Part 4 out of 6
All teaching, and all intellectual learning, proceeds on the basis
of previous knowledge, as will appear on an examination of all. The
Mathematical Sciences, and every other system, draw their conclusions in
this method. So too of reasonings, whether by syllogism, or induction:
for both teach through what is previously known, the former assuming
the premisses as from wise men, the latter proving universals from
the evidentness of the particulars. In like manner too rhetoricians
persuade, either through examples (which amounts to induction), or
through enthymemes (which amounts to syllogism).
Well, we suppose that we _know_ things (in the strict and proper sense
of the word) when we suppose ourselves to know the cause by reason
of which the thing is to be the cause of it; and that this cannot be
otherwise. It is plain that the idea intended to be conveyed by the term
_knowing_ is something of this kind; because they who do not really know
suppose themselves thus related to the matter in hand and they who
do know really are so that of whatsoever there is properly speaking
Knowledge this cannot be otherwise than it is Whether or no there is
another way of knowing we will say afterwards, but we do say that we
know through demonstration, by which I mean a syllogism apt to produce
Knowledge, i.e. in right of which through having it, we know.
If Knowledge then is such as we have described it, the Knowledge
produced by demonstrative reasoning must be drawn from premisses _true_
and _first_, and _incapable of syllogistic proof_, and _better known_,
and _prior in order of time_, and _causes of the conclusion_, for so the
principles will be akin to the conclusion demonstrated.
(Syllogism, of course there may be without such premisses, but it will
not be demonstration because it will not produce knowledge).
_True_, they must be, because it is impossible to know that which is not.
_First_, that is indemonstrable, because, if demonstrable, he cannot be
said to _know_ them who has no demonstration of them for knowing such
things as are demonstrable is the same as having demonstration of them.
_Causes_ they must be, and _better known_, and _prior_ in time,
_causes_, because we then know when we are acquainted with the cause,
and _prior_, if causes, and _known beforehand_, not merely comprehended
in idea but known to exist (The terms prior, and better known, bear two
senses for _prior by nature_ and _prior relatively to ourselves_ are not
the same, nor _better known by nature_, and _better known to us_ I mean,
by _prior_ and _better known relatively to ourselves_, such things as
are nearer to sensation, but abstractedly so such as are further
Those are furthest which are most universal those nearest which are
particulars, and these are mutually opposed) And by _first_, I mean
_principles akin to the conclusion_, for principle means the same as
first And the principle or first step in demonstration is a proposition
incapable of syllogistic proof, i. e. one to which there is none prior.
Now of such syllogistic principles I call that a [Greek: thxsis] which
you cannot demonstrate, and which is unnecessary with a view to learning
something else. That which is necessary in order to learn something else
is an Axiom.
Further, since one is to believe and know the thing by having a
syllogism of the kind called demonstration, and what constitutes it to
be such is the nature of the premisses, it is necessary not merely to
_know before_, but to _know better than the conclusion_, either all or
at least some of, the principles, because that which is the cause of a
quality inhering in something else always inheres itself more as the
cause of our loving is itself more lovable. So, since the principles are
the cause of our knowing and behoving we know and believe them more,
because by reason of them we know also the conclusion following.
Further: the man who is to have the Knowledge which comes through
demonstration must not merely know and believe his principles better
than he does his conclusion, but he must believe nothing more firmly
than the contradictories of those principles out of which the contrary
fallacy may be constructed: since he who _knows_, is to be simply and
Next we must take a different point to start from, and observe that of
what is to be avoided in respect of moral character there are three
forms; Vice, Imperfect Self-Control, and Brutishness. Of the two former
it is plain what the contraries are, for we call the one Virtue, the
other Self-Control; and as answering to Brutishness it will be most
suitable to assign Superhuman, i.e. heroical and godlike Virtue, as, in
Homer, Priam says of Hector "that he was very excellent, nor was he like
the offspring of mortal man, but of a god." and so, if, as is commonly
said, men are raised to the position of gods by reason of very high
excellence in Virtue, the state opposed to the Brutish will plainly be
of this nature: because as brutes are not virtuous or vicious so neither
are gods; but the state of these is something more precious than Virtue,
of the former something different in kind from Vice.
And as, on the one hand, it is a rare thing for a man to be godlike (a
term the Lacedaemonians are accustomed to use when they admire a man
exceedingly; [Greek:seios anhaep] they call him), so the brutish man is
rare; the character is found most among barbarians, and some cases of it
are caused by disease or maiming; also such men as exceed in vice all
ordinary measures we therefore designate by this opprobrious term. Well,
we must in a subsequent place make some mention of this disposition,
and Vice has been spoken of before: for the present we must speak of
Imperfect Self-Control and its kindred faults of Softness and Luxury, on
the one hand, and of Self-Control and Endurance on the other; since we
are to conceive of them, not as being the same states exactly as Virtue
and Vice respectively, nor again as differing in kind. [Sidenote:1145b]
And we should adopt the same course as before, i.e. state the phenomena,
and, after raising and discussing difficulties which suggest themselves,
then exhibit, if possible, all the opinions afloat respecting these
affections of the moral character; or, if not all, the greater part and
the most important: for we may consider we have illustrated the matter
sufficiently when the difficulties have been solved, and such theories
as are most approved are left as a residuum.
The chief points may be thus enumerated. It is thought,
I. That Self-Control and Endurance belong to the class of things good
and praiseworthy, while Imperfect Self-Control and Softness belong to
that of things low and blameworthy.
II. That the man of Self-Control is identical with the man who is apt to
abide by his resolution, and the man of Imperfect Self-Control with him
who is apt to depart from his resolution.
III. That the man of Imperfect Self-Control does things at the
instigation of his passions, knowing them to be wrong, while the man of
Self-Control, knowing his lusts to be wrong, refuses, by the influence
of reason, to follow their suggestions.
IV. That the man of Perfected Self-Mastery unites the qualities of
Self-Control and Endurance, and some say that every one who unites these
is a man of Perfect Self-Mastery, others do not.
V. Some confound the two characters of the man who has _no_
Self-Control, and the man of _Imperfect Self-Control_, while others
distinguish between them.
VI. It is sometimes said that the man of Practical Wisdom cannot be a
man of Imperfect Self-Control, sometimes that men who are Practically
Wise and Clever are of Imperfect Self-Control.
VII. Again, men are said to be of Imperfect Self-Control, not simply
but with the addition of the thing wherein, as in respect of anger, of
honour, and gain.
These then are pretty well the common statements.
Now a man may raise a question as to the nature of the right conception
in violation of which a man fails of Self-Control.
That he can so fail when _knowing_ in the strict sense what is right
some say is impossible: for it is a strange thing, as Socrates thought,
that while Knowledge is present in his mind something else should
master him and drag him about like a slave. Socrates in fact contended
generally against the theory, maintaining there is no such state as that
of Imperfect Self-Control, for that no one acts contrary to what is best
conceiving it to be best but by reason of ignorance what is best.
With all due respect to Socrates, his account of the matter is at
variance with plain facts, and we must inquire with respect to the
affection, if it be caused by ignorance what is the nature of the
ignorance: for that the man so failing does not suppose his acts to be
right before he is under the influence of passion is quite plain.
There are people who partly agree with Socrates and partly not: that
nothing can be stronger than Knowledge they agree, but that no man acts
in contravention of his conviction of what is better they do not agree;
and so they say that it is not Knowledge, but only Opinion, which the
man in question has and yet yields to the instigation of his pleasures.
[Sidenote:1146a] But then, if it is Opinion and not Knowledge, that is
it the opposing conception be not strong but only mild (as in the case
of real doubt), the not abiding by it in the face of strong lusts would
be excusable: but wickedness is not excusable, nor is anything which
Well then, is it Practical Wisdom which in this case offers opposition:
for that is the strongest principle? The supposition is absurd, for
we shall have the same man uniting Practical Wisdom and Imperfect
Self-Control, and surely no single person would maintain that it is
consistent with the character of Practical Wisdom to do voluntarily what
is very wrong; and besides we have shown before that the very mark of
a man of this character is aptitude to act, as distinguished from
mere knowledge of what is right; because he is a man conversant with
particular details, and possessed of all the other virtues.
Again, if the having strong and bad lusts is necessary to the idea of
the man of Self-Control, this character cannot be identical with the man
of Perfected Self-Mastery, because the having strong desires or bad ones
does not enter into the idea of this latter character: and yet the man
of Self-Control must have such: for suppose them good; then the moral
state which should hinder a man from following their suggestions must be
bad, and so Self-Control would not be in all cases good: suppose them on
the other hand to be weak and not wrong, it would be nothing grand; nor
anything great, supposing them to be wrong and weak.
Again, if Self-Control makes a man apt to abide by all opinions without
exception, it may be bad, as suppose the case of a false opinion: and
if Imperfect Self-Control makes a man apt to depart from all without
exception, we shall have cases where it will be good; take that of
Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes of Sophocles, for instance: he is to be
praised for not abiding by what he was persuaded to by Ulysses, because
he was pained at being guilty of falsehood.
Or again, false sophistical reasoning presents a difficulty: for because
men wish to prove paradoxes that they may be counted clever when they
succeed, the reasoning that has been used becomes a difficulty: for the
intellect is fettered; a man being unwilling to abide by the conclusion
because it does not please his judgment, but unable to advance because
he cannot disentangle the web of sophistical reasoning.
Or again, it is conceivable on this supposition that folly joined with
Imperfect Self-Control may turn out, in a given case, goodness: for by
reason of his imperfection of self-control a man acts in a way which
contradicts his notions; now his notion is that what is really good is
bad and ought not to be done; and so he will eventually do what is good
and not what is bad.
Again, on the same supposition, the man who acting on conviction pursues
and chooses things because they are pleasant must be thought a better
man than he who does so not by reason of a quasi-rational conviction but
of Imperfect Self-Control: because he is more open to cure by reason of
the possibility of his receiving a contrary conviction. But to the man
of Imperfect Self-Control would apply the proverb, "when water chokes,
what should a man drink then?" for had he never been convinced at all
in respect of [Sidenote: 1146b] what he does, then by a conviction in a
contrary direction he might have stopped in his course; but now though
he has had convictions he notwithstanding acts against them.
Again, if any and every thing is the object-matter of Imperfect and
Perfect Self-Control, who is the man of Imperfect Self-Control simply?
because no one unites all cases of it, and we commonly say that some men
are so simply, not adding any particular thing in which they are so.
Well, the difficulties raised are pretty near such as I have described
them, and of these theories we must remove some and leave others as
established; because the solving of a difficulty is a positive act of
establishing something as true.
Now we must examine first whether men of Imperfect Self-Control act with
a knowledge of what is right or not: next, if with such knowledge, in
what sense; and next what are we to assume is the object-matter of the
man of Imperfect Self-Control, and of the man of Self-Control; I mean,
whether pleasure and pain of all kinds or certain definite ones; and as
to Self-Control and Endurance, whether these are designations of the
same character or different. And in like manner we must go into all
questions which are connected with the present.
