On the Good
1. "If then, there is some end of the things we do,which we desire for its own sake,
and if we do not choose everything for the sake of something else, clearly this must be the good and the chief good. Will
not the knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life?"
2. "all knowledge and every pursuit aims at some good... the general run of men and
people of superior refinement say that it is happiness, and identify living well and doing well with being happy; but with
regard to what happiness is they differ, and the many do not give the same account as the wise.
3. "men of the most vulgar type, seem to identify the good, or happiness, with pleasure;
which is the reason why they love the life of enjoyment. For there are, we may say, three prominent types of life -- that
just mentioned, the political, and thirdly the contemplative life."
4. "people of superior refinement and of active disposition identify happiness with
honor; for this is, roughly speaking, the end of the political life. But it seems too superficial... since it is thought to
depend on those who bestow honor rather than on him who receives it,"
5. "The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently
not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful for the sake of something else."
6. "goods must be spoken of in two ways, and some must be good in themselves, the
other by reason of these."
7. "Is it those (goods) that are pursued even when isolated from others, such as
intelligence, sight, and certain pleasures and honors? Certainly, if we pursue these also for the sake of something else,
yet one would place them among things good in themselves."
8. "clearly not all ends are final ends; but the chief good is evidently something
9. "we call final without qualification that which is always desirable in itself
and never for the sake of something else."
10. "Now such a thing as happiness, above all else, is held to be; for this we choose
always for itself and never for the sake of something else, but honor, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed
for themselves, but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness,
on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in general, for anything other than itself."
11. "of goods the greater is always more desirable. Happiness, then, is something
final and self-sufficient, and is an end of action."
12. "human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if
there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete."
13. "goods have been divided into three classes, and some are described as external,
others as relating to soul or to body; we call those that relate to soul most properly and truly goods, and psychical actions
and activities we class as relating to soul."
14. "some identify happiness with virtue, some with practical wisdom, others with
a kind of philosophic wisdom, others with these, or one of these, accompanied by pleasure or not without pleasure; while others
include also external prosperity."
15. "With those who identify happiness with virtue or some one virtue our account
is in harmony; for to virtue belongs virtuous activity."
16. "the man who does not rejoice in noble actions is not even good; since no one
would call a man just who did not enjoy acting justly,"
17. "some things the lackof which takes the lustre from happiness, as good birth,
goodly children, beauty; for the man who is very ugly in appearance or ill born or solitary and childless is not very likely
to be happy,"
18. "happiness seems to need this sort of prosperity in addition; for which reason
some identify happiness with good fortune, though others identify it with virtue."
19. "happiness seems however, even if it is not god-sent but comes as a result of
virtue and some process of learning or training, to be among the most god-like things; for that which is the prize and end
of virtue seems to be the best thing in the world, and something godlike and blessed."
20. "The attribute in question (virtue), then, will belong to the happy man, and
he will be happy throughout his life; .... he will be engaged in virtuous action and contemplation, and he will bear the chances
of life most nobly and altogether decorously, if he is "truly good" and foursquare beyond reproach."
21. "the man who is truly good and wise, we think, bears all the chances of life
becommingly and always makes the best of circumstances,"
22. "Why then should we not say that he is happy who is active in accordance with
complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life?
....Certainly the future is obscure to us, while happiness, we claim, is an end and something in every way final. If so, we
call happy those among living men in whom these conditions are, and are to be, fulfilled -- but happy men."
Aristotle's Golden Mean
1. "Virtue, then, being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the
main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching, while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit,"
2. "all the things that come to us by nature we first aquire the potentiality and later
exhibit the activity"
3. "virtues we get by first exercising them,... For the things we have to learn before we
can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building... so to we become just by doing just acts, temperate
by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts."
4. "legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them,... and those who do not
effect it miss their mark, and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one."
5. "It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of another
from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or rather all the difference."
6. "the whole account of matters of conduct must be given in outline and not precisely,
as we said at the very beginning that the accounts we demand must be in accordance with the subject matter;"
7. "it is the nature of such things to be destroyed by defect and excess, as we see in the
case of strength and of health; both excessive and defective exercise destroys the strength, and similarly drink or food which
is above or below a certain amount destroys the health,"
8. "So too is it, then, in the case of temperance and courage and the other virtues....
temperance and courage, then, are destroyed by excess and defect, and preserved by the mean."
9. "we must consider what virtue is. Since the things that are found in the soul are of
three kinds -- passion, faculties, states of character, virtue must be one of these.
10. "By passions I mean appetite, anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, friendly feeling,
hatred, longing, emulation, pity, and in general the feelings that are accompanied by pleasure or pain;"
11. "by faculties the things in virtue of which we are said to be capable of feeling these,
e.g. of becoming angry, being pained or feeling pity;"
12. "by states of character the things in virtue of which we stand well or badly with reference
to the passions, e.g. with reference to anger we stand badly if we feel it violently or too weakly, and well if we feel it
moderately; and similarly with reference to the other passions."
13. "we are not called good or bad on the grounds of our passions,....but for our virtues
and our vices we are praised or blamed."
14. "virtues are neither passions or faculties, all that remains is that they should be
states of character.... the virtue of a man also will be the state of character which makes a man good and which makes him
do his own work well."
15. "virtue is concerned with passions and actions, in which excess is a form of failure,
and so is defect, while the intermediate is praised and is a form of success; and being praised and being successful are both
characteristics of virtue. Therefