieved 2019, from

Every art, and every science reduced to a teachable form, and in like manner every action and moral choice, aims, it is thought, at some good: for which reason a common and by no means a bad description of the Chief Good is, “that which all things aim at.”
Now there plainly is a difference in the Ends proposed: for in some cases they are acts of working, and in others certain works or tangible results beyond and beside the acts of working: and where there are certain Ends beyond and beside the actions, the works are in their nature better than the acts of working. Again, since actions and arts and sciences are many, the Ends likewise come to be many: of the healing art, for instance, health; of the ship-building art, a vessel; of the military art, victory; and of domestic management, wealth; are respectively the Ends.
And whatever of such actions, arts, or sciences range under some one faculty (as under that of horsemanship the art of making bridles, and all that are connected with the manufacture of horse-furniture in general; this itself again, and every action connected with war, under the military art; and in the same way others under others), in all such, the Ends of the master-arts are more choice-worthy than those ranging under them, because it is with a view to the former that the latter are pursued.
(And in this comparison it makes no difference whether the acts of working are themselves the Ends of the actions, or something further beside them, as is the case in the arts and sciences we have been just speaking of.)
Since then of all things which may be done there is some one End which we desire for its own sake, and with a view to which we desire everything else; and since we do not choose in all instances with a further End in view (for then men would go on without limit, and so the desire would be unsatisfied and fruitless), this plainly must be the Chief Good, _i.e._ the best thing of all.
Surely then, even with reference to actual life and conduct, the knowledge of it must have great weight; and like archers, with a mark in view, we shall be more likely to hit upon what is right: and if so, we ought to try to describe, in outline at least, what it is and of which of the sciences and faculties it is the End.
We must be content then, in speaking of such things and from such data, to set forth the truth roughly and in outline; in other words, since we are speaking of general matter and from general data, to draw also conclusions merely general. And in the same spirit should each person receive what we say: for the man of education will seek exactness so far in each subject as the nature of the thing admits, it being plainly much the same absurdity to put up with a mathematician who tries to persuade instead of proving, and to demand strict demonstrative reasoning of a Rhetorician.
Now each man judges well what he knows, and of these things he is a good judge: on each particular matter then he is a good judge who has been instructed in _it_, and in a general way the man of general mental cultivation.
Hence the young man is not a fit student of Moral Philosophy, for he has no experience in the actions of life, while all that is said presupposes and is concerned with these: and in the next place, since he is apt to follow the impulses of his passions, he will hear as though he heard not, and to no profit, the end in view being practice and not mere knowledge.
And I draw no distinction between young in years, and youthful in temper and disposition: the defect to which I allude being no direct result of the time, but of living at the beck and call of passion, and following each object as it rises. For to them that are such the knowledge comes to be unprofitable, as to those of imperfect self-control: but, to those who form their desires and act in accordance with reason, to have knowledge on these points must be very profitable.
Let thus much suffice by way of preface on these three points, the student, the spirit in which our observations should be received, and the object which we propose.
And now, resuming the statement with which we commenced, since all knowledge and moral choice grasps at good of some kind or another, what good is that which we say [Greek: _politikai_] aims at? or, in other words, what is the highest of all the goods which are the objects of action?
So far as name goes, there is a pretty general agreement: for HAPPINESS both the multitude and the refined few call it, and “living well” and “doing well” they conceive to be the same with “being happy;” but about the Nature of this Happiness, men dispute, and the multitude do not in their account of it agree with the wise. For some say it is some one of those things which are palpable and apparent, as pleasure or wealth or honour; in fact, some one thing, some another; nay, oftentimes the same man gives a different account of it; for when ill, he calls it health; when poor, wealth: and conscious of their own ignorance, men admire those who talk grandly and above their comprehension. Some again held it to be something by itself, other than and beside these many good things, which is in fact to all these the cause of their being good.
Now to sift all the opinions would be perhaps rather a fruitless task; so it shall suffice to sift those which are most generally current, or are thought to have some reason in them.
And here we must not forget the difference between reasoning from principles, and reasoning to principles: for with good cause did Plato too doubt about this, and inquire whether the right road is from principles or to principles, just as in the racecourse from the judges to the further end, or _vice versâ_.
Of course, we must begin with what is known; but then this is of two kinds, what we do know, and what we may know: perhaps then as individuals we must begin with what we do know. Hence the necessity that he should have been well trained in habits, who is to study, with any tolerable chance of profit, the principles of nobleness and justice and moral philosophy generally. For a principle is a matter of fact, and if the fact is sufficiently clear to a man there will be no need in addition of the reason for the fact. And he that has been thus trained either has principles already, or can receive them easily: as for him who neither has nor can receive them, let him hear his sentence from Hesiod:
He is best of all who of himself conceiveth all things;
Good again is he too who can adopt a good suggestion;
But whoso neither of himself conceiveth nor hearing from another
Layeth it to heart;—he is a useless man.
Now of the Chief Good (i.e. of Happiness) men seem to form their notions from the different modes of life, as we might naturally expect: the many and most low conceive it to be pleasure, and hence they are content with the life of sensual enjoyment. For there are three lines of life which stand out prominently to view: that just mentioned, and the life in society, and, thirdly, the life of contemplation.
Now the many are plainly quite slavish, choosing a life like that of brute animals: yet they obtain some consideration, because many of the great share the tastes of Sardanapalus. The refined and active again conceive it to be honour: for this may be said to be the end of the life in society: yet it is plainly too superficial for the object of our search, because it is thought to rest with those who pay rather than with him who receives it, whereas the Chief Good we feel instinctively must be something which is our own, and not easily to be taken from us.
And besides, men seem to pursue honour, that they may believe themselves to be good: for instance, they seek to be honoured by the wise, and by those among whom they are known, and for virtue: clearly then, in the opinion at least of these men, virtue is higher than honour. In truth, one would be much more inclined to think this to be the end of the life in society; yet this itself is plainly not sufficiently final: for it is conceived possible, that a man possessed of virtue might sleep or be inactive all through his life, or, as a third case, suffer the greatest evils and misfortunes: and the man who should live thus no one would call happy, except for mere disputation’s sake.
If, on the other hand, these are independent goods, then we shall require that the account of the goodness be the same clearly in all, just as that of the whiteness is in snow and white lead. But how stands the fact? Why of honour and wisdom and pleasure the accounts are distinct and different in so far as they are good. The Chief Good then is not something common, and after one [Greek: idea].
But then, how does the name come to be common (for it is not seemingly a case of fortuitous equivocation)? Are different individual things called good by virtue of being from one source, or all conducing to one end, or rather by way of analogy, for that intellect is to the soul as sight to the body, and so on? However, perhaps we ought to leave these questions now, for an accurate investigation of them is more properly the business of a different philosophy. And likewise respecting the [Greek: idea]: for even if there is some one good predicated in common of all things that are good, or separable and capable of existing independently, manifestly it cannot be the object of human action or attainable by Man; but we are in search now of something that is so.
It may readily occur to any one, that it would be better to attain a knowledge of it with a view to such concrete goods as are attainable and practical, because, with this as a kind of model in our hands, we shall the better know what things are good for us individually, and when we know them, we shall attain them.
And now let us revert to the Good of which we are in search: what can it be? for manifestly it is different in different actions and arts: for it is different in the healing art and in the art military, and similarly in the rest. What then is the Chief Good in each? Is it not “that for the sake of which the other things are done?” and this in the healing art is health, and in the art military victory, and in that of house-building a house, and in any other thing something else; in short, in every action and moral choice the End, because in all cases men do everything else with a view to this. So that if there is some one End of all things which are and may be done, this must be the Good proposed by doing, or if more than one, then these.
Thus our discussion after some traversing about has come to the same point which we reached before. And this we must try yet more to clear up.
Now since the ends are plainly many, and of these we choose some with a view to others (wealth, for instance, musical instruments, and, in general, all instruments), it is clear that all are not final: but the Chief Good is manifestly something final; and so, if there is some one only which is final, this must be the object of our search: but if several, then the most final of them will be it.
Now that which is an object of pursuit in itself we call more final than that which is so with a view to something else; that again which is never an object of choice with a view to something else than those which are so both in themselves and with a view to this ulterior object: and so by the term “absolutely final,” we denote that which is an object of choice always in itself, and never with a view to any other.
And of this nature Happiness is mostly thought to be, for this we choose always for its own sake, and never with a view to anything further: whereas honour, pleasure, intellect, in fact every excellence we choose for their own sakes, it is true (because we would choose each of these even if no result were to follow), but we choose them also with a view to happiness, conceiving that through their instrumentality we shall be happy: but no man chooses happiness with a view to them, nor in fact with a view to any other thing whatsoever.
The same result is seen to follow also from the notion of self-sufficiency, a quality thought to belong to the final good. Now by sufficient for Self, we mean not for a single individual living a solitary life, but for his parents also and children and wife, and, in general, friends and countrymen; for man is by nature adapted to a social existence. But of these, of course, some limit must be fixed: for if one extends it to parents and descendants and friends’ friends, there is no end to it. This point, however, must be left for future investigation: for the present we define that to be self-sufficient “which taken alone makes life choice-worthy, and to be in want of nothing;” now of such kind we think Happiness to be: and further, to be most choice-worthy of all things; not being reckoned with any other thing, for if it were so reckoned, it is plain we must then allow it, with the addition of ever so small a good, to be more choice-worthy than it was before: because what is put to it becomes an addition of so much more good, and of goods the greater is ever the more choice-worthy.
So then Happiness is manifestly something final and self-sufficient, being the end of all things which are and may be done.
But, it may be, to call Happiness the Chief Good is a mere truism, and what is wanted is some clearer account of its real nature. Now this object may be easily attained, when we have discovered what is the work of man; for as in the case of flute-player, statuary, or artisan of any kind, or, more generally, all who have any work or course of action, their Chief Good and Excellence is thought to reside in their work, so it would seem to be with man, if there is any work belonging to him.
Are we then to suppose, that while carpenter and cobbler have certain works and courses of action, Man as Man has none, but is left by Nature without a work? or would not one rather hold, that as eye, hand, and foot, and generally each of his members, has manifestly some special work; so too the whole Man, as distinct from all these, has some work of his own?
What then can this be? not mere life, because that plainly is shared with him even by vegetables, and we want what is peculiar to him. We must separate off then the life of mere nourishment and growth, and next will come the life of sensation: but this again manifestly is common to horses, oxen, and every animal. There remains then a kind of life of the Rational Nature apt to act: and of this Nature there are two parts denominated Rational, the one as being obedient to Reason, the other as having and exerting it. Again, as this life is also spoken of in two ways, we must take that which is in the way of actual working, because this is thought to be most properly entitled to the name. If then the work of Man is a working of the soul in accordance with reason, or at least not independently of reason, and we say that the work of any given subject, and of that subject good of its kind, are the same in kind (as, for instance, of a harp-player and a good harp-player, and so on in every case, adding to the work eminence in the way of excellence; I mean, the work of a harp-player is to play the harp, and of a good harp-player to play it well); if, I say, this is so, and we assume the work of Man to be life of a certain kind, that is to say a working of the soul, and actions with reason, and of a good man to do these things well and nobly, and in fact everything is finished off well in the way of the excellence which peculiarly belongs to it: if all this is so, then the Good of Man comes to be “a working of the Soul in the way of Excellence,” or, if Excellence admits of degrees, in the way of the best and most perfect Excellence.
And we must add, in a complete life; for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.
Let this then be taken for a rough sketch of the Chief Good: since it is probably the right way to give first the outline, and fill it in afterwards. And it would seem that any man may improve and connect what is good in the sketch, and that time is a good discoverer and co-operator in such matters: it is thus in fact that all improvements in the various arts have been brought about, for any man may fill up a deficiency.
We must now inquire concerning Happiness, not only from our conclusion and the data on which our reasoning proceeds, but likewise from what is commonly said about it: because with what is true all things which really are are in harmony, but with that which is false the true very soon jars.
Now there is a common division of goods into three classes; one being called external, the other two those of the soul and body respectively, and those belonging to the soul we call most properly and specially good. Well, in our definition we assume that the actions and workings of the soul constitute Happiness, and these of course belong to the soul. And so our account is a good one, at least according to this opinion, which is of ancient date, and accepted by those who profess philosophy. Rightly too are certain actions and workings said to be the end, for thus it is brought into the number of the goods of the soul instead of the external. Agreeing also with our definition is the common notion, that the happy man lives well and does well, for it has been stated by us to be pretty much a kind of living well and doing well.
Now to be sure, if anything else is a gift of the Gods to men, it is probable that Happiness is a gift of theirs too, and specially because of all human goods it is the highest. But this, it may be, is a question belonging more properly to an investigation different from ours: and it is quite clear, that on the supposition of its not being sent from the Gods direct, but coming to us by reason of virtue and learning of a certain kind, or discipline, it is yet one of the most Godlike things; because the prize and End of virtue is manifestly somewhat most excellent, nay divine and blessed.
For to constitute Happiness, there must be, as we have said, complete virtue and a complete life: for many changes and chances of all kinds arise during a life, and he who is most prosperous may become involved in great misfortunes in his old age, as in the heroic poems the tale is told of Priam: but the man who has experienced such fortune and died in wretchedness, no man calls happy.
Are we then to call no man happy while he lives, and, as Solon would have us, look to the end? And again, if we are to maintain this position, is a man then happy when he is dead? or is not this a complete absurdity, specially in us who say Happiness is a working of a certain kind?
Nor, in truth, is he shifting and easily changeable, for on the one hand from his happiness he will not be shaken easily nor by ordinary mischances, but, if at all, by those which are great and numerous; and, on the other, after such mischances he cannot regain his happiness in a little time; but, if at all, in a long and complete period, during which he has made himself master of great and noble things.
Having determined these points, let us examine with respect to Happiness, whether it belongs to the class of things praiseworthy or things precious; for to that of faculties it evidently does not.
Now it is plain that everything which is a subject of praise is praised for being of a certain kind and bearing a certain relation to something else: for instance, the just, and the valiant, and generally the good man, and virtue itself, we praise because of the actions and the results: and the strong man, and the quick runner, and so forth, we praise for being of a certain nature and bearing a certain relation to something good and excellent (and this is illustrated by attempts to praise the gods; for they are presented in a ludicrous aspect by being referred to our standard, and this results from the fact, that all praise does, as we have said, imply reference to a standard). Now if it is to such objects that praise belongs, it is evident that what is applicable to the best objects is not praise, but something higher and better: which is plain matter of fact, for not only do we call the gods blessed and happy, but of men also we pronounce those blessed who most nearly resemble the gods. And in like manner in respect of goods; no man thinks of praising Happiness as he does the principle of justice, but calls it blessed, as being somewhat more godlike and more excellent.
Eudoxus too is thought to have advanced a sound argument in support of the claim of pleasure to the highest prize: for the fact that, though it is one of the good things, it is not praised, he took for an indication of its superiority to those which are subjects of praise: a superiority he attributed also to a god and the Chief Good, on the ground that they form the standard to which everything besides is referred. For praise applies to virtue, because it makes men apt to do what is noble; but encomia to definite works of body or mind.
However, it is perhaps more suitable to a regular treatise on encomia to pursue this topic with exactness: it is enough for our purpose that from what has been said it is evident that Happiness belongs to the class of things precious and final. And it seems to be so also because of its being a starting-point; which it is, in that with a view to it we all do everything else that is done; now the starting-point and cause of good things we assume to be something precious and divine.
Moreover, since Happiness is a kind of working of the soul in the way of perfect Excellence, we must inquire concerning Excellence: for so probably shall we have a clearer view concerning Happiness; and again, he who is really a statesman is generally thought to have spent most pains on this, for he wishes to make the citizens good and obedient to the laws. (For examples of this class we have the lawgivers of the Cretans and Lacedaemonians and whatever other such there have been.) But if this investigation belongs properly to [Greek: politikae], then clearly the inquiry will be in accordance with our original design.
Well, we are to inquire concerning Excellence, i.e. Human Excellence of course, because it was the Chief Good of Man and the Happiness of Man that we were inquiring of just now. By Human Excellence we mean not that of man’s body but that of his soul; for we call Happiness a working of the Soul.
And if this is so, it is plain that some knowledge of the nature of the Soul is necessary for the statesman, just as for the Oculist a knowledge of the whole body, and the more so in proportion as [Greek: politikae] is more precious and higher than the healing art: and in fact physicians of the higher class do busy themselves much with the knowledge of the body.
