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Moral Science; A Compendium of Ethics by Alexander Bain

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Pagan world. In Aristotle we first find a definite handling of it.

MENON may be considered as pre-eminently ethical in its design. It is
expressly devoted to the question--Is Virtue _teachable_? Sokrates as
usual confesses that he does not know what virtue is. He will not
accept a catalogue of the admitted virtues as a definition of virtue,
and presses for some common, or defining attribute. He advances on his
own side his usual doctrine that virtue is Knowledge, or a mode of
Knowledge, and that it is good and profitable; which is merely an
iteration of the Science of good and evil. He distinguishes virtue
from Right Opinion, a sort of quasi-knowledge, the knowledge of
esteemed and useful citizens, which cannot be the highest knowledge,
since these citizens fail to impart it even to their own sons.

In this dialogue, we have Plato's view of Immortality, which comprises
both pre-existence and post-existence. The pre-existence is used to
explain the derivation of general notions, or Ideas, which are
antecedent to the perceptions of sense.

In PROTAGORAS, we find one of the most important of the ethical
discussions of Plato. It proceeds from the same question--Is virtue
teachable?--Sokrates as usual expressing his doubts on the point.
Protagoras then delivers a splendid harangue, showing how virtue is
taught--namely, by the practice of society in approving, condemning,
rewarding, punishing the actions of individuals. From childhood
upward, every human being in society is a witness to the moral
procedure of society, and by degrees both knows, and conforms to, the
maxims of virtue of the society. Protagoras himself as a professed
teacher, or sophist, can improve but little upon, this habitual
inculcation. Sokrates, at the end of the harangue, puts in his usual
questions tending to bring out the essence or definition of virtue,
and soon drives Protagoras into a corner, bringing him to admit a view
nowhere else developed in Plato, that Pleasure is the only good, Pain
the only evil, and that the science of Good and Evil consists in
Measuring, and in choosing between conflicting pleasures and
pains--preferring the greater pleasure to the less, the less pain to
the greater. For example, courage is a wise estimate of things
terrible and things not terrible. In consistency with the doctrine
that Knowledge is virtue, it is maintained here as elsewhere, that a
man knowing good and evil must act upon that knowledge. Plato often
repeats his theory of Measurement, but never again specifically
intimates that the things to be measured are pleasures and pains. And
neither here nor elsewhere, does he suppose the virtuous man taking
directly into his calculation the pleasures and pains of other

GORGIAS, one of the most renowned of the dialogues in point of
composition, is also ethical, but at variance with the Protagoras, and
more in accordance with Plato's predominating views. The professed
subject is Rhetoric, which, as an art, Sokrates professes to hold in
contempt. The dialogue begins with the position that men are prompted
by the desire of good, but proceeds to the great Platonic paradox,
that it is a greater evil to do wrong than to suffer wrong. The
criminal labours under a mental distemper, and the best thing that can
happen to him, is to be punished that so he may be cured. The
unpunished wrong-doer is more miserable than if he were punished.
Sokrates in this dialogue maintains, in opposition to the thesis of
Protagoras, that pleasure is not the same as good, that there are bad
pleasures and good pains; and a skilful adviser, one versed in the
science of good and evil, must discriminate between them. He does not
mean that those pleasures only are bad that bring an overplus of
future pains, which would be in accordance with the previous dialogue.
The sentiment of the dialogue is ascetic and self-denying.[7] Order or
Discipline is inculcated, not as a means to an end, but as an end in

The POLITIKUS is on the Art of Government, and gives the Platonic
_beau ideal_ of the One competent person, governing absolutely, by
virtue of his scientific knowledge, and aiming at the good and
improvement of the governed. This is merely another illustration of
the Sokratic ideal--a despotism, anointed by supreme good intentions,
and by an ideal skill. The Republic is an enlargement of the lessons
of the Politikus without the dialectic discussion.

The postulate of the One Wise man is repeated in KRATYLUS, on the
unpromising subject of Language or the invention of Names.

The PHILEBUS has a decidedly ethical character. It propounds for
enquiry the _Good_, the Summum Bonum. This is denied to be mere
pleasure, and the denial is enforced by Sokrates challenging his
opponent to choose the lot of an ecstatic oyster. As usual, good must
be related to Intelligence; and the Dialogue gives a long disquisition
upon the One and the Many, the Theory of Ideas, the Determinate and
the Indeterminate. Good is a compound of Pleasure and Intelligence,
the last predominating. Pleasure is the Indeterminate, requiring the
Determinate (Knowledge) to regulate it. This is merely another
expression for the doctrine of Measure, and for the common saying,
that the Passions must be controlled by Reason. There is, also, in the
dialogue, a good deal on the Psychology of Pleasure and Pain. Pleasure
is the fundamental harmony of the system; Pain its disturbance. Bodily
Pleasure pre-supposes pain [true only of some pleasures]. Mental
pleasures may be without previous pain, and are therefore pure
pleasures. A life of Intelligence is conceivable without either pain
or pleasure; this is the choice of the Wise man, and is the nature of
the gods. Desire is a mixed state, and comprehends body and mind. Much
stress is laid on the moderate and tranquil pleasures; the intense
pleasures, coveted by mankind, belong to a distempered rather than a
healthy state; they are false and delusive. Pleasure is, by its
nature, a change or transition, and cannot be a supreme end. The
mixture of Pleasure and Intelligence is to be adjusted by the
all-important principle of Measure or Proportion, which connects the
Good with the Beautiful.

A decided asceticism is the ethical tendency of this dialogue. It is
markedly opposed to the view of the Protagoras. Still greater is the
opposition between it and the two Erotic dialogues, Phaedrus and
Symposium, where _Bonum_ and _Pulchrum_ are attained in the pursuit of
an ecstatic and overwhelming personal affection.

The REPUBLIC starts with the question--what is JUSTICE? and, in
answering it, provides the scheme of a model Republic. Book I. is a
Sokratic colloquy, where one speaker, on being interrogated, defines
Justice as 'rendering to every man his due,' and afterwards amends it
to 'doing good to friends, evil to enemies.' Another gives 'the right
of the strongest.' A third maintains that Injustice by itself is
profitable to the doer; but, as it is an evil to society in general,
men make laws against it and punish it; in consequence of which,
Justice is the more profitable. Sokrates, in opposition, undertakes to
prove that Justice is good in itself, ensuring the happiness of the
doer by its intrinsic effect on his mind; and irrespective of
exemption from the penalties of injustice. He reaches this result by
assimilating an individual to a state. Justice is shown to be good in
the entire city, and by analogy it is also good in the individual. He
accordingly proceeds to construct his ideal commonwealth. In the
course of this construction many ethical views crop out.

The state must prescribe the religious belief, and allow no
compositions at variance with it. The gods must always be set forth as
the causes of good; they must never be represented as the authors of
evil, nor as practising deceit. Neither is it to be allowed to
represent men as unjust, yet happy; or just, and yet miserable. The
poetic representation of bad characters is also forbidden. The musical
training is to be adapted for disposing the mind to the perception of
Beauty, whence it becomes qualified to recognize the other virtues.
Useful fictions are to be diffused, without regard to truth. This
pious fraud is openly recommended by Plato.

The division of the human mind into (1) REASON or Intelligence; (2)
ENERGY, Courage, Spirit, or the Military Virtue; and (3) Many-headed
APPETITE, all in mutual counter-play--is transferred to the State,
each of the three parts being represented by one of the political
orders or divisions of the community. The happiness of the man and the
happiness of the commonwealth are attained in the same way, namely, by
realizing the four virtues--Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, Justice; with
this condition, that Wisdom, or Reason, is sought only in the Ruling
caste, the Elders; Courage, or Energy, only in the second caste, the
Soldiers or Guardians; while Temperance and Justice (meaning almost
the same thing) must inhere alike in all the three classes, and be the
only thing expected in the third, the Working Multitude.

If it be now asked, what and where is Justice? the answer is--'every
man to attend to his own business.' Injustice occurs when any one
abandons his post, or meddles with what does not belong to him; and
more especially when any one of a lower division aspires to the
function of a higher. Such is Justice for the city, and such is it in
the individual; the higher faculty--Reason, must control the two
lower--Courage and Appetite. Justice is thus a sort of harmony or
balance of the mental powers; it is to the mind what health is to the
body. Health is the greatest good, sickness the greatest evil, of the
body; so is Justice of the mind.

It is an essential of the Platonic Republic that, among the guardians
at least, the sexual arrangements should be under public regulation,
and the monopoly of one woman by one man forbidden: a regard to the
breed of the higher caste of citizens requires the magistrate to see
that the best couples are brought together, and to refuse to rear the
inferior offspring of ill-assorted connexions. The number of births is
also to be regulated.

In carrying on war, special maxims of clemency are to be observed
towards Hellenic enemies.

The education of the Guardians must be philosophical; it is for them
to rise to the Idea of the good, to master the science of Good and
Evil; they must be emancipated from the notion that Pleasure is the
good. To indicate the route to this attainment Plato gives his theory
of cognition generally--the theory of Ideas;--and indicates (darkly)
how these sublime generalities are to be reached.

The Ideal Commonwealth supposed established, is doomed to degradation
and decay; passing through Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, to
Despotism, with a corresponding declension of happiness. The same
varieties may be traced in the Individual; the 'despotized' mind is
the acme of Injustice and consequent misery.

The comparative value of Pleasures is discussed. The pleasures of
philosophy, or wisdom (those of Reason), are alone true and pure; the
pleasures corresponding to the two other parts of the mind are
inferior; Love of Honour (from Courage or Energy), and Love of Money
(Appetite). The well-ordered mind--Justice--is above all things the
source of happiness. Apart from all consequences of Justice, this is
true; the addition of the natural results only enhances the strength
of the position.

In TIMAEUS, Plato repeats the doctrine that wickedness is to the mind
what disease is to the body. The soul suffers from two distempers,
madness and ignorance; the man under passionate heat is not wicked
voluntarily. No man is bad willingly; but only from some evil habit of
body, the effect of bad bringing-up [very much the view of Robert

The long treatise called the LAWS, being a modified scheme of a
Republic, goes over the same ground with more detail. We give the
chief ethical points. It is the purpose of the lawgiver to bring about
happiness, and to provide all good things divine and human. The divine
things are the cardinal virtues--Wisdom, Justice, Temperance, Courage;
the human are the leading personal advantages--Health, Beauty,
Strength, Activity, Wealth. He requires the inculcation of
self-command, and a training in endurance. The moral and religious
feelings are to be guided in early youth, by the influence of Poetry
and the other Fine Arts, in which, as before, a stringent censorship
is to be exercised; the songs and dances are all to be publicly
authorized. The ethical doctrine that the just man is happy and the
unjust miserable, is to be preached; and every one prohibited from
contradicting it. Of all the titles to command in society, Wisdom is
the highest, although policy may require it to be conjoined with some
of the others (Birth, Age, Strength, Accident, &c.). It is to be a
part of the constitution to provide public exhortations, or sermons,
for inculcating virtue; Plato having now passed into an opposite phase
as to the value of Rhetoric, or continuous address. The family is to
be allowed in its usual form, but with restraints on the age of
marriage, on the choice of the parties, and on the increase of the
number of the population. Sexual intercourse is to be as far as
possible confined to persons legally married; those departing from
this rule are, at all events, to observe secresy. The slaves are not
to be of the same race as the masters. As regards punishment, there is
a great complication, owing to the author's theory that wickedness is
not properly voluntary. Much of the harm done by persons to others is
unintentional or involuntary, and is to be made good by reparation.
For the loss of balance or self-control, making the essence of
injustice, there must be a penal and educational discipline, suited to
cure the moral distemper; not for the sake of the past, which cannot
be recalled, but of the future. Under cover of this theory, the
punishments are abundantly severe; and the crimes include Heresy, for
which there is a gradation of penalties terminating in death.

We may now summarize the Ethics of Plato, under the general scheme as

I.--The Ethical Standard, or criterion of moral Right and Wrong. This
we have seen is, ultimately, the Science of Good and Evil, as
determined by a Scientific or Wise man; the Idea of the Good, which
only a philosopher can ascend to. Plato gave no credit to the maxims
of the existing society; these were wholly unscientific.

It is obvious that this vague and indeterminate standard would settle
nothing practically; no one can tell what it is. It is only of value
as belonging to a very exalted and poetic conception of virtue,
something that raises the imagination above common life into a sphere
of transcendental existence.

II.--The Psychology of Ethics.