But the real starting point of the inquiry is, whether the two
characters of Self-Control and Imperfect Self-Control are distinguished
by their object-matter, or their respective relations to it. I mean,
whether the man of Imperfect Self-Control is such simply by virtue of
having such and such object-matter; or not, but by virtue of his being
related to it in such and such a way, or by virtue of both: next,
whether Self-Control and Imperfect Self-Control are unlimited in their
object-matter: because he who is designated without any addition a man
of Imperfect Self-Control is not unlimited in his object-matter, but has
exactly the same as the man who has lost all Self-Control: nor is he so
designated because of his relation to this object-matter merely (for
then his character would be identical with that just mentioned, loss
of all Self-Control), but because of his relation to it being such
and such. For the man who has lost all Self-Control is led on with
deliberate moral choice, holding that it is his line to pursue pleasure
as it rises: while the man of Imperfect Self-Control does not think that
he ought to pursue it, but does pursue it all the same.
Now as to the notion that it is True Opinion and not Knowledge in
contravention of which men fail in Self-Control, it makes no difference
to the point in question, because some of those who hold Opinions have
no doubt about them but suppose themselves to have accurate Knowledge;
if then it is urged that men holding Opinions will be more likely than
men who have Knowledge to act in contravention of their conceptions,
as having but a moderate belief in them; we reply, Knowledge will not
differ in this respect from Opinion: because some men believe their
own Opinions no less firmly than others do their positive Knowledge:
Heraclitus is a case in point.
Rather the following is the account of it: the term _knowing_ has two
senses; both the man who does not use his Knowledge, and he who does,
are said to _know_: there will be a difference between a man's acting
wrongly, who though possessed of Knowledge does not call it into
operation, and his doing so who has it and actually exercises it: the
latter is a strange case, but the mere having, if not exercising,
presents no anomaly.
[Sidenote:1147a] Again, as there are two kinds of propositions affecting
action, universal and particular, there is no reason why a man may not
act against his Knowledge, having both propositions in his mind, using
the universal but not the particular, for the particulars are the
objects of moral action.
There is a difference also in universal propositions; a universal
proposition may relate partly to a man's self and partly to the thing in
question: take the following for instance; "dry food is good for every
man," this may have the two minor premisses, "this is a man," and "so
and so is dry food;" but whether a given substance is so and so a man
either has not the Knowledge or does not exert it. According to these
different senses there will be an immense difference, so that for a
man to _know_ in the one sense, and yet act wrongly, would be nothing
strange, but in any of the other senses it would be a matter for wonder.
Again, men may have Knowledge in a way different from any of those which
have been now stated: for we constantly see a man's state so differing
by having and not using Knowledge, that he has it in a sense and also
has not; when a man is asleep, for instance, or mad, or drunk: well, men
under the actual operation of passion are in exactly similar conditions;
for anger, lust, and some other such-like things, manifestly make
changes even in the body, and in some they even cause madness; it is
plain then that we must say the men of Imperfect Self-Control are in a
state similar to these.
And their saying what embodies Knowledge is no proof of their actually
then exercising it, because they who are under the operation of these
passions repeat demonstrations; or verses of Empedocles, just as
children, when first learning, string words together, but as yet know
nothing of their meaning, because they must grow into it, and this is a
process requiring time: so that we must suppose these men who fail in
Self-Control to say these moral sayings just as actors do. Furthermore,
a man may look at the account of the phaenomenon in the following way,
from an examination of the actual working of the mind: All action may
be analysed into a syllogism, in which the one premiss is an universal
maxim and the other concerns particulars of which Sense [moral or
physical, as the case may be] is cognisant: now when one results from
these two, it follows necessarily that, as far as theory goes the mind
must assert the conclusion, and in practical propositions the man must
act accordingly. For instance, let the universal be, "All that is
sweet should be tasted," the particular, "This is sweet;" it follows
necessarily that he who is able and is not hindered should not only
draw, but put in practice, the conclusion "This is to be tasted." When
then there is in the mind one universal proposition forbidding to taste,
and the other "All that is sweet is pleasant" with its minor "This is
sweet" (which is the one that really works), and desire happens to be in
the man, the first universal bids him avoid this but the desire leads
him on to taste; for it has the power of moving the various organs:
and so it results that he fails in Self-Control, [Sidenote:1147b] in a
certain sense under the influence of Reason and Opinion not contrary in
itself to Reason but only accidentally so; because it is the desire that
is contrary to Right Reason, but not the Opinion: and so for this reason
brutes are not accounted of Imperfect Self-Control, because they have
no power of conceiving universals but only of receiving and retaining
As to the manner in which the ignorance is removed and the man of
Imperfect Self-Control recovers his Knowledge, the account is the same
as with respect to him who is drunk or asleep, and is not peculiar to
this affection, so physiologists are the right people to apply to. But
whereas the minor premiss of every practical syllogism is an opinion on
matter cognisable by Sense and determines the actions; he who is under
the influence of passion either has not this, or so has it that his
having does not amount to _knowing_ but merely saying, as a man when
drunk might repeat Empedocles' verses; and because the minor term
is neither universal, nor is thought to have the power of producing
Knowledge in like manner as the universal term: and so the result which
Socrates was seeking comes out, that is to say, the affection does not
take place in the presence of that which is thought to be specially
and properly Knowledge, nor is this dragged about by reason of the
affection, but in the presence of that Knowledge which is conveyed by
Let this account then be accepted of the question respecting the failure
in Self-Control, whether it is with Knowledge or not; and, if with
knowledge, with what kind of knowledge such failure is possible.
The next question to be discussed is whether there is a character to be
designated by the term "of Imperfect Self-Control" simply, or whether
all who are so are to be accounted such, in respect of some particular
thing; and, if there is such a character, what is his object-matter.
Now that pleasures and pains are the object-matter of men of
Self-Control and of Endurance, and also of men of Imperfect Self-Control
and Softness, is plain.
Further, things which produce pleasure are either necessary, or objects
of choice in themselves but yet admitting of excess. All bodily things
which produce pleasure are necessary; and I call such those which relate
to food and other grosser appetities, in short such bodily things as
we assumed were the Object-matter of absence of Self-Control and of
The other class of objects are not necessary, but objects of choice in
themselves: I mean, for instance, victory, honour, wealth, and such-like
good or pleasant things. And those who are excessive in their liking for
such things contrary to the principle of Right Reason which is in their
own breasts we do not designate men of Imperfect Self-Control simply,
but with the addition of the thing wherein, as in respect of money, or
gain, or honour, or anger, and not simply; because we consider them as
different characters and only having that title in right of a kind of
resemblance (as when we add to a man's name "conqueror in the Olympic
games" the account of him as Man differs but little from the account
of him as the Man who conquered in the Olympic games, but still it is
different). And a proof of the real [Sidenote: 1148a] difference between
these so designated with an addition and those simply so called is this,
that Imperfect Self-Control is blamed, not as an error merely but also
as being a vice, either wholly or partially; but none of these other
cases is so blamed.
But of those who have for their object-matter the bodily enjoyments,
which we say are also the object-matter of the man of Perfected
Self-Mastery and the man who has lost all Self-Control, he that pursues
excessive pleasures and too much avoids things which are painful (as
hunger and thirst, heat and cold, and everything connected with touch
and taste), not from moral choice but in spite of his moral choice and
intellectual conviction, is termed "a man of Imperfect Self-Control,"
not with the addition of any particular object-matter as we do in
respect of want of control of anger but simply.
And a proof that the term is thus applied is that the kindred term
"Soft" is used in respect of these enjoyments but not in respect of any
of those others. And for this reason we put into the same rank the man
of Imperfect Self-Control, the man who has lost it entirely, the man
who has it, and the man of Perfected Self-Mastery; but not any of those
other characters, because the former have for their object-matter the
same pleasures and pains: but though they have the same object-matter,
they are not related to it in the same way, but two of them act upon
moral choice, two without it. And so we should say that man is more
entirely given up to his passions who pursues excessive pleasures, and
avoids moderate pains, being either not at all, or at least but little,
urged by desire, than the man who does so because his desire is very
strong: because we think what would the former be likely to do if he had
the additional stimulus of youthful lust and violent pain consequent on
the want of those pleasures which we have denominated necessary?
Well then, since of desires and pleasures there are some which are in
kind honourable and good (because things pleasant are divisible, as we
said before, into such as are naturally objects of choice, such as
are naturally objects of avoidance, and such as are in themselves
indifferent, money, gain, honour, victory, for instance); in respect of
all such and those that are indifferent, men are blamed not merely for
being affected by or desiring or liking them, but for exceeding in any
way in these feelings.
And so they are blamed, whosoever in spite of Reason are mastered by,
that is pursue, any object, though in its nature noble and good; they,
for instance, who are more earnest than they should be respecting
honour, or their children or parents; not but what these are good
objects and men are praised for being earnest about them: but still they
admit of excess; for instance, if any one, as Niobe did, should fight
even against the gods, or feel towards his father as Satyrus, who got
therefrom the nickname of [Greek: philophator], [Sidenote: 1148b]
because he was thought to be very foolish.
Now depravity there is none in regard of these things, for the reason
assigned above, that each of them in itself is a thing naturally
choiceworthy, yet the excesses in respect of them are wrong and matter
for blame: and similarly there is no Imperfect Self-Control in respect
of these things; that being not merely a thing that should be avoided
But because of the resemblance of the affection to the Imperfection of
Self-Control the term is used with the addition in each case of the
particular object-matter, just as men call a man a bad physician, or bad
actor, whom they would not think of calling simply bad. As then in these
cases we do not apply the term simply because each of the states is not
a vice, but only like a vice in the way of analogy, so it is plain that
in respect of Imperfect Self-Control and Self-Control we must limit the
names to those states which have the same object-matter as Perfected
Self-Mastery and utter loss of Self-Control, and that we do apply it to
the case of anger only in the way of resemblance: for which reason, with
an addition, we designate a man of Imperfect Self-Control in respect of
anger, as of honour or of gain.
As there are some things naturally pleasant, and of these two kinds;
those, namely, which are pleasant generally, and those which are so
relatively to particular kinds of animals and men; so there are others
which are not naturally pleasant but which come to be so in consequence
either of maimings, or custom, or depraved natural tastes: and one may
observe moral states similar to those we have been speaking of, having
respectively these classes of things for their object-matter.
I mean the Brutish, as in the case of the female who, they say, would
rip up women with child and eat the foetus; or the tastes which are
found among the savage tribes bordering on the Pontus, some liking raw
flesh, and some being cannibals, and some lending one another their
children to make feasts of; or what is said of Phalaris. These are
instances of Brutish states, caused in some by disease or madness; take,
for instance, the man who sacrificed and ate his mother, or him who
devoured the liver of his fellow-servant. Instances again of those
caused by disease or by custom, would be, plucking out of hair, or
eating one's nails, or eating coals and earth. ... Now wherever nature
is really the cause no one would think of calling men of Imperfect
Self-Control, ... nor, in like manner, such as are in a diseased state
[Sidenote:1149a] Obviously the having any of these inclinations is
something foreign to what is denominated Vice, just as Brutishness is:
and when a man has them his mastering them is not properly Self-Control,
nor his being mastered by them Imperfection of Self-Control in the
proper sense, but only in the way of resemblance; just as we may say a
man of ungovernable wrath fails of Self-Control in respect of anger but
not simply fails of Self-Control. For all excessive folly, cowardice,
absence of Self-Control, or irritability, are either Brutish or morbid.
The man, for instance, who is naturally afraid of all things, even if
a mouse should stir, is cowardly after a Brutish sort; there was a man
again who, by reason of disease, was afraid of a cat: and of the fools,
they who are naturally destitute of Reason and live only by Sense are
Brutish, as are some tribes of the far-off barbarians, while others
who are so by reason of diseases, epileptic or frantic, are in morbid
So then, of these inclinations, a man may sometimes merely have one
without yielding to it: I mean, suppose that Phalaris had restrained his
unnatural desire to eat a child: or he may both have and yield to it. As
then Vice when such as belongs to human nature is called Vice simply,
while the other is so called with the addition of "brutish" or "morbid,"
but not simply Vice, so manifestly there is Brutish and Morbid
Imperfection of Self-Control, but that alone is entitled to the name
without any qualification which is of the nature of utter absence of
Self-Control, as it is found in Man.
It is plain then that the object-matter of Imperfect Self-Control and
Self-Control is restricted to the same as that of utter absence of
Self-Control and that of Perfected Self-Mastery, and that the rest is
the object-matter of a different species so named metaphorically and not
simply: we will now examine the position, "that Imperfect Self-Control
in respect of Anger is less disgraceful than that in respect of Lusts."
In the first place, it seems that Anger does in a way listen to Reason
but mishears it; as quick servants who run out before they have heard
the whole of what is said and then mistake the order; dogs, again, bark
at the slightest stir, before they have seen whether it be friend
or foe; just so Anger, by reason of its natural heat and quickness,
listening to Reason, but without having heard the command of Reason,
rushes to its revenge. That is to say, Reason or some impression on the
mind shows there is insolence or contempt in the offender, and then
Anger, reasoning as it were that one ought to fight against what is
such, fires up immediately: whereas Lust, if Reason or Sense, as the
case may be, merely says a thing is sweet, rushes to the enjoyment of
it: and so Anger follows Reason in a manner, but Lust does not and is
therefore more disgraceful: because he that cannot control his anger
yields in a manner to Reason, but the other to his Lust and not to
Reason at all. [Sidenote:1149b]
Again, a man is more excusable for following such desires as are
natural, just as he is for following such Lusts as are common to all and
to that degree in which they are common. Now Anger and irritability are
more natural than Lusts when in excess and for objects not necessary.
(This was the ground of the defence the man made who beat his father,
"My father," he said, "used to beat his, and his father his again, and
this little fellow here," pointing to his child, "will beat me when he
is grown a man: it runs in the family." And the father, as he was being
dragged along, bid his son leave off beating him at the door, because he
had himself been used to drag his father so far and no farther.)
Again, characters are less unjust in proportion as they involve less
insidiousness. Now the Angry man is not insidious, nor is Anger, but
quite open: but Lust is: as they say of Venus,
"Cyprus-born Goddess, _weaver of deceits_"
Or Homer of the girdle called the Cestus,
"Persuasiveness _cheating_ e'en the subtlest mind."
And so since this kind of Imperfect Self-Control is more unjust, it
is also more disgraceful than that in respect of Anger, and is simply
Imperfect Self-Control, and Vice in a certain sense. Again, no man feels
pain in being insolent, but every one who acts through Anger does act
with pain; and he who acts insolently does it with pleasure. If then
those things are most unjust with which we have most right to be angry,
then Imperfect Self-Control, arising from Lust, is more so than that
arising from Anger: because in Anger there is no insolence.
Well then, it is clear that Imperfect Self-Control in respect of
Lusts is more disgraceful than that in respect of Anger, and that the
object-matter of Self-Control, and the Imperfection of it, are bodily
Lusts and pleasures; but of these last we must take into account the
differences; for, as was said at the commencement, some are proper to
the human race and natural both in kind and degree, others Brutish, and
others caused by maimings and diseases.
Now the first of these only are the object-matter of Perfected
Self-Mastery and utter absence of Self-Control; and therefore we never
attribute either of these states to Brutes (except metaphorically,
and whenever any one kind of animal differs entirely from another in
insolence, mischievousness, or voracity), because they have not moral
choice or process of deliberation, but are quite different from that
kind of creature just as are madmen from other men.
[Sidenote: 1150a] Brutishness is not so low in the scale as Vice, yet
it is to be regarded with more fear: because it is not that the highest
principle has been corrupted, as in the human creature, but the subject
has it not at all.
It is much the same, therefore, as if one should compare an inanimate
with an animate being, which were the worse: for the badness of that
which has no principle of origination is always less harmful; now
Intellect is a principle of origination. A similar case would be the
comparing injustice and an unjust man together: for in different ways
each is the worst: a bad man would produce ten thousand times as much
harm as a bad brute.
Now with respect to the pleasures and pains which come to a man through
Touch and Taste, and the desiring or avoiding such (which we determined
before to constitute the object-matter of the states of utter absence of
Self-Control and Perfected Self-Mastery), one may be so disposed as
to yield to temptations to which most men would be superior, or to
be superior to those to which most men would yield: in respect of
pleasures, these characters will be respectively the man of Imperfect
Self-Control, and the man of Self-Control; and, in respect of pains, the
man of Softness and the man of Endurance: but the moral state of most
men is something between the two, even though they lean somewhat to the
Again, since of the pleasures indicated some are necessary and some are
not, others are so to a certain degree but not the excess or defect of
them, and similarly also of Lusts and pains, the man who pursues the
excess of pleasant things, or such as are in themselves excess, or from
moral choice, for their own sake, and not for anything else which is to
result from them, is a man utterly void of Self-Control: for he must be
incapable of remorse, and so incurable, because he that has not remorse
is incurable. (He that has too little love of pleasure is the opposite
character, and the man of Perfected Self-Mastery the mean character.) He
is of a similar character who avoids the bodily pains, not because he
_cannot_, but because he _chooses not to_, withstand them.
But of the characters who go wrong without _choosing_ so to do, the one
is led on by reason of pleasure, the other because he avoids the pain it
would cost him to deny his lust; and so they are different the one from
the other. Now every one would pronounce a man worse for doing something
base without any impulse of desire, or with a very slight one, than for
doing the same from the impulse of a very strong desire; for striking
a man when not angry than if he did so in wrath: because one naturally
says, "What would he have done had he been under the influence of
passion?" (and on this ground, by the bye, the man utterly void of
Self-Control is worse than he who has it imperfectly). However, of the
two characters which have been mentioned [as included in that of utter
absence of Self-Control], the one is rather Softness, the other properly
the man of no Self-Control.
Furthermore, to the character of Imperfect Self-Control is opposed that
of Self-Control, and to that of Softness that of Endurance: because
Endurance consists in continued resistance but Self-Control in actual
mastery, and continued resistance and actual mastery are as different
as not being conquered is from conquering; and so Self-Control is more
choiceworthy than Endurance.
[Sidenote:1150b] Again, he who fails when exposed to those temptations
against which the common run of men hold out, and are well able to do
so, is Soft and Luxurious (Luxury being a kind of Softness): the kind of
man, I mean, to let his robe drag in the dirt to avoid the trouble
of lifting it, and who, aping the sick man, does not however suppose
himself wretched though he is like a wretched man. So it is too with
respect to Self-Control and the Imperfection of it: if a man yields to
pleasures or pains which are violent and excessive it is no matter for
wonder, but rather for allowance if he made what resistance he could
(instances are, Philoctetes in Theodectes' drama when wounded by the
viper; or Cercyon in the Alope of Carcinus, or men who in trying to
suppress laughter burst into a loud continuous fit of it, as happened,
you remember, to Xenophantus), but it is a matter for wonder when a man
yields to and cannot contend against those pleasures or pains which the
common herd are able to resist; always supposing his failure not to be
owing to natural constitution or disease, I mean, as the Scythian kings
are constitutionally Soft, or the natural difference between the sexes.
Again, the man who is a slave to amusement is commonly thought to be
destitute of Self-Control, but he really is Soft; because amusement
is an act of relaxing, being an act of resting, and the character in
question is one of those who exceed due bounds in respect of this.
Moreover of Imperfect Self-Control there are two forms, Precipitancy and
Weakness: those who have it in the latter form though they have made
resolutions do not abide by them by reason of passion; the others are
led by passion because they have never formed any resolutions at
all: while there are some who, like those who by tickling themselves
beforehand get rid of ticklishness, having felt and seen beforehand the
approach of temptation, and roused up themselves and their resolution,
yield not to passion; whether the temptation be somewhat pleasant or
somewhat painful. The Precipitate form of Imperfect Self-Control they
are most liable to who are constitutionally of a sharp or melancholy
temperament: because the one by reason of the swiftness, the other by
reason of the violence, of their passions, do not wait for Reason,
because they are disposed to follow whatever notion is impressed upon
Again, the man utterly destitute of Self-Control, as was observed
before, is not given to remorse: for it is part of his character that
he abides by his moral choice: but the man of Imperfect Self-Control is
almost made up of remorse: and so the case is not as we determined it
before, but the former is incurable and the latter may be cured: for
depravity is like chronic diseases, dropsy and consumption for instance,
but Imperfect Self-Control is like acute disorders: the former being a
continuous evil, the latter not so. And, in fact, Imperfect Self-Control
and Confirmed Vice are different in kind: the latter being imperceptible
to its victim, the former not so.
[Sidenote: 1151a] But, of the different forms of Imperfect Self-Control,
those are better who are carried off their feet by a sudden access of
temptation than they who have Reason but do not abide by it; these
last being overcome by passion less in degree, and not wholly without
premeditation as are the others: for the man of Imperfect Self-Control
is like those who are soon intoxicated and by little wine and less than
the common run of men. Well then, that Imperfection of Self-Control is
not Confirmed Viciousness is plain: and yet perhaps it is such in a way,
because in one sense it is contrary to moral choice and in another the
result of it: at all events, in respect of the actions, the case is much
like what Demodocus said of the Miletians. "The people of Miletus are
not fools, but they do just the kind of things that fools do;" and so
they of Imperfect Self-Control are not unjust, but they do unjust acts.