So then the statesman is to consider the nature of the Soul: but he must do so with these objects in view, and so far only as may suffice for the objects of his special inquiry: for to carry his speculations to a greater exactness is perhaps a task more laborious than falls within his province.
And there seems to be another Irrational Nature of the Soul, which yet in a way partakes of Reason. For in the man who controls his appetites, and in him who resolves to do so and fails, we praise the Reason or Rational part of the Soul, because it exhorts aright and to the best course: but clearly there is in them, beside the Reason, some other natural principle which fights with and strains against the Reason. (For in plain terms, just as paralysed limbs of the body when their owners would move them to the right are borne aside in a contrary direction to the left, so is it in the case of the Soul, for the impulses of men who cannot control their appetites are to contrary points: the difference is that in the case of the body we do see what is borne aside but in the case of the soul we do not. But, it may be, not the less on that account are we to suppose that there is in the Soul also somewhat besides the Reason, which is opposed to this and goes against it; as to how it is different, that is irrelevant.)
But of Reason this too does evidently partake, as we have said: for instance, in the man of self-control it obeys Reason: and perhaps in the man of perfected self-mastery, or the brave man, it is yet more obedient; in them it agrees entirely with the Reason.

Well: human Excellence is of two kinds, Intellectual and Moral: now the Intellectual springs originally, and is increased subsequently, from teaching (for the most part that is), and needs therefore experience and time; whereas the Moral comes from custom, and so the Greek term denoting it is but a slight deflection from the term denoting custom in that language.
From this fact it is plain that not one of the Moral Virtues comes to be in us merely by nature: because of such things as exist by nature, none can be changed by custom: a stone, for instance, by nature gravitating downwards, could never by custom be brought to ascend, not even if one were to try and accustom it by throwing it up ten thousand times; nor could file again be brought to descend, nor in fact could anything whose nature is in one way be brought by custom to be in another. The Virtues then come to be in us neither by nature, nor in despite of nature, but we are furnished by nature with a capacity for receiving them and are perfected in them through custom.
Again, in whatever cases we get things by nature, we get the faculties first and perform the acts of working afterwards; an illustration of which is afforded by the case of our bodily senses, for it was not from having often seen or heard that we got these senses, but just the reverse: we had them and so exercised them, but did not have them because we had exercised them. But the Virtues we get by first performing single acts of working, which, again, is the case of other things, as the arts for instance; for what we have to make when we have learned how, these we learn how to make by making: men come to be builders, for instance, by building; harp-players, by playing on the harp: exactly so, by doing just actions we come to be just; by doing the actions of self-mastery we come to be perfected in self-mastery; and by doing brave actions brave.
And to the truth of this testimony is borne by what takes place in communities: because the law-givers make the individual members good men by habituation, and this is the intention certainly of every law-giver, and all who do not effect it well fail of their intent; and herein consists the difference between a good Constitution and a bad.
Again, every Virtue is either produced or destroyed from and by the very same circumstances: art too in like manner; I mean it is by playing the harp that both the good and the bad harp-players are formed: and similarly builders and all the rest; by building well men will become good builders; by doing it badly bad ones: in fact, if this had not been so, there would have been no need of instructors, but all men would have been at once good or bad in their several arts without them.
So too then is it with the Virtues: for by acting in the various relations in which we are thrown with our fellow men, we come to be, some just, some unjust: and by acting in dangerous positions and being habituated to feel fear or confidence, we come to be, some brave, others cowards.
Similarly is it also with respect to the occasions of lust and anger: for some men come to be perfected in self-mastery and mild, others destitute of all self-control and passionate; the one class by behaving in one way under them, the other by behaving in another. Or, in one word, the habits are produced from the acts of working like to them: and so what we have to do is to give a certain character to these particular acts, because the habits formed correspond to the differences of these.
So then, whether we are accustomed this way or that straight from childhood, makes not a small but an important difference, or rather I would say it makes all the difference.
Since then the object of the present treatise is not mere speculation, as it is of some others (for we are inquiring not merely that we may know what virtue is but that we may become virtuous, else it would have been useless), we must consider as to the particular actions how we are to do them, because, as we have just said, the quality of the habits that shall be formed depends on these.
Now, that we are to act in accordance with Right Reason is a general maxim, and may for the present be taken for granted: we will speak of it hereafter, and say both what Right Reason is, and what are its relations to the other virtues.
But let this point be first thoroughly understood between us, that all which can be said on moral action must be said in outline, as it were, and not exactly: for as we remarked at the commencement, such reasoning only must be required as the nature of the subject-matter admits of, and matters of moral action and expediency have no fixedness any more than matters of health. And if the subject in its general maxims is such, still less in its application to particular cases is exactness attainable: because these fall not under any art or system of rules, but it must be left in each instance to the individual agents to look to the exigencies of the particular case, as it is in the art of healing, or that of navigating a ship. Still, though the present subject is confessedly such, we must try and do what we can for it.
First then this must be noted, that it is the nature of such things to be spoiled by defect and excess; as we see in the case of health and strength (since for the illustration of things which cannot be seen we must use those that can), for excessive training impairs the strength as well as deficient: meat and drink, in like manner, in too great or too small quantities, impair the health: while in due proportion they cause, increase, and preserve it.
Thus it is therefore with the habits of perfected Self-Mastery and Courage and the rest of the Virtues: for the man who flies from and fears all things, and never stands up against anything, comes to be a coward; and he who fears nothing, but goes at everything, comes to be rash. In like manner too, he that tastes of every pleasure and abstains from none comes to lose all self-control; while he who avoids all, as do the dull and clownish, comes as it were to lose his faculties of perception: that is to say, the habits of perfected Self-Mastery and Courage are spoiled by the excess and defect, but by the mean state are preserved.
Furthermore, not only do the origination, growth, and marring of the habits come from and by the same circumstances, but also the acts of working after the habits are formed will be exercised on the same: for so it is also with those other things which are more directly matters of sight, strength for instance: for this comes by taking plenty of food and doing plenty of work, and the man who has attained strength is best able to do these: and so it is with the Virtues, for not only do we by abstaining from pleasures come to be perfected in Self-Mastery, but when we have come to be so we can best abstain from them: similarly too with Courage: for it is by accustoming ourselves to despise objects of fear and stand up against them that we come to be brave; and after we have come to be so we shall be best able to stand up against such objects.
And for a test of the formation of the habits we must take the pleasure or pain which succeeds the acts; for he is perfected in Self-Mastery who not only abstains from the bodily pleasures but is glad to do so; whereas he who abstains but is sorry to do it has not Self-Mastery: he again is brave who stands up against danger, either with positive pleasure or at least without any pain; whereas he who does it with pain is not brave.
The following considerations may also serve to set this in a clear light. There are principally three things moving us to choice and three to avoidance, the honourable, the expedient, the pleasant; and their three contraries, the dishonourable, the hurtful, and the painful: now the good man is apt to go right, and the bad man wrong, with respect to all these of course, but most specially with respect to pleasure: because not only is this common to him with all animals but also it is a concomitant of all those things which move to choice, since both the honourable and the expedient give an impression of pleasure.
Again, it grows up with us all from infancy, and so it is a hard matter to remove from ourselves this feeling, engrained as it is into our very life.
Again, we adopt pleasure and pain (some of us more, and some less) as the measure even of actions: for this cause then our whole business must be with them, since to receive right or wrong impressions of pleasure and pain is a thing of no little importance in respect of the actions. Once more; it is harder, as Heraclitus says, to fight against pleasure than against anger: now it is about that which is more than commonly difficult that art comes into being, and virtue too, because in that which is difficult the good is of a higher order: and so for this reason too both virtue and moral philosophy generally must wholly busy themselves respecting pleasures and pains, because he that uses these well will be good, he that does so ill will be bad.
Let us then be understood to have stated, that Virtue has for its object-matter pleasures and pains, and that it is either increased or marred by the same circumstances (differently used) by which it is originally generated, and that it exerts itself on the same circumstances out of which it was generated.
Now I can conceive a person perplexed as to the meaning of our statement, that men must do just actions to become just, and those of self-mastery to acquire the habit of self-mastery; “for,” he would say, “if men are doing the actions they have the respective virtues already, just as men are grammarians or musicians when they do the actions of either art.” May we not reply by saying that it is not so even in the case of the arts referred to: because a man may produce something grammatical either by chance or the suggestion of another; but then only will he be a grammarian when he not only produces something grammatical but does so grammarian-wise, i.e. in virtue of the grammatical knowledge he himself possesses.
Again, the cases of the arts and the virtues are not parallel: because those things which are produced by the arts have their excellence in themselves, and it is sufficient therefore that these when produced should be in a certain state: but those which are produced in the way of the virtues, are, strictly speaking, actions of a certain kind (say of Justice or perfected Self-Mastery), not merely if in themselves they are in a certain state but if also he who does them does them being himself in a certain state, first if knowing what he is doing, next if with deliberate preference, and with such preference for the things’ own sake; and thirdly if being himself stable and unapt to change. Now to constitute possession of the arts these requisites are not reckoned in, excepting the one point of knowledge: whereas for possession of the virtues knowledge avails little or nothing, but the other requisites avail not a little, but, in fact, are all in all, and these requisites as a matter of fact do come from oftentimes doing the actions of Justice and perfected Self-Mastery.
The facts, it is true, are called by the names of these habits when they are such as the just or perfectly self-mastering man would do; but he is not in possession of the virtues who merely does these facts, but he who also so does them as the just and self-mastering do them.
We are right then in saying, that these virtues are formed in a man by his doing the actions; but no one, if he should leave them undone, would be even in the way to become a good man. Yet people in general do not perform these actions, but taking refuge in talk they flatter themselves they are philosophising, and that they will so be good men: acting in truth very like those sick people who listen to the doctor with great attention but do nothing that he tells them: just as these then cannot be well bodily under such a course of treatment, so neither can those be mentally by such philosophising.
By Feelings, I mean such as lust, anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, friendship, hatred, longing, emulation, compassion, in short all such as are followed by pleasure or pain: by Capacities, those in right of which we are said to be capable of these feelings; as by virtue of which we are able to have been made angry, or grieved, or to have compassionated; by States, those in right of which we are in a certain relation good or bad to the aforementioned feelings; to having been made angry, for instance, we are in a wrong relation if in our anger we were too violent or too slack, but if we were in the happy medium we are in a right relation to the feeling. And so on of the rest.
Now Feelings neither the virtues nor vices are, because in right of the Feelings we are not denominated either good or bad, but in right of the virtues and vices we are.
Again, in right of the Feelings we are neither praised nor blamed (for a man is not commended for being afraid or being angry, nor blamed for being angry merely but for being so in a particular way), but in right of the virtues and vices we are. Again, both anger and fear we feel without moral choice, whereas the virtues are acts of moral choice, or at least certainly not independent of it. Moreover, in right of the Feelings we are said to be moved, but in right of the virtues and vices not to be moved, but disposed, in a certain way. And for these same reasons they are not Capacities, for we are not called good or bad merely because we are able to feel, nor are we praised or blamed. And again, Capacities we have by nature, but we do not come to be good or bad by nature, as we have said before. Since then the virtues are neither Feelings nor Capacities, it remains that they must be States.
In all quantity then, whether continuous or discrete, one may take the greater part, the less, or the exactly equal, and these either with reference to the thing itself, or relatively to us: and the exactly equal is a mean between excess and defect. Now by the mean of the thing, i.e. absolute mean, I denote that which is equidistant from either extreme (which of course is one and the same to all), and by the mean relatively to ourselves, that which is neither too much nor too little for the particular individual. This of course is not one nor the same to all: for instance, suppose ten is too much and two too little, people take six for the absolute mean; because it exceeds the smaller sum by exactly as much as it is itself exceeded by the larger, and this mean is according to arithmetical proportion.
So then it seems every one possessed of skill avoids excess and defect, but seeks for and chooses the mean, not the absolute but the relative.
Now if all skill thus accomplishes well its work by keeping an eye on the mean, and bringing the works to this point (whence it is common enough to say of such works as are in a good state, “one cannot add to or take ought from them,” under the notion of excess or defect destroying goodness but the mean state preserving it), and good artisans, as we say, work with their eye on this, and excellence, like nature, is more exact and better than any art in the world, it must have an aptitude to aim at the mean.
It is moral excellence, i.e. Virtue, of course which I mean, because this it is which is concerned with feelings and actions, and in these there can be excess and defect and the mean: it is possible, for instance, to feel the emotions of fear, confidence, lust, anger, compassion, and pleasure and pain generally, too much or too little, and in either case wrongly; but to feel them when we ought, on what occasions, towards whom, why, and as, we should do, is the mean, or in other words the best state, and this is the property of Virtue.
In like manner too with respect to the actions, there may be excess and defect and the mean. Now Virtue is concerned with feelings and actions, in which the excess is wrong and the defect is blamed but the mean is praised and goes right; and both these circumstances belong to Virtue. Virtue then is in a sense a mean state, since it certainly has an aptitude for aiming at the mean.
Again, one may go wrong in many different ways (because, as the Pythagoreans expressed it, evil is of the class of the infinite, good of the finite), but right only in one; and so the former is easy, the latter difficult; easy to miss the mark, but hard to hit it: and for these reasons, therefore, both the excess and defect belong to Vice, and the mean state to Virtue; for, as the poet has it,
“Men may be bad in many ways,
But good in one alone.”
Virtue then is “a state apt to exercise deliberate choice, being in the relative mean, determined by reason, and as the man of practical wisdom would determine.”
It is a middle state between too faulty ones, in the way of excess on one side and of defect on the other: and it is so moreover, because the faulty states on one side fall short of, and those on the other exceed, what is right, both in the case of the feelings and the actions; but Virtue finds, and when found adopts, the mean.
And so, viewing it in respect of its essence and definition, Virtue is a mean state; but in reference to the chief good and to excellence it is the highest state possible.
But it must not be supposed that every action or every feeling is capable of subsisting in this mean state, because some there are which are so named as immediately to convey the notion of badness, as malevolence, shamelessness, envy; or, to instance in actions, adultery, theft, homicide; for all these and suchlike are blamed because they are in themselves bad, not the having too much or too little of them.
In these then you never can go right, but must always be wrong: nor in such does the right or wrong depend on the selection of a proper person, time, or manner (take adultery for instance), but simply doing any one soever of those things is being wrong.
You might as well require that there should be determined a mean state, an excess and a defect in respect of acting unjustly, being cowardly, or giving up all control of the passions: for at this rate there will be of excess and defect a mean state; of excess, excess; and of defect, defect.
But just as of perfected self-mastery and courage there is no excess and defect, because the mean is in one point of view the highest possible state, so neither of those faulty states can you have a mean state, excess, or defect, but howsoever done they are wrong: you cannot, in short, have of excess and defect a mean state, nor of a mean state excess and defect.
It is not enough, however, to state this in general terms, we must also apply it to particular instances, because in treatises on moral conduct general statements have an air of vagueness, but those which go into detail one of greater reality: for the actions after all must be in detail, and the general statements, to be worth anything, must hold good here.
We must take these details then from the Table.
I. In respect of fears and confidence or boldness:
The Mean state is Courage: men may exceed, of course, either in absence of fear or in positive confidence: the former has no name (which is a common case), the latter is called rash: again, the man who has too much fear and too little confidence is called a coward.
II. In respect of pleasures and pains (but not all, and perhaps fewer pains than pleasures):
The Mean state here is perfected Self-Mastery, the defect total absence of Self-control. As for defect in respect of pleasure, there are really no people who are chargeable with it, so, of course, there is really no name for such characters, but, as they are conceivable, we will give them one and call them insensible.
III. In respect of giving and taking wealth (a):
The mean state is Liberality, the excess Prodigality, the defect Stinginess: here each of the extremes involves really an excess and defect contrary to each other: I mean, the prodigal gives out too much and takes in too little, while the stingy man takes in too much and gives out too little. (It must be understood that we are now giving merely an outline and summary, intentionally: and we will, in a later part of the treatise, draw out the distinctions with greater exactness.)
IV. In respect of wealth (b):
There are other dispositions besides these just mentioned; a mean state called Munificence (for the munificent man differs from the liberal, the former having necessarily to do with great wealth, the latter with but small); the excess called by the names either of Want of taste or Vulgar Profusion, and the defect Paltriness (these also differ from the extremes connected with liberality, and the manner of their difference shall also be spoken of later).