1. As to the Faculty of discerning Right. This is implied in the
foregoing statement of the criterion. It is the Cognitive or
Intellectual power. In the definite position taken up in Protagoras,
it is the faculty of Measuring pleasures against one another and
against pains. In other dialogues, measure is still the important
aspect of the process, although the things to be measured are not

2. As regards the Will. The theory that vice, if not the result of
ignorance, is a form of madness, an uncontrollable fury, a mental
distemper, gives a peculiar rendering of the nature of man's Will. It
is a kind of Necessity, not exactly corresponding, however, with the
modern doctrine of that name.

3. Disinterested Sentiment is not directly and plainly recognized by
Plato. His highest virtue is self-regarding; a concern for the Health
of the Soul.

III.--On the Bonum, or Summum Bonum, Plato is ascetic and
self-denying. 1. We have seen that in Philebus, Pleasure is not good,
unless united with Knowledge or Intelligence; and the greater the
Intelligence, the higher the pleasure. That the highest happiness of
man is the pursuit of truth or Philosophy, was common to Plato and to

2. Happiness is attainable only through Justice or Virtue. Justice is
declared to be happiness, first, in itself, and secondly, in its
consequences. Such is the importance attached to this maxim as a
safeguard of Society, that, whether true or not, it is to be
maintained by state authority.

3. The Psychology of Pleasure and Pain is given at length in the

IV.--With regard to the scheme of Duty. In Plato, we find the first
statement of the four Cardinal Virtues.

As to the Substance of the Moral Code, the references above made to
the Republic and the Laws will show in what points his views differed
from modern Ethics.

Benevolence was not one of the Cardinal Virtues.

His notions even of Reciprocity were rendered hazy and indistinct by
his theory of Justice as an end in itself.

The inducements, means, and stimulants to virtue, in addition to penal
discipline, are training, persuasion, or hortatory discourse,
dialectic cognition of the Ideas, and, above all, that ideal
aspiration towards the Just, the Good, around which he gathered all
that was fascinating in poetry, and all the associations of religion
and divinity. Plato employed his powerful genius in working up a lofty
spiritual reward, an ideal intoxication, for inciting men to the
self-denying virtues. He was the first and one of the greatest of
preachers. His theory of Justice is suited to preaching, and not to a
scientific analysis of society.

V.--The relation of Ethics to Politics is intimate, and even
inseparable. The Civil Magistrate, as in Hobbes, supplies the Ethical
sanction. All virtue is an affair of the state, a political
institution. This, however, is qualified by the demand for an ideal
state, and an ideal governor, by whom alone anything like perfect
virtue can be ascertained.

VI.--The relationship with Theology is also close. That is to say,
Plato was not satisfied to construct a science of good and evil,
without conjoining the sentiments towards the Gods. His Theology,
however, was of his own invention, and adapted to his ethical theory.
It was necessary to suppose that the gods were the authors of good, in
order to give countenance to virtue.

Plato was the ally of the Stoics, as against the Epicureans, and of
such modern theorists as Butler, who make virtue, and not happiness,
the highest end of man. With him, discipline was an end in itself, and
not a means; and he endeavoured to soften its rigour by his poetical
and elevated Idealism.

Although he did not preach the good of mankind, or direct beneficence,
he undoubtedly prepared the way for it, by urging self-denial, which
has no issue or relevance, except either by realizing greater
happiness to Self (mere exalted Prudence, approved of by all sects),
or by promoting the welfare of others.


These opposing sects sprang from Sokrates, and passed, with little
modification, the one into the Stoics, the other into the Epicureans.
Both ANTISTHENES, the founder of the Cynics, and ARISTIPPUS, the
founder of the Cyrenaics, were disciples of Sokrates.

Their doctrines chiefly referred to the Summum Bonum--the Art of
Living, or of Happiness.

The CYNICS were most closely allied to Sokrates; they, in fact,
carried out to the full his chosen mode of life. His favourite
maxim--that the gods had no wants, and that the most godlike man was
he that approached to the same state--was the Cynic Ideal. To subsist
upon the narrowest means; to acquire indifference to pain, by a
discipline of endurance; to despise all the ordinary pursuits of
wealth and pleasure,--were Sokratic peculiarities, and were the _beau
ideal_ of Cynicism.

The Cynic succession of philosophers were, (1) ANTISTHENES, one of the
most constant friends and companions of Sokrates; (2) DIOGENES of
Sinope, the pupil of Antisthenes, and the best known type of the sect.
(His disciple Krates, a Theban, was the master of Zeno, the first
Stoic.) (3) STILPON of Megara, (4) MENEDEMUS of Eretria, (5) MONIMUS
of Syracuse, (6) KRATES.

The two first heads of the Ethical scheme, so meagrely filled up by
the ancient systems generally, are almost a total blank as regards
both Cynics and Cyrenaics.

I.--As regards a Standard of right and wrong, moral good or evil, they
recognized nothing but obedience to the laws and customs of society.

II.--They had no Psychology of a moral faculty, of the will, or of
benevolent sentiment. The Cyrenaic Aristippus had a Psychology of
Pleasure and Pain.

The Cynics, instead of discussing Will, exercised it, in one of its
most prominent forms,--self-control and endurance.

Disinterested conduct was no part of their scheme, although the
ascetic discipline necessarily promotes abstinence from sins against
property, and from all the vices of public ambition.

III.--The proper description of both systems comes under the Summum
Bonum, or the Art of Living.

The Cynic Ideal was the minimum of wants, the habituation to pain,
together with indifference to the common enjoyments. The compensating
reward was exemption from fear, anxiety, and disappointment; also, the
pride of superiority to fellow-beings and of approximation to the
gods. Looking at the great predominance of misery in human life, they
believed the problem of living to consist in a mastery over all the
forms of pain; until this was first secured, there was to be a total
sacrifice of pleasure.

The Cynics were mostly, like Sokrates, men of robust health, and if
they put their physical constitution to a severe test by poor living
and exposure to wind and weather, they also saved it from the wear and
tear of steady industry and toil. Exercise of body and of mind, with a
view to strength and endurance, was enjoined; but it was the drill of
the soldier rather than the drudgery of the artisan.

In the eyes of the public, the prominent feature of the Cynic was his
contemptuous jeering, and sarcastic abuse of everybody around. The
name (Cynic, dog-like) denotes this peculiarity. The anecdotes
relating to Diogenes illustrate his coarse denunciation of men in
general and their luxurious ways. He set at defiance all the
conventions of courtesy and of decency; spoke his mind on everything
without fear or remorse; and delighted in his antagonism to public
opinion. He followed the public and obtrusive life of Sokrates, but
instead of dialectic skill, his force lay in vituperation, sarcasm,
and repartee. 'To Sokrates,' says Epiktetus, 'Zeus assigned the
cross-examining function; to Diogenes, the magisterial and chastising
function; to Zeno (the Stoic), the didactic and dogmatical.'

The Cynics had thus in full measure one of the rewards of asceticism,
the pride of superiority and power. They did not profess an end apart
from their own happiness; they believed and maintained that theirs was
the only safe road to happiness. They agreed with the Cyrenaics as to
the end; they differed as to the means.

The founders of the sect, being men of culture, set great store by
education, from which, however, they excluded (as it would appear)
both the Artistic and the Intellectual elements of the superior
instruction of the time, namely, Music, and the Sciences of Geometry,
Astronomy, &c. Plato's writings and teachings were held in low esteem.
Physical training, self-denial and endurance, and literary or
Rhetorical cultivation, comprise the items taught by Diogenes when he
became a slave, and was made tutor to the sons of his master.

IV.--As to the Moral Code, the Cynics were dissenters from the
received usages of society. They disapproved of marriage laws, and
maintained the liberty of individual tastes in the intercourse of the
sexes. Being free-thinkers in religion they had no respect for any of
the customs founded on religion.

V. The collateral relations of Cynical Ethics to Politics and to
Theology afford no scope for additional observations. The Cynic and
Cyrenaic both stood aloof from the affairs of the state, and were
alike disbelievers in the gods.

The Cynics appear to have been inclined to communism among themselves,
which was doubtless easy with their views as to the wants of life. It
is thought not unlikely that Sokrates himself held views of communism
both as to property and to wives; being in this respect also the
prompter of Plato (Grant's Ethics of Aristotle, Essay ii.).

The CYRENAIC system originated with ARISTIPPUS of Cyrene, another
hearer and companion of Sokrates. The temperament of Aristippus was
naturally inactive, easy, and luxurious; nevertheless he set great
value on mental cultivation and accomplishments. His conversations
with Sokrates form one of the most interesting chapters of Xenophon's
Memorabilia, and are the key to the plan of life ultimately elaborated
by him. Sokrates finding out his disposition, repeats all the
arguments in favour of the severe and ascetic system. He urges the
necessity of strength, courage, energy, self-denial, in order to
attain the post of ruler over others; which, however, Aristippus
fences by saying that he has no ambition to rule; he prefers the
middle course of a free man, neither ruling nor ruled over. Next,
Sokrates recalls the dangers and evil contingencies of subjection, of
being oppressed, unjustly treated, sold into slavery, and the
consequent wretchedness to one unhardened by an adequate discipline.
It is in this argument that he recites the well-known apologue called
the choice of Herakles; in which, Virtue on the one hand, and Pleasure
with attendant vice on the other, with their respective consequences,
are set before a youth in his opening career. The whole argument with
Aristippus was purely prudential; but Aristippus was not convinced nor
brought over to the Sokratic ideal. He nevertheless adopted a no less
prudential and self-denying plan of his own.

Aristippus did not write an account of his system; and the particulars
of his life, which would show how he acted it, are but imperfectly
preserved. He was the first theorist to avow and maintain that
Pleasure, and the absence of Pain, are the proper, the direct, the
immediate, the sole end of living; not of course mere present
pleasures and present relief from pain, but present and future taken
in one great total. He would surrender present pleasure, and incur
present pain, with a view to greater future good; but he did not
believe in the necessity of that extreme surrender and renunciation
enjoined by the Cynics. He gratified all his appetites and cravings
within the limits of safety. He could sail close upon the island of
Calypso without surrendering himself to the sorceress. Instead of
deadening the sexual appetite he gave it scope, and yet resisted the
dangerous consequences of associating with Hetaerae. In his enjoyments
he was free from jealousies; thinking it no derogation to his pleasure
that others had the same pleasure. Having thus a fair share of natural
indulgences, he dispenses with the Cynic pride of superiority and the
luxury of contemning other men. Strength of will was required for this
course no less than for the Cynic life.

Aristippus put forward strongly the impossibility of realizing all the
Happiness that might seem within one's reach; such were the attendant
and deterring evils, that many pleasures had to be foregone by the
wise man. Sometimes even the foolish person attained more pleasure
than the wise; such is the lottery of life; but, as a general rule,
the fact would be otherwise. The wisest could not escape the natural
evils, pain and death; but envy, passionate love, and superstition,
being the consequences of vain and mistaken opinion, might be
conquered by a knowledge of the real nature of Good and Evil.

As a proper appendage to such a system, Aristippus sketched a
Psychology of Pleasure and Pain, which was important as a beginning,
and is believed to have brought the subject into prominence. The soul
comes under three conditions,--a gentle, smooth, equable motion,
corresponding to Pleasure; a rough, violent motion, which is Pain; and
a calm, quiescent state, indifference or Unconsciousness. More
remarkable is the farther assertion that Pleasure is only _present_ or
_realized_ consciousness; the memory of pleasures past, and the idea
of pleasures to come, are not to be counted; the painful
accompaniments of desire, hope, and fear, are sufficient to neutralize
any enjoyment that may arise from ideal bliss, Consequently, the
happiness of a life means the sum total of these moments of realized
or present pleasure. He recognized pleasures of the mind, as well as
of the body; sympathy with the good fortunes of friends or country
gives a thrill of genuine and lively joy. Still, the pleasures and the
pains of the body, and of one's own self, are more intense; witness
the bodily inflictions used in punishing offenders.

The Cyrenaics denied that there is anything just, or honourable, or
base, by nature; all depended on the laws and customs. These laws and
customs the wise man obeys, to avoid punishment and discredit from the
society where he lives; doubtless, also, from higher motives, if the
political constitution, and his fellow citizens generally, can inspire
him with respect.

Neither the Cynics nor the Cyrenaics made any profession of generous
or disinterested impulses.

ARISTOTLE. [384-322 B.C.]