But to resume. Since the man of Imperfect Self-Control is of such a
character as to follow bodily pleasures in excess and in defiance of
Right Reason, without acting on any deliberate conviction, whereas the
man utterly destitute of Self-Control does act upon a conviction which
rests on his natural inclination to follow after these pleasures; the
former may be easily persuaded to a different course, but the latter
not: for Virtue and Vice respectively preserve and corrupt the moral
principle; now the motive is the principle or starting point in moral
actions, just as axioms and postulates are in mathematics: and neither
in morals nor mathematics is it Reason which is apt to teach the
principle; but Excellence, either natural or acquired by custom, in
holding right notions with respect to the principle. He who does this in
morals is the man of Perfected Self-Mastery, and the contrary character
is the man utterly destitute of Self-Control.
Again, there is a character liable to be taken off his feet in defiance
of Right Reason because of passion; whom passion so far masters as to
prevent his acting in accordance with Right Reason, but not so far as to
make him be convinced that it is his proper line to follow after such
pleasures without limit: this character is the man of Imperfect Self-
Control, better than he who is utterly destitute of it, and not a bad
man simply and without qualification: because in him the highest and
best part, i.e. principle, is preserved: and there is another character
opposed to him who is apt to abide by his resolutions, and not to depart
from them; at all events, not at the instigation of passion. It is
evident then from all this, that Self-Control is a good state and the
Imperfection of it a bad one.
Next comes the question, whether a man is a man of Self-Control for
abiding by his conclusions and moral choice be they of what kind they
may, or only by the right one; or again, a man of Imperfect Self-Control
for not abiding by his conclusions and moral choice be they of whatever
kind; or, to put the case we did before, is he such for not abiding by
false conclusions and wrong moral choice?
Is not this the truth, that _incidentally_ it is by conclusions and
moral choice of any kind that the one character abides and the other
does not, but _per se_ true conclusions and right moral choice: to
explain what is meant by incidentally, and _per se_; suppose a man
chooses or pursues this thing for the sake of that, he is said to pursue
and choose that _per se_, but this only incidentally. For the term _per
se_ we use commonly the word "simply," and so, in a way, it is opinion
of any kind soever by which the two characters respectively abide or
not, but he is "simply" entitled to the designations who abides or not
by the true opinion.
There are also people, who have a trick of abiding by their, own
opinions, who are commonly called Positive, as they who are hard to
be persuaded, and whose convictions are not easily changed: now these
people bear some resemblance to the character of Self-Control, just as
the prodigal to the liberal or the rash man to the brave, but they are
different in many points. The man of Self-Control does not change by
reason of passion and lust, yet when occasion so requires he will be
easy of persuasion: but the Positive man changes not at the call of
Reason, though many of this class take up certain desires and are led by
their pleasures. Among the class of Positive are the Opinionated, the
Ignorant, and the Bearish: the first, from the motives of pleasure and
pain: I mean, they have the pleasurable feeling of a kind of victory in
not having their convictions changed, and they are pained when their
decrees, so to speak, are reversed: so that, in fact, they rather
resemble the man of Imperfect Self-Control than the man of Self-Control.
Again, there are some who depart from their resolutions not by reason of
any Imperfection of Self-Control; take, for instance, Neoptolemus in the
Philoctetes of Sophocles. Here certainly pleasure was the motive of his
departure from his resolution, but then it was one of a noble sort:
for to be truthful was noble in his eyes and he had been persuaded by
Ulysses to lie.
So it is not every one who acts from the motive of pleasure who is
utterly destitute of Self-Control or base or of Imperfect Self-Control,
only he who acts from the impulse of a base pleasure.
Moreover as there is a character who takes less pleasure than he ought
in bodily enjoyments, and he also fails to abide by the conclusion of
his Reason, the man of Self-Control is the mean between him and the man
of Imperfect Self-Control: that is to say, the latter fails to abide by
them because of somewhat too much, the former because of somewhat too
little; while the man of Self-Control abides by them, and never changes
by reason of anything else than such conclusions.
Now of course since Self-Control is good both the contrary States must
be bad, as indeed they plainly are: but because the one of them is seen
in few persons, and but rarely in them, Self-Control comes to be
viewed as if opposed only to the Imperfection of it, just as
Perfected Self-Mastery is thought to be opposed only to utter want of
[Sidenote: 1152a] Again, as many terms are used in the way of
similitude, so people have come to talk of the Self-Control of the man
of Perfected Self-Mastery in the way of similitude: for the man of
Self-Control and the man of Perfected Self-Mastery have this in common,
that they do nothing against Right Reason on the impulse of bodily
pleasures, but then the former has bad desires, the latter not; and the
latter is so constituted as not even to feel pleasure contrary to his
Reason, the former feels but does not yield to it. Like again are the
man of Imperfect Self-Control and he who is utterly destitute of it,
though in reality distinct: both follow bodily pleasures, but the latter
under a notion that it is the proper line for him to take, his former
without any such notion.
And it is not possible for the same man to be at once a man of Practical
Wisdom and of Imperfect Self-Control: because the character of Practical
Wisdom includes, as we showed before, goodness of moral character.
And again, it is not knowledge merely, but aptitude for action, which
constitutes Practical Wisdom: and of this aptitude the man of Imperfect
Self-Control is destitute. But there is no reason why the Clever man
should not be of Imperfect Self-Control: and the reason why some men are
occasionally thought to be men of Practical Wisdom, and yet of Imperfect
Self-Control, is this, that Cleverness differs from Practical Wisdom in
the way I stated in a former book, and is very near it so far as the
intellectual element is concerned but differs in respect of the moral
Nor is the man of Imperfect Self-Control like the man who both has and
calls into exercise his knowledge, but like the man who, having it, is
overpowered by sleep or wine. Again, he acts voluntarily (because he
knows, in a certain sense, what he does and the result of it), but he is
not a confirmed bad man, for his moral choice is good, so he is at all
events only half bad. Nor is he unjust, because he does not act with
deliberate intent: for of the two chief forms of the character, the one
is not apt to abide by his deliberate resolutions, and the other, the
man of constitutional strength of passion, is not apt to deliberate at
So in fact the man of Imperfect Self-Control is like a community which
makes all proper enactments, and has admirable laws, only does not act
on them, verifying the scoff of Anaxandrides,
"That State did will it, which cares nought for laws;"
whereas the bad man is like one which acts upon its laws, but then
unfortunately they are bad ones. Imperfection of Self-Control and
Self-Control, after all, are above the average state of men; because he
of the latter character is more true to his Reason, and the former less
so, than is in the power of most men.
Again, of the two forms of Imperfect Self-Control that is more easily
cured which they have who are constitutionally of strong passions, than
that of those who form resolutions and break them; and they that are so
through habituation than they that are so naturally; since of course
custom is easier to change than nature, because the very resemblance of
custom to nature is what constitutes the difficulty of changing it; as
"Practice, I say, my friend, doth long endure,
And at the last is even very nature."
We have now said then what Self-Control is, what Imperfection of
Self-Control, what Endurance, and what Softness, and how these states
are mutually related.
To consider the subject of Pleasure and Pain falls within the province
of the Social-Science Philosopher, since he it is who has to fix the
Master-End which is to guide us in dominating any object absolutely evil
But we may say more: an inquiry into their nature is absolutely
necessary. First, because we maintained that Moral Virtue and Moral Vice
are both concerned with Pains and Pleasures: next, because the greater
part of mankind assert that Happiness must include Pleasure (which by
the way accounts for the word they use, makarioz; chaireiu being the
root of that word).
Now some hold that no one Pleasure is good, either in itself or as a
matter of result, because Good and Pleasure are not identical. Others
that some Pleasures are good but the greater number bad. There is yet a
third view; granting that every Pleasure is good, still the Chief Good
cannot possibly be Pleasure.
In support of the first opinion (that Pleasure is utterly not-good) it
is urged that:
I. Every Pleasure is a sensible process towards a complete state; but
no such process is akin to the end to be attained: _e.g._ no process of
building to the completed house.
2. The man of Perfected Self-Mastery avoids Pleasures.
3. The man of Practical Wisdom aims at avoiding Pain, not at attaining
4. Pleasures are an impediment to thought, and the more so the more
keenly they are felt. An obvious instance will readily occur.
5. Pleasure cannot be referred to any Art: and yet every good is the
result of some Art.
6. Children and brutes pursue Pleasures.
In support of the second (that not all Pleasures are good), That there
are some base and matter of reproach, and some even hurtful: because
some things that are pleasant produce disease.
In support of the third (that Pleasure is not the Chief Good), That it
is not an End but a process towards creating an End.
This is, I think, a fair account of current views on the matter.
But that the reasons alleged do not prove it either to be not-good or
the Chief Good is plain from the following considerations.
First. Good being either absolute or relative, of course the natures and
states embodying it will be so too; therefore also the movements and the
processes of creation. So, of those which are thought to be bad
some will be bad absolutely, but relatively not bad, perhaps even
choiceworthy; some not even choiceworthy relatively to any particular
person, only at certain times or for a short time but not in themselves
Others again are not even Pleasures at all though they produce that
impression on the mind: all such I mean as imply pain and whose purpose
is cure; those of sick people, for instance.
Next, since Good may be either an active working or a state, those
[Greek: _kinaeseis_ or _geneseis_] which tend to place us in our natural
state are pleasant incidentally because of that *[Sidenote: 1153a]
tendency: but the active working is really in the desires excited in the
remaining (sound) part of our state or nature: for there are Pleasures
which have no connection with pain or desire: the acts of contemplative
intellect, for instance, in which case there is no deficiency in the
nature or state of him who performs the acts.
A proof of this is that the same pleasant thing does not produce the
sensation of Pleasure when the natural state is being filled up or
completed as when it is already in its normal condition: in this latter
case what give the sensation are things pleasant _per se_, in the former
even those things which are contrary. I mean, you find people taking
pleasure in sharp or bitter things of which no one is naturally or in
itself pleasant; of course not therefore the Pleasures arising from
them, because it is obvious that as is the classification of pleasant
things such must be that of the Pleasures arising from them.
Next, it does not follow that there must be something else better than
any given pleasure because (as some say) the End must be better than
the process which creates it. For it is not true that all Pleasures
are processes or even attended by any process, but (some are) active
workings or even Ends: in fact they result not from our coming to be
something but from our using our powers. Again, it is not true that the
End is, in every case, distinct from the process: it is true only in
the case of such processes as conduce to the perfecting of the natural
For which reason it is wrong to say that Pleasure is "a sensible process
of production." For "process etc." should be substituted "active working
of the natural state," for "sensible" "unimpeded." The reason of its
being thought to be a "process etc." is that it is good in the highest
sense: people confusing "active working" and "process," whereas they
really are distinct.
Next, as to the argument that there are bad Pleasures because some
things which are pleasant are also hurtful to health, it is the same as
saying that some healthful things are bad for "business." In this sense,
of course, both may be said to be bad, but then this does not make
them out to be bad _simpliciter_: the exercise of the pure Intellect
sometimes hurts a man's health: but what hinders Practical Wisdom or
any state whatever is, not the Pleasure peculiar to, but some Pleasure
foreign to it: the Pleasures arising from the exercise of the pure
Intellect or from learning only promote each.