V. In respect of honour and dishonour (a):
The mean state Greatness of Soul, the excess which may be called braggadocio, and the defect Littleness of Soul.
VII. In respect of anger:
Here too there is excess, defect, and a mean state; but since they may be said to have really no proper names, as we call the virtuous character Meek, we will call the mean state Meekness, and of the extremes, let the man who is excessive be denominated Passionate, and the faulty state Passionateness, and him who is deficient Angerless, and the defect Angerlessness.
But for the discussion of these also there will be another opportunity, as of Justice too, because the term is used in more senses than one. So after this we will go accurately into each and say how they are mean states: and in like manner also with respect to the Intellectual Excellences.
Now as there are three states in each case, two faulty either in the way of excess or defect, and one right, which is the mean state, of course all are in a way opposed to one another; the extremes, for instance, not only to the mean but also to one another, and the mean to the extremes: for just as the half is greater if compared with the less portion, and less if compared with the greater, so the mean states, compared with the defects, exceed, whether in feelings or actions, and vice versa. The brave man, for instance, shows as rash when compared with the coward, and cowardly when compared with the rash; similarly too the man of perfected self-mastery, viewed in comparison with the man destitute of all perception, shows like a man of no self-control, but in comparison with the man who really has no self-control, he looks like one destitute of all perception: and the liberal man compared with the stingy seems prodigal, and by the side of the prodigal, stingy.
And so the extreme characters push away, so to speak, towards each other the man in the mean state; the brave man is called a rash man by the coward, and a coward by the rash man, and in the other cases accordingly. And there being this mutual opposition, the contrariety between the extremes is greater than between either and the mean, because they are further from one another than from the mean, just as the greater or less portion differ more from each other than either from the exact half.
Again, in some cases an extreme will bear a resemblance to the mean; rashness, for instance, to courage, and prodigality to liberality; but between the extremes there is the greatest dissimilarity. Now things which are furthest from one another are defined to be contrary, and so the further off the more contrary will they be.
Further: of the extremes in some cases the excess, and in others the defect, is most opposed to the mean: to courage, for instance, not rashness which is the excess, but cowardice which is the defect; whereas to perfected self-mastery not insensibility which is the defect but absence of all self-control which is the excess.
And for this there are two reasons to be given; one from the nature of the thing itself, because from the one extreme being nearer and more like the mean, we do not put this against it, but the other; as, for instance, since rashness is thought to be nearer to courage than cowardice is, and to resemble it more, we put cowardice against courage rather than rashness, because those things which are further from the mean are thought to be more contrary to it. This then is one reason arising from the thing itself; there is another arising from our own constitution and make: for in each man’s own case those things give the impression of being more contrary to the mean to which we individually have a natural bias. Thus we have a natural bias towards pleasures, for which reason we are much more inclined to the rejection of all self-control, than to self-discipline.
These things then to which the bias is, we call more contrary, and so total want of self-control (the excess) is more contrary than the defect is to perfected self-mastery.
Now that Moral Virtue is a mean state, and how it is so, and that it lies between two faulty states, one in the way of excess and another in the way of defect, and that it is so because it has an aptitude to aim at the mean both in feelings and actions, all this has been set forth fully and sufficiently.
And so it is hard to be good: for surely hard it is in each instance to find the mean, just as to find the mean point or centre of a circle is not what any man can do, but only he who knows how: just so to be angry, to give money, and be expensive, is what any man can do, and easy: but to do these to the right person, in due proportion, at the right time, with a right object, and in the right manner, this is not as before what any man can do, nor is it easy; and for this cause goodness is rare, and praiseworthy, and noble.
Therefore he who aims at the mean should make it his first care to keep away from that extreme which is more contrary than the other to the mean; just as Calypso in Homer advises Ulysses,
“Clear of this smoke and surge thy barque direct;”
because of the two extremes the one is always more, and the other less, erroneous; and, therefore, since to hit exactly on the mean is difficult, one must take the least of the evils as the safest plan; and this a man will be doing, if he follows this method.
We ought also to take into consideration our own natural bias; which varies in each man’s case, and will be ascertained from the pleasure and pain arising in us. Furthermore, we should force ourselves off in the contrary direction, because we shall find ourselves in the mean after we have removed ourselves far from the wrong side, exactly as men do in straightening bent timber.
But in all cases we must guard most carefully against what is pleasant, and pleasure itself, because we are not impartial judges of it.
We ought to feel in fact towards pleasure as did the old counsellors towards Helen, and in all cases pronounce a similar sentence; for so by sending it away from us, we shall err the less.
Well, to speak very briefly, these are the precautions by adopting which we shall be best able to attain the mean.
Still, perhaps, after all it is a matter of difficulty, and specially in the particular instances: it is not easy, for instance, to determine exactly in what manner, with what persons, for what causes, and for what length of time, one ought to feel anger: for we ourselves sometimes praise those who are defective in this feeling, and we call them meek; at another, we term the hot-tempered manly and spirited.
Then, again, he who makes a small deflection from what is right, be it on the side of too much or too little, is not blamed, only he who makes a considerable one; for he cannot escape observation. But to what point or degree a man must err in order to incur blame, it is not easy to determine exactly in words: nor in fact any of those points which are matter of perception by the Moral Sense: such questions are matters of detail, and the decision of them rests with the Moral Sense.
At all events thus much is plain, that the mean state is in all things praiseworthy, and that practically we must deflect sometimes towards excess sometimes towards defect, because this will be the easiest method of hitting on the mean, that is, on what is right.

I Now since Virtue is concerned with the regulation of feelings and actions, and praise and blame arise upon such as are voluntary, while for the involuntary allowance is made, and sometimes compassion is excited, it is perhaps a necessary task for those who are investigating the nature of Virtue to draw out the distinction between what is voluntary and what involuntary; and it is certainly useful for legislators, with respect to the assigning of honours and punishments.
Involuntary actions then are thought to be of two kinds, being done either on compulsion, or by reason of ignorance. An action is, properly speaking, compulsory, when the origination is external to the agent, being such that in it the agent (perhaps we may more properly say the patient) contributes nothing; as if a wind were to convey you anywhere, or men having power over your person.
But when actions are done, either from fear of greater evils, or from some honourable motive, as, for instance, if you were ordered to commit some base act by a despot who had your parents or children in his power, and they were to be saved upon your compliance or die upon your refusal, in such cases there is room for a question whether the actions are voluntary or involuntary.
A similar question arises with respect to cases of throwing goods overboard in a storm: abstractedly no man throws away his property willingly, but with a view to his own and his shipmates’ safety any one would who had any sense.
The truth is, such actions are of a mixed kind, but are most like voluntary actions; for they are choiceworthy at the time when they are being done, and the end or object of the action must be taken with reference to the actual occasion. Further, we must denominate an action voluntary or involuntary at the time of doing it: now in the given case the man acts voluntarily, because the originating of the motion of his limbs in such actions rests with himself; and where the origination is in himself it rests with himself to do or not to do.
Such actions then are voluntary, though in the abstract perhaps involuntary because no one would choose any of such things in and by itself.
But for such actions men sometimes are even praised, as when they endure any disgrace or pain to secure great and honourable equivalents; if vice versâ, then they are blamed, because it shows a base mind to endure things very disgraceful for no honourable object, or for a trifling one.
For some again no praise is given, but allowance is made; as where a man does what he should not by reason of such things as overstrain the powers of human nature, or pass the limits of human endurance.
Some acts perhaps there are for which compulsion cannot be pleaded, but a man should rather suffer the worst and die; how absurd, for instance, are the pleas of compulsion with which Alcmaeon in Euripides’ play excuses his matricide!
But it is difficult sometimes to decide what kind of thing should be chosen instead of what, or what endured in preference to what, and much moreso to abide by one’s decisions: for in general the alternatives are painful, and the actions required are base, and so praise or blame is awarded according as persons have been compelled or no.
What kind of actions then are to be called compulsory? may we say, simply and abstractedly whenever the cause is external and the agent contributes nothing; and that where the acts are in themselves such as one would not wish but choiceworthy at the present time and in preference to such and such things, and where the origination rests with the agent, the actions are in themselves involuntary but at the given time and in preference to such and such things voluntary; and they are more like voluntary than involuntary, because the actions consist of little details, and these are voluntary.
But what kind of things one ought to choose instead of what, it is not easy to settle, for there are many differences in particular instances.
But suppose a person should say, things pleasant and honourable exert a compulsive force (for that they are external and do compel); at that rate every action is on compulsion, because these are universal motives of action.
Again, they who act on compulsion and against their will do so with pain; but they who act by reason of what is pleasant or honourable act with pleasure.
It is truly absurd for a man to attribute his actions to external things instead of to his own capacity for being easily caught by them; or, again, to ascribe the honourable to himself, and the base ones to pleasure.
So then that seems to be compulsory “whose origination is from without, the party compelled contributing nothing.” Now every action of which ignorance is the cause is not-voluntary, but that only is involuntary which is attended with pain and remorse; for clearly the man who has done anything by reason of ignorance, but is not annoyed at his own action, cannot be said to have done it with his will because he did not know he was doing it, nor again against his will because he is not sorry for it.
So then of the class “acting by reason of ignorance,” he who feels regret afterwards is thought to be an involuntary agent, and him that has no such feeling, since he certainly is different from the other, we will call a not-voluntary agent; for as there is a real difference it is better to have a proper name.
Again, there seems to be a difference between acting because of ignorance and acting with ignorance: for instance, we do not usually assign ignorance as the cause of the actions of the drunken or angry man, but either the drunkenness or the anger, yet they act not knowingly but with ignorance.
Again, every bad man is ignorant what he ought to do and what to leave undone, and by reason of such error men become unjust and wholly evil.
Again, we do not usually apply the term involuntary when a man is ignorant of his own true interest; because ignorance which affects moral choice constitutes depravity but not involuntariness: nor does any ignorance of principle (because for this men are blamed) but ignorance in particular details, wherein consists the action and wherewith it is concerned, for in these there is both compassion and allowance, because he who acts in ignorance of any of them acts in a proper sense involuntarily.
It may be as well, therefore, to define these particular details; what they are, and how many; viz. who acts, what he is doing, with respect to what or in what, sometimes with what, as with what instrument, and with what result (as that of preservation, for instance), and how, as whether softly or violently.
All these particulars, in one and the same case, no man in his senses could be ignorant of; plainly not of the agent, being himself. But what he is doing a man may be ignorant, as men in speaking say a thing escaped them unawares; or as Aeschylus did with respect to the Mysteries, that he was not aware that it was unlawful to speak of them; or as in the case of that catapult accident the other day the man said he discharged it merely to display its operation. Or a person might suppose a son to be an enemy, as Merope did; or that the spear really pointed was rounded off; or that the stone was a pumice; or in striking with a view to save might kill; or might strike when merely wishing to show another, as people do in sham-fighting.
Now since ignorance is possible in respect to all these details in which the action consists, he that acted in ignorance of any of them is thought to have acted involuntarily, and he most so who was in ignorance as regards the most important, which are thought to be those in which the action consists, and the result.
Further, not only must the ignorance be of this kind, to constitute an action involuntary, but it must be also understood that the action is followed by pain and regret.
Now since all involuntary action is either upon compulsion or by reason of ignorance, Voluntary Action would seem to be “that whose origination is in the agent, he being aware of the particular details in which the action consists.”
For, it may be, men are not justified by calling those actions involuntary, which are done by reason of Anger or Lust.
Because, in the first place, if this be so no other animal but man, and not even children, can be said to act voluntarily. Next, is it meant that we never act voluntarily when we act from Lust or Anger, or that we act voluntarily in doing what is right and involuntarily in doing what is discreditable? The latter supposition is absurd, since the cause is one and the same. Then as to the former, it is a strange thing to maintain actions to be involuntary which we are bound to grasp at: now there are occasions on which anger is a duty, and there are things which we are bound to lust after, health, for instance, and learning.
Again, whereas actions strictly involuntary are thought to be attended with pain, those which are done to gratify lust are thought to be pleasant.
Again: how does the involuntariness make any difference between wrong actions done from deliberate calculation, and those done by reason of anger? for both ought to be avoided, and the irrational feelings are thought to be just as natural to man as reason, and so of course must be such actions of the individual as are done from Anger and Lust. It is absurd then to class these actions among the involuntary.
Having thus drawn out the distinction between voluntary and involuntary action our next step is to examine into the nature of Moral Choice, because this seems most intimately connected with Virtue and to be a more decisive test of moral character than a man’s acts are.
Now Moral Choice is plainly voluntary, but the two are not co-extensive, voluntary being the more comprehensive term; for first, children and all other animals share in voluntary action but not in Moral Choice; and next, sudden actions we call voluntary but do not ascribe them to Moral Choice.
Nor do they appear to be right who say it is lust or anger, or wish, or opinion of a certain kind; because, in the first place, Moral Choice is not shared by the irrational animals while Lust and Anger are. Next; the man who fails of self-control acts from Lust but not from Moral Choice; the man of self-control, on the contrary, from Moral Choice, not from Lust. Again: whereas Lust is frequently opposed to Moral Choice, Lust is not to Lust.
Lastly: the object-matter of Lust is the pleasant and the painful, but of Moral Choice neither the one nor the other. Still less can it be Anger, because actions done from Anger are thought generally to be least of all consequent on Moral Choice.
Nor is it Wish either, though appearing closely connected with it; because, in the first place, Moral Choice has not for its objects impossibilities, and if a man were to say he chose them he would be thought to be a fool; but Wish may have impossible things for its objects, immortality for instance.
Wish again may be exercised on things in the accomplishment of which one’s self could have nothing to do, as the success of any particular actor or athlete; but no man chooses things of this nature, only such as he believes he may himself be instrumental in procuring.
Further: Wish has for its object the End rather, but Moral Choice the means to the End; for instance, we wish to be healthy but we choose the means which will make us so; or happiness again we wish for, and commonly say so, but to say we choose is not an appropriate term, because, in short, the province of Moral Choice seems to be those things which are in our own power.
Neither can it be Opinion; for Opinion is thought to be unlimited in its range of objects, and to be exercised as well upon things eternal and impossible as on those which are in our own power: again, Opinion is logically divided into true and false, not into good and bad as Moral Choice is.
However, nobody perhaps maintains its identity with Opinion simply; but it is not the same with opinion of any kind, because by choosing good and bad things we are constituted of a certain character, but by having opinions on them we are not.
Again, we choose to take or avoid, and so on, but we opine what a thing is, or for what it is serviceable, or how; but we do not opine to take or avoid.
Further, Moral Choice is commended rather for having a right object than for being judicious, but Opinion for being formed in accordance with truth.
Again, we choose such things as we pretty well know to be good, but we form opinions respecting such as we do not know at all.
And it is not thought that choosing and opining best always go together, but that some opine the better course and yet by reason of viciousness choose not the things which they should.
It may be urged, that Opinion always precedes or accompanies Moral Choice; be it so, this makes no difference, for this is not the point in question, but whether Moral Choice is the same as Opinion of a certain kind.
Since then it is none of the aforementioned things, what is it, or how is it characterised? Voluntary it plainly is, but not all voluntary action is an object of Moral Choice. May we not say then, it is “that voluntary which has passed through a stage of previous deliberation?” because Moral Choice is attended with reasoning and intellectual process. The etymology of its Greek name seems to give a hint of it, being when analysed “chosen in preference to somewhat else.”
Well then; do men deliberate about everything, and is anything soever the object of Deliberation, or are there some matters with respect to which there is none? (It may be as well perhaps to say, that by “object of Deliberation” is meant such matter as a sensible man would deliberate upon, not what any fool or madman might.)
Well: about eternal things no one deliberates; as, for instance, the universe, or the incommensurability of the diameter and side of a square.
Nor again about things which are in motion but which always happen in the same way either necessarily, or naturally, or from some other cause, as the solstices or the sunrise.
Nor about those which are variable, as drought and rains; nor fortuitous matters, as finding of treasure.
Nor in fact even about all human affairs; no Lacedæmonian, for instance, deliberates as to the best course for the Scythian government to adopt; because in such cases we have no power over the result.
But we do deliberate respecting such practical matters as are in our own power (which are what are left after all our exclusions).
I have adopted this division because causes seem to be divisible into nature, necessity, chance, and moreover intellect, and all human powers.
And as man in general deliberates about what man in general can effect, so individuals do about such practical things as can be effected through their own instrumentality.
So then Deliberation takes place in such matters as are under general laws, but still uncertain how in any given case they will issue, i.e. in which there is some indefiniteness; and for great matters we associate coadjutors in counsel, distrusting our ability to settle them alone.
Further, we deliberate not about Ends, but Means to Ends. No physician, for instance, deliberates whether he will cure, nor orator whether he will persuade, nor statesman whether he will produce a good constitution, nor in fact any man in any other function about his particular End; but having set before them a certain End they look how and through what means it may be accomplished: if there is a choice of means, they examine further which are easiest and most creditable; or, if there is but one means of accomplishing the object, then how it may be through this, this again through what, till they come to the first cause; and this will be the last found; for a man engaged in a process of deliberation seems to seek and analyse, as a man, to solve a problem, analyses the figure given him. And plainly not every search is Deliberation, those in mathematics to wit, but every Deliberation is a search, and the last step in the analysis is the first in the constructive process. And if in the course of their search men come upon an impossibility, they give it up; if money, for instance, be necessary, but cannot be got: but if the thing appears possible they then attempt to do it.
And by possible I mean what may be done through our own instrumentality (of course what may be done through our friends is through our own instrumentality in a certain sense, because the origination in such cases rests with us). And the object of search is sometimes the necessary instruments, sometimes the method of using them; and similarly in the rest sometimes through what, and sometimes how or through what.
So it seems, as has been said, that Man is the originator of his actions; and Deliberation has for its object whatever may be done through one’s own instrumentality, and the actions are with a view to other things; and so it is, not the End, but the Means to Ends on which Deliberation is employed.
Nor, again, is it employed on matters of detail, as whether the substance before me is bread, or has been properly cooked; for these come under the province of sense, and if a man is to be always deliberating, he may go on ad infinitum.
Further, exactly the same matter is the object both of Deliberation and Moral Choice; but that which is the object of Moral Choice is thenceforward separated off and definite, because by object of Moral Choice is denoted that which after Deliberation has been preferred to something else: for each man leaves off searching how he shall do a thing when he has brought the origination up to himself, i.e. to the governing principle in himself, because it is this which makes the choice. A good illustration of this is furnished by the old regal constitutions which Homer drew from, in which the Kings would announce to the commonalty what they had determined before.
Now since that which is the object of Moral Choice is something in our own power, which is the object of deliberation and the grasping of the Will, Moral Choice must be “a grasping after something in our own power consequent upon Deliberation:” because after having deliberated we decide, and then grasp by our Will in accordance with the result of our deliberation.
Let this be accepted as a sketch of the nature and object of Moral Choice, that object being “Means to Ends.”
That Wish has for its object-matter the End, has been already stated; but there are two opinions respecting it; some thinking that its object is real good, others whatever impresses the mind with a notion of good.
Now those who maintain that the object of Wish is real good are beset by this difficulty, that what is wished for by him who chooses wrongly is not really an object of Wish (because, on their theory, if it is an object of wish, it must be good, but it is, in the case supposed, evil). Those who maintain, on the contrary, that that which impresses the mind with a notion of good is properly the object of Wish, have to meet this difficulty, that there is nothing naturally an object of Wish but to each individual whatever seems good to him; now different people have different notions, and it may chance contrary ones.
But, if these opinions do not satisfy us, may we not say that, abstractedly and as a matter of objective truth, the really good is the object of Wish, but to each individual whatever impresses his mind with the notion of good. And so to the good man that is an object of Wish which is really and truly so, but to the bad man anything may be; just as physically those things are wholesome to the healthy which are really so, but other things to the sick. And so too of bitter and sweet, and hot and heavy, and so on. For the good man judges in every instance correctly, and in every instance the notion conveyed to his mind is the true one.
For there are fair and pleasant things peculiar to, and so varying with, each state; and perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of the good man is his seeing the truth in every instance, he being, in fact, the rule and measure of these matters.
The multitude of men seem to be deceived by reason of pleasure, because though it is not really a good it impresses their minds with the notion of goodness, so they choose what is pleasant as good and avoid pain as an evil.
Now since the End is the object of Wish, and the means to the End of Deliberation and Moral Choice, the actions regarding these matters must be in the way of Moral Choice, i.e. voluntary: but the acts of working out the virtues are such actions, and therefore Virtue is in our power.
And so too is Vice: because wherever it is in our power to do it is also in our power to forbear doing, and vice versâ: therefore if the doing (being in a given case creditable) is in our power, so too is the forbearing (which is in the same case discreditable), and vice versâ.
But if it is in our power to do and to forbear doing what is creditable or the contrary, and these respectively constitute the being good or bad, then the being good or vicious characters is in our power.
As for the well-known saying, “No man voluntarily is wicked or involuntarily happy,” it is partly true, partly false; for no man is happy against his will, of course, but wickedness is voluntary. Or must we dispute the statements lately made, and not say that Man is the originator or generator of his actions as much as of his children?
But if this is matter of plain manifest fact, and we cannot refer our actions to any other originations beside those in our own power, those things must be in our own power, and so voluntary, the originations of which are in ourselves.
Moreover, testimony seems to be borne to these positions both privately by individuals, and by law-givers too, in that they chastise and punish those who do wrong (unless they do so on compulsion, or by reason of ignorance which is not self-caused), while they honour those who act rightly, under the notion of being likely to encourage the latter and restrain the former. But such things as are not in our own power, i.e. not voluntary, no one thinks of encouraging us to do, knowing it to be of no avail for one to have been persuaded not to be hot (for instance), or feel pain, or be hungry, and so forth, because we shall have those sensations all the same.
And what makes the case stronger is this: that they chastise for the very fact of ignorance, when it is thought to be self-caused; to the drunken, for instance, penalties are double, because the origination in such case lies in a man’s own self: for he might have helped getting drunk, and this is the cause of his ignorance.
Again, those also who are ignorant of legal regulations which they are bound to know, and which are not hard to know, they chastise; and similarly in all other cases where neglect is thought to be the cause of the ignorance, under the notion that it was in their power to prevent their ignorance, because they might have paid attention.
But perhaps a man is of such a character that he cannot attend to such things: still men are themselves the causes of having become such characters by living carelessly, and also of being unjust or destitute of self-control, the former by doing evil actions, the latter by spending their time in drinking and such-like; because the particular acts of working form corresponding characters, as is shown by those who are practising for any contest or particular course of action, for such men persevere in the acts of working.
As for the plea, that a man did not know that habits are produced from separate acts of working, we reply, such ignorance is a mark of excessive stupidity.
Furthermore, it is wholly irrelevant to say that the man who acts unjustly or dissolutely does not wish to attain the habits of these vices: for if a man wittingly does those things whereby he must become unjust he is to all intents and purposes unjust voluntarily; but he cannot with a wish cease to be unjust and become just. For, to take the analogous case, the sick man cannot with a wish be well again, yet in a supposable case he is voluntarily ill because he has produced his sickness by living intemperately and disregarding his physicians. There was a time then when he might have helped being ill, but now he has let himself go he cannot any longer; just as he who has let a stone out of his hand cannot recall it, and yet it rested with him to aim and throw it, because the origination was in his power. Just so the unjust man, and he who has lost all self-control, might originally have helped being what they are, and so they are voluntarily what they are; but now that they are become so they no longer have the power of being otherwise.
And not only are mental diseases voluntary, but the bodily are so in some men, whom we accordingly blame: for such as are naturally deformed no one blames, only such as are so by reason of want of exercise, and neglect: and so too of weakness and maiming: no one would think of upbraiding, but would rather compassionate, a man who is blind by nature, or from disease, or from an accident; but every one would blame him who was so from excess of wine, or any other kind of intemperance. It seems, then, that in respect of bodily diseases, those which depend on ourselves are censured, those which do not are not censured; and if so, then in the case of the mental disorders, those which are censured must depend upon ourselves.
But suppose a man to say, “that (by our own admission) all men aim at that which conveys to their minds an impression of good, and that men have no control over this impression, but that the End impresses each with a notion correspondent to his own individual character; that to be sure if each man is in a way the cause of his own moral state, so he will be also of the kind of impression he receives: whereas, if this is not so, no one is the cause to himself of doing evil actions, but he does them by reason of ignorance of the true End, supposing that through their means he will secure the chief good. Further, that this aiming at the End is no matter of one’s own choice, but one must be born with a power of mental vision, so to speak, whereby to judge fairly and choose that which is really good; and he is blessed by nature who has this naturally well: because it is the most important thing and the fairest, and what a man cannot get or learn from another but will have such as nature has given it; and for this to be so given well and fairly would be excellence of nature in the highest and truest sense.”
If all this be true, how will Virtue be a whit more voluntary than Vice? Alike to the good man and the bad, the End gives its impression and is fixed by nature or howsoever you like to say, and they act so and so, referring everything else to this End.
Whether then we suppose that the End impresses each man’s mind with certain notions not merely by nature, but that there is somewhat also dependent on himself; or that the End is given by nature, and yet Virtue is voluntary because the good man does all the rest voluntarily, Vice must be equally so; because his own agency equally attaches to the bad man in the actions, even if not in the selection of the End.
If then, as is commonly said, the Virtues are voluntary (because we at least co-operate in producing our moral states, and we assume the End to be of a certain kind according as we are ourselves of certain characters), the Vices must be voluntary also, because the cases are exactly similar.
Well now, we have stated generally respecting the Moral Virtues, the genus (in outline), that they are mean states, and that they are habits, and how they are formed, and that they are of themselves calculated to act upon the circumstances out of which they were formed, and that they are in our own power and voluntary, and are to be done so as right Reason may direct.
But the particular actions and the habits are not voluntary in the same sense; for of the actions we are masters from beginning to end (supposing of course a knowledge of the particular details), but only of the origination of the habits, the addition by small particular accessions not being cognisiable (as is the case with sicknesses): still they are voluntary because it rested with us to use our circumstances this way or that.
Here we will resume the particular discussion of the Moral Virtues, and say what they are, what is their object-matter, and how they stand respectively related to it: of course their number will be thereby shown. First, then, of Courage. Now that it is a mean state, in respect of fear and boldness, has been already said: further, the objects of our fears are obviously things fearful or, in a general way of statement, evils; which accounts for the common definition of fear, viz. “expectation of evil.”
Of course we fear evils of all kinds: disgrace, for instance, poverty, disease, desolateness, death; but not all these seem to be the object-matter of the Brave man, because there are things which to fear is right and noble, and not to fear is base; disgrace, for example, since he who fears this is a good man and has a sense of honour, and he who does not fear it is shameless (though there are those who call him Brave by analogy, because he somewhat resembles the Brave man who agrees with him in being free from fear); but poverty, perhaps, or disease, and in fact whatever does not proceed from viciousness, nor is attributable to his own fault, a man ought not to fear: still, being fearless in respect of these would not constitute a man Brave in the proper sense of the term.
Yet we do apply the term in right of the similarity of the cases; for there are men who, though timid in the dangers of war, are liberal men and are stout enough to face loss of wealth.
And, again, a man is not a coward for fearing insult to his wife or children, or envy, or any such thing; nor is he a Brave man for being bold when going to be scourged.
What kind of fearful things then do constitute the object-matter of the Brave man? first of all, must they not be the greatest, since no man is more apt to withstand what is dreadful. Now the object of the greatest dread is death, because it is the end of all things, and the dead man is thought to be capable neither of good nor evil. Still it would seem that the Brave man has not for his object-matter even death in every circumstance; on the sea, for example, or in sickness: in what circumstances then? must it not be in the most honourable? now such is death in war, because it is death in the greatest and most honourable danger; and this is confirmed by the honours awarded in communities, and by monarchs.
He then may be most properly denominated Brave who is fearless in respect of honourable death and such sudden emergencies as threaten death; now such specially are those which arise in the course of war.
Again, fearful is a term of relation, the same thing not being so to all, and there is according to common parlance somewhat so fearful as to be beyond human endurance: this of course would be fearful to every man of sense, but those objects which are level to the capacity of man differ in magnitude and admit of degrees, so too the objects of confidence or boldness.
Now the Brave man cannot be frighted from his propriety (but of course only so far as he is man); fear such things indeed he will, but he will stand up against them as he ought and as right reason may direct, with a view to what is honourable, because this is the end of the virtue.
Now it is possible to fear these things too much, or too little, or again to fear what is not really fearful as if it were such. So the errors come to be either that a man fears when he ought not to fear at all, or that he fears in an improper way, or at a wrong time, and so forth; and so too in respect of things inspiring confidence. He is Brave then who withstands, and fears, and is bold, in respect of right objects, from a right motive, in right manner, and at right times: since the Brave man suffers or acts as he ought and as right reason may direct.
Now the end of every separate act of working is that which accords with the habit, and so to the Brave man Courage; which is honourable; therefore such is also the End, since the character of each is determined by the End.
So honour is the motive from which the Brave man withstands things fearful and performs the acts which accord with Courage.
Of the characters on the side of Excess, he who exceeds in utter absence of fear has no appropriate name (I observed before that many states have none), but he would be a madman or inaccessible to pain if he feared nothing, neither earthquake, nor the billows, as they tell of the Celts.
He again who exceeds in confidence in respect of things fearful is rash. He is thought moreover to be a braggart, and to advance unfounded claims to the character of Brave: the relation which the Brave man really bears to objects of fear this man wishes to appear to bear, and so imitates him in whatever points he can; for this reason most of them exhibit a curious mixture of rashness and cowardice; because, affecting rashness in these circumstances, they do not withstand what is truly fearful.
So the coward, the rash, and the Brave man have exactly the same object-matter, but stand differently related to it: the two first-mentioned respectively exceed and are deficient, the last is in a mean state and as he ought to be. The rash again are precipitate, and, being eager before danger, when actually in it fall away, while the Brave are quick and sharp in action, but before are quiet and composed.
Well then, as has been said, Courage is a mean state in respect of objects inspiring boldness or fear, in the circumstances which have been stated, and the Brave man chooses his line and withstands danger either because to do so is honourable, or because not to do so is base. But dying to escape from poverty, or the pangs of love, or anything that is simply painful, is the act not of a Brave man but of a coward; because it is mere softness to fly from what is toilsome, and the suicide braves the terrors of death not because it is honourable but to get out of the reach of evil.
In the next place, Experience and Skill in the various particulars is thought to be a species of Courage: whence Socrates also thought that Courage was knowledge.
This quality is exhibited of course by different men under different circumstances, but in warlike matters, with which we are now concerned, it is exhibited by the soldiers (“the regulars”): for there are, it would seem, many things in war of no real importance which these have been constantly used to see; so they have a show of Courage because other people are not aware of the real nature of these things. Then again by reason of their skill they are better able than any others to inflict without suffering themselves, because they are able to use their arms and have such as are most serviceable both with a view to offence and defence: so that their case is parallel to that of armed men fighting with unarmed or trained athletes with amateurs, since in contests of this kind those are the best fighters, not who are the bravest men, but who are the strongest and are in the best condition.
In fact, the regular troops come to be cowards whenever the danger is greater than their means of meeting it; supposing, for example, that they are inferior in numbers and resources: then they are the first to fly, but the mere militia stand and fall on the ground (which as you know really happened at the Hermæum), for in the eyes of these flight was disgraceful and death preferable to safety bought at such a price: while “the regulars” originally went into the danger under a notion of their own superiority, but on discovering their error they took to flight, having greater fear of death than of disgrace; but this is not the feeling of the Brave man.
Thirdly, mere Animal Spirit is sometimes brought under the term Courage: they are thought to be Brave who are carried on by mere Animal Spirit, as are wild beasts against those who have wounded them, because in fact the really Brave have much Spirit, there being nothing like it for going at danger of any kind; whence those frequent expressions in Homer, “infused strength into his spirit,” “roused his strength and spirit,” or again, “and keen strength in his nostrils,” “his blood boiled:” for all these seem to denote the arousing and impetuosity of the Animal Spirit.