Three treatises on Ethics have come down associated with the name of
Aristotle; one large work, the Nicomachean Ethics, referred to by
general consent as the chief and important source of Aristotle's
views; and two smaller works, the Eudemian Ethics, and the Magna
Moralia, attributed by later critics to his disciples. Even of the
large work, which consists of ten books, three books (V. VI. VII.),
recurring in the Eudemian Ethics, are considered by Sir A. Grant,
though not by other critics, to have been composed by Eudemus, the
supposed author of this second treatise, and a leading disciple of

Like many other Aristotelian treatises, the Nicomachean Ethics is
deficient in method and consistency on any view of its composition.
But the profound and sagacious remarks scattered throughout give it a
permanent interest, as the work of a great mind. There may be
extracted from it certain leading doctrines, whose point of departure
was Platonic, although greatly modified and improved by the genius and
personality of Aristotle.

Our purpose will be best served by a copious abstract of the
Nicomachean Ethics.

Book First discusses the Chief Good, or the Highest End of all human
endeavours. Every exercise of the human powers aims at some good; all
the arts of life have their several ends--medicine, ship-building,
generalship. But the ends of these special arts are all subordinate to
some higher end; which end is the chief good, and the subject of the
highest art of all, the Political; for as Politics aims at the welfare
of the state, or aggregate of individuals, it is identical with and
comprehends the welfare of the individual (Chaps. I., II.).

As regards the _method_ of the science, the highest exactness is not
attainable; the political art studies what is just, honourable, and
good; and these are matters about which the utmost discrepancy of
opinion prevails. From such premises, the conclusions which we draw
can only be probabilities. The man of experience and cultivation will
expect nothing more. Youths, who are inexperienced in the concerns of
life, and given to follow their impulses, can hardly appreciate our
reasoning, and will derive no benefit from it: but reasonable men will
find the knowledge highly profitable (III.).

Resuming the main question--What is the highest practical good--the
aim of the all-comprehending political science?--we find an agreement
among men as to the name _happiness_ [Greek: eudaimonia]; but great
differences as to the nature of the thing. The many regard it as made
up of the tangible elements--pleasures, wealth, or honour; while
individuals vary in their estimate according to each man's state for
the time being; the sick placing it in health, the poor in wealth, the
consciously ignorant in knowledge. On the other hand, certain
philosophers [in allusion to Plato] set up an absolute good,--an Idea
of the Good, apart from all the particulars, yet imparting to each its
property of being good (IV.).

Referring to men's lives (as a clue to their notions of the good), we
find three prominent varieties; the life of pleasure or
sensuality,--the political life, aspiring to honour,--and the
contemplative life. The first is the life of the brutes, although
countenanced by men high in power. The second is too precarious, as
depending on others, and is besides only a means to an end--namely,
our consciousness of our own merits; for the ambitious man seeks to be
honoured for his virtue and by good judges--thus showing that he too
regards virtue as the superior good. Yet neither will virtue satisfy
all the conditions. The virtuous man may slumber or pass his life in
inactivity, or may experience the maximum of calamity; and such a man
cannot be regarded as happy. The money-lender is still less entitled,
for he is an unnatural character; and money is obviously good as a
means. So that there remains only the life of contemplation;
respecting which more presently (V.).

To a review of the Platonic doctrine, Aristotle devotes a whole
chapter. He urges against it various objections, very much of a piece
with those brought against the theory of Ideas generally. If there be
but one good, there should be but one science; the alleged Idea is
merely a repetition of the phenomena; the recognized goods (_i.e._,
varieties of good) cannot be brought under one Idea; moreover, even
granting the reality of such an Idea, it is useless for all practical
purposes. What our science seeks is Good, human and attainable (VI.).

The Supreme End is what is not only chosen as an End, but is never
chosen except as an End: not chosen both for itself and with a view to
something ulterior. It must thus be--(1) An _end-in-itself_ pursued
for its own sake; (2) it must farther be _self-sufficing_ leaving no
outstanding wants--man's sociability being taken into account and
gratified. Happiness is such an end; but we must state more clearly
wherein happiness consists.

This will appear, if we examine what is the work appropriate and
peculiar to man. Every artist, the sculptor, carpenter, currier (so
too the eye and the hand), has his own peculiar work: and good, to
him, consists in his performing that work well. Man also has his
appropriate and peculiar work: not merely living--for that he has in
common with vegetables; nor the life of sensible perception--for that
he has in common with other animals, horses, oxen, &c. There remains
the life of man as a rational being: that is, as a being possessing
reason along with other mental elements, which last are controllable
or modifiable by reason. This last life is the peculiar work or
province of man. For our purpose, we must consider man, not merely as
possessing, but as actually exercising and putting in action, these
mental capacities. Moreover, when we talk generally of the work or
province of an artist, we always tacitly imply a complete and
excellent artist in his own craft: and so likewise when we speak of
the work of a man, we mean that work as performed by a complete and
competent man. Since the work of man, therefore, consists in the
active exercise of the mental capacities, conformably to reason, the
supreme good of man will consist in performing this work with
excellence or virtue. Herein he will obtain happiness, if we assume
continuance throughout a full period of life: one day or a short time
is not sufficient for happiness (VII.).

Aristotle thus lays down the outline of man's supreme Good or
Happiness: which he declares to be the beginning or principle [Greek:
archae] of his deductions, and to be obtained in the best way that the
subject admits. He next proceeds to compare this outline with the
various received opinions on the subject of happiness, showing that it
embraces much of what has been considered essential by former
philosophers: such as being 'a good of the mind,' and not a mere
external good: being equivalent to 'living well and doing well,'
another definition; consisting in virtue (the Cynics); in practical
wisdom--[Greek: phronaesis] (Sokrates); in philosophy; or in all these
coupled with pleasure (Plato, in the Philebus). Agreeing with those
who insisted on virtue, Aristotle considers his own theory an
improvement, by requiring virtue in act, and not simply in possession.
Moreover, he contends that to the virtuous man, virtuous performance
is in itself pleasurable; so that no extraneous source of pleasure is
needed. Such (he says) is the judgment of the truly excellent man;
which must be taken as conclusive respecting the happiness, as well as
the honourable pre-eminence of the best mental exercises.
Nevertheless, he admits (so far complying with the Cyrenaics) that
some extraneous conditions cannot be dispensed with; the virtuous man
can hardly exhibit his virtue in act, without some aid from friends
and property; nor can he be happy if his person is disgusting to
behold or his parentage vile (VIII.).

This last admission opens the door to those that place good fortune in
the same line with happiness, and raises the question, how happiness
is attained. By teaching? By habitual exercise? By divine grace? By
Fortune? If there be any gift vouchsafed by divine grace to man, it
ought to be this; but whether such be the case or not, it is at any
rate the most divine and best of all acquisitions. To ascribe such an
acquisition as this to Fortune would be absurd. Nature, which always
aims at the best, provides that it shall be attained, through a
certain course of teaching and training, by all who are not physically
or mentally disqualified. It thus falls within the scope of political
science, whose object is to impart the best character and active
habits to the citizens. It is with good reason that we never call a
horse happy, for he can never reach such an attainment; nor indeed can
a child be so called while yet a child, for the same reason; though in
his case we may hope for the future, presuming on a full term of life,
as was before postulated (IX.). But-this long term allows room for
extreme calamities and change in a man's lot. Are we then to say, with
Solon, that no one can be called happy so long as he lives? or that
the same man may often pass backwards and forwards from happiness to
misery? No; this only shows the mistake of resting happiness upon so
unsound a basis as external fortune. The only true basis of it is the
active manifestation of mental excellence, which no ill fortune can
efface from a man's mind (X.). Such a man will bear calamity, if it
comes, with dignity, and can never be made thoroughly miserable. If he
be moderately supplied as to external circumstances, he is to be
styled happy; that is, happy as a man--as far as man can reasonably
expect. Even after his decease he-will be affected, yet only feebly
affected, by the good or ill fortune of his surviving children.
Aristotle evidently assigns little or no value to presumed posthumous
happiness (XI.).

In his love of subtle distinctions, he asks, Is happiness a thing
admirable in itself, or a thing praiseworthy? It is admirable in
itself; for what is praiseworthy has a relative character, and is
praised as conducive to some ulterior end; while the chief good must
be an End in itself, for the sake of which everything else is done
(XII.). [This is a defective recognition of Relativity.]

Having assumed as one of the items of his definition, that man's
happiness must be in his special or characteristic work, performed
with perfect excellence,--Aristotle now proceeds to settle wherein
that excellence consists. This leads to a classification of the parts
of the soul. The first distribution is, into Rational and Irrational;
whether these two are separable in fact, or only logically separable
(like concave and convex), is immaterial to the present enquiry. Of
the irrational, the lowest portion is the Vegetative [Greek:
phytikon], which seems most active in sleep; a state where bad men and
good are on a par, and which is incapable of any human excellence. The
next portion is the Appetitive [Greek: epithymaetikon], which is not
thus incapable. It partakes of reason, yet it includes something
conflicting with reason. These conflicting tendencies are usually
modifiable by reason, and may become in the temperate man completely
obedient to reason. There remains Reason--the highest and sovereign
portion of the soul. Human excellence [Greek: aretae] or virtue, is
either of the Appetitive part,--moral [Greek: aethikae] virtue; or of
the Reason--intellectual [Greek: dianoaetikae] virtue. Liberality and
temperance are Moral virtues; philosophy, intelligence, and wisdom,
Intellectual (XIII.).

Such is an outline of the First Book, having for its subject the Chief
Good, the Supreme End of man.

Book Second embraces the consideration of points relative to the Moral
Virtues; it also commences Aristotle's celebrated definition and
classification of the virtues or excellencies.

Whereas intellectual excellence is chiefly generated and improved by
teaching, moral excellence is a result of habit [Greek: ethos]; whence
its name (Ethical). Hence we may see that moral excellence is no
inherent part of our nature: if it were, it could not be reversed by
habit--any more than a stone can acquire from any number of
repetitions the habit of moving upward, or fire the habit of moving
downward. These moral excellencies are neither a part of our nature,
nor yet contrary to our nature: we are by nature fitted to take them
on, but they are brought to consummation through habit. It is not with
them, as with our senses, where nature first gives us the power to see
and hear, and where we afterwards exercise that power. Moral virtues
are acquired only by practice. We learn to build or to play the harp,
by building or playing the harp: so too we become just or courageous,
by a course of just or courageous acts. This is attested by all
lawgivers in their respective cities; all of them shape the characters
of their respective citizens, by enforcing habitual practice. Some do
it well; others ill; according to the practice, so will be the
resulting character; as he that is practised in building badly, will
be a bad builder in the end; and he that begins on a bad habit of
playing the harp, becomes confirmed into a bad player. Hence the
importance of making the young perform good actions habitually and
from the beginning. The permanent ethical acquirements are generated
by uniform and persistent practice (I.). [This is the earliest
statement of the philosophy of _habit_.]

Everything thus turns upon practice: and Aristotle reminds us that his
purpose here is, not simply to teach what virtue is, but to produce
virtuous agents. How are we to know what the practice should be? It
must be conformable to right reason: every one admits this, and we
shall explain it further in a future book. But let us proclaim at
once, that in regard to moral action, as in regard to health, no exact
rules can be laid down. Amidst perpetual variability, each agent must
in the last resort be guided by the circumstances of the case. Still,
however, something may be done to help him. Here Aristotle proceeds to
introduce the famous doctrine of the MEAN. We may err, as regards
health, both by too much and by too little of exercise, food, or
drink. The same holds good in regard to temperance, courage, and the
other excellences (II.).

His next remark is another of his characteristic doctrines, that the
_test of a formed habit of virtue, is to feel no pain_; he that feels
pain in brave acts is a coward. Whence he proceeds to illustrate the
position, that moral virtue [Greek: aethikae aretae] has to do with
pleasures and pains. A virtuous education consists in making us feel
pleasure and pain at proper objects, and on proper occasions.
Punishment is a discipline of pain. Some philosophers (the Cynics)
have been led by this consideration to make virtue consist in apathy,
or insensibility; but Aristotle would regulate, and not extirpate our
sensibilities (III.).

But does it not seem a paradox to say (according to the doctrine of
habit in I.), that a man becomes just, by performing just actions;
since, if he performs just actions, he is already just? The answer is
given by a distinction drawn in a comparison with the training in the
common arts of life. That a man is a good writer or musician, we see
by his writing or his music; we take no account of the state of his
mind in other respects: if he knows how to do this, it is enough. But
in respect to moral excellence, such knowledge is not enough: a man
may do just or temperate acts, but he is not necessarily a just or
temperate man, unless he does them with right intention and on their
own account. This state of the internal mind, which is requisite to
constitute the just and temperate man, follows upon the habitual
practice of just and temperate acts, and follows upon nothing else.
But most men are content to talk without any such practice. They fancy
erroneously that _knowing_, without doing, will make a good man. [We
have here the reaction against the Sokratic doctrine of virtue, and
also the statement of the necessity of a _prosper motive_, in order to

Aristotle now sets himself to find a definition of virtue, _per genus
et differentiam_. There are three qualities in the Soul--_Passions_
[Greek: pathae], as Desire, Anger, Fear, &c., followed by pleasure or
pain; _Capacities_ or _Faculties_ [Greek: dynameis], as our capability
of being angry, afraid, affected by pity, &c.; _Fixed tendencies,
acquirements_, or _states_ [Greek: hexeis]. To which of the three does
virtue or excellence belong? It cannot be a Passion; for passions are
not in themselves good or evil, and are not accompanied with
deliberate choice [Greek: prouiresis], will, or intention. Nor is it a
Faculty: for we are not praised or blamed because we _can_ have such
or such emotions; and moreover our faculties are innate, which virtue
is not. Accordingly, virtue, or excellence, must be an acquirement
[Greek: hexis]--a State (V.). This is the _genus_.

Now, as to the _differentia_, which brings us to a more specific
statement of the doctrine of the _Mean_. The specific excellence of
virtue is to be got at from quantity in the abstract, from which we
derive the conceptions of more, less, and equal; or excess, defect,
and mean; the equal being the mean between excess and defect. But in
the case of moral actions, the arithmetical mean may not hold (for
example, six between two and ten); it must be a mean relative to the
individual; Milo must have more food than a novice in the training
school. In the arts, we call a work perfect, when anything either
added or taken away would spoil it. Now, virtue, which, like Nature,
is better and more exact than any art, has for its subject-matter,
passions and actions; all which are wrong either in defect or in
excess. Virtue aims at the mean between them, or the maximum of Good:
which implies a correct estimation of all the circumstances of the
act,--when we ought to do it--under what conditions--towards whom--for
what purpose--in what manner, &c. This is the praise-worthy mean,
which virtue aspires to. We may err in many ways (for evil, as the
Pythagoreans said, is of the nature of the Infinite, good of the
Finite), but we can do right only in one way; so much easier is the
path of error.

Combining then this _differentia_ with the _genus_, as above
established, the complete definition is given thus--'Virtue is an
acquirement or fixed state, tending by deliberate purpose (genus),
towards a mean relative to us (difference).' To which is added the
following all-important qualification, 'determined by reason [Greek:
logos], and as the _judicious man_ [Greek: ho Phronimos] would
determine.' Such is the doctrine of the Mean, which combines the
practical matter-of-fact quality of moderation, recognized by all
sages, with a high and abstract conception, starting from the
Pythagorean remark quoted by Aristotle, 'the Infinite, or Indefinite,
is evil, the Finite or the Definite is good,' and re-appearing in
Plato as 'conformity to measure' [Greek: metriotaes], by which he
(Plato) proposes to discriminate between good and evil. The concluding
qualification of virtue--'a rational determination, according to the
ideal judicious man'--is an attempt to assign a standard or authority
for what is the proper 'Mean;' an authority purely ideal or imaginary;
the actual authority being always, rightly or wrongly, the society of
the time.

Aristotle admits that his doctrine of Virtue being a mean, cannot have
an application quite universal; because there are some acts that in
their very name connote badness, which are wrong therefore, not from
excess or defect, but in themselves (VI.). He next proceeds to resolve
his general doctrine into particulars; enumerating the different
virtues stated, each as a mean, between two extremes--Courage,
Temperance, Liberality, Magnanimity, Magnificence, Meekness,
Amiability or Friendliness, Truthfulness, Justice (VII.). They are
described in detail in the two following books. In chap. VIII., he
qualifies his doctrine of Mean and Extremes, by the remark that one
Extreme may be much farther removed from the Mean than the other.
Cowardice and Rashness are the extremes of Courage, but Cowardice is
farthest removed from the Mean.

The concluding chapter (IX.) of the Book reflects on the great
difficulty of hitting the mean in all things, and of correctly
estimating all the requisite circumstances, in each particular case.
He gives as practical rules:--To avoid at all events the worst
extreme; to keep farthest from our natural bent; to guard against the
snare of pleasure. Slight mistakes on either side are little blamed,
but grave and conspicuous cases incur severe censure. Yet how far the
censure ought to go, is difficult to lay down beforehand in general
terms. There is the same difficulty in regard to all particular cases,
and all the facts of sense: which must be left, after all, to the
judgment of Sensible Perception [Greek: aisthaesis].

Book Third takes up the consideration of the Virtues in detail, but
prefaces them with a dissertation, occupying five chapters, on the
Voluntary and Involuntary. Since praise and blame are bestowed only on
voluntary actions,--the involuntary being pardoned, and even
pitied,--it is requisite to define Voluntary and Involuntary. What is
done under physical compulsion, or through ignorance, is clearly
involuntary. What is done under the fear of greater evils is partly
voluntary, and partly involuntary. Such actions are voluntary in the
sense of being a man's own actions; involuntary in that they are not
chosen on their own account; being praised or blamed according to the
circumstances. There are cases where it is difficult to say which of
two conflicting pressures ought to preponderate, and compulsion is an
excuse often misapplied: but compulsion, in its strict sense, is not
strength of motive at all; it is taking the action entirely out of our
own hands. As regards Ignorance, a difference is made. Ignorance of a
general rule is matter for censure; ignorance of particular
circumstances may be excused. [This became the famous maxim of
law,--'Ignorantia facti excusat, ignorantia juris non excusat.'] If
the agent, when better informed, repents of his act committed in
ignorance, he affords good proof that the act done was really
involuntary. Acts done from anger or desire (which are in the agent's
self) are not to be held as involuntary. (1) If they were, the actions
of brutes and children would be involuntary. (2) Some of these acts
are morally good and approved. (3) Obligation often attaches to these
feelings. (4) What is done from desire is pleasant; the involuntary is
painful. (5) Errors of passion are to be eschewed, no less than those
of reason (I.).

The next point is the nature of Purpose, Determination, or Deliberate
Preference [Greek: proairesis], which is in the closest kindred with
moral excellence, and is even more essential, in the ethical estimate,
than acts themselves. This is a part of the Voluntary; but not
co-extensive therewith. For it excludes sudden and unpremeditated
acts; and is not shared by irrational beings. It is distinct from
desire, from anger, from wish, and from opinion; with all which it is
sometimes confounded. Desire is often opposed to it; the incontinent
man acts upon his desires, but without any purpose, or even against
his purpose; the continent man acts upon his purpose, but against his
desires. Purpose is still more distinct from anger, and is even
distinct (though in a less degree) from wish [Greek: boulaesis], which
is choice of the End, while Purpose is of the Means; moreover, we
sometimes wish for impossibilities, known as such, but we never
purpose them. Nor is purpose identical with opinion [Greek: doxa],
which relates to truth and falsehood, not to virtue and vice. It is
among our voluntary proceedings, and includes intelligence; but is it
identical with predeliberated action and its results? (II.)

To answer this query, Aristotle analyzes the process of Deliberation,
as to its scope, and its mode of operation. We exclude from
deliberation things Eternal, like the Kosmos, or the incommensurability
of the side and the diagonal of a square; also things mutable, that are
regulated by necessity, by nature, or by chance; things out of our
power; also final ends of action, for we deliberate only about the
_means_ to ends. The deliberative process is compared to the
investigation of a geometrical problem. We assume the end, and enquire
by what means it can be produced; then again, what will produce the
means, until we at last reach something that we ourselves can command.
If, after such deliberation, we see our way to execution, we form a
Purpose, or Deliberate Preference [Greek: proairesis]. Purpose is then
definable as a deliberative appetency of things in our power (III.).

Next is started the important question as to the choice of the final
_End_. Deliberation and Purpose respect means; our Wish respects the
End--but what is the End that we wish? Two opinions are noticed;
according to one (Plato) we are moved to the good; according to the
other, to the apparent good. Both opinions are unsatisfactory; the one
would make out an incorrect choice to be no choice at all; the other
would take away all constancy from ends.

Aristotle settles the point by distinguishing, in this case as in
others, between what bears a given character simply and absolutely,
and what bears the same character relatively to this or that
individual. The object of Wish, simply, truly, and absolutely, is the
Good; while the object of Wish, to any given individual, is what
appears Good to him. But by the Absolute here, Aristotle explains that
he means what appears good to the _virtuous_ and _intelligent_ man;
who is is declared, here as elsewhere, to be the infallible standard;
while most men, misled by pleasure, choose what is not truly good. In
like manner, Aristotle affirms, that those substances are truly and
absolutely wholesome, which are wholesome to the healthy and
well-constituted man; other substances may be wholesome to the sick or
degenerate. Aristotle's Absolute is thus a Relative with its correlate
chosen or imagined by himself.

He then proceeds to maintain that virtue and vice are voluntary, and
in our own power. The arguments are these. (1) If it be in our power
to act right, the contrary is equally in our own power; hence vice is
as much voluntary as virtue. (2) Man must be admitted to be the origin
of his own actions. (3) Legislators and others punish men for
wickedness, and confer honour on good actions; even culpable ignorance
and negligence are punished. (4) Our character itself, or our fixed
acquirements, are in our power, being produced by our successive acts;
men become intemperate, by acts of drunkenness. (5) Not only the
defects of the mind, but the infirmities of the body also, are blamed,
when arising through our own neglect and want of training. (6) Even if
it should be said that all men aim at the apparent good, but cannot
control their mode of conceiving [Greek: phantasia] the end; still
each person, being by his acts the cause of his own fixed
acquirements, must be to a certain extent the cause of his own
conceptions. On this head, too, Aristotle repeats the clenching
argument, that the supposed imbecility of conceiving would apply alike
to virtue and to vice; so that if virtuous action be regarded as
voluntary, vicious action must be so regarded likewise. It must be
remembered that a man's fixed acquirements or habits are not in his
own power, in the same sense and degree in which his separate acts are
in his own power. Each act, from first to last, is alike in his power;
but in regard to the habit, it is only the initiation thereof that is
thoroughly in his power; the habit, like a distemper, is taken on by
imperceptible steps in advance (V.).

In the foregoing account of the Ethical questions connected with the
Will, Aristotle is happily unembroiled with the modern controversy.
The _mal-apropos_ of 'Freedom' had not been applied to voluntary
action. Accordingly, he treats the whole question from the inductive
side, distinguishing the cases where people are praised or blamed for
their conduct, from those where praise and blame are inapplicable as
being powerless. It would have been well if the method had never been
departed from; a sound Psychology would have improved the induction,
but would never have introduced any question except as to the relative
strength of the different feelings operating as motives to voluntary

In one part of his argument, however, where he maintains that vice
must be voluntary, because its opposite, virtue, is voluntary, he is
already touching on the magical island of the bad enchantress;
allowing a question of fact to be swayed by the notion of factitious
dignity. Virtue is assumed to be voluntary, not on the evidence of
fact, but because there would be an _indignity_ cast on it, to suppose
otherwise. Now, this consideration, which Aristotle gives way to on
various occasions, is the motive underlying the objectionable

After the preceding digression on the Voluntary and Involuntary,
Aristotle takes up the consideration of the Virtues in order,
beginning with COURAGE, which was one of the received cardinal
virtues, and a subject of frequent discussion. (Plato, _Laches,
Protagoras, Republic_, &c.)

Courage [Greek: andreia], the mean between timidity and foolhardiness,
has to do with evils. All evils are objects of fear; but there are
some evils that even the brave man does right to fear--as disgrace.
Poverty or disease he ought not to fear. Yet, he will not acquire the
reputation of courage from not fearing these, nor will he acquire it
if he be exempt from fear when about to be scourged. Again, if a man
be afraid of envy from others, or of insults to his children or wife,
he will not for that reason be regarded as a coward. It is by being
superior to the fear of great evils, that a man is extolled as
courageous; and the greatest of evils is death, since it is a final
close, as well of good as of evil. Hence the dangers of war are the
greatest occasion of courage. But the cause must be honourable (VI.).