Next. "No Pleasure is the work of any Art." What else would you expect?
No active working is the work of any Art, only the faculty of so
working. Still the perfumer's Art or the cook's are thought to belong to
Next. "The man of Perfected Self-Mastery avoids Pleasures." "The man
of Practical Wisdom aims at escaping Pain rather than at attaining
"Children and brutes pursue Pleasures."
One answer will do for all.
We have already said in what sense all Pleasures are good _per se_ and
in what sense not all are good: it is the latter class that brutes and
children pursue, such as are accompanied by desire and pain, that is the
bodily Pleasures (which answer to this description) and the excesses of
them: in short, those in respect of which the man utterly destitute of
Self-Control is thus utterly destitute. And it is the absence of the
pain arising from these Pleasures that the man of Practical Wisdom
aims at. It follows that these Pleasures are what the man of Perfected
Self-Mastery avoids: for obviously he has Pleasures peculiarly his own.
[Sidenote: XIII 1153_b_] Then again, it is allowed that Pain is an evil
and a thing to be avoided partly as bad _per se_, partly as being a
hindrance in some particular way. Now the contrary of that which is to
be avoided, _qua_ it is to be avoided, _i.e._ evil, is good. Pleasure
then must be _a_ good.
The attempted answer of Speusippus, "that Pleasure may be opposed and
yet not contrary to Pain, just as the greater portion of any magnitude
is contrary to the less but only opposed to the exact half," will not
hold: for he cannot say that Pleasure is identical with evil of any
kind. Again. Granting that some Pleasures are low, there is no reason
why some particular Pleasure may not be very good, just as some
particular Science may be although there are some which are low.
Perhaps it even follows, since each state may have active working
unimpeded, whether the active workings of all be Happiness or that of
some one of them, that this active working, if it be unimpeded, must be
choiceworthy: now Pleasure is exactly this. So that the Chief Good may
be Pleasure of some kind, though most Pleasures be (let us assume) low
And for this reason all men think the happy life is pleasant, and
interweave Pleasure with Happiness. Reasonably enough: because Happiness
is perfect, but no impeded active working is perfect; and therefore
the happy man needs as an addition the goods of the body and the goods
external and fortune that in these points he may not be fettered. As for
those who say that he who is being tortured on the wheel, or falls into
great misfortunes is happy provided only he be good, they talk nonsense,
whether they mean to do so or not. On the other hand, because fortune
is needed as an addition, some hold good fortune to be identical with
Happiness: which it is not, for even this in excess is a hindrance, and
perhaps then has no right to be called good fortune since it is good
only in so far as it contributes to Happiness.
The fact that all animals, brute and human alike, pursue Pleasure, is
some presumption of its being in a sense the Chief Good;
("There must be something in what most folks say,") only as one and
the same nature or state neither is nor is thought to be the best, so
neither do all pursue the same Pleasure, Pleasure nevertheless all do.
Nay further, what they pursue is, perhaps, not what they think nor what
they would say they pursue, but really one and the same: for in all
there is some instinct above themselves. But the bodily Pleasures have
received the name exclusively, because theirs is the most frequent form
and that which is universally partaken of; and so, because to many these
alone are known they believe them to be the only ones which exist.
It is plain too that, unless Pleasure and its active working be good, it
will not be true that the happy man's life embodies Pleasure: for why
will he want it on the supposition that it is not good and that he can
live even with Pain? because, assuming that Pleasure is not good, then
Pain is neither evil nor good, and so why should he avoid it?
Besides, the life of the good man is not more pleasurable than any other
unless it be granted that his active workings are so too.
Some inquiry into the bodily Pleasures is also necessary for those who
say that some Pleasures, to be sure, are highly choiceworthy (the good
ones to wit), but not the bodily Pleasures; that is, those which are the
object-matter of the man utterly destitute of Self-Control.
If so, we ask, why are the contrary Pains bad? they cannot be (on their
assumption) because the contrary of bad is good.
May we not say that the necessary bodily Pleasures are good in the sense
in which that which is not-bad is good? or that they are good only up
to a certain point? because such states or movements as cannot have too
much of the better cannot have too much of Pleasure, but those which can
of the former can also of the latter. Now the bodily Pleasures do admit
of excess: in fact the low bad man is such because he pursues the excess
of them instead of those which are necessary (meat, drink, and the
objects of other animal appetites do give pleasure to all, but not in
right manner or degree to all). But his relation to Pain is exactly the
contrary: it is not excessive Pain, but Pain at all, that he avoids
[which makes him to be in this way too a bad low man], because only
in the case of him who pursues excessive Pleasure is Pain contrary to
It is not enough however merely to state the truth, we should also show
how the false view arises; because this strengthens conviction. I mean,
when we have given a probable reason why that impresses people as true
which really is not true, it gives them a stronger conviction of the
truth. And so we must now explain why the bodily Pleasures appear to
people to be more choiceworthy than any others.
The first obvious reason is, that bodily Pleasure drives out Pain; and
because Pain is felt in excess men pursue Pleasure in excess, _i.e._
generally bodily Pleasure, under the notion of its being a remedy for
that Pain. These remedies, moreover, come to be violent ones; which is
the very reason they are pursued, since the impression they produce
on the mind is owing to their being looked at side by side with their
And, as has been said before, there are the two following reasons why
bodily Pleasure is thought to be not-good.
1. Some Pleasures of this class are actings of a low nature, whether
congenital as in brutes, or acquired by custom as in low bad men.
2. Others are in the nature of cures, cures that is of some deficiency;
now of course it is better to have [the healthy state] originally than
that it should accrue afterwards.
[Sidenote: 1154b] But some Pleasures result when natural states are
being perfected: these therefore are good as a matter of result.
Again, the very fact of their being violent causes them to be pursued by
such as can relish no others: such men in fact create violent thirsts
for themselves (if harmless ones then we find no fault, if harmful then
it is bad and low) because they have no other things to take
pleasure in, and the neutral state is distasteful to some people
constitutionally; for toil of some kind is inseparable from life, as
physiologists testify, telling us that the acts of seeing or hearing are
painful, only that we are used to the pain and do not find it out.
Similarly in youth the constant growth produces a state much like
that of vinous intoxication, and youth is pleasant. Again, men of the
melancholic temperament constantly need some remedial process (because
the body, from its temperament, is constantly being worried), and they
are in a chronic state of violent desire. But Pleasure drives out Pain;
not only such Pleasure as is directly contrary to Pain but even any
Pleasure provided it be strong: and this is how men come to be utterly
destitute of Self-Mastery, _i.e._ low and bad.
But those Pleasures which are unconnected with Pains do not admit of
excess: _i.e._ such as belong to objects which are naturally pleasant
and not merely as a matter of result: by the latter class I mean such
as are remedial, and the reason why these are thought to be pleasant is
that the cure results from the action in some way of that part of the
constitution which remains sound. By "pleasant naturally" I mean such as
put into action a nature which is pleasant.
The reason why no one and the same thing is invariably pleasant is that
our nature is, not simple, but complex, involving something different
from itself (so far as we are corruptible beings). Suppose then that one
part of this nature be doing something, this something is, to the other
part, unnatural: but, if there be an equilibrium of the two natures,
then whatever is being done is indifferent. It is obvious that if there
be any whose nature is simple and not complex, to such a being the same
course of acting will always be the most pleasurable.
For this reason it is that the Divinity feels Pleasure which is always
one, _i.e._ simple: not motion merely but also motionlessness acts, and
Pleasure resides rather in the absence than in the presence of motion.
The reason why the Poet's dictum "change is of all things most pleasant"
is true, is "a baseness in our blood;" for as the bad man is easily
changeable, bad must be also the nature that craves change, _i.e._ it is
neither simple nor good.
We have now said our say about Self-Control and its opposite; and about
Pleasure and Pain. What each is, and how the one set is good the other
bad. We have yet to speak of Friendship.
[Sidenote: I 1155_a_] Next would seem properly to follow a dissertation
on Friendship: because, in the first place, it is either itself a virtue
or connected with virtue; and next it is a thing most necessary for
life, since no one would choose to live without friends though he should
have all the other good things in the world: and, in fact, men who are
rich or possessed of authority and influence are thought to have special
need of friends: for where is the use of such prosperity if there be
taken away the doing of kindnesses of which friends are the most usual
and most commendable objects? Or how can it be kept or preserved without
friends? because the greater it is so much the more slippery and
hazardous: in poverty moreover and all other adversities men think
friends to be their only refuge.
Furthermore, Friendship helps the young to keep from error: the old, in
respect of attention and such deficiencies in action as their weakness
makes them liable to; and those who are in their prime, in respect of
noble deeds ("They _two_ together going," Homer says, you may remember),
because they are thus more able to devise plans and carry them out.
Again, it seems to be implanted in us by Nature: as, for instance, in
the parent towards the offspring and the offspring towards the parent
(not merely in the human species, but likewise in birds and most
animals), and in those of the same tribe towards one another, and
specially in men of the same nation; for which reason we commend those
men who love their fellows: and one may see in the course of travel how
close of kin and how friendly man is to man.
Furthermore, Friendship seems to be the bond of Social Communities, and
legislators seem to be more anxious to secure it than Justice even. I
mean, Unanimity is somewhat like to Friendship, and this they certainly
aim at and specially drive out faction as being inimical.
Again, where people are in Friendship Justice is not required; but, on
the other hand, though they are just they need Friendship in addition,
and that principle which is most truly just is thought to partake of the
nature of Friendship.
Lastly, not only is it a thing necessary but honourable likewise: since
we praise those who are fond of friends, and the having numerous friends
is thought a matter of credit to a man; some go so far as to hold, that
"good man" and "friend" are terms synonymous.
Yet the disputed points respecting it are not few: some men lay down
that it is a kind of resemblance, and that men who are like one another
are friends: whence come the common sayings, "Like will to like," "Birds
of a feather," and so on. Others, on the contrary, say, that all such
come under the maxim, "Two of a trade never agree."
[Sidenote: 1155b] Again, some men push their inquiries on these points
higher and reason physically: as Euripides, who says,
"The earth by drought consumed doth love the rain,
And the great heaven, overcharged with rain,
Doth love to fall in showers upon the earth."
Heraclitus, again, maintains, that "contrariety is expedient, and that
the best agreement arises from things differing, and that all things
come into being in the way of the principle of antagonism."
Empedocles, among others, in direct opposition to these, affirms, that
"like aims at like."
These physical questions we will take leave to omit, inasmuch as they
are foreign to the present inquiry; and we will examine such as are
proper to man and concern moral characters and feelings: as, for
instance, "Does Friendship arise among all without distinction, or is it
impossible for bad men to be friends?" and, "Is there but one species of
Friendship, or several?" for they who ground the opinion that there is
but one on the fact that Friendship admits of degrees hold that upon
insufficient proof; because things which are different in species admit
likewise of degrees (on this point we have spoken before).
Our view will soon be cleared on these points when we have ascertained
what is properly the object-matter of Friendship: for it is thought that
not everything indiscriminately, but some peculiar matter alone, is the
object of this affection; that is to say, what is good, or pleasurable,
or useful. Now it would seem that that is useful through which accrues
any good or pleasure, and so the objects of Friendship, as absolute
Ends, are the good and the pleasurable.
A question here arises; whether it is good absolutely or that which is
good to the individuals, for which men feel Friendship (these two being
sometimes distinct): and similarly in respect of the pleasurable. It
seems then that each individual feels it towards that which is good to
himself, and that abstractedly it is the real good which is the object
of Friendship, and to each individual that which is good to each. It
comes then to this; that each individual feels Friendship not for what
_is_ but for that which _conveys to his mind the impression of being_
good to himself. But this will make no real difference, because that
which is truly the object of Friendship will also convey this impression
to the mind.
There are then three causes from which men feel Friendship: but the term
is not applied to the case of fondness for things inanimate because
there is no requital of the affection nor desire for the good of those
objects: it certainly savours of the ridiculous to say that a man fond
of wine wishes well to it: the only sense in which it is true being that
he wishes it to be kept safe and sound for his own use and benefit. But
to the friend they say one should wish all good for his sake. And when
men do thus wish good to another (he not *[Sidenote: 1156a]
reciprocating the feeling), people call them Kindly; because Friendship
they describe as being "Kindliness between persons who reciprocate it."
But must they not add that the feeling must be mutually known? for many
men are kindly disposed towards those whom they have never seen but whom
they conceive to be amiable or useful: and this notion amounts to the
same thing as a real feeling between them.
Well, these are plainly Kindly-disposed towards one another: but how can
one call them friends while their mutual feelings are unknown to one
another? to complete the idea of Friendship, then, it is requisite that
they have kindly feelings towards one another, and wish one another good
from one of the aforementioned causes, and that these kindly feelings
should be mutually known.
As the motives to Friendship differ in kind so do the respective
feelings and Friendships. The species then of Friendship are three, in
number equal to the objects of it, since in the line of each there may
be "mutual affection mutually known."
Now they who have Friendship for one another desire one another's good
according to the motive of their Friendship; accordingly they whose
motive is utility have no Friendship for one another really, but only in
so far as some good arises to them from one another.
And they whose motive is pleasure are in like case: I mean, they have
Friendship for men of easy pleasantry, not because they are of a given
character but because they are pleasant to themselves. So then they
whose motive to Friendship is utility love their friends for what is
good to themselves; they whose motive is pleasure do so for what is
pleasurable to themselves; that is to say, not in so far as the friend
beloved _is_ but in so far as he is useful or pleasurable. These
Friendships then are a matter of result: since the object is not beloved
in that he is the man he is but in that he furnishes advantage or
pleasure as the case may be. Such Friendships are of course very liable
to dissolution if the parties do not continue alike: I mean, that the
others cease to have any Friendship for them when they are no longer
pleasurable or useful. Now it is the nature of utility not to be
permanent but constantly varying: so, of course, when the motive which
made them friends is vanished, the Friendship likewise dissolves; since
it existed only relatively to those circumstances.
Friendship of this kind is thought to exist principally among the old
(because men at that time of life pursue not what is pleasurable but
what is profitable); and in such, of men in their prime and of the
young, as are given to the pursuit of profit. They that are such have no
intimate intercourse with one another; for sometimes they are not
even pleasurable to one another; nor, in fact, do they desire such
intercourse unless their friends are profitable to them, because they
are pleasurable only in so far as they have hopes of advantage. With
these Friendships is commonly ranked that of hospitality.
But the Friendship of the young is thought to be based on the motive
of pleasure: because they live at the beck and call of passion and
generally pursue what is pleasurable to themselves and the object of the
present moment: and as their age changes so likewise do their pleasures.
This is the reason why they form and dissolve Friendships rapidly: since
the Friendship changes with the pleasurable object and such pleasure
[Sidenote: 1156b] The young are also much given up to Love; this passion
being, in great measure, a matter of impulse and based on pleasure: for
which cause they conceive Friendships and quickly drop them, changing
often in the same day: but these wish for society and intimate
intercourse with their friends, since they thus attain the object of
That then is perfect Friendship which subsists between those who are
good and whose similarity consists in their goodness: for these men wish
one another's good in similar ways; in so far as they are good (and good
they are in themselves); and those are specially friends who wish good
to their friends for their sakes, because they feel thus towards them on
their own account and not as a mere matter of result; so the Friendship
between these men continues to subsist so long as they are good; and
goodness, we know, has in it a principle of permanence.
Moreover, each party is good abstractedly and also relatively to his
friend, for all good men are not only abstractedly good but also useful
to one another. Such friends are also mutually pleasurable because
all good men are so abstractedly, and also relatively to one another,
inasmuch as to each individual those actions are pleasurable which
correspond to his nature, and all such as are like them. Now when men
are good these will be always the same, or at least similar.
Friendship then under these circumstances is permanent, as we should
reasonably expect, since it combines in itself all the requisite
qualifications of friends. I mean, that Friendship of whatever kind is
based upon good or pleasure (either abstractedly or relatively to the
person entertaining the sentiment of Friendship), and results from a
similarity of some sort; and to this kind belong all the aforementioned
requisites in the parties themselves, because in this the parties are
similar, and so on: moreover, in it there is the abstractedly good and
the abstractedly pleasant, and as these are specially the object-matter
of Friendship so the feeling and the state of Friendship is found most
intense and most excellent in men thus qualified.
Rare it is probable Friendships of this kind will be, because men
of this kind are rare. Besides, all requisite qualifications being
presupposed, there is further required time and intimacy: for, as the
proverb says, men cannot know one another "till they have eaten the
requisite quantity of salt together;" nor can they in fact admit one
another to intimacy, much less be friends, till each has appeared to
the other and been proved to be a fit object of Friendship. They who
speedily commence an interchange of friendly actions may be said to wish
to be friends, but they are not so unless they are also proper objects
of Friendship and mutually known to be such: that is to say, a desire
for Friendship may arise quickly but not Friendship itself.
Well, this Friendship is perfect both in respect of the time and in all
other points; and exactly the same and similar results accrue to each
party from the other; which ought to be the case between friends.
[Sidenote: II57a] The friendship based upon the pleasurable is, so to
say, a copy of this, since the good are sources of pleasure to one
another: and that based on utility likewise, the good being also
useful to one another. Between men thus connected Friendships are
most permanent when the same result accrues to both from one another,
pleasure, for instance; and not merely so but from the same source, as
in the case of two men of easy pleasantry; and not as it is in that of a
lover and the object of his affection, these not deriving their pleasure
from the same causes, but the former from seeing the latter and the
latter from receiving the attentions of the former: and when the bloom
of youth fades the Friendship sometimes ceases also, because then the
lover derives no pleasure from seeing and the object of his affection
ceases to receive the attentions which were paid before: in many cases,
however, people so connected continue friends, if being of similar
tempers they have come from custom to like one another's disposition.
Where people do not interchange pleasure but profit in matters of Love,
the Friendship is both less intense in degree and also less permanent:
in fact, they who are friends because of advantage commonly part when
the advantage ceases; for, in reality, they never were friends of one
another but of the advantage.
So then it appears that from motives of pleasure or profit bad men may
be friends to one another, or good men to bad men or men of neutral
character to one of any character whatever: but disinterestedly, for the
sake of one another, plainly the good alone can be friends; because
bad men have no pleasure even in themselves unless in so far as some
And further, the Friendship of the good is alone superior to calumny;
it not being easy for men to believe a third person respecting one
whom they have long tried and proved: there is between good men mutual
confidence, and the feeling that one's friend would never have done one
wrong, and all other such things as are expected in Friendship really
worthy the name; but in the other kinds there is nothing to prevent all
I call them Friendships, because since men commonly give the name of
friends to those who are connected from motives of profit (which is
justified by political language, for alliances between states are
thought to be contracted with a view to advantage), and to those who are
attached to one another by the motive of pleasure (as children are), we
may perhaps also be allowed to call such persons friends, and say there
are several species of Friendship; primarily and specially that of
the good, in that they are good, and the rest only in the way of
resemblance: I mean, people connected otherwise are friends in that way
in which there arises to them somewhat good and some mutual resemblance
(because, we must remember the pleasurable is good to those who are fond
These secondary Friendships, however, do not combine very well; that is
to say, the same persons do not become friends by reason of advantage
and by reason of the pleasurable, for these matters of result are not
often combined. And Friendship having been divided into these kinds, bad
[Sidenote: _1157b_] men will be friends by reason of pleasure or profit,
this being their point of resemblance; while the good are friends for
one another's sake, that is, in so far as they are good.
These last may be termed abstractedly and simply friends, the former as
a matter of result and termed friends from their resemblance to these
Further; just as in respect of the different virtues some men are termed
good in respect of a certain inward state, others in respect of acts
of working, so is it in respect of Friendship: I mean, they who live
together take pleasure in, and impart good to, one another: but they who
are asleep or are locally separated do not perform acts, but only are in
such a state as to act in a friendly way if they acted at all: distance
has in itself no direct effect upon Friendship, but only prevents the
acting it out: yet, if the absence be protracted, it is thought to cause
a forgetfulness even of the Friendship: and hence it has been said,
"many and many a Friendship doth want of intercourse destroy."
Accordingly, neither the old nor the morose appear to be calculated for
Friendship, because the pleasurableness in them is small, and no one can
spend his days in company with that which is positively painful or even
not pleasurable; since to avoid the painful and aim at the pleasurable
is one of the most obvious tendencies of human nature. They who get on
with one another very fairly, but are not in habits of intimacy, are
rather like people having kindly feelings towards one another than
friends; nothing being so characteristic of friends as the living with
one another, because the necessitous desire assistance, and the happy
companionship, they being the last persons in the world for solitary
existence: but people cannot spend their time together unless they are
mutually pleasurable and take pleasure in the same objects, a quality
which is thought to appertain to the Friendship of companionship.
The connection then subsisting between the good is Friendship _par
excellence_, as has already been frequently said: since that which is
abstractedly good or pleasant is thought to be an object of Friendship
and choiceworthy, and to each individual whatever is such to him;
and the good man to the good man for both these reasons. (Now the
entertaining the sentiment is like a feeling, but Friendship itself
like a state: because the former may have for its object even things
inanimate, but requital of Friendship is attended with moral choice
which proceeds from a moral state: and again, men wish good to the
objects of their Friendship for their sakes, not in the way of a mere
feeling but of moral state.).