Now they that are truly Brave act from a sense of honour, and this Animal Spirit co-operates with them; but wild beasts from pain, that is because they have been wounded, or are frightened; since if they are quietly in their own haunts, forest or marsh, they do not attack men. Surely they are not Brave because they rush into danger when goaded on by pain and mere Spirit, without any view of the danger: else would asses be Brave when they are hungry, for though beaten they will not then leave their pasture: profligate men besides do many bold actions by reason of their lust. We may conclude then that they are not Brave who are goaded on to meet danger by pain and mere Spirit; but still this temper which arises from Animal Spirit appears to be most natural, and would be Courage of the true kind if it could have added to it moral choice and the proper motive. So men also are pained by a feeling of anger, and take pleasure in revenge; but they who fight from these causes may be good fighters, but they are not truly Brave (in that they do not act from a sense of honour, nor as reason directs, but merely from the present feeling), still they bear some resemblance to that character.
It must be remarked, however, that though Courage has for its object-matter boldness and fear it has not both equally so, but objects of fear much more than the former; for he that under pressure of these is undisturbed and stands related to them as he ought is better entitled to the name of Brave than he who is properly affected towards objects of confidence. So then men are termed Brave for withstanding painful things.
It follows that Courage involves pain and is justly praised, since it is a harder matter to withstand things that are painful than to abstain from such as are pleasant.
It must not be thought but that the End and object of Courage is pleasant, but it is obscured by the surrounding circumstances: which happens also in the gymnastic games; to the boxers the End is pleasant with a view to which they act, I mean the crown and the honours; but the receiving the blows they do is painful and annoying to flesh and blood, and so is all the labour they have to undergo; and, as these drawbacks are many, the object in view being small appears to have no pleasantness in it.
If then we may say the same of Courage, of course death and wounds must be painful to the Brave man and against his will: still he endures these because it is honourable so to do or because it is dishonourable not to do so. And the more complete his virtue and his happiness so much the more will he be pained at the notion of death: since to such a man as he is it is best worth while to live, and he with full consciousness is deprived of the greatest goods by death, and this is a painful idea. But he is not the less Brave for feeling it to be so, nay rather it may be he is shown to be more so because he chooses the honour that may be reaped in war in preference to retaining safe possession of these other goods. The fact is that to act with pleasure does not belong to all the virtues, except so far as a man realises the End of his actions.
Now of lusts or desires some are thought to be universal, others peculiar and acquired; thus desire for food is natural since every one who really needs desires also food, whether solid or liquid, or both (and, as Homer says, the man in the prime of youth needs and desires intercourse with the other sex); but when we come to this or that particular kind, then neither is the desire universal nor in all men is it directed to the same objects. And therefore the conceiving of such desires plainly attaches to us as individuals. It must be admitted, however, that there is something natural in it: because different things are pleasant to different men and a preference of some particular objects to chance ones is universal. Well then, in the case of the desires which are strictly and properly natural few men go wrong and all in one direction, that is, on the side of too much: I mean, to eat and drink of such food as happens to be on the table till one is overfilled is exceeding in quantity the natural limit, since the natural desire is simply a supply of a real deficiency. For this reason these men are called belly-mad, as filling it beyond what they ought, and it is the slavish who become of this character.
But in respect of the peculiar pleasures many men go wrong and in many different ways; for whereas the term “fond of so and so” implies either taking pleasure in wrong objects, or taking pleasure excessively, or as the mass of men do, or in a wrong way, they who are destitute of all self-control exceed in all these ways; that is to say, they take pleasure in some things in which they ought not to do so (because they are properly objects of detestation), and in such as it is right to take pleasure in they do so more than they ought and as the mass of men do.
Well then, that excess with respect to pleasures is absence of self-control, and blameworthy, is plain. But viewing these habits on the side of pains, we find that a man is not said to have the virtue for withstanding them (as in the case of Courage), nor the vice for not withstanding them; but the man destitute of self-control is such, because he is pained more than he ought to be at not obtaining things which are pleasant (and thus his pleasure produces pain to him), and the man of Perfected Self-Mastery is such in virtue of not being pained by their absence, that is, by having to abstain from what is pleasant.
Now the man destitute of self-control desires either all pleasant things indiscriminately or those which are specially pleasant, and he is impelled by his desire to choose these things in preference to all others; and this involves pain, not only when he misses the attainment of his objects but, in the very desiring them, since all desire is accompanied by pain. Surely it is a strange case this, being pained by reason of pleasure.
As for men who are defective on the side of pleasure, who take less pleasure in things than they ought, they are almost imaginary characters, because such absence of sensual perception is not natural to man: for even the other animals distinguish between different kinds of food, and like some kinds and dislike others. In fact, could a man be found who takes no pleasure in anything and to whom all things are alike, he would be far from being human at all: there is no name for such a character because it is simply imaginary.
But the man of Perfected Self-Mastery is in the mean with respect to these objects: that is to say, he neither takes pleasure in the things which delight the vicious man, and in fact rather dislikes them, nor at all in improper objects; nor to any great degree in any object of the class; nor is he pained at their absence; nor does he desire them; or, if he does, only in moderation, and neither more than he ought, nor at improper times, and so forth; but such things as are conducive to health and good condition of body, being also pleasant, these he will grasp at in moderation and as he ought to do, and also such other pleasant things as do not hinder these objects, and are not unseemly or disproportionate to his means; because he that should grasp at such would be liking such pleasures more than is proper; but the man of Perfected Self-Mastery is not of this character, but regulates his desires by the dictates of right reason.
Now the vice of being destitute of all Self-Control seems to be more truly voluntary than Cowardice, because pleasure is the cause of the former and pain of the latter, and pleasure is an object of choice, pain of avoidance. And again, pain deranges and spoils the natural disposition of its victim, whereas pleasure has no such effect and is more voluntary and therefore more justly open to reproach.
It is so also for the following reason; that it is easier to be inured by habit to resist the objects of pleasure, there being many things of this kind in life and the process of habituation being unaccompanied by danger; whereas the case is the reverse as regards the objects of fear.
Again, Cowardice as a confirmed habit would seem to be voluntary in a different way from the particular instances which form the habit; because it is painless, but these derange the man by reason of pain so that he throws away his arms and otherwise behaves himself unseemly, for which reason they are even thought by some to exercise a power of compulsion.
But to the man destitute of Self-Control the particular instances are on the contrary quite voluntary, being done with desire and direct exertion of the will, but the general result is less voluntary: since no man desires to form the habit.
The name of this vice (which signifies etymologically unchastened-ness) we apply also to the faults of children, there being a certain resemblance between the cases: to which the name is primarily applied, and to which secondarily or derivatively, is not relevant to the present subject, but it is evident that the later in point of time must get the name from the earlier. And the metaphor seems to be a very good one; for whatever grasps after base things, and is liable to great increase, ought to be chastened; and to this description desire and the child answer most truly, in that children also live under the direction of desire and the grasping after what is pleasant is most prominently seen in these.
Unless then the appetite be obedient and subjected to the governing principle it will become very great: for in the fool the grasping after what is pleasant is insatiable and undiscriminating; and every acting out of the desire increases the kindred habit, and if the desires are great and violent in degree they even expel Reason entirely; therefore they ought to be moderate and few, and in no respect to be opposed to Reason. Now when the appetite is in such a state we denominate it obedient and chastened.
In short, as the child ought to live with constant regard to the orders of its educator, so should the appetitive principle with regard to those of Reason.
So then in the man of Perfected Self-Mastery, the appetitive principle must be accordant with Reason: for what is right is the mark at which both principles aim: that is to say, the man of perfected self-mastery desires what he ought in right manner and at right times, which is exactly what Reason directs. Let this be taken for our account of Perfected Self-Mastery.

We will next speak of Liberality. Now this is thought to be the mean state, having for its object-matter Wealth: I mean, the Liberal man is praised not in the circumstances of war, nor in those which constitute the character of perfected self-mastery, nor again in judicial decisions, but in respect of giving and receiving Wealth, chiefly the former. By the term Wealth I mean “all those things whose worth is measured by money.”
Now the states of excess and defect in regard of Wealth are respectively Prodigality and Stinginess: the latter of these terms we attach invariably to those who are over careful about Wealth, but the former we apply sometimes with a complex notion; that is to say, we give the name to those who fail of self-control and spend money on the unrestrained gratification of their passions; and this is why they are thought to be most base, because they have many vices at once.
It must be noted, however, that this is not a strict and proper use of the term, since its natural etymological meaning is to denote him who has one particular evil, viz. the wasting his substance: he is unsaved (as the term literally denotes) who is wasting away by his own fault; and this he really may be said to be; the destruction of his substance is thought to be a kind of wasting of himself, since these things are the means of living. Well, this is our acceptation of the term Prodigality.
Again. Whatever things are for use may be used well or ill, and Wealth belongs to this class. He uses each particular thing best who has the virtue to whose province it belongs: so that he will use Wealth best who has the virtue respecting Wealth, that is to say, the Liberal man. Expenditure and giving are thought to be the using of money, but receiving and keeping one would rather call the possessing of it. And so the giving to proper persons is more characteristic of the Liberal man, than the receiving from proper quarters and forbearing to receive from the contrary. In fact generally, doing well by others is more characteristic of virtue than being done well by, and doing things positively honourable than forbearing to do things dishonourable; and any one may see that the doing well by others and doing things positively honourable attaches to the act of giving, but to that of receiving only the being done well by or forbearing to do what is dishonourable.
Besides, thanks are given to him who gives, not to him who merely forbears to receive, and praise even more. Again, forbearing to receive is easier than giving, the case of being too little freehanded with one’s own being commoner than taking that which is not one’s own.
And again, it is they who give that are denominated Liberal, while they who forbear to receive are commended, not on the score of Liberality but of just dealing, while for receiving men are not, in fact, praised at all.
And the Liberal are liked almost best of all virtuous characters, because they are profitable to others, and this their profitableness consists in their giving.
Furthermore: all the actions done in accordance with virtue are honourable, and done from the motive of honour: and the Liberal man, therefore, will give from a motive of honour, and will give rightly; I mean, to proper persons, in right proportion, at right times, and whatever is included in the term “right giving:” and this too with positive pleasure, or at least without pain, since whatever is done in accordance with virtue is pleasant or at least not unpleasant, most certainly not attended with positive pain.
But the man who gives to improper people, or not from a motive of honour but from some other cause, shall be called not Liberal but something else. Neither shall he be so denominated who does it with pain: this being a sign that he would prefer his wealth to the honourable action, and this is no part of the Liberal man’s character; neither will such an one receive from improper sources, because the so receiving is not characteristic of one who values not wealth: nor again will he be apt to ask, because one who does kindnesses to others does not usually receive them willingly; but from proper sources (his own property, for instance) he will receive, doing this not as honourable but as necessary, that he may have somewhat to give: neither will he be careless of his own, since it is his wish through these to help others in need: nor will he give to chance people, that he may have wherewith to give to those to whom he ought, at right times, and on occasions when it is honourable so to do.
Again, it is a trait in the Liberal man’s character even to exceed very much in giving so as to leave too little for himself, it being characteristic of such an one not to have a thought of self.
Now Liberality is a term of relation to a man’s means, for the Liberal-ness depends not on the amount of what is given but on the moral state of the giver which gives in proportion to his means. There is then no reason why he should not be the more Liberal man who gives the less amount, if he has less to give out of.
Again, they are thought to be more Liberal who have inherited, not acquired for themselves, their means; because, in the first place, they have never experienced want, and next, all people love most their own works, just as parents do and poets.
It is not easy for the Liberal man to be rich, since he is neither apt to receive nor to keep but to lavish, and values not wealth for its own sake but with a view to giving it away. Hence it is commonly charged upon fortune that they who most deserve to be rich are least so. Yet this happens reasonably enough; it is impossible he should have wealth who does not take any care to have it, just as in any similar case.
Yet he will not give to improper people, nor at wrong times, and so on: because he would not then be acting in accordance with Liberality, and if he spent upon such objects, would have nothing to spend on those on which he ought: for, as I have said before, he is Liberal who spends in proportion to his means, and on proper objects, while he who does so in excess is prodigal (this is the reason why we never call despots prodigal, because it does not seem to be easy for them by their gifts and expenditure to go beyond their immense possessions).
To sum up then. Since Liberality is a mean state in respect of the giving and receiving of wealth, the Liberal man will give and spend on proper objects, and in proper proportion, in great things and in small alike, and all this with pleasure to himself; also he will receive from right sources, and in right proportion: because, as the virtue is a mean state in respect of both, he will do both as he ought, and, in fact, upon proper giving follows the correspondent receiving, while that which is not such is contrary to it. (Now those which follow one another come to co-exist in the same person, those which are contraries plainly do not.)
Again, should it happen to him to spend money beyond what is needful, or otherwise than is well, he will be vexed, but only moderately and as he ought; for feeling pleasure and pain at right objects, and in right manner, is a property of Virtue.
The Liberal man is also a good man to have for a partner in respect of wealth: for he can easily be wronged, since he values not wealth, and is more vexed at not spending where he ought to have done so than at spending where he ought not, and he relishes not the maxim of Simonides.
But the Prodigal man goes wrong also in these points, for he is neither pleased nor pained at proper objects or in proper manner, which will become more plain as we proceed. We have said already that Prodigality and Stinginess are respectively states of excess and defect, and this in two things, giving and receiving (expenditure of course we class under giving). Well now, Prodigality exceeds in giving and forbearing to receive and is deficient in receiving, while Stinginess is deficient in giving and exceeds in receiving, but it is in small things.
Now since falsehood is in itself low and blameable, while truth is noble and praiseworthy, it follows that the Truthful man (who is also in the mean) is praiseworthy, and the two who depart from strict truth are both blameable, but especially the Exaggerator.
We will now speak of each, and first of the Truthful man: I call him Truthful, because we are not now meaning the man who is true in his agreements nor in such matters as amount to justice or injustice (this would come within the  province of a different virtue), but, in such as do not involve any such serious difference as this, the man we are describing is true in life and word simply because he is in a certain moral state.
And he that is such must be judged to be a good man: for he that has a love for Truth as such, and is guided by it in matters indifferent, will be so likewise even more in such as are not indifferent; for surely he will have a dread of falsehood as base, since he shunned it even in itself: and he that is of such a character is praiseworthy, yet he leans rather to that which is below the truth, this having an appearance of being in better taste because exaggerations are so annoying.
One quality which belongs to the mean state is Tact: it is characteristic of a man of Tact to say and listen to such things as are fit for a good man and a gentleman to say and listen to: for there are things which are becoming for such a one to say and listen to in the way of Jocularity, and there is a difference between the Jocularity of the Gentleman and that of the Vulgarian; and again, between that of the educated and uneducated man.

Now the points for our inquiry in respect of Justice
and Injustice are, what kind of actions are their object-matter, and what kind of a mean state Justice is, and between what points the abstract principle of it, i.e. the Just, is a mean. And our inquiry shall be, if you please, conducted in the same method as we have observed in the foregoing parts of this treatise.
We see then that all men mean by the term Justice a moral state such that in consequence of it men have the capacity of doing what is just, and actually do it, and wish it: similarly also with respect to Injustice, a moral state such that in consequence of it men do unjustly and wish what is unjust: let us also be content then with these as a ground-work sketched out.
I mention the two, because the same does not hold with regard to States whether of mind or body as with regard to Sciences or Faculties: I mean that whereas it is thought that the same Faculty or Science embraces contraries, a State will not: from health, for instance, not the contrary acts are done but the healthy ones only; we say a man walks healthily when he walks as the healthy man would.
However, of the two contrary states the one may be frequently known from the other, and oftentimes the states from their subject-matter: if it be seen clearly what a good state of body is, then is it also seen what a bad state is, and from the things which belong to a good state of body the good state itself is seen, and vice versa. If, for instance, the good state is firmness of flesh it follows that the bad state is flabbiness of flesh; and whatever causes firmness of flesh is connected with the good state. It follows moreover in general, that if of two contrary terms the one is used in many senses so also will the other be; as, for instance, if “the Just,” then also “the Unjust.” Now Justice and Injustice do seem to be used respectively in many senses, but, because the line of demarcation between these is very fine and minute, it commonly escapes notice that they are thus used, and it is not plain and manifest as where the various significations of terms are widely different for in these last the visible difference is great, for instance, the word [Greek: klehis] is used equivocally to denote the bone which is under the neck of animals and the instrument with which people close doors.
Let it be ascertained then in how many senses the term “Unjust man” is used. Well, he who violates the law, and he who is a grasping man, and the unequal man, are all thought to be Unjust and so manifestly the Just man will be, the man who acts according to law, and the equal man “The Just” then will be the lawful and the equal, and “the Unjust” the unlawful and the unequal.
Well, since the Unjust man is also a grasping man, he will be so, of course, with respect to good things, but not of every kind, only those which are the subject-matter of good and bad fortune and which are in themselves always good but not always to them individual. Yet men pray for and pursue these things: this they should not do but pray that things which are in the abstract good may be so also to them, and choose what is good for themselves.
But the Unjust man does not always choose actually the greater part, but even sometimes the less; as in the case of things which are simply evil: still, since the less evil is thought to be in a manner a good and the grasping is after good, therefore even in this case he is thought to be a grasping man, i.e. one who strives for more good than fairly falls to his share: of course he is also an unequal man, this being an inclusive and common term.
We said that the violator of Law is Unjust, and the keeper of the Law Just: further, it is plain that all Lawful things are in a manner Just, because by Lawful we understand what have been defined by the legislative power and each of these we say is Just. The Laws too give directions on all points, aiming either at the common good of all, or that of the best, or that of those in power (taking for the standard real goodness or adopting some other estimate); in one way we mean by Just, those things which are apt to produce and preserve happiness and its ingredients for the social community.
Further, the Law commands the doing the deeds not only of the brave man (as not leaving the ranks, nor flying, nor throwing away one’s arms), but those also of the perfectly self-mastering man, as abstinence from adultery and wantonness; and those of the meek man, as refraining from striking others or using abusive language: and in like manner in respect of the other virtues and vices commanding some things and forbidding others, rightly if it is a good law, in a way somewhat inferior if it is one extemporised.
Now this Justice is in fact perfect Virtue, yet not simply so but as exercised towards one’s neighbour: and for this reason Justice is thought oftentimes to be the best of the Virtues, and
“neither Hesper nor the Morning-star
So worthy of our admiration:”
and in a proverbial saying we express the same;
“All virtue is in Justice comprehended.”
And it is in a special sense perfect Virtue because it is the practice of perfect Virtue. And perfect it is because he that has it is able to practise his virtue towards his neighbour and not merely on himself; I mean, there are many who can practise virtue in the regulation of their own personal conduct who are wholly unable to do it in transactions with their neighbour. And for this reason that saying of
Bias is thought to be a good one,
 “Rule will show what a man is;”
for he who bears Rule is necessarily in contact with others, i.e. in a community. And for this same reason Justice alone of all the Virtues is thought to be a good to others, because it has immediate relation to some other person, inasmuch as the Just man does what is advantageous to another, either to his ruler or fellow-subject. Now he is the basest of men who practises vice not only in his own person but towards his friends also; but he the best who practises virtue not merely in his own person but towards his neighbour, for this is a matter of some difficulty.
However, Justice in this sense is not a part of Virtue but is co-extensive with Virtue; nor is the Injustice which answers to it a part of Vice but co-extensive with Vice. Now wherein Justice in this sense differs from Virtue appears from what has been said: it is the same really, but the point of view is not the same: in so far as it has respect to one’s neighbour it is Justice, in so far as it is such and such a moral state it is simply Virtue.
Now that there is more than one kind of Justice, and that there is one which is distinct from and besides that which is co-extensive with, Virtue, is plain: we must next ascertain what it is, and what are its characteristics.
Well, the Unjust has been divided into the unlawful and the unequal, and the Just accordingly into the lawful and the equal: the aforementioned Injustice is in the way of the unlawful. And as the unequal and the more are not the same, but differing as part to whole (because all more is unequal, but not all unequal more), so the Unjust and the Injustice we are now in search of are not the same with, but other than, those before mentioned, the one being the parts, the other the wholes; for this particular Injustice is a part of the Injustice co-extensive with Vice, and likewise this Justice of the Justice co-extensive with Virtue. So that what we have now to speak of is the particular Justice and Injustice, and likewise the particular Just and Unjust.
Here then let us dismiss any further consideration of the Justice ranking as co-extensive with Virtue (being the practice of Virtue in all its bearings towards others), and of the co-relative Injustice (being similarly the practice of Vice). It is clear too, that we must separate off the Just and the Unjust involved in these: because one may pretty well say that most lawful things are those which naturally result in action from Virtue in its fullest sense, because the law enjoins the living in accordance with each Virtue and forbids living in accordance with each Vice. And the producing causes of Virtue in all its bearings are those enactments which have been made respecting education for society.
By the way, as to individual education, in respect of which a man is simply good without reference to others, whether it is the province of [Greek: politikhae] or some other science we must determine at a future time: for it may be it is not the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen in every case.
Well, the unjust man we have said is unequal, and the abstract “Unjust” unequal: further, it is plain that there is some mean of the unequal, that is to say, the equal or exact half (because in whatever action there is the greater and the less there is also the equal, i.e. the exact half). If then the Unjust is unequal the Just is equal, which all must allow without further proof: and as the equal is a mean the Just must be also a mean. Now the equal implies two terms at least: it follows then that the Just is both a mean and equal, and these to certain persons; and, in so far as it is a mean, between certain things (that is, the greater and the less), and, so far as it is equal, between two, and in so far as it is just it is so to certain persons. The Just then must imply four terms at least, for those to which it is just are two, and the terms representing the things are two.
And there will be the same equality between the terms representing the persons, as between those representing the things: because as the latter are to one another so are the former: for if the persons are not equal they must not have equal shares; in fact this is the very source of all the quarrelling and wrangling in the world, when either they who are equal have and get awarded to them things not equal, or being not equal those things which are equal. Again, the necessity of this equality of ratios is shown by the common phrase “according to rate,” for all agree that the Just in distributions ought to be according to some rate: but what that rate is to be, all do not agree; the democrats are for freedom, oligarchs for wealth, others for nobleness of birth, and the aristocratic party for virtue.
The Just then is this proportionate, and the Unjust that which violates the proportionate; and so there comes to be the greater and the less: which in fact is the case in actual transactions, because he who acts unjustly has the greater share and he who is treated unjustly has the less of what is good: but in the case of what is bad this is reversed: for the less evil compared with the greater comes to be reckoned for good, because the less evil is more choiceworthy than the greater, and what is choiceworthy is good, and the more so the greater good.
This then is the one species of the Just.
And the remaining one is the Corrective, which arises in voluntary as well as involuntary transactions. Now this just has a different form from the aforementioned; for that which is concerned in distribution of common property is always according to the aforementioned proportion: I mean that, if the division is made out of common property, the shares will bear the same proportion to one another as the original contributions did: and the Unjust which is opposite to this Just is that which violates the proportionate.
But the Just which arises in transactions between men is an equal in a certain sense, and the Unjust an unequal, only not in the way of that proportion but of arithmetical. Because it makes no difference whether a robbery, for instance, is committed by a good man on a bad or by a bad man on a good, nor whether a good or a bad man has committed adultery: the law looks only to the difference created by the injury and treats the men as previously equal, where the one does and the other suffers injury, or the one has done and the other suffered harm. And so this Unjust, being unequal, the judge endeavours to reduce to equality again, because really when the one party has been wounded and the other has struck him, or the one kills and the other dies, the suffering and the doing are divided into unequal shares; well, the judge tries to restore equality by penalty, thereby taking from the gain.
For these terms gain and loss are applied to these cases, though perhaps the term in some particular instance may not be strictly proper, as gain, for instance, to the man who has given a blow, and loss to him who has received it: still, when the suffering has been estimated, the one is called loss and the other gain.
And so the equal is a mean between the more and the less, which represent gain and loss in contrary ways (I mean, that the more of good and the less of evil is gain, the less of good and the more of evil is loss): between which the equal was stated to be a mean, which equal we say is Just: and so the Corrective Just must be the mean between loss and gain. And this is the reason why, upon a dispute arising, men have recourse to the judge: going to the judge is in fact going to the Just, for the judge is meant to be the personification of the Just. And men seek a judge as one in the mean, which is expressed in a name given by some to judges ([Greek: mesidioi], or middle-men) under the notion that if they can hit on the mean they shall hit on the Just. The Just is then surely a mean since the judge is also.
So it is the office of a judge to make things equal, and the line, as it were, having been unequally divided, he takes from the greater part that by which it exceeds the half, and adds this on to the less. And when the whole is divided into two exactly equal portions then men say they have their own, when they have gotten the equal; and the equal is a mean between the greater and the less according to arithmetical equality.
This, by the way, accounts for the etymology of the term by which we in Greek express the ideas of Just and Judge; ([Greek: dikaion] quasi [Greek: dichaion], that is in two parts, and [Greek: dikastaes] quasi [Greek: dichastaes], he who divides into two parts). For when from one of two equal magnitudes somewhat has been taken and added to the other, this latter exceeds the former by twice that portion: if it had been merely taken from the former and not added to the latter, then the latter would have exceeded the former only by that one portion; but in the other case, the greater exceeds the mean by one, and the mean exceeds also by one that magnitude from which the portion was taken. By this illustration, then, we obtain a rule to determine what one ought to take from him who has the greater, and what to add to him who has the less. The excess of the mean over the less must be added to the less, and the excess of the greater over the mean be taken from the greater.
Thus let there be three straight lines equal to one another. From one of them cut off a portion, and add as much to another of them. The whole line thus made will exceed the remainder of the first-named line, by twice the portion added, and will exceed the untouched line by that portion. And these terms loss and gain are derived from voluntary exchange: that is to say, the having more than what was one’s own is called gaining, and the having less than one’s original stock is called losing; for instance, in buying or selling, or any other transactions which are guaranteed by law: but when the result is neither more nor less, but exactly the same as there was originally, people say they have their own, and neither lose nor gain.
So then the Just we have been speaking of is a mean between loss and gain arising in involuntary transactions; that is, it is the having the same after the transaction as one had before it took place.
And this is the moral of placing the Temple of the Graces ([Greek: charites]) in the public streets; to impress the notion that there may be requital, this being peculiar to [Greek: charis] because a man ought to requite with a good turn the man who has done him a favour and then to become himself the originator of another [Greek: charis], by doing him a favour.
It is therefore indispensable that all things which can be exchanged should be capable of comparison, and for this purpose money has come in, and comes to be a kind of medium, for it measures all things and so likewise the excess and defect; for instance, how many shoes are equal to a house or a given quantity of food. As then the builder to the shoemaker, so many shoes must be to the house (or food, if instead of a builder an agriculturist be the exchanging party); for unless there is this proportion there cannot be exchange or dealing, and this proportion cannot be unless the terms are in some way equal; hence the need, as was stated above, of some one measure of all things. Now this is really and truly the Demand for them, which is the common bond of all such dealings. For if the parties were not in want at all or not similarly of one another’s wares, there would either not be any exchange, or at least not the same.
And money has come to be, by general agreement, a representative of Demand: and the account of its Greek name [Greek: nomisma] is this, that it is what it is not naturally but by custom or law ([Greek: nomos]), and it rests with us to change its value, or make it wholly useless.
Now that what connects men in such transactions is Demand, as being some one thing, is shown by the fact that, when either one does not want the other or neither want one another, they do not exchange at all: whereas they do when one wants what the other man has, wine for instance, giving in return corn for exportation.
And further, money is a kind of security to us in respect of exchange at some future time (supposing that one wants nothing now that we shall have it when we do): the theory of money being that whenever one brings it one can receive commodities in exchange: of course this too is liable to depreciation, for its purchasing power is not always the same, but still it is of a more permanent nature than the commodities it represents. And this is the reason why all things should have a price set upon them, because thus there may be exchange at any time, and if exchange then dealing. So money, like a measure, making all things commensurable equalises them: for if there was not exchange there would not have been dealing, nor exchange if there were not equality, nor equality if there were not the capacity of being commensurate: it is impossible that things so greatly different should be really commensurate, but we can approximate sufficiently for all practical purposes in reference to Demand. The common measure must be some one thing, and also from agreement (for which reason it is called [Greek: nomisma]), for this makes all things commensurable: in fact, all things are measured by money…
But Justice, it must be observed, is a mean state not after the same manner as the forementioned virtues, but because it aims at producing the mean, while Injustice occupies both the extremes.
And Justice is the moral state in virtue of which the just man is said to have the aptitude for practising the Just in the way of moral choice, and for making division between _, himself and another, or between two other men, not so as to give to himself the greater and to his neighbour the less share of what is choiceworthy and contrariwise of what is hurtful, but what is proportionably equal, and in like manner when adjudging the rights of two other men.
Injustice is all this with respect to the Unjust: and since the Unjust is excess or defect of what is good or hurtful respectively, in violation of the proportionate, therefore Injustice is both excess and defect because it aims at producing excess and defect; excess, that is, in a man’s own case of what is simply advantageous, and defect of what is hurtful: and in the case of other men in like manner generally speaking, only that the proportionate is violated not always in one direction as before but whichever way it happens in the given case. And of the Unjust act the less is being acted unjustly towards, and the greater the acting unjustly towards others.
Let this way of describing the nature of Justice and Injustice, and likewise the Just and the Unjust generally, be accepted as sufficient.
So both unjust and just actions are limited by the being voluntary or the contrary: for when an embodying of the Unjust is voluntary, then it is blamed and is at the same time also an unjust action: but, if voluntariness does not attach, there will be a thing which is in itself unjust but not yet an unjust action.
By voluntary, I mean, as we stated before, whatsoever of things in his own power a man does with knowledge, and the absence of ignorance as to the person to whom, or the instrument with which, or the result with which he does; as, for instance, whom he strikes, what he strikes him with, and with what probable result; and each of these points again, not accidentally nor by compulsion; as supposing another man were to seize his hand and strike a third person with it, here, of course, the owner of the hand acts not voluntarily, because it did not rest with him to do or leave undone: or again, it is conceivable that the person struck may be his father, and he may know that it is a man, or even one of the present company, whom he is striking, but not know that it is his father. And let these same distinctions be supposed to be carried into the case of the result and in fact the whole of any given action. In fine then, that is involuntary which is done through ignorance, or which, not resulting from ignorance, is not in the agent’s control or is done on compulsion.
I mention these cases, because there are many natural things which we do and suffer knowingly but still no one of which is either voluntary or involuntary, growing old, or dying, for instance.
Again, accidentality may attach to the unjust in like manner as to the just acts. For instance, a man may have restored what was deposited with him, but against his will and from fear of the consequences of a refusal: we must not say that he either does what is just, or does justly, except accidentally: and in like manner the man who through compulsion and against his will fails to restore a deposit, must be said to do unjustly, or to do what is unjust, accidentally only.
Again, voluntary actions we do either from deliberate choice or without it; from it, when we act from previous deliberation; without it, when without any previous deliberation. Since then hurts which may be done in transactions between man and man are threefold, those mistakes which are attended with ignorance are, when a man either does a thing not to the man to whom he meant to do it, or not the thing he meant to do, or not with the instrument, or not with the result which he intended: either he did not think he should hit him at all, or not with this, or this is not the man he thought he should hit, or he did not think this would be the result of the blow but a result has followed which he did not anticipate; as, for instance, he did it not to wound but merely to prick him; or it is not the man whom, or the way in which, he meant.
Now when the hurt has come about contrary to all reasonable expectation, it is a Misadventure; when though not contrary to expectation yet without any viciousness, it is a Mistake; for a man makes a mistake when the origination of the cause rests with himself, he has a misadventure when it is external to himself. When again he acts with knowledge, but not from previous deliberation, it is an unjust action; for instance, whatever happens to men from anger or other passions which are necessary or natural: for when doing these hurts or making these mistakes they act unjustly of course and their actions are unjust, still they are not yet confirmed unjust or wicked persons by reason of these, because the hurt did not arise from depravity in the doer of it: but when it does arise from deliberate choice, then the doer is a confirmed unjust and depraved man.
And on this principle acts done from anger are fairly judged not to be from malice prepense, because it is not the man who acts in wrath who is the originator really but he who caused his wrath. And again, the question at issue in such cases is not respecting the fact but respecting the justice of the case, the occasion of anger being a notion of injury. I mean, that the parties do not dispute about the fact, as in questions of contract (where one of the two must be a rogue, unless real forgetfulness can be pleaded), but, admitting the fact, they dispute on which side the justice of the case lies (the one who plotted against the other, i.e. the real aggressor, of course, cannot be ignorant), so that the one thinks there is injustice committed while the other does not.