Thus the key to true courage is the quality or merit of the action.
That man is brave, who both fears, and affronts without fear, what he
ought and when he ought: who suffers and acts according to the value
of the cause, and according to a right judgment of it. The opposites
or extremes of courage include (1) Deficiency of fear; (2) Excess of
fear, cowardice; (3) Deficiency of daring, another formula for
cowardice; (4) Excess of daring, Rashness. Between these, Courage is
the mean (VII.).

Aristotle enumerates five analogous forms of quasi-courage,
approaching more or less to genuine courage. (1) The first, most like
to the true, is political courage, which is moved to encounter danger
by the Punishments and the Honours of society. The desire of honour
rises to virtue, and is a noble spring of action. (2) A second kind is
the effect of Experience, which dispels seeming terrors, and gives
skill to meet real danger. (3) Anger, Spirit, Energy [Greek: thymos] is
a species of courage, founded on physical power and excitement, but not
under the guidance of high emotions. (4) The Sanguine temperament, by
overrating the chances of success, gives courage. (5) Lastly, Ignorance
of the danger may have the same effect as courage (VIII.).

Courage is mainly connected with pain and loss. Men are called brave
for the endurance of pain, even although it bring pleasure in the end,
as to the boxer who endures bruises from the hope of honour. Death is
painful, and most so to the man that by his virtue has made life
valuable. Such a man is to be considered more courageous, as a soldier,
than a mercenary with little to lose (IX.).

The account of Courage thus given is remarkably exhaustive; although
the constituent parts might have been more carefully disentangled. A
clear line should be drawn between two aspects of courage. The one is
the resistance to Fear properly so called; that is, to the perturbation
that exaggerates coming evil: a courageous man, in this sense, is one
that possesses the true measure of impending danger, and acts according
to that, and not according to an excessive measure. The other aspect of
Courage, is what gives it all its nobleness as a virtue, namely,
_Self-sacrifice_, or the deliberate encountering of evil, for some
honourable or virtuous cause. When a man knowingly risks his life in
battle for his country, he may be called courageous, but he is still
better described as a heroic and devoted man.

Inasmuch as the leading form of heroic devotion, in the ancient world,
was exposure of life in war, Self-sacrifice was presented under the
guise of Courage, and had no independent standing as a cardinal virtue.
From this circumstance, paganism is made to appear in a somewhat
disadvantageous light, as regards self-denying duties.

Next in order among the excellences or virtues of the irrational
department of mind is TEMPERANCE, or Moderation, [Greek: sophrosynae],
a mean or middle state in the enjoyment of pleasure. Pleasures are
mental and bodily. With the mental, as love of learning or of honour,
temperance is not concerned. Nor with the bodily pleasures of muscular
exercise, of hearing and of smell, but only with the animal pleasures
of touch and taste: in fact, sensuality resides in touch; the pleasure
of eating being a mode of contact (X.).

In the desires natural and common to men, as eating and the nuptial
couch, men are given to err, and error is usually on the side of
excess. But it is in the case of special tastes or preferences, that
people are most frequently intemperate. Temperance does not apply to
enduring pains, except those of abstinence from pleasures. The extreme
of insensibility to pleasure is rarely found, and has no name. The
temperate man has the feelings of pleasure and pain, but moderates his
desires according to right reason (XL.). He desires what he ought, when
he ought, and as he ought: correctly estimating each separate case
(XII.). The question is raised, which is most voluntary, Cowardice or
Intemperance? (1) Intemperance is more voluntary than Cowardice, for
the one consists in choosing pleasure, while in the other there is a
sort of compulsory avoidance of pain. (2) Temperance is easier to
acquire as a habit than Courage. (3) In Intemperance, the particular
acts are voluntary, although not the habit; in Cowardice, the first
acts are involuntary, while by habit, it tends to become voluntary

[Temperance is the virtue most suited to the formula of the Mean,
although the settling of what is the mean depends after all upon a
man's own judgment. Aristotle does not recognize asceticism as a thing
existing. His Temperance is moderation in the sensual pleasures of
eating and love.]

Book Fourth proceeds with the examination of the Virtues or Ethical

LIBERALITY [Greek: eleutheristaes], in the matter of property, is the
mean of Prodigality and Illiberality. The right uses of money are
spending and giving. Liberality consists in giving willingly, from an
honourable motive, to proper persons, in proper quantities, and at
proper times; each individual case being measured by correct reason. If
such measure be not taken, or if the gift be not made willingly, it is
not liberality. The liberal man is often so free as to leave little to
himself. This virtue is one more frequent in the inheritors than in the
makers of fortunes. Liberality beyond one's means is prodigality. The
liberal man will receive only from proper sources and in proper
quantities. Of the extremes, prodigality is more curable than
illiberality. The faults of prodigality are, that it must derive
supplies from improper sources; that it gives to the wrong objects, and
is usually accompanied with intemperance. Illiberality is incurable: it
is confirmed by age, and is more congenial to men generally than
prodigality. Some of the illiberal fall short in giving--those called
stingy, close-fisted, and so on; but do not desire what belongs to
other people. Others are excessive in receiving from all sources; such
are they that ply disreputable trades (I.).

MAGNIFICENCE [Greek: megaloprepeia] is a grander kind of Liberality;
its characteristic is greatness of expenditure, with suitableness to
the person, the circumstances, and the purpose. The magnificent man
takes correct measure of each; he is in his way a man of Science
[Greek: ho de megaloprepaes epistaemoni eoike]--II. The motive must be
honourable, the outlay unstinted, and the effect artistically splendid.
The service of the gods, hospitality to foreigners, public works, and
gifts, are proper occasions. Magnificence especially becomes the
well-born and the illustrious. The house of the magnificent man will be
of suitable splendour; everything that he does will show taste and
propriety. The extremes, or corresponding defects of character, are, on
the one side, vulgar, tasteless profusion, and on the other, meanness
or pettiness, which for some paltry saving will spoil the effect of a
great outlay (II.).

MAGNANIMITY, or HIGH-MINDEDNESS [Greek: megalopsychia], loftiness of
spirit, is the culmination of the virtues. It is concerned with
greatness. The high-minded man is one that, being worthy, rates himself
at his real worth, and neither more (which is vanity) nor less (which
is littleness of mind). Now, worth has reference to external goods, of
which the greatest is honour. The high-minded man must be in the
highest degree honourable, for which he must be a good man; honour
being the prize of virtue. He will accept honour only from the good,
and will despise dishonour, knowing it to be undeserved. In all good or
bad fortune, he will behave with moderation; in not highly valuing even
the highest thing of all, honour itself, he may seem to others
supercilious. Wealth and fortune contribute to high-mindedness; but
most of all, superior goodness; for the character cannot exist without
perfect virtue. The high-minded man neither shuns nor courts danger;
nor is he indisposed to risk even his life. He gives favours, but does
not accept them; he is proud to the great, but affable to the lowly. He
attempts only great and important matters; is open in friendship and in
hatred; truthful in conduct, with an ironical reserve. He talks little,
either of himself or of others; neither desiring his own praise, nor
caring to utter blame. He wonders at nothing, bears no malice, is no
gossip. His movements are slow, his voice deep, his diction stately

There is a nameless virtue, a mean between the two extremes of too much
and too little ambition, or desire of honour; the reference being to
smaller matters and to ordinary men. The fact that both extremes are
made terms of reproach, shows that there is a just mean; while each
extreme alternately claims to be the virtue, as against the other,
since there is no term to express the mean (IV.).

MILDNESS [Greek: praotaes] is a mean state with reference to Anger,
although inclining to the defective side. The exact mean, which has no
current name, is that state wherein the agent is free from perturbation
[Greek: atarachos], is not impelled by passion, but guided by reason;
is angry when he ought, as he ought, with whom, and as long as, he
ought: taking right measure of all the circumstances. Not to be angry
on the proper provocation, is folly, insensibility, slavish submission.
Of those given to excess in anger, some are quick, impetuous, and soon
appeased; others are sulky, repressing and perpetuating their
resentment. It is not easy to define the exact mean; each case must be
left to individual perception (V.).

The next virtue is Good-breeding in society, a balance between
surliness on the one hand, and weak assent or interested flattery on
the other. It is a nameless virtue, resembling friendship without the
special affection. Aristotle shows what he considers the bearing of the
finished gentleman, studying to give pleasure, and yet expressing
disapprobation when it would be wrong to do otherwise (VI.).

Closely allied to the foregoing is the observance of a due mean, in the
matter of Boastfulness. The boastful lay claim to what they do not
possess; false modesty [Greek: eironeia] is denying or underrating
one's own merits. The balance of the two is the straightforward and
truthful character; asserting just what belongs to him, neither more
nor less. This is a kind of truthfulness,--distinguished from 'truth'
in its more serious aspect, as discriminating between justice and
injustice--and has a worth of its own; for he that is truthful in
little things will be so in more important affairs (VII.).

In the playful intercourse of society, there is room for the virtue of
Wit, a balance or mean between buffoonish excess, and the clownish
dulness that can neither make nor enjoy a joke. Here the man of
refinement must be a law to himself (VIII.).

MODESTY [Greek: aidos] is briefly described, without being put through
the comparison with its extremes. It is more a feeling than a state, or
settled habit. It is the fear of ill-report; and has the physical
expression of fear under danger--the blushing and the pallor. It befits
youth as the age of passion and of errors. In the old it is no virtue,
as they should do nothing to be ashamed of (IX.).

Book Fifth (the first of the so-called Eudemian books), treats of
Justice, the Social virtue by pre-eminence. Justice as a virtue is
defined, the state of mind, or moral disposition, to do what is just.
The question then is--what is the just and the unjust in action? The
words seem to have more senses than one. The just may be (1) the
Lawful, what is established by law; which includes, therefore, all
obedience, and all moral virtue (for every kind of conduct came under
public regulation, in the legislation of Plato and Aristotle). Or (2)
the just may be restricted to the fair and equitable as regards
property. In both senses, however, justice concerns our behaviour to
some one else: and it thus stands apart from the other virtues, as
(essentially and in its first character) seeking another's good--not
the good of the agent himself (I.).

The first kind of justice, which includes all virtue, called Universal
Justice, being set aside, the enquiry is reduced to the Particular
Justice, or Justice proper and distinctive. Of this there are two
kinds, Distributive and Corrective (II.). Distributive Justice is a
kind of equality or proportion in the distribution of property,
honours, &c., in the State, according to the merits of each citizen;
the standard of worth or merit being settled by the constitution,
whether democratic, oligarchic, or aristocratic (III.). Corrective, or
Reparative Justice takes no account of persons; but, looking at cases
where unjust loss or gain has occurred, aims to restore the balance, by
striking an arithmetical mean (IV.). The Pythagorean idea, that Justice
is Retaliation, is inadequate; proportion and other circumstances must
be included. Proportionate Retaliation, or Reciprocity of services,--as
in the case of Commercial Exchange, measured through the instrument of
money, with its definite value,--is set forth as the great bond of
society. Just dealing is the mean between doing injustice and suffering
injustice (V.). Justice is definitely connected with Law, and exists
only between citizens of the State, and not between father and
children, master and slave, between whom there is no law proper, but
only a sort of relation analogous to law (VI.). Civil Justice is partly
Natural, partly conventional. The natural is what has the same force
everywhere, whether accepted or not; the conventional varies with
institutions, acquiring all its force from adoption by law, and being
in itself a matter of indifference prior to such adoption. Some persons
regard all Justice as thus conventional. They say--'What exists by
nature is unchangeable, and has everywhere the same power; for example,
fire burns alike in Persia and here; but we see regulations of justice
often varied--differing here and there.' This, however, is not exactly
the fact, though to a certain extent it is the fact. Among the gods
indeed, it perhaps is not the fact at all: but among men, it is true
that there exists something by nature changeable, though everything is
not so. Nevertheless, there are some things existing by nature, other
things not by nature. And we can plainly see, among those matters that
admit of opposite arrangement, which of them belong to nature and which
to law and convention; and the same distinction will fit in other cases
also. Thus the right hand is by nature more powerful than the left; yet
it is possible that all men may become ambidextrous. Those regulations
of justice that are not by nature, but by human appointment, are not
the same everywhere; nor is the political constitution everywhere the
same; yet there is one political constitution only that is by nature
the best everywhere (VII.).