And the good, in loving their friend, love their own good (inasmuch as
the good man, when brought into that relation, becomes a good to him
with whom he is so connected), so that either party loves his own
good, and repays his friend equally both in wishing well and in the
pleasurable: for equality is said to be a tie of Friendship. Well, these
points belong most to the Friendship between good men.
But between morose or elderly men Friendship is less apt to arise,
because they are somewhat awkward-tempered, and take less pleasure in
intercourse and society; these being thought to be specially friendly
and productive of Friendship: and so young men become friends quickly,
old men not so (because people do not become friends with any, unless
they take pleasure in them); and in like manner neither do the morose.
Yet men of these classes entertain kindly feelings towards one another:
they wish good to one another and render mutual assistance in respect of
their needs, but they are not quite friends, because they neither
spend their time together nor take pleasure in one another, which
circumstances are thought specially to belong to Friendship.
To be a friend to many people, in the way of the perfect Friendship, is
not possible; just as you cannot be in love with many at once: it is,
so to speak, a state of excess which naturally has but one object; and
besides, it is not an easy thing for one man to be very much pleased
with many people at the same time, nor perhaps to find many really good.
Again, a man needs experience, and to be in habits of close intimacy,
which is very difficult.
But it _is_ possible to please many on the score of advantage and
pleasure: because there are many men of the kind, and the services may
be rendered in a very short time.
Of the two imperfect kinds that which most resembles the perfect is the
Friendship based upon pleasure, in which the same results accrue from
both and they take pleasure in one another or in the same objects; such
as are the Friendships of the young, because a generous spirit is most
found in these. The Friendship because of advantage is the connecting
link of shopkeepers.
Then again, the very happy have no need of persons who are profitable,
but of pleasant ones they have because they wish to have people to live
intimately with; and what is painful they bear for a short time indeed,
but continuously no one could support it, nay, not even the Chief Good
itself, if it were painful to him individually: and so they look out for
pleasant friends: perhaps they ought to require such to be good also;
and good moreover to themselves individually, because then they will
have all the proper requisites of Friendship.
Men in power are often seen to make use of several distinct friends:
for some are useful to them and others pleasurable, but the two are not
often united: because they do not, in fact, seek such as shall combine
pleasantness and goodness, nor such as shall be useful for honourable
purposes: but with a view to attain what is pleasant they look out for
men of easy-pleasantry; and again, for men who are clever at executing
any business put into their hands: and these qualifications are not
commonly found united in the same man.
It has been already stated that the good man unites the qualities of
pleasantness and usefulness: but then such a one will not be a friend to
a superior unless he be also his superior in goodness: for if this be
not the case, he cannot, being surpassed in one point, make things
equal by a proportionate degree of Friendship. And characters who unite
superiority of station and goodness are not common. Now all the kinds
of Friendship which have been already mentioned exist in a state of
equality, inasmuch as either the same results accrue to both and they
wish the same things to one another, or else they barter one thing
against another; pleasure, for instance, against profit: it has been
said already that Friendships of this latter kind are less intense in
degree and less permanent.
And it is their resemblance or dissimilarity to the same thing which
makes them to be thought to be and not to be Friendships: they show like
Friendships in right of their likeness to that which is based on virtue
(the one kind having the pleasurable, the other the profitable, both
of which belong also to the other); and again, they do not show like
Friendships by reason of their unlikeness to that true kind; which
unlikeness consists herein, that while that is above calumny and so
permanent these quickly change and differ in many other points.
But there is another form of Friendship, that, namely, in which the one
party is superior to the other; as between father and son, elder and
younger, husband and wife, ruler and ruled. These also differ one from
another: I mean, the Friendship between parents and children is not the
same as between ruler and the ruled, nor has the father the same towards
the son as the son towards the father, nor the husband towards the wife
as she towards him; because the work, and therefore the excellence, of
each of these is different, and different therefore are the causes of
their feeling Friendship; distinct and different therefore are their
feelings and states of Friendship.
And the same results do not accrue to each from the other, nor in fact
ought they to be looked for: but, when children render to their parents
what they ought to the authors of their being, and parents to their sons
what they ought to their offspring, the Friendship between such parties
will be permanent and equitable.
Further; the feeling of Friendship should be in a due proportion in all
Friendships which are between superior and inferior; I mean, the better
man, or the more profitable, and so forth, should be the object of a
stronger feeling than he himself entertains, because when the feeling of
Friendship comes to be after a certain rate then equality in a certain
sense is produced, which is thought to be a requisite in Friendship.
(It must be remembered, however, that the equal is not in the same case
as regards Justice and Friendship: for in strict Justice the exactly
proportioned equal ranks first, and the actual numerically equal ranks
second, while in Friendship this is exactly reversed.)
[Sidenote: 1159a] And that equality is thus requisite is plainly shown
by the occurrence of a great difference of goodness or badness, or
prosperity, or something else: for in this case, people are not any
longer friends, nay they do not even feel that they ought to be. The
clearest illustration is perhaps the case of the gods, because they are
most superior in all good things. It is obvious too, in the case of
kings, for they who are greatly their inferiors do not feel entitled to
be friends to them; nor do people very insignificant to be friends to
those of very high excellence or wisdom. Of course, in such cases it
is out of the question to attempt to define up to what point they may
continue friends: for you may remove many points of agreement and the
Friendship last nevertheless; but when one of the parties is very far
separated (as a god from men), it cannot continue any longer.
This has given room for a doubt, whether friends do really wish to their
friends the very highest goods, as that they may be gods: because, in
case the wish were accomplished, they would no longer have them for
friends, nor in fact would they have the good things they had, because
friends are good things. If then it has been rightly said that a friend
wishes to his friend good things for that friend's sake, it must be
understood that he is to remain such as he now is: that is to say, he
will wish the greatest good to him of which as man he is capable: yet
perhaps not all, because each man desires good for himself most of all.
It is thought that desire for honour makes the mass of men wish rather
to be the objects of the feeling of Friendship than to entertain it
themselves (and for this reason they are fond of flatterers, a flatterer
being a friend inferior or at least pretending to be such and rather to
entertain towards another the feeling of Friendship than to be himself
the object of it), since the former is thought to be nearly the same as
being honoured, which the mass of men desire. And yet men seem to choose
honour, not for its own sake, but incidentally: I mean, the common run
of men delight to be honoured by those in power because of the hope it
raises; that is they think they shall get from them anything they may
happen to be in want of, so they delight in honour as an earnest of
future benefit. They again who grasp at honour at the hands of the good
and those who are really acquainted with their merits desire to confirm
their own opinion about themselves: so they take pleasure in the
conviction that they are good, which is based on the sentence of those
who assert it. But in being the objects of Friendship men delight for
its own sake, and so this may be judged to be higher than being honoured
and Friendship to be in itself choiceworthy. Friendship, moreover, is
thought to consist in feeling, rather than being the object of, the
sentiment of Friendship, which is proved by the delight mothers have in
the feeling: some there are who give their children to be adopted and
brought up by others, and knowing them bear this feeling towards them
never seeking to have it returned, if both are not possible; but seeming
to be content with seeing them well off and bearing this feeling
themselves towards them, even though they, by reason of ignorance, never
render to them any filial regard or love.
Since then Friendship stands rather in the entertaining, than in being
the object of, the sentiment, and they are praised who are fond of their
friends, it seems that entertaining--*[Sidenote: II59b]the sentiment is
the Excellence of friends; and so, in whomsoever this exists in due
proportion these are stable friends and their Friendship is permanent.
And in this way may they who are unequal best be friends, because they
may thus be made equal.
Equality, then, and similarity are a tie to Friendship, and specially
the similarity of goodness, because good men, being stable in
themselves, are also stable as regards others, and neither ask degrading
services nor render them, but, so to say, rather prevent them: for it is
the part of the good neither to do wrong themselves nor to allow their
friends in so doing.
The bad, on the contrary, have no principle of stability: in fact, they
do not even continue like themselves: only they come to be friends for
a short time from taking delight in one another's wickedness. Those
connected by motives of profit, or pleasure, hold together somewhat
longer: so long, that is to say, as they can give pleasure or profit
The Friendship based on motives of profit is thought to be most of all
formed out of contrary elements: the poor man, for instance, is thus a
friend of the rich, and the ignorant of the man of information; that
is to say, a man desiring that of which he is, as it happens, in want,
gives something else in exchange for it. To this same class we may refer
the lover and beloved, the beautiful and the ill-favoured. For this
reason lovers sometimes show in a ridiculous light by claiming to be the
objects of as intense a feeling as they themselves entertain: of course
if they are equally fit objects of Friendship they are perhaps entitled
to claim this, but if they have nothing of the kind it is ridiculous.
Perhaps, moreover, the contrary does not aim at its contrary for its own
sake but incidentally: the mean is really what is grasped at; it being
good for the dry, for instance, not to become wet but to attain the
mean, and so of the hot, etc. However, let us drop these questions,
because they are in fact somewhat foreign to our purpose.
It seems too, as was stated at the commencement, that Friendship and
Justice have the same object-matter, and subsist between the same
persons: I mean that in every Communion there is thought to be some
principle of Justice and also some Friendship: men address as friends,
for instance, those who are their comrades by sea, or in war, and in
like manner also those who are brought into Communion with them in other
ways: and the Friendship, because also the Justice, is co-extensive with
the Communion, This justifies the common proverb, "the goods of friends
are common," since Friendship rests upon Communion.
[1160a] Now brothers and intimate companions have all in common, but
other people have their property separate, and some have more in common
and others less, because the Friendships likewise differ in degree. So
too do the various principles of Justice involved, not being the same
between parents and children as between brothers, nor between companions
as between fellow-citizens merely, and so on of all the other
conceivable Friendships. Different also are the principles of Injustice
as regards these different grades, and the acts become intensified by
being done to friends; for instance, it is worse to rob your companion
than one who is merely a fellow-citizen; to refuse help to a brother
than to a stranger; and to strike your father than any one else. So then
the Justice naturally increases with the degree of Friendship, as being
between the same parties and of equal extent.
All cases of Communion are parts, so to say, of the great Social one,
since in them men associate with a view to some advantage and to procure
some of those things which are needful for life; and the great Social
Communion is thought originally to have been associated and to
continue for the sake of some advantage: this being the point at which
legislators aim, affirming that to be just which is generally expedient.
All the other cases of Communion aim at advantage in particular points;
the crew of a vessel at that which is to result from the voyage which is
undertaken with a view to making money, or some such object; comrades in
war at that which is to result from the war, grasping either at wealth
or victory, or it may be a political position; and those of the same
tribe, or Demus, in like manner.
Some of them are thought to be formed for pleasure's sake, those, for
instance, of bacchanals or club-fellows, which are with a view to
Sacrifice or merely company. But all these seem to be ranged under
the great Social one, inasmuch as the aim of this is, not merely the
expediency of the moment but, for life and at all times; with a view
to which the members of it institute sacrifices and their attendant
assemblies, to render honour to the gods and procure for themselves
respite from toil combined with pleasure. For it appears that
sacrifices and religious assemblies in old times were made as a kind of
first-fruits after the ingathering of the crops, because at such seasons
they had most leisure.
So then it appears that all the instances of Communion are parts of the
great Social one: and corresponding Friendships will follow upon such
Of Political Constitutions there are three kinds; and equal in number
are the deflections from them, being, so to say, corruptions of them.
The former are Kingship, Aristocracy, and that which recognises the
principle of wealth, which it seems appropriate to call Timocracy (I
give to it the name of a political constitution because people commonly
do so). Of these the best is Monarchy, and Timocracy the worst.
[Sidenote: II6ob] From Monarchy the deflection is Despotism; both being
Monarchies but widely differing from each other; for the Despot looks to
his own advantage, but the King to that of his subjects: for he is in
fact no King who is not thoroughly independent and superior to the rest
in all good things, and he that is this has no further wants: he will
not then have to look to his own advantage but to that of his subjects,
for he that is not in such a position is a mere King elected by lot for
But Despotism is on a contrary footing to this Kingship, because the
Despot pursues his own good: and in the case of this its inferiority
is most evident, and what is worse is contrary to what is best. The
Transition to Despotism is made from Kingship, Despotism being a corrupt
form of Monarchy, that is to say, the bad King comes to be a Despot.
From Aristocracy to Oligarchy the transition is made by the fault of the
Rulers in distributing the public property contrary to right proportion;
and giving either all that is good, or the greatest share, to
themselves; and the offices to the same persons always, making wealth
their idol; thus a few bear rule and they bad men in the place of the
From Timocracy the transition is to Democracy, they being contiguous:
for it is the nature of Timocracy to be in the hands of a multitude,
and all in the same grade of property are equal. Democracy is the least
vicious of all, since herein the form of the constitution undergoes
Well, these are generally the changes to which the various Constitutions
are liable, being the least in degree and the easiest to make.
Likenesses, and, as it were, models of them, one may find even in
Domestic life: for instance, the Communion between a Father and his Sons
presents the figure of Kingship, because the children are the Father's
care: and hence Homer names Jupiter Father because Kingship is intended
to be a paternal rule. Among the Persians, however, the Father's rule is
Despotic, for they treat their Sons as slaves. (The relation of Master
to Slaves is of the nature of Despotism because the point regarded
herein is the Master's interest): this now strikes me to be as it ought,
but the Persian custom to be mistaken; because for different persons
there should be different rules. [Sidenote: 1161a] Between Husband and
Wife the relation takes the form of Aristocracy, because he rules by
right and in such points only as the Husband should, and gives to
the Wife all that befits her to have. Where the Husband lords it in
everything he changes the relation into an Oligarchy; because he does
it contrary to right and not as being the better of the two. In some
instances the Wives take the reins of government, being heiresses: here
the rule is carried on not in right of goodness but by reason of wealth
and power, as it is in Oligarchies.
Timocracy finds its type in the relation of Brothers: they being equal
except as to such differences as age introduces: for which reason, if
they are very different in age, the Friendship comes to be no longer
a fraternal one: while Democracy is represented specially by families
which have no head (all being there equal), or in which the proper head
is weak and so every member does that which is right in his own eyes.
Attendant then on each form of Political Constitution there plainly is
Friendship exactly co-extensive with the principle of Justice; that
between a King and his Subjects being in the relation of a superiority
of benefit, inasmuch as he benefits his subjects; it being assumed that
he is a good king and takes care of their welfare as a shepherd tends
his flock; whence Homer (to quote him again) calls Agamemnon, "shepherd
of the people." And of this same kind is the Paternal Friendship, only
that it exceeds the former in the greatness of the benefits done;
because the father is the author of being (which is esteemed the
greatest benefit) and of maintenance and education (these things are
also, by the way, ascribed to ancestors generally): and by the law of
nature the father has the right of rule over his sons, ancestors over
their descendants, and the king over his subjects.
These friendships are also between superiors and inferiors, for which
reason parents are not merely loved but also honoured. The principle of
Justice also between these parties is not exactly the same but according
to proportiton, because so also is the Friendship.
Now between Husband and Wife there is the same Friendship as in
Aristocracy: for the relation is determined by relative excellence, and
the better person has the greater good and each has what befits: so too
also is the principle of Justice between them.
The Fraternal Friendship is like that of Companions, because brothers
are equal and much of an age, and such persons have generally like
feelings and like dispositions. Like to this also is the Friendship of a
Timocracy, because the citizens are intended to be equal and equitable:
rule, therefore, passes from hand to hand, and is distributed on equal
terms: so too is the Friendship accordingly.
[Sidenote: 1161b] In the deflections from the constitutional forms, just
as the principle of Justice is but small so is the Friendship also: and
least of all in the most perverted form: in Despotism there is little
or no Friendship. For generally wherever the ruler and the ruled have
nothing in common there is no Friendship because there is no Justice;
but the case is as between an artisan and his tool, or between soul and
body, and master and slave; all these are benefited by those who use
them, but towards things inanimate there is neither Friendship nor
Justice: nor even towards a horse or an ox, or a slave _qua_ slave,
because there is nothing in common: a slave as such is an animate tool,
a tool an inanimate slave. _Qua_ slave, then, there is no Friendship
towards him, only _qua_ man: for it is thought that there is some
principle of Justice between every man, and every other who can share in
law and be a party to an agreement; and so somewhat of Friendship, in so
far as he is man. So in Despotisms the Friendships and the principle of
Justice are inconsiderable in extent, but in Democracies they are most
considerable because they who are equal have much in common.
Now of course all Friendship is based upon Communion, as has been
already stated: but one would be inclined to separate off from the rest
the Friendship of Kindred, and that of Companions: whereas those of men
of the same city, or tribe, or crew, and all such, are more peculiarly,
it would seem, based upon Communion, inasmuch as they plainly exist in
right of some agreement expressed or implied: among these one may rank
also the Friendship of Hospitality,
The Friendship of Kindred is likewise of many kinds, and appears in all
its varieties to depend on the Parental: parents, I mean, love their
children as being a part of themselves, children love their parents as
being themselves somewhat derived from them. But parents know their
offspring more than these know that they are from the parents, and the
source is more closely bound to that which is produced than that which
is produced is to that which formed it: of course, whatever is derived
from one's self is proper to that from which it is so derived (as, for
instance, a tooth or a hair, or any other thing whatever to him that
has it): but the source to it is in no degree proper, or in an inferior
degree at least.
Then again the greater length of time comes in: the parents love their
offspring from the first moment of their being, but their offspring
them only after a lapse of time when they have attained intelligence
or instinct. These considerations serve also to show why mothers have
greater strength of affection than fathers.
Now parents love their children as themselves (since what is derived
from themselves becomes a kind of other Self by the fact of separation),
but children their parents as being sprung from them. And brothers love
one another from being sprung from the same; that is, their sameness
with the common stock creates a sameness with one another; whence come
the phrases, "same blood," "root," and so on. In fact they are the same,
in a sense, even in the separate distinct individuals.
Then again the being brought up together, and the nearness of age, are
a great help towards Friendship, for a man likes one of his own age and
persons who are used to one another are companions, which accounts
for the resemblance between the Friendship of Brothers and that of
[Sidenote:1162a] And cousins and all other relatives derive their bond
of union from these, that is to say, from their community of origin: and
the strength of this bond varies according to their respective distances
from the common ancestor.
Further: the Friendship felt by children towards parents, and by men
towards the gods, is as towards something good and above them; because
these have conferred the greatest possible benefits, in that they are
the causes of their being and being nourished, and of their having been
educated after they were brought into being.
And Friendship of this kind has also the pleasurable and the profitable
more than that between persons unconnected by blood, in proportion as
their life is also more shared in common. Then again in the Fraternal
Friendship there is all that there is in that of Companions, and more in
the good, and generally in those who are alike; in proportion as they
are more closely tied and from their very birth have a feeling of
affection for one another to begin with, and as they are more like in
disposition who spring from the same stock and have grown up together
and been educated alike: and besides this they have the greatest
opportunities in respect of time for proving one another, and can
therefore depend most securely upon the trial. The elements
of Friendship between other consanguinities will be of course
Between Husband and Wife there is thought to be Friendship by a law of
nature: man being by nature disposed to pair, more than to associate in
Communities: in proportion as the family is prior in order of time and
more absolutely necessary than the Community. And procreation is more
common to him with other animals; all the other animals have Communion
thus far, but human creatures cohabit not merely for the sake of
procreation but also with a view to life in general: because in this
connection the works are immediately divided, and some belong to the
man, others to the woman: thus they help one the other, putting what is
peculiar to each into the common stock.
And for these reasons this Friendship is thought to combine the
profitable and the pleasurable: it will be also based upon virtue if
they are good people; because each has goodness and they may take
delight in this quality in each other. Children too are thought to be a
tie: accordingly the childless sooner separate, for the children are a
good common to both and anything in common is a bond of union.
The question how a man is to live with his wife, or (more generally) one
friend with another, appears to be no other than this, how it is just
that they should: because plainly there is not the same principle
of Justice between a friend and friend, as between strangers, or
companions, or mere chance fellow-travellers.
[Sidenote:1162b] There are then, as was stated at the commencement of
this book, three kinds of Friendship, and in each there may be friends
on a footing of equality and friends in the relation of superior and
inferior; we find, I mean, that people who are alike in goodness, become
friends, and better with worse, and so also pleasant people; again,
because of advantage people are friends, either balancing exactly their
mutual profitableness or differing from one another herein. Well then,
those who are equal should in right of this equality be equalised also
by the degree of their Friendship and the other points, and those who
are on a footing of inequality by rendering Friendship in proportion to
the superiority of the other party.
Fault-finding and blame arises, either solely or most naturally, in
Friendship of which utility is the motive: for they who are friends by
reason of goodness, are eager to do kindnesses to one another because
this is a natural result of goodness and Friendship; and when men are
vying with each other for this End there can be no fault-finding nor
contention: since no one is annoyed at one who entertains for him the
sentiment of Friendship and does kindnesses to him, but if of a refined
mind he requites him with kind actions. And suppose that one of the two
exceeds the other, yet as he is attaining his object he will not find
fault with his friend, for good is the object of each party.
Neither can there well be quarrels between men who are friends for
pleasure's sake: because supposing them to delight in living together
then both attain their desire; or if not a man would be put in a
ridiculous light who should find fault with another for not pleasing
him, since it is in his power to forbear intercourse with him. But
the Friendship because of advantage is very liable to fault-finding;
because, as the parties use one another with a view to advantage, the
requirements are continually enlarging, and they think they have less
than of right belongs to them, and find fault because though justly
entitled they do not get as much as they want: while they who do the
kindnesses, can never come up to the requirements of those to whom they
are being done.