Well then, a man acts unjustly if he has hurt another of deliberate purpose, and he who commits such acts of injustice is _ipso facto_ an unjust character when they are in violation of the proportionate or the equal; and in like manner also a man is a just character when he acts justly of deliberate purpose, and he does act justly if he acts voluntarily.
Then as for involuntary acts of harm, they are either such as are excusable or such as are not: under the former head come all errors done not merely in ignorance but from ignorance; under the latter all that are done not from ignorance but in ignorance caused by some passion which is neither natural nor fairly attributable to human infirmity.
“My mother he hath slain;  the tale is short,
Either he willingly did slay her willing,
Or else with her will but against his own.”
I mean then, is it really possible for a person to be unjustly dealt with with his own consent, or must every case of being unjustly dealt with be against the will of the sufferer as every act of unjust dealing is voluntary?
And next, are cases of being unjustly dealt with to be ruled all one way as every act of unjust dealing is voluntary? or may we say that some cases are voluntary and some involuntary?
And so in respect of the mental states it is requisite not merely that this should be true which has been already stated, but further that it should be expressly laid down what Right Reason is, and what is the definition of it.
Now in our division of the Excellences of the Soul, we said there were two classes, the Moral and the Intellectual: the former we have already gone through; and we will now proceed to speak of the others, premising a few words respecting the Soul itself. It was stated before, you will remember, that the Soul consists of two parts, the Rational, and Irrational: we must now make a similar division of the Rational.
Let it be understood then that there are two parts of the Soul possessed of Reason; one whereby we realise those existences whose causes cannot be otherwise than they are, and one whereby we realise those which can be otherwise than they are (for there must be, answering to things generically different, generically different parts of the soul naturally adapted to each, since these parts of the soul possess their knowledge in virtue of a certain resemblance and appropriateness in themselves to the objects of which they are percipients); and let us name the former, “that which is apt to know,” the latter, “that which is apt to calculate” (because deliberating and calculating are the same, and no one ever deliberates about things which cannot be otherwise than they are: and so the Calculative will be one part of the Rational faculty of the soul).
We must discover, then, which is the best state of each of these, because that will be the Excellence of each; and this again is relative to the work each has to do.

There are in the Soul three functions on which depend moral action and truth; Sense, Intellect, Appetition, whether vague Desire or definite Will. Now of these Sense is the originating cause of no moral action, as is seen from the fact that brutes have Sense but are in no way partakers of moral action.
[Intellect and Will are thus connected,] what in the Intellectual operation is Affirmation and Negation that in the Will is Pursuit and Avoidance, And so, since Moral Virtue is a State apt to exercise Moral Choice and Moral Choice is Will consequent on deliberation, the Reason must be true and the Will right, to constitute good Moral Choice, and what the Reason affirms the Will must pursue. Now this Intellectual operation and this Truth is what bears upon Moral Action; of course truth and falsehood than the conclusion such knowledge as he has will be merely accidental.


Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vol. 20. Translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1952. Perseus Digital Library. Retrieved 2019 from

Fine things are the objects of praise, base things of blame; and at the head of the fine stand the virtues, at the head of the base the vices; consequently the virtues are objects of praise, and also the causes of the virtues are objects of praise, and the things that accompany the virtues and that result from them, and their works, while the opposite are the objects of blame.
If in accordance with Plato the spirit is taken as having three parts, wisdom is goodness of the rational part, gentleness and courage of the passionate, of the appetitive sobriety of mind and self-control, and of the spirit as a whole righteousness, liberality and, great-spiritedness; while badness of the rational part is folly, of the passionate ill-temper and cowardice, of the appetitive profligacy and uncontrol, and of the spirit as a whole unrighteousness, meanness and smallmindedness..
Wisdom is goodness of the rational part that is productive of the things contributing to happiness. Gentleness is goodness of the passionate part that makes people difficult to move to anger. Courage is goodness of the passionate part that makes them undismayed by fear of death. Sobriety of mind is goodness of the appetitive part that makes them not desirous of the base pleasures of sensual enjoyment. Self-control is goodness of the appetitive part that enables men by means of reason to restrain their appetite when it is set on base pleasures. Righteousness is goodness of the spirit shown in distributing what is according to desert. Liberality is goodness of spirit shown in spending rightly on fine objects. Great-spiritedness is goodness of spirit that enables men to bear good fortune and bad, honor and dishonor.. On the other hand folly is badness of the rational part that causes bad living. Ill-temper is badness of the passionate part that makes men easy to provoke to anger. Cowardice is badness of the passionate part that causes men to be dismayed by fear, and especially by fear of death. Profligacy is badness of the appetitive part that makes men desirous of the base pleasures of sensual enjoyment. Uncontrol is badness of the appetitive part that makes men choose base pleasures when reason tries to hinder. Unrighteousness is badness of spirit that makes men covetous of what is contrary to their desert. Meanness is badness of spirit that makes men try to get profit from all sources. Smallmindedness is badness of spirit that makes men unable to bear good fortune and bad, honor and dishonor.
It belongs to wisdom to take counsel, to judge the goods and evils and all the things in life that are desirable and to be avoided, to use all the available goods finely, to behave rightly in society, to observe due occasions, to employ both speech and action with sagacity, to have expert knowledge of all things that are useful. Memory and experience and acuteness are each of them either a consequence or a concomitant of wisdom; or some of them are as it were subsidiary causes of wisdom, as for instance experience and memory, others as it were parts of it, for example good counsel and acuteness.
To gentleness belongs ability to bear reproaches and slights with moderation, and not to embark on revenge quickly, and not to be easily provoked to anger, but free from bitterness and contentiousness, having tranquillity and stability in the spirit.
To courage it belongs to be undismayed by fears of death and confident in alarms and brave in face of dangers, and to prefer a fine death to base security, and to be a cause of victory. It also belongs to courage to labor and endure and play a manly part. Courage is accompanied by confidence and bravery and daring, and also by perseverance and endurance.
To sobriety of mind it belongs not to value highly bodily pleasures and enjoyments, not to be covetous of every enjoyable pleasure, to fear disorder, and to live an orderly life in small things and great alike. Sobriety of mind is accompanied by orderliness, regularity, modesty, caution.
To self-control belongs ability to restrain desire by reason when it is set on base enjoyments and pleasures, and to be resolute, and readiness to endure natural want and pain.
To righteousness it belongs to be ready to distribute according to desert, and to preserve ancestral customs and institutions and the established laws, and to tell the truth when interest is at stake, and to keep agreements. First among the claims of righteousness are our duties to the gods, then our duties to the spirits, then those to country and parents, then those to the departed; and among these claims is piety, which is either a part of righteousness or a concomitant of it. Righteousness is also accompanied by holiness and truth and loyalty and hatred of wickedness.
To liberality it belongs to be profuse of money on praiseworthy objects and lavish in spending on what is necessary, and to be helpful in a matter of dispute, and not to take from wrong sources. The liberal man is cleanly in his dress and dwelling, and fond of providing himself with things that are above the ordinary and fine and that afford entertainment without being profitable; and he is fond of keeping animals that have something special or remarkable about them. Liberality is accompanied by elasticity and ductility of character, and kindness, and a compassionate and affectionate and hospitable and honorable nature.
To greatness of spirit it belongs to bear finely both good fortune and bad, honor and disgrace, and not to think highly of luxury or attention or power or victories in contests, and to possess a certain depth and magnitude of spirit. He who values life highly and who is fond of life is not great-spirited. The great-spirited man is simple and noble in character, able to bear injustice and not revengeful. Greatness of spirit is accompanied by simplicity and sincerity.
To folly belongs bad judgement of affairs, bad counsel, bad fellowship, bad use of one’s resources, false opinions about what is fine and good in life. Folly is accompanied by unskilfulness, ignorance, uncontrol, awkwardness, forgetfulness.
Of ill-temper there are three kinds, irascibility, bitterness, sullenness. It belongs to the ill-tempered man to be unable to bear either small slights or defeats but to be given to retaliation and revenge, and easily moved to anger by any chance deed or word. Ill-temper is accompanied by excitability of character, instability, bitter speech, and liability to take offence at trifles and to feel these feelings quickly and on slight occasions.
To cowardice it belongs to be easily excited by chance alarms, and especially by fear of death or of bodily injuries, and to think it better to save oneself by any means than to meet a fine end. Cowardice is accompanied by softness, unmanliness, faint-heartedness, fondness of life; and it also has an element of cautiousness and submissiveness of character.
To profligacy belongs choosing harmful and base pleasures and enjoyments, and thinking that the happiest people are those who pass their lives in pleasures of that kind, and being fond of laughter and mockery and jokes and levity in words and deeds. Profligacy is accompanied by disorder, shamelessness, irregularity, luxury, slackness, carelessness, negligence, remissness.
To uncontrol it belongs to choose the enjoyment of pleasures when reason would restrain, and although one believes that it would be better not to participate in them, to participate in them all the same, and while thinking one ought to do fine and expedient things yet to abstain from them for the sake of one’s pleasures. The concomitants of uncontrol are softness and negligence and in general the same as those of profligacy..
Of unrighteousness there are three kinds, impiety, greed, outrage. Transgression in regard to gods and spirits, or even in regard to the departed and to parents and country, is impiety. Transgression in regard to contracts, taking what is in dispute contrary to one’s desert, is greed. Outrage is the unrighteousness that makes men procure pleasures for themselves while leading others into disgrace; in consequence of which Evenus says about outrage: “She that wrongs others e’en when she gaineth nought.
And it belongs to unrighteousness to transgress ancestral customs and regulations, to disobey the laws and the rulers, to lie, to perjure, to transgress covenants and pledges. Unrighteousness is accompanied by slander, imposture, pretence of kindness, malignity, unscrupulousness.
Of meanness there are three kinds, love of base gain, parsimony, niggardliness. Love of base gain makes men seek profit from all sources and pay more regard to the profit than to the disgrace; parsimony makes them unwilling to spend money on a necessary object; niggardliness causes them only to spend in driblets and in a bad way, and to lose more than they gain by not at the proper moment letting go the difference. It belongs to meanness to set a very high value on money and to think nothing that brings profit a disgrace—a menial and servile and squalid mode of life, alien to ambition and to liberality. Meanness is accompanied by pettiness, sulkiness, self-abasement, lack of proportion, ignobleness, misanthropy.
It belongs to small-mindedness to be unable to bear either honor or dishonor, either good fortune or bad, but to be filled with conceit when honored and puffed up by trifling good fortune, and to be unable to bear even the smallest dishonor and to deem any chance failure a great misfortune, and to be distressed and annoyed at everything. Moreover the small-minded man is the sort of person to call all slights an insult and dishonor, even those that are due to ignorance or forgetfulness. Small-mindedness is accompanied by pettiness, querulousness, pessimism, self-abasement.
In general it belongs to goodness to make the spirit’s disposition virtuous, experiencing tranquil and ordered emotions and in harmony throughout all its parts; this is the cause of the opinion that the disposition of a good spirit is a pattern of a good constitution of the state. It also belongs to goodness to do good to the deserving and love the good and hate the wicked, and not to be eager to inflict punishment or take vengeance, but gracious and kindly and forgiving. Goodness is accompanied by honesty, reasonableness, kindness, hopefulness, and also by such traits as love of home and of friends and comrades and guests, and of one’s fellow-men, and love of what is noble—all of which qualities are among those that are praised.
To badness belong the opposite qualities.


Aristotle. Rhetoric. Translated by W. Rhys Roberts. The Internet Classics Archive. Retrieved 2019, from

Rhetoric is the counterpart of Dialectic. Both alike are concerned with such things as come, more or less, within the general ken of all men and belong to no definite science. Accordingly all men make use, more or less, of both; for to a certain extent all men attempt to discuss statements and to maintain them, to defend themselves and to attack others. Ordinary people do this either at random or through practice and from acquired habit. Both ways being possible, the subject can plainly be handled systematically, for it is possible to inquire the reason why some speakers succeed through practice and others spontaneously; and every one will at once agree that such an inquiry is the function of an art.
It is clear, then, that rhetorical study, in its strict sense, is concerned with the modes of persuasion. Persuasion is clearly a sort of demonstration, since we are most fully persuaded when we consider a thing to have been demonstrated.
It is clear, then, that rhetoric is not bound up with a single definite class of subjects, but is as universal as dialectic; it is clear, also, that it is useful. It is clear, further, that its function is not simply to succeed in persuading, but rather to discover the means of coming as near such success as the circumstances of each particular case allow. In this it resembles all other arts. For example, it is not the function of medicine simply to make a man quite healthy, but to put him as far as may be on the road to health; it is possible to give excellent treatment even to those who can never enjoy sound health. Furthermore, it is plain that it is the function of one and the same art to discern the real and the apparent means of persuasion, just as it is the function of dialectic to discern the real and the apparent syllogism. What makes a man a ‘sophist’ is not his faculty, but his moral purpose. In rhetoric, however, the term ‘rhetorician’ may describe either the speaker’s knowledge of the art, or his moral purpose. In dialectic it is different: a man is a ‘sophist’ because he has a certain kind of moral purpose, a ‘dialectician’ in respect, not of his moral purpose, but of his faculty.
Let us now try to give some account of the systematic principles of Rhetoric itself-of the right method and means of succeeding in the object we set before us. We must make as it were a fresh start, and before going further define what rhetoric is.
Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible. We believe good men more fully and more readily than others: this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainty is impossible and opinions are divided. This kind of persuasion, like the others, should be achieved by what the speaker says, not by what people think of his character before he begins to speak. It is not true, as some writers assume in their treatises on rhetoric, that the personal goodness revealed by the speaker contributes nothing to his power of persuasion; on the contrary, his character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses. Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile. It is towards producing these effects, as we maintain, that present-day writers on rhetoric direct the whole of their efforts. This subject shall be treated in detail when we come to speak of the emotions. Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question.
There are, then, these three means of effecting persuasion. The man who is to be in command of them must, it is clear, be able (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions-that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited. It thus appears that rhetoric is an offshoot of dialectic and also of ethical studies. Ethical studies may fairly be called political; and for this reason rhetoric masquerades as political science, and the professors of it as political experts-sometimes from want of education, sometimes from ostentation, sometimes owing to other human failings. As a matter of fact, it is a branch of dialectic and similar to it, as we said at the outset. Neither rhetoric nor dialectic is the scientific study of any one separate subject: both are faculties for providing arguments. This is perhaps a sufficient account of their scope and of how they are related to each other.
We may define happiness as prosperity combined with virtue; or as independence of life; or as the secure enjoyment of the maximum of pleasure; or as a good condition of property and body, together with the power of guarding one’s property and body and making use of them. That happiness is one or more of these things, pretty well everybody agrees.
From this definition of happiness it follows that its constituent parts are:-good birth, plenty of friends, good friends, wealth, good children, plenty of children, a happy old age, also such bodily excellences as health, beauty, strength, large stature, athletic powers, together with fame, honour, good luck, and virtue. A man cannot fail to be completely independent if he possesses these internal and these external goods; for besides these there are no others to have. (Goods of the soul and of the body are internal. Good birth, friends, money, and honour are external.) Further, we think that he should possess resources and luck, in order to make his life really secure. As we have already ascertained what happiness in general is, so now let us try to ascertain what of these parts of it is.
Now good birth in a race or a state means that its members are indigenous or ancient: that its earliest leaders were distinguished men, and that from them have sprung many who were distinguished for qualities that we admire.
The excellence of the body is health; that is, a condition which allows us, while keeping free from disease, to have the use of our bodies; for many people are ‘healthy’ as we are told Herodicus was; and these no one can congratulate on their ‘health’, for they have to abstain from everything or nearly everything that men do.
Strength is the power of moving some one else at will; to do this, you must either pull, push, lift, pin, or grip him; thus you must be strong in all of those ways or at least in some. Excellence in size is to surpass ordinary people in height, thickness, and breadth by just as much as will not make one’s movements slower in consequence. Athletic excellence of the body consists in size, strength, and swiftness; swiftness implying strength. He who can fling forward his legs in a certain way, and move them fast and far, is good at running; he who can grip and hold down is good at wrestling; he who can drive an adversary from his ground with the right blow is a good boxer: he who can do both the last is a good pancratiast, while he who can do all is an ‘all-round’ athlete.
Happiness in old age is the coming of old age slowly and painlessly; for a man has not this happiness if he grows old either quickly, or tardily but painfully. It arises both from the excellences of the body and from good luck. If a man is not free from disease, or if he is strong, he will not be free from suffering; nor can he continue to live a long and painless life unless he has good luck. There is, indeed, a capacity for long life that is quite independent of health or strength; for many people live long who lack the excellences of the body; but for our present purpose there is no use in going into the details of this.
The terms ‘possession of many friends’ and ‘possession of good friends’ need no explanation; for we define a ‘friend’ as one who will always try, for your sake, to do what he takes to be good for you. The man towards whom many feel thus has many friends; if these are worthy men, he has good friends.
‘Good luck’ means the acquisition or possession of all or most, or the most important, of those good things which are due to luck. Some of the things that are due to luck may also be due to artificial contrivance; but many are independent of art, as for example those which are due to nature-though, to be sure, things due to luck may actually be contrary to nature. Thus health may be due to artificial contrivance, but beauty and stature are due to nature. All such good things as excite envy are, as a class, the outcome of good luck. Luck is also the cause of good things that happen contrary to reasonable expectation: as when, for instance, all your brothers are ugly, but you are handsome yourself; or when you find a treasure that everybody else has overlooked; or when a missile hits the next man and misses you; or when you are the only man not to go to a place you have gone to regularly, while the others go there for the first time and are killed. All such things are reckoned pieces of good luck.
As to virtue, it is most closely connected with the subject of Eulogy, and therefore we will wait to define it until we come to discuss that subject.
It is now plain what our aims, future or actual, should be in urging, and what in depreciating, a proposal; the latter being the opposite of the former. Now the political or deliberative orator’s aim is utility: deliberation seeks to determine not ends but the means to ends, i.e. what it is most useful to do. Further, utility is a good thing. We ought therefore to assure ourselves of the main facts about Goodness and Utility in general.
We may define a good thing as that which ought to be chosen for its own sake; or as that for the sake of which we choose something else; or as that which is sought after by all things, or by all things that have sensation or reason, or which will be sought after by any things that acquire reason; or as that which must be prescribed for a given individual by reason generally, or is prescribed for him by his individual reason, this being his individual good; or as that whose presence brings anything into a satisfactory and self-sufficing condition; or as self-sufficiency; or as what produces, maintains, or entails characteristics of this kind, while preventing and destroying their opposites. One thing may entail another in either of two ways-(1) simultaneously, (2) subsequently. Thus learning entails knowledge subsequently, health entails life simultaneously. Things are productive of other things in three senses: first as being healthy produces health; secondly, as food produces health; and thirdly, as exercise does-i.e. it does so usually. All this being settled, we now see that both the acquisition of good things and the removal of bad things must be good; the latter entails freedom from the evil things simultaneously, while the former entails possession of the good things subsequently. The acquisition of a greater in place of a lesser good, or of a lesser in place of a greater evil, is also good, for in proportion as the greater exceeds the lesser there is acquisition of good or removal of evil. The virtues, too, must be something good; for it is by possessing these that we are in a good condition, and they tend to produce good works and good actions. They must be severally named and described elsewhere. Pleasure, again, must be a good thing, since it is the nature of all animals to aim at it. Consequently both pleasant and beautiful things must be good things, since the former are productive of pleasure, while of the beautiful things some are pleasant and some desirable in and for themselves.
The following is a more detailed list of things that must be good. Happiness, as being desirable in itself and sufficient by itself, and as being that for whose sake we choose many other things. Also justice, courage, temperance, magnanimity, magnificence, and all such qualities, as being excellences of the soul. Further, health, beauty, and the like, as being bodily excellences and productive of many other good things: for instance, health is productive both of pleasure and of life, and therefore is thought the greatest of goods, since these two things which it causes, pleasure and life, are two of the things most highly prized by ordinary people. Wealth, again: for it is the excellence of possession, and also productive of many other good things. Friends and friendship: for a friend is desirable in himself and also productive of many other good things. So, too, honour and reputation, as being pleasant, and productive of many other good things, and usually accompanied by the presence of the good things that cause them to be bestowed. The faculty of speech and action; since all such qualities are productive of what is good. Further-good parts, strong memory, receptiveness, quickness of intuition, and the like, for all such faculties are productive of what is good. Similarly, all the sciences and arts. And life: since, even if no other good were the result of life, it is desirable in itself. And justice, as the cause of good to the community.
The above are pretty well all the things admittedly good. In dealing with things whose goodness is disputed, we may argue in the following ways:-That is good of which the contrary is bad. That is good the contrary of which is to the advantage of our enemies; for example, if it is to the particular advantage of our enemies that we should be cowards, clearly courage is of particular value to our countrymen. And generally, the contrary of that which our enemies desire, or of that at which they rejoice, is evidently valuable. Hence the passage beginning:
“Surely would Priam exult. ”
This principle usually holds good, but not always, since it may well be that our interest is sometimes the same as that of our enemies. Hence it is said that ‘evils draw men together’; that is, when the same thing is hurtful to them both.
Further: that which is not in excess is good, and that which is greater than it should be is bad. That also is good on which much labour or money has been spent; the mere fact of this makes it seem good, and such a good is assumed to be an end-an end reached through a long chain of means; and any end is a good. Hence the lines beginning:
“And for Priam (and Troy-town’s folk) should
“they leave behind them a boast; ”
“Oh, it were shame
“To have tarried so long and return empty-handed
“as erst we came; ”
and there is also the proverb about ‘breaking the pitcher at the door’.
That which most people seek after, and which is obviously an object of contention, is also a good; for, as has been shown, that is good which is sought after by everybody, and ‘most people’ is taken to be equivalent to ‘everybody’. That which is praised is good, since no one praises what is not good. So, again, that which is praised by our enemies [or by the worthless] for when even those who have a grievance think a thing good, it is at once felt that every one must agree with them; our enemies can admit the fact only because it is evident, just as those must be worthless whom their friends censure and their enemies do not. (For this reason the Corinthians conceived themselves to be insulted by Simonides when he wrote:
“Against the Corinthians hath Ilium no complaint.) ”
Again, that is good which has been distinguished by the favour of a discerning or virtuous man or woman, as Odysseus was distinguished by Athena, Helen by Theseus, Paris by the goddesses, and Achilles by Homer. And, generally speaking, all things are good which men deliberately choose to do; this will include the things already mentioned, and also whatever may be bad for their enemies or good for their friends, and at the same time practicable. Things are ‘practicable’ in two senses: (1) it is possible to do them, (2) it is easy to do them. Things are done ‘easily’ when they are done either without pain or quickly: the ‘difficulty’ of an act lies either in its painfulness or in the long time it takes. Again, a thing is good if it is as men wish; and they wish to have either no evil at an or at least a balance of good over evil. This last will happen where the penalty is either imperceptible or slight. Good, too, are things that are a man’s very own, possessed by no one else, exceptional; for this increases the credit of having them. So are things which befit the possessors, such as whatever is appropriate to their birth or capacity, and whatever they feel they ought to have but lack-such things may indeed be trifling, but none the less men deliberately make them the goal of their action. And things easily effected; for these are practicable (in the sense of being easy); such things are those in which every one, or most people, or one’s equals, or one’s inferiors have succeeded. Good also are the things by which we shall gratify our friends or annoy our enemies; and the things chosen by those whom we admire: and the things for which we are fitted by nature or experience, since we think we shall succeed more easily in these: and those in which no worthless man can succeed, for such things bring greater praise: and those which we do in fact desire, for what we desire is taken to be not only pleasant but also better. Further, a man of a given disposition makes chiefly for the corresponding things: lovers of victory make for victory, lovers of honour for honour, money-loving men for money, and so with the rest. These, then, are the sources from which we must derive our means of persuasion about Good and Utility.
Now we are applying the term ‘good’ to what is desirable for its own sake and not for the sake of something else; to that at which all things aim; to what they would choose if they could acquire understanding and practical wisdom; and to that which tends to produce or preserve such goods, or is always accompanied by them. Moreover, that for the sake of which things are done is the end (an end being that for the sake of which all else is done), and for each individual that thing is a good which fulfils these conditions in regard to himself.
Again, where one good is always accompanied by another, but does not always accompany it, it is greater than the other, for the use of the second thing is implied in the use of the first. A thing may be accompanied by another in three ways, either simultaneously, subsequently, or potentially. Life accompanies health simultaneously (but not health life), knowledge accompanies the act of learning subsequently…. Likewise, that which is produced by a greater good is itself a greater good; thus, if what is wholesome is more desirable and a greater good than what gives pleasure, health too must be a greater good than pleasure. Again, a thing which is desirable in itself is a greater good than a thing which is not desirable in itself, as for example bodily strength than what is wholesome, since the latter is not pursued for its own sake, whereas the former is; and this was our definition of the good. Again, if one of two things is an end, and the other is not, the former is the greater good, as being chosen for its own sake and not for the sake of something else; as, for example, exercise is chosen for the sake of physical well-being. And of two things that which stands less in need of the other, or of other things, is the greater good, since it is more self-sufficing. (That which stands ‘less’ in need of others is that which needs either fewer or easier things.) So when one thing does not exist or cannot come into existence without a second, while the second can exist without the first, the second is the better. That which does not need something else is more self-sufficing than that which does, and presents itself as a greater good for that reason.
Further, what is rare is a greater good than what is plentiful. Thus, gold is a better thing than iron, though less useful: it is harder to get, and therefore better worth getting. Reversely, it may be argued that the plentiful is a better thing than the rare, because we can make more use of it. For what is often useful surpasses what is seldom useful, whence the saying:
“The best of things is water. ”
More generally: the hard thing is better than the easy, because it is rarer: and reversely, the easy thing is better than the hard, for it is as we wish it to be. That is the greater good whose contrary is the greater evil, and whose loss affects us more.
Again, that which would be judged, or which has been judged, a good thing, or a better thing than something else, by all or most people of understanding, or by the majority of men, or by the ablest, must be so; either without qualification, or in so far as they use their understanding to form their judgement. This is indeed a general principle, applicable to all other judgements also; not only the goodness of things, but their essence, magnitude, and general nature are in fact just what knowledge and understanding will declare them to be. Here the principle is applied to judgements of goodness, since one definition of ‘good’ was ‘what beings that acquire understanding will choose in any given case’: from which it clearly follows that that thing is better which understanding declares to be so. That, again, is a better thing which attaches to better men, either absolutely, or in virtue of their being better; as courage is better than strength. And that is a greater good which would be chosen by a better man, either absolutely, or in virtue of his being better: for instance, to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong, for that would be the choice of the juster man.
The Noble is that which is both desirable for its own sake and also worthy of praise; or that which is both good and also pleasant because good. If this is a true definition of the Noble, it follows that virtue must be noble, since it is both a good thing and also praiseworthy. Virtue is, according to the usual view, a faculty of providing and preserving good things; or a faculty of conferring many great benefits, and benefits of all kinds on all occasions. The forms of Virtue are justice, courage, temperance, magnificence, magnanimity, liberality, gentleness, prudence, wisdom. If virtue is a faculty of beneficence, the highest kinds of it must be those which are most useful to others, and for this reason men honour most the just and the courageous, since courage is useful to others in war, justice both in war and in peace. Next comes liberality; liberal people let their money go instead of fighting for it, whereas other people care more for money than for anything else. Justice is the virtue through which everybody enjoys his own possessions in accordance with the law; its opposite is injustice, through which men enjoy the possessions of others in defiance of the law. Courage is the virtue that disposes men to do noble deeds in situations of danger, in accordance with the law and in obedience to its commands; cowardice is the opposite. Temperance is the virtue that disposes us to obey the law where physical pleasures are concerned; incontinence is the opposite. Liberality disposes us to spend money for others’ good; illiberality is the opposite. Magnanimity is the virtue that disposes us to do good to others on a large scale; [its opposite is meanness of spirit]. Magnificence is a virtue productive of greatness in matters involving the spending of money. The opposites of these two are smallness of spirit and meanness respectively. Prudence is that virtue of the understanding which enables men to come to wise decisions about the relation to happiness of the goods and evils that have been previously mentioned.
The above is a sufficient account, for our present purpose, of virtue and vice in general, and of their various forms. As to further aspects of the subject, it is not difficult to discern the facts; it is evident that things productive of virtue are noble, as tending towards virtue; and also the effects of virtue, that is, the signs of its presence and the acts to which it leads. And since the signs of virtue, and such acts as it is the mark of a virtuous man to do or have done to him, are noble, it follows that all deeds or signs of courage, and everything done courageously, must be noble things; and so with what is just and actions done justly. (Not, however, actions justly done to us; here justice is unlike the other virtues; ‘justly’ does not always mean ‘nobly’; when a man is punished, it is more shameful that this should be justly than unjustly done to him). The same is true of the other virtues. Again, those actions are noble for which the reward is simply honour, or honour more than money. So are those in which a man aims at something desirable for some one else’s sake; actions good absolutely, such as those a man does for his country without thinking of himself; actions good in their own nature; actions that are not good simply for the individual, since individual interests are selfish. Noble also are those actions whose advantage may be enjoyed after death, as opposed to those whose advantage is enjoyed during one’s lifetime: for the latter are more likely to be for one’s own sake only. Also, all actions done for the sake of others, since less than other actions are done for one’s own sake; and all successes which benefit others and not oneself; and services done to one’s benefactors, for this is just; and good deeds generally, since they are not directed to one’s own profit. And the opposites of those things of which men feel ashamed, for men are ashamed of saying, doing, or intending to do shameful things. So when Alcacus said
“Something I fain would say to thee,
“Only shame restraineth me, ”
Sappho wrote
“If for things good and noble thou wert yearning,
“If to speak baseness were thy tongue not burning,
“No load of shame would on thine eyelids weigh;
“What thou with honour wishest thou wouldst say. ”
Those things, also, are noble for which men strive anxiously, without
feeling fear; for they feel thus about the good things which lead
to fair fame.
The above are the motives that make men do wrong to others; we are next to consider the states of mind in which they do it, and the persons to whom they do it. They must themselves suppose that the thing can be done, and done by them: either that they can do it without being found out, or that if they are found out they can escape being punished, or that if they are punished the disadvantage will be less than the gain for themselves or those they care for. The general subject of apparent possibility and impossibility will be handled later on, since it is relevant not only to forensic but to all kinds of speaking. But it may here be said that people think that they can themselves most easily do wrong to others without being punished for it if they possess eloquence, or practical ability, or much legal experience, or a large body of friends, or a great deal of money.


Aristotle. Topics. Translated by W. A. Pickard-Cambridge. The Internet Classics Archive. Retrieved 2019, from

Also, what is good absolutely is more desirable than what is good for a particular person, e.g. recovery of health than a surgical operation; for the former is good absolutely, the latter only for a particular person, viz. the man who needs an operation. So too what is good by nature is more desirable than the good that is not so by nature, e.g. justice than the just man; for the one is good by nature, whereas in the other case the goodness is acquired. Also the attribute is more desirable which belongs to the better and more honourable subject, e.g. to a god rather than to a man, and to the soul rather than to the body. So too the property of the better thing is better than the property of the worse; e.g. the property of God than the property of man: for whereas in respect of what is common in both of them they do not differ at all from each other, in respect of their properties the one surpasses the other. Also that is better which is inherent in things better or prior or more honourable: thus (e.g.) health is better than strength and beauty: for the former is inherent in the moist and the dry, and the hot and the cold, in fact in all the primary constituents of an animal, whereas the others are inherent in what is secondary, strength being a feature of the sinews and bones, while beauty is generally supposed to consist in a certain symmetry of the limbs. Also the end is generally supposed to be more desirable than the means, and of two means, that which lies nearer the end. In general, too, a means directed towards the end of life is more desirable than a means to anything else, e.g. that which contributes to happiness than that which contributes to prudence. Also the competent is more desirable than the incompetent. Moreover, of two productive agents that one is more desirable whose end is better… Clearly, therefore, what produces happiness is more desirable than health: for it exceeds the same standard by a greater amount. Moreover, what is in itself nobler and more precious and praiseworthy is more desirable than what is less so, e.g.friendship than wealth, and justice than strength. For the former belong in themselves to the class of things precious and praiseworthy, while the latter do so not in themselves but for something else: for no one prizes wealth for itself but always for something else, whereas we prize friendship for itself, even though nothing else is likely to come to us from it.

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