To constitute Justice and Injustice in acts, the acts must be
voluntary; there being degrees of culpability in injustice according to
the intention, the premeditation, the greater or less knowledge of
circumstances. The act that a person does may perhaps be unjust; but he
is not, on that account, always to be regarded as an unjust man

Here a question arises, Can one be injured voluntarily? It seems not,
for what a man consents to is not injury. Nor can a person injure
himself. Injury is a relationship between two parties (IX.). Equity
does not contradict, or set aside, Justice, but is a higher and finer
kind of justice, coming in where the law is too rough and general.

Book Sixth treats of Intellectual Excellences, or Virtues of the
Intellect. It thus follows out the large definition of virtue given at
the outset, and repeated in detail as concerns each of the ethical or
moral virtues successively.

According to the views most received at present, Morality is an affair
of conscience and sentiment; little or nothing is said about estimating
the full circumstances and consequences of each act, except that there
is no time to calculate correctly, and that the attempt to do so is
generally a pretence for evading the peremptory order of virtuous
sentiment, which, if faithfully obeyed, ensures virtuous action in each
particular case. If these views be adopted, an investigation of our
intellectual excellences would find no place in a treatise on Ethics.
But the theory of Aristotle is altogether different. Though he
recognizes Emotion and Intellect as inseparably implicated in the mind
of Ethical agents, yet the sovereign authority that he proclaims is not
Conscience or Sentiment, but Reason. The subordination of Sentiment to
Reason is with him essential. It is true that Reason must be supplied
with First Principles, whence to take its start; and these First
Principles are here declared to be, fixed emotional states or
dispositions, engendered in the mind of the agent by a succession of
similar acts. But even these dispositions themselves, though not
belonging to the department of Reason, are not exempt from the
challenge and scrutiny of Reason; while the proper application of them
in act to the complicated realities of life, is the work of Reason
altogether. Such an ethical theory calls upon Aristotle to indicate,
more or less fully, those intellectual excellences, whereby alone we
are enabled to overcome the inherent difficulties of right ethical
conduct; and he indicates them in the present Book, comparing them with
those other intellectual excellences which guide our theoretical
investigations, where conduct is not directly concerned.

In specifying the ethical excellences, or excellences of disposition,
we explained that each of them aimed to realize a mean--and that this
mean was to be determined by Right Reason. To find the mean, is thus an
operation of the Intellect; and we have now to explain what the right
performance of it is,--or to enter upon the Excellences of the
Intellect. The soul having been divided into Irrational and Rational,
the Rational must farther be divided into two parts,--the Scientific
(dealing with necessary matter), the Calculative, or Deliberative
(dealing with contingent matter). We must touch, upon the excellence or
best condition of both of them (I). There are three principal functions
of the soul--Sensation, Reason, and Appetite or Desire. Now, Sensation
(which beasts have as well as men) is not a principle of moral action.
The Reason regards truth and falsehood only; it does not move to
action, it is not an end in itself. Appetite or Desire, which aims at
an end, introduces us to moral action. Truth and Falsehood, as regards
Reason, correspond to Good and Evil as regards Appetite: Affirmation
and Negation, with the first, are the analogues of Pursuit and
Avoidance, with the second. In purpose, which is the principle of moral
action, there is included deliberation or calculation. Reason and
Appetite are thus combined: Good Purpose comprises both true
affirmation and right pursuit: you may call it either an Intelligent
Appetite, or an Appetitive Intelligence. Such is man, as a principle of
action [hae toiautae archae anthropos].

Science has to do with the necessary and the eternal; it is teachable,
but teachable always from _praecognita_, or principles, obtained by
induction; from which principles, conclusions are demonstrated by
syllogism (III.). Art, or Production, is to be carefully distinguished
from the action or agency that belongs to man as an ethical agent, and
that does not terminate in any separate assignable product. But both
the one and the other deal with contingent matters only. Art deals for
the most part with the same matters as are subject to the intervention
of Fortune or Chance (IV.).

Prudence or Judiciousness [Greek: phronaesis], the quality of [Greek:
ho phronimos], the Practical Reason, comes next. We are told what are
the matters wherewith it is, and wherewith it is not, conversant. It
does not deal with matters wherein there exist art, or with rules of
art. It does not deal with necessary matters, nor with matters not
modifiable by human agency. The prudent or judicious man is one who
(like Pericles) can accurately estimate and foresee matters (apart from
Science and Art) such as are good or evil for himself and other human
beings. On these matters, feelings of pleasure or pain are apt to bias
the mind, by insinuating wrong aims; which they do not do in regard to
the properties of a triangle and other scientific conclusions. To guard
against such bias, the judicious man must be armed with the ethical
excellence described above as Temperance or Moderation. Judiciousness
is not an Art, admitting of better and worse; there are not good
judicious men, and bad judicious men, as there are good and bad
artists. Judiciousness is itself an excellence (_i.e._, the term
connotes excellence)--an excellence of the rational soul, and of that
branch of the rational soul which is calculating, deliberative, not
scientific (V.). Reason or Intellect [Greek: nous] is the faculty for
apprehending the first principles of demonstrative science. It is among
the infallible faculties of the mind, together with Judiciousness,
Science, and Philosophy. Each of these terms connotes truth and
accuracy (VI.). Wisdom in the arts is the privilege of the superlative
artists, such as Phidias in sculpture. But there are some men wise, not
in any special art, but absolutely; and this wisdom [Greek: sophia] is
Philosophy. It embraces both principles of science (which Aristotle
considers to come under the review of the First Philosophy) and
deductions therefrom; it is [Greek: nous] and [Greek: epistaemae] in
one. It is more venerable and dignified than Prudence or Judiciousness;
because its objects, the Kosmos and the celestial bodies, are far more
glorious than man, with whose interests alone Prudence is concerned;
and also because the celestial objects are eternal and unvarying; while
man and his affairs are transitory and ever fluctuating. Hence the
great honour paid to Thales, Anaxagoras, and others, who speculated on
theories thus magnificent and superhuman, though useless in respect to
human good.

We have already said that Prudence or Judiciousness is good counsel on
human interests, with a view to action. But we must also add that it
comprises a knowledge not of universals merely, but also of
particulars; and experienced men, much conversant with particulars, are
often better qualified for action than inexperienced men of science
(VII.). Prudence is the same in its intellectual basis as the political
science or art--yet looked at in a different aspect. Both of them are
practical and consultative, respecting matters of human good and evil;
but prudence, in the stricter sense of the word, concerns more
especially the individual self; still, the welfare of the individual is
perhaps inseparable from household and state concerns. Prudence farther
implies a large experience; whence boys, who can become good
mathematicians, cannot have practical judgment or prudence. In
consultation, we are liable to error both in regard to universals, and
in regard to particulars; it is the business of prudence, as well as of
the political science, to guard against both. That prudence is not
identical with Science, is plain enough; for Science is the
intermediate process between the first principles and the last
conclusions; whereas prudence consists chiefly in seizing these last,
which are the applications of reasoning, and represent the particular
acts to be done. Prudence is the counterpart of Reason [Greek: Nous] or
Intellect, but at the opposite extremity of the mental process. For
Intellect [Greek: Nous] apprehends the extreme Universals,--the first
principles,--themselves not deducible, but from which deduction starts;
while Prudence fastens on the extreme particulars, which are not known
by Science, but by sensible Perception. We mean here by sensible
Perception, not what is peculiar to any of the five senses, but what is
common to them all--whereby we perceive that the triangle before us is
a geometrical ultimatum, and that it is the final subject of
application for all the properties previously demonstrated to belong to
triangles generally. The mind will stop here in the downward march
towards practical application, as it stopped at first principles in the
upward march. Prudence becomes, however, confounded with sensible
perception, when we reach this stage. [The statement here given
involves Aristotle's distinction of the proper and the common
Sensibles; a shadowing out of the muscular element in sensation]

Good counsel [Greek: euboulia] is distinguished from various other
qualities. It is, in substance, choosing right means to a good end; the
end being determined by the great faculty--Prudence or Judiciousness
(IX.). Sagacity [Greek: synesis] is a just intellectual measure in
regard to the business of life, individual and social; critical ability
in appreciating and interpreting the phenomena of experience. It is
distinguished from Prudence in this respect--that Prudence carries
inferences into Practice (X.). Considerateness [Greek: gnomae] is
another intellectual virtue, with a practical bearing. It is that
virtue whereby we discern the proper occasions for indulgent
construction, softening the rigour of logical consistency. It is the
source of equitable decisions.

The different intellectual excellences just named--Considerateness,
Sagacity, Prudence [Greek: phronaesis], and Intellect [Greek: Nous],
seem all to bear on the same result, and are for the most part
predicable of the same individuals. All of them are concerned with the
ultimate applications of principle to practice, and with the actual
moments for decision and action. Indeed, Intellect [Greek: Nous] deals
with the extremes at both ends of the scale: with the highest and
lowest terms. In theoretical science, it apprehends and sanctions the
major propositions, the first and highest _principia_ of
demonstrations: in practical dealings, it estimates the minor
propositions of the syllogism, the possibilities of the situation, and
the ultimate action required. All these are the _principia_ from whence
arises the determining motive: for the universal is always derived from
particulars; these we must know through sensible perception, which is
in this case the same thing as intellect [Greek: Nous]. Intellect is in
fact both the beginning and the end: it cognizes both the first grounds
of demonstration and the last applications of the results of
demonstration. A man cannot acquire science by nature, or without
teaching: but he may acquire Intellect and Sagacity by nature, simply
through, long life and abundant experience. The affirmations and
opinions of old men deserve attention, hardly less than demonstrations:
they have acquired an eye from experience, and can thus see the
practical principles (though they may not be able to lay out their
reasons logically) (XI.).

But an objector may ask--Of what use are Philosophy and Prudence? He
may take such grounds as these. (1) Philosophy has no practical aim at
all; nor does it consider the means of happiness? (2) Prudence, though
bearing on practice, is merely knowledge, and does not ensure right
action. (3) Even granting the knowledge to be of value as direction, it
might be obtained, like medical knowledge, from a professional adviser.
(4) If philosophy is better than prudence, why does prudence control
philosophy? We have to answer these doubts. The first is answered by
asserting the independent value of philosophy and prudence, as
perfections of our nature, and as sources of happiness in themselves.
The second and third doubts are set at rest, by affirming prudence to
have no existence apart from virtue. Without a virtuous aim, there is
no such thing as Prudence: there is nothing but cleverness degenerating
into cunning; while virtue without virtuous prudence is nothing better
than a mere instinct, liable to be misguided in every way (XII.).

There is one more difficulty to be cleared up respecting virtue. All
our dispositions; and therefore all our ethical excellences, come to us
in a certain sense by nature; that is, we have from the moment of birth
a certain aptitude for becoming temperate, courageous, just, &c. But
these natural aptitudes or possessions [Greek: physikai hexeis] are
something altogether distinct from the ethical excellences proper,
though capable of being matured into them, if intellect and prudence be
superadded. Sokrates was mistaken in resolving all the virtues into
prudence; but he was right in saying that none of them can exist
without prudence. The virtues ought to be defined as, not merely
ethical dispositions _according_ to right reason, but ethical
dispositions _along with_ right reason or prudence (_i.e._, prudence is
an ever present co-efficient). It is thus abundantly evident that none
but a prudent man can be good, and none but a good man can be prudent.
The virtues are separable from each other, so far as the natural
aptitudes are concerned: a man may have greater facility for acquiring
one than another. But so far as regards the finished acquirements of
excellence, in virtue of which a man is called _good_--no such
separation is possible. All of them alike need the companionship of
Prudence (XIII.).

Book Seventh has, two Parts. Part first discusses the grades of moral
strength and moral weakness. Part second is a short dissertation on
Pleasure, superseded by the superior handling of the subject in the
Tenth Book.

With reference to moral power, in self-restraint, six grades are
specified. (1) God-like virtue, or reason impelling as well as
directing. (2) The highest human virtue, expressed by Temperance
[Greek: sophrosynae]--appetite and passion perfectly harmonized with
reason. (3) Continence [Greek: egkrateia] or the mastery of reason,
after a struggle. (4) Incontinence, the mastery of appetite or passion,
but not without a struggle. (5) Vice, reason perverted so as to
harmonize entirely with appetite or passion. (6) Bestiality, naked
appetite or passion, without reason. Certain prevalent opinions are
enumerated, which are to form the subject of the discussions
following--(1) Continence and endurance are morally good. (2) The
Continent man sticks to his opinion. (3) The Incontinent err knowingly.
(4) Temperance and Continence are the same. (5) Wise and clever men may
be Incontinent. (6) Incontinence applies to other things than Pleasure,
as anger, honour, and gain (I.).

The third point (the Incontinent sin knowingly) is first mooted.
Sokrates held the contrary; he made vice and ignorance convertible.
Others think that the knowledge possessed by the incontinent is mere
opinion, or a vague and weak conviction. It is objected to No. 4, that
continence implies evil desires to be controlled; while temperance
means the character fully harmonized. As to No. 2, Continence must
often be bad, if it consists in sticking to an opinion (II.).

The third point, the only question of real interest or difficulty, is
resumed at greater length. The distinction between _knowledge_ and
_opinion_ (the higher and the lower kinds of knowledge) does not settle
the question, for opinion may be as _strong_ as knowledge. The real
point is, what is meant by _having knowledge_? A man's knowledge may be
in abeyance, as it is when he is asleep or intoxicated. Thus, we may
have in the mind two knowledges (like two separate syllogisms), one
leading to continence, the other to incontinence; the first is not
drawn out, like the syllogism wanting a minor; hence it may be said to
be not present to the mind; so that, in a certain sense, Sokrates was
right in denying that actual and present knowledge could be overborne.
Vice is a form of oblivion (III.).

The next question is, what is the object-matter of incontinence;
whether there is any man incontinent simply and absolutely (without any
specification of wherein), or whether all incontinent men are so in
regard to this or that particular matter? (No. 6). The answer is, that
it applies directly to the bodily appetites and pleasures, which are
necessary up to a certain point (the sphere of Temperance), and then he
that commits unreasonable excess above this point is called Incontinent
simply. But if he commits excess in regard to pleasures, which, though
not necessary, are natural and, up to a certain point, reasonable--such
as victory, wealth, honour--we designate him as incontinent, yet with a
specification of the particular matter (IV.).

The modes of Bestiality, as cannibalism and unnatural passion, are
ascribed to morbid depravity of nature or of habits, analogous to
disease or madness (V.).

Incontinence in anger is not so bad as Incontinence in lust, because
anger (1) has more semblance of reason, (2) is more a matter of
constitution, (3) has less of deliberate purpose--while lust is crafty,
(4) arises under pain; and not from wantonness (VI.).

Persons below the average in resisting _pleasures_ are incontinent;
those below the average in resisting _pains_ are soft or effeminate.
The mass of men incline to both weaknesses. He that deliberately
pursues excessive pleasures, or other pleasures in an excessive way, is
said to be abandoned. The intemperate are worse than the incontinent.
Sport, in its excess, is effeminacy, as being relaxation from toil.
There are two kinds of incontinence: the one proceeding from
precipitancy, where a man acts without deliberating at all; the other
from feebleness,--where he deliberates, but where the result of
deliberation is too weak to countervail his appetite (VII.).
Intemperance or profligacy is more vicious, and less curable than
Incontinence. The profligate man is one who has in him no principle
(archae) of good or of right reason, and who does wrong without
afterwards repenting of it; the incontinent man has the good principle
in him, but it is overcome when he does wrong, and he afterwards
repents (VIII.). Here, again, Aristotle denies that sticking to one's
opinions is, _per se_, continence. The opinion may be wrong; in that
case, if a man sticks to it, prompted by mere self-assertion and love
of victory, it is a species of incontinence. One of the virtues of the
continent man is to be open to persuasion, and to desert one's
resolutions for a noble end (IX.). Incontinence is like sleep or
drunkenness as opposed to wakeful knowledge. The incontinent man is
like a state having good laws, but not acting on them. The incontinence
of passion is more curable than that of weakness; what proceeds from
habit more than what is natural (X.).

The Eighth and Ninth Books contain the treatise on Friendship.

The subject deserves a place in an Ethical treatise, because of its
connexion with virtue and with happiness. Several questions have been
debated concerning Friendship,--Is it based on likeness or unlikeness?
Can bad men be friends? Is there but one species of Friendship, or more
than one? (I.) Some progress towards a solution of these questions may
be made by considering what are the objects of liking; these are the
good, the pleasant, the useful. By the good is not meant the absolute
good of Plato, but the apparent good. Inanimate things must be
excluded, as wanting reciprocation (II.). The varieties of friendship
follow these three modes of the likeable. The friendships for the
useful and the pleasant, are not disinterested, but self-seeking; they
are therefore accidental and transitory; they do not involve intimate
and frequent association. Friendship for the good, and between the
virtuous, is alone perfect; it is formed slowly, and has the requisites
of permanence. It occurs rarely (III.). As regards the useful and the
pleasant, the bad may be friends. It may happen that two persons are
mutually pleasant to each other, as lover and beloved; while this
lasts, there is friendship. It is only as respects the good, that there
exists a permanent liking for the person. Such friendship is of an
absolute nature; the others are accidental (IV.). Friendship is in full
exercise only during actual intercourse; it may exist potentially at a
distance; but in long absence, there is danger of its being dissolved.
Friendship is a settled state or habit, while fondness is a mere
passion, which does not imply our wishing to do good to the object of
it, as friendship does (V.). The perfect kind of friendship, from its
intensity, cannot be exercised towards more than a small number. In
regard to the useful and the pleasant, on the other hand, there may be
friendship with many; as the friendship towards tradesmen and between
the young. The happy desire pleasant friends. Men in power have two
classes of friends; one for the useful, the other for the pleasant.
Both qualities are found in the good man; but he will not be the friend
of a superior, unless he be surpassed (by that superior) in virtue
also. In all the kinds of friendship now specified there is equality
(VI.). There are friendships where one party is superior, as father and
son, older and younger, husband and wife, governor and governed. In
such cases there should be a proportionably greater love on the part of
the inferior. When the love on each side is proportioned to the merit
of the party beloved, then we have a certain species of equality, which
is an ingredient in friendship. But equality in matters of friendship,
is not quite the same as equality in matters of justice. In matters of
justice, equality proportioned to merit stands first--equality between
man and man (no account being taken of comparative merit) stands only
second. In friendship, the case is the reverse; the perfection of
friendship is equal love between the friends towards each other; to
have greater love on one side, by reason of and proportioned to
superior merit, is friendship only of the second grade. This will be
evident if we reflect that extreme inequality renders friendship
impossible--as between private men and kings or gods. Hence the friend
can scarcely wish for his friend the maximum of good, to become a god;
such extreme elevation would terminate the friendship. Nor will he wish
his friend to possess all the good; for every one wishes most for good
to self (VII.). The essence of friendship is to love rather than to be
loved, as seen in mothers; but the generality of persons desire rather
to be loved, which is akin to being honoured (although honour is partly
sought as a sign of future favours). By means of love, as already said,
unequal friendships may be equalized. Friendship with the good, is
based on equality and similarity, neither party ever desiring base
services. Friendships for the useful are based on the contrariety of
fulness and defect, as poor and rich, ignorant and knowing (VIII.).
Friendship is an incident of political society; men associating
together for common ends, become friends. Political justice becomes
more binding when men are related by friendship. The state itself is a
community for the sake of advantage; the expedient to all is the just.
In the large society of the state, there are many inferior societies
for business, and for pleasure: friendship starts up in all (IX.).
There are three forms of Civil Government, with a characteristic
declension or perversion of each:--Monarchy passing into Despotism;
Aristocracy into Oligarchy; Timocracy (based on wealth) into Democracy;
parent and child typifies the first; husband and wife the second;
brothers the third (X.). The monarchial or paternal type has
superiority on one side, and demands honour as well as love on the
other. In aristocracy, the relation is one of merit, and the greater
love is given to the better. In timocracy, and among brothers, there is
equality; and hence the most frequent friendships. There is no
friendship towards a slave, as a slave, for, as such he is a mere
animate tool (XL.). In the relations of the family, friendship varies
with the different situations. Parents love their children as a part of
themselves, and from the first; children grow to love their parents.
Brothers are affected by their community of origin, as well as by
common education and habits of intimacy. Husband and wife come together
by a natural bond, and as mutual helps; their friendship contains the
useful and the pleasant, and, with virtue, the good. Their offspring
strengthens the bond (XII.). The friendships that give rise to
complaints are confined to the Useful. Such friendships involve a legal
element of strict and measured reciprocity [mere trade], and a moral or
unwritten understanding, which is properly friendship. Each party is
apt to give less and expect more than he gets; and the rule must be for
each to reciprocate liberally and fully, in such manner and kind as
they are able (XIII.). In unequal friendships, between a superior and
inferior, the inferior has the greater share of material assistance,
the superior should receive the greater honour (XIV.).

Book Ninth proceeds without any real break. It may not be always easy
to fix the return to be made for services received. Protagoras, the
sophist, left it to his pupils to settle the amount of fee that he
should receive. When there is no agreement, we must render what is in
our power, for example, to the gods and to our parents (I.). Cases may
arise of conflicting obligation; as, shall we prefer a friend to a
deserving man? shall a person robbed reciprocate to robbers? and
others. [We have here the germs of Casuistry.] (II.) As to the
termination of Friendship; in the case of the useful and the pleasant,
the connexion ceases with the motives. In the case of the good, it may
happen that one party counterfeits the good, but is really acting the
useful or the pleasant; or one party may turn out wicked, and the only
question is, how far hopes of his improvement shall be entertained.
Again, one may continue the same, while the other makes large advances
in mental training; how far shall present disparity operate against old
associations? (III.). There is a sort of illustrative parallelism
between the feelings and acts of friendship, and the feelings and acts
of self-love, or of a good man to himself. The virtuous man wishes what
is good for himself, especially for his highest part--the intellect or
thinking part; he desires to pass his life in the company of his own
thoughts; he sympathizes with his own sorrows. On the other hand, the
bad choose the pleasant, although it be hurtful; they fly from
themselves; their own thoughts are unpleasant companions; they are full
of repentance (IV.). Good-will is different from friendship; it is a
sudden impulse of feeling towards some distinguished or likeable
quality, as in an antagonist. It has not the test of longing in
absence. It may be the prelude to friendship (V.). Unanimity, or
agreement of opinion, is a part of friendship. Not as regards mere
speculation, as about the heavenly bodies; but in practical matters,
where interests are at stake, such as the politics of the day. This
unanimity cannot occur in the bad, from their selfish and grasping
disposition (VI.).

The position is next examined--that the love felt by benefactors is
stronger than the love felt by those benefitted. It is not a sufficient
explanation to say, the benefactor is a creditor, who wishes the
prosperity of his debtor. Benefactors are like workmen, who love their
own work, and the exercise of their own powers. They also have the
feeling of nobleness on their side; while the recipient has the less
lovable idea of profit. Finally, activity is more akin to love than
recipiency (VII.). Another question raised for discussion is--'Ought a
man to love himself most, or another?' On the one hand, selfishness is
usually condemned as the feature of bad men; on the other hand, the
feelings towards self are made the standard of the feelings towards
friends. The solution is given thus. There is a lower self (predominant
with most men) that gratifies the appetites, seeking wealth, power, &c.
With the select few, there is a higher self that seeks the honourable,
the noble, intellectual excellence, at any cost of pleasure, wealth,
honour, &c. These noble-minded men procure for themselves the greater
good by sacrificing the less: and their self-sacrifice is thus a mode
of self. It is the duty of the good man to love himself: for his noble
life is profitable, both to himself, and to others; but the bad man
ought not to love himself. [Self-sacrifice, formerly brought under
Courage, is here depicted from another point of view] (VIII.).

By way of bringing out the advantages of friendship, it is next asked,
Does the happy man need friends? To this, it is answered, (1) That
happiness, being the sum of all human good, must suppose the possession
of the greatest of external goods, which is friendship. (2) The happy
man will require friends as recipients, of his overflow of kindness.
(3) He cannot be expected either to be solitary, or to live with
strangers. (4) The highest play of existence is to see the acts of
another in harmony with self. (5) Sympathy supports and prolongs the
glow of one's own emotions. (6) A friend confirms us in the practice of
virtue. (7) The sense of existence in ourselves is enlarged by the
consciousness of another's existence (IX.). The number of friends is
again considered, and the same barriers stated--the impossibility of
sharing among many the highest kind of affection, or of keeping up
close and harmonious intimacy. The most renowned friendships are
between pairs (X.). As to whether friends are most needed in adversity
or in prosperity--in the one, friendship is more necessary, in the
other more glorious (XI.). The essential support and manifestation of
friendship is Intercourse. Whatever people's tastes are, they desire
the society of others in exercising them (XII.).

Book Tenth discusses Pleasure, and lays down as the highest and perfect
pleasure, the exercise of the Intellect in Philosophy.

Pleasure is deserving of consideration, from its close intimacy with
the constitution of our race; on which account, in our training of
youth, we steer them by pleasure and pain; and it is of the first
importance that they should feel pleasure in what they ought, and
displeasure in what they ought, as the groundwork (or _principium_) of
good ethical dispositions. Such a topic can never be left unnoticed,
especially when we look at the great difference of opinion thereupon.
Some affirm pleasure to be the chief good [Eudoxus]. Others call it
altogether vile and worthless [party of Speusippus]. Of these last,
some perhaps really think so; but the rest are actuated by the
necessity of checking men's too great proneness to it, and disparage it
on that account. This policy Aristotle strongly censures, and contends
for the superior efficacy of truth (I.).

The arguments urged by Eudoxus as proving pleasure to be the chief
good, are, (1) That all beings seek pleasure; (2) and avoid its
opposite, pain; (3) that they seek pleasure as an end-in-itself, and
not as a means to any farther end; (4) that pleasure, added to any
other good, such as justice or temperance, increases the amount of
good; which could not be the case, unless pleasure were itself good.
Yet this last argument (Aristotle urges) proves pleasure to be _a_
good, but not to be _the_ Good; indeed, Plato urged the same argument,
to show that pleasure could _not_ be The Good: since The Good (the
Chief Good) must be something that does not admit of being enhanced or
made more good. The objection of Speusippus,--that irrational creatures
are not to be admitted as witnesses,--Aristotle disallows, seeing that
rational and irrational agree on the point; and the thing that seems to
all, must be true. Another objection, That the opposite of pain is not
pleasure, but a neutral state--is set aside as contradicted by the fact
of human desire and aversion, the two opposite states of feeling (II.).

The arguments of the Platonists, to prove that pleasure is not good,
are next examined. (1) Pleasure, they say, is not a quality; but
neither (replies Aristotle) are the exercises or actual manifestations
of virtue or happiness. (2) Pleasure is not definite, but unlimited, or
admitting of degrees, while The Good is a something definite, and does
not admit of degrees. But if these reasoners speak about the pure
pleasures, they might take objection on similar grounds against virtue
and justice also; for these too admit of degrees, and one man is more
virtuous than another. And if they speak of the mixed pleasures
(alloyed with pain), their reasoning will not apply to the unmixed.
Good health is acknowledged to be a good, and to be a definite
something; yet there are nevertheless some men more healthy, some less.
(3) The Good is perfect or complete; but objectors urge that no motion
or generation is complete, and pleasure is in one of these two
categories. This last assertion Aristotle denies. Pleasure is _not_ a
motion; for the attribute of velocity, greater or less, which is
essential to all motion, does not attach to pleasure. A man may be
quick in becoming pleased, or in becoming angry; but in the act of
being pleased or angry, he can neither be quick nor slow. Nor is it
true that pleasure is a generation. In all generation, there is
something assignable out of which generation takes place (not any one
thing out of any other), and into which it reverts by destruction. If
pleasure be a generation, pain must be the destruction of what is
generated; but this is not correct, for pain does not re-establish the
state antecedent to the pleasure. Accordingly, it is not true that
pleasure is a generation. Some talk of pain as a want of something
required by nature, and of pleasure as a filling up of that want. But
these are corporeal, not mental facts, and are applicable only to
eating and drinking; not applicable to many other pleasures, such as
those of sight, hearing, or learning. (4) There are some disgraceful
pleasures. Aristotle replies that these are not absolutely and properly
pleasures, but only to the depraved man; just as things are not yellow,
which appear so to men in a jaundice. Pleasures differ from each other
in species: there are good pleasures, _i.e._, those arising from good
sources; and bad pleasures, _i.e._, from bad sources. The pleasure _per
se_ is always desirable; but not when it comes from objectionable acts.
The pleasures of each man will vary according to his character; none
but a musical man can enjoy the pleasures of music. No one would
consent to remain a child for life, even though he were to have his
fill of childish pleasure.

Aristotle sums up the result thus. Pleasure is not The Good. Not every
mode of pleasure is to be chosen. Some pleasures, distinguished from
the rest specifically or according to their sources, are to be chosen
_per se_ (III.).

He then attempts to define pleasure. It is something perfect and
complete in itself, at each successive moment of time; hence it is not
motion, which is at every moment incomplete. Pleasure is like the act
of vision, or a point, or a monad, always complete in itself. It
accompanies every variety of sensible perception, intelligence, and
theorizing contemplation. In each of these faculties, the act is more
perfect, according as the subjective element is most perfect, and the
object most grand and dignified. When the act is most perfect, the
pleasure accompanying it is also the most perfect; and this pleasure
puts the finishing consummation to the act. The pleasure is not a
pre-existing acquirement now brought into exercise, but an accessory
end implicated with the act, like the fresh look which belongs to the
organism just matured. It is a sure adjunct, so long as subject and
object are in good condition. But continuity of pleasure, as well as of
the other exercises, is impossible. Life is itself an exercise much
diversified, and each man follows the diversity that is suitable to his
own inclination--music, study, &c. Each has its accessory and
consummating mode of pleasure; and to say that all men desire pleasure,
is the same as saying that all men desire life. It is no real question
to ask--Do we choose life for the sake of pleasure, or pleasure for the
sake of life? The truth is, that the two are implicated and inseparable

As our acts or exercises differ from each other specifically, so also
the pleasures that are accessory to them differ specifically. Exercises
intellectual differ from exercises perceptive, and under each head
there are varieties differing from each other. The pleasures accessory
and consummating to each, are diversified accordingly. Each pleasure
contributes to invigorate and intensify the particular exercise that it
is attached to; the geometer who studies his science with pleasure
becomes more acute and successful in prosecuting it. On the other hand,
the pleasures attached to one exercise impede the mind in regard to
other exercises; thus men fond of the flute cannot listen to a speaker
with attention, if any one is playing the flute near them. What we
delight in doing, we are more likely to do well; what we feel pain in
doing, we are not likely to do well. And thus each variety of exercise
is alike impeded by the pains attached to itself, and by the pleasures
attached to other varieties.

Among these exercises or acts, some are morally good, others morally
bad; the desires of the good are also praise-worthy, the desires of the
bad are blameable; but if so, much more are the pleasures attached to
the good exercises, good pleasures--and the pleasures attached to the
bad exercises, bad pleasures. For the pleasures attached to an exercise
are more intimately identified with that exercise than the desire of it
can be. The pleasure of the exercise, and the exercise itself, are
indeed so closely identified one with the other, that to many they
appear the same. Sight, hearing, and smell, differ in purity from touch
and taste; and the pleasures attached to each differ in like manner.
The pleasures of intellect differ from those of sense, as these two
exercises differ from one another. Every animal has its own peculiar
pleasures, as it has also its own peculiar manifestation and exercises.
Among the human race, the same things give pleasure to one individual
and pain to another. The things that appear sweet to the strong and
healthy man, do not appear sweet to one suffering from fever, or
weakly. Now, amidst this discrepancy, what _appears_ to the virtuous
and intelligent man, really _is_. His pleasures are the true and real
pleasures. Excellence, and the good man _quatenus_ good, are to be
taken as the standard. If what he abhors appears pleasurable to some
persons, we must not be surprised, since there are many depravations of
individuals, in one way or another; but these things are not pleasures
really, they are only pleasures to these depraved mortals (V.).

So far the theory of Pleasure. Aristotle now goes back to his starting
point--the nature of the Good, and Happiness. He re-states his
positions: That Happiness is an exercise or actuality [Greek:
energeia], and not an acquirement or state (hexis), That it belongs to
such exercises as are worthy of choice for their own sake, and not to
such as are worthy of choice for the sake of something else; That it is
perfect and self-sufficing, seeking nothing beyond itself, and leaving
no wants unsupplied. Hence he had concluded that it consisted in acting
according to virtue; for the honourable and good are chosen for their
own sake. But amusements are also sought for their own sake; Are these
also to be called happiness? No. It is true that they are much pursued
by those whom the vulgar envy--men of wealth and despots--who patronize
and reward the practitioners of amusement. But this proves nothing, for
we cannot adopt the choice of these despots, who have little virtue or
intellect, and have never known the taste of refined and liberal
pleasure. Children and mature men, bad men and virtuous, have each
their different pleasures; the virtuous and intelligent man finds a
life of excellence and the pleasures attached thereunto most worthy of
his choice, and such a man (Aristotle has declared more than once) is
our standard. It would indeed be childish to treat amusements as the
main end of life; they are the relaxation of the virtuous man, who
derives from them fresh vigour for the prosecution of the serious
business of life, which he cannot prosecute continuously. The serious
exercises of life are better than the comic, because they proceed from
the better part of man. The slave may enjoy bodily pleasures to the
full, but a slave is not called happy (VI.).

We have thus shown that Happiness consists in exercise or actual living
according to excellence; naturally, therefore, according to the highest
excellence, or the excellence of the best part of man. This best part
is the Intellect (_Nous_), our most divine and commanding element; in
its exercise, which is theoretical or speculative, having respect to
matters honourable, divine, and most worthy of study. Such
philosophical exercise, besides being the highest function of our
nature, is at the same time more susceptible than any mode of active
effort, of being prosecuted for a long continuance. It affords the
purest and most lasting pleasure; it approaches most nearly to being
self-sufficing, since it postulates little more than the necessaries of
life, and is even independent of society, though better _with_ society.
Perfect happiness would thus be the exercise of the theorizing
intellect, continued through a full period of life. But this is more
than we can expect. Still, we ought to make every effort to live
according to this best element of our nature; for, though small in
bulk, it stands exalted above the rest in power and dignity, and, being
the sovereign element in man, is really The Man himself (VII.).

Next, yet only second, come the other branches of excellence: the
active social life of a good citizen. Exercises according to this
branch of virtue are the natural business of man, for it is bound up
with our whole nature, including body as well as mind, our appetites,
and our passions, whereas the happiness of intellect is separate.
Active social virtue postulates conditions of society and external aids
in considerable measure; but the life of intellect requires only the
minimum of these, and is even impeded by much of them.

That perfect happiness is to be found in the philosophical life only,
will appear farther when we recollect that the gods are blest and happy
in the highest degree, and that this is the only mode of life suitable
to them. With the gods there can be no scope for active social virtues;
for in what way can they be just, courageous, or temperate? Neither
virtuous practice nor constructive art can be predicated of the gods;
what then remains, since we all assume them to live, and therefore to
be in act or exercise of some kind; for no one believes them to live in
a state of sleep, like Endymion. There remains nothing except
philosophical contemplation. This, then, must be the life of the gods,
the most blest of all; and that mode of human life which approaches
nearest to it will be the happiest. No other animal can take part in
this, and therefore none can be happy. In so far as the gods pay
attention to human affairs, they are likely to take pleasure in the
philosopher, who is most allied to themselves. A moderate supply of
good health, food, and social position, must undoubtedly be ensured to
the philosopher; for, without these, human nature will not suffice for
the business of contemplation. But he will demand nothing more than a
moderate supply, and when thus equipped, he will approach nearer to
happiness than any one else. Aristotle declares this confidently,
citing Solon, Anaxagoras, and other sages, as having said much the same
before him (VIII.).

In the concluding chapter, Aristotle gives the transition from Ethics
to Politics. Treatises on virtue may inspire a few liberal minds; but,
for the mass of men, laws, institutions, and education are necessary.
The young ought to be trained, not merely by paternal guidance
directing in the earliest years their love and hatred, but also by a
scheme of public education, prescribed and enforced by authority
throughout the city. Right conduct will thus be rendered easier by
habit; but still, throughout life, the mature citizen must continue
under the discipline of law, which has force adequate to correction,
and, being impersonal, does not excite aversion and hatred. Hence the
need for a system of good public training. Nowhere is this now
established and enforced; hardly anywhere, except in Sparta, is it even
attempted. Amid such public neglect, it becomes the duty of an
individual to contribute what he can to the improvement of those that
he is concerned in, and for that purpose to acquire the capacities
qualifying him for becoming a lawgiver. Private admonition will
compensate to a certain extent for the neglect of public interference,
and in particular cases may be even more discriminating. Bat how are
such capacities to be acquired? Not from the Sophists, whose method is
too empirical; nor from practical politicians, for they seem to have no
power of imparting their skill. Perhaps it would be useful to make a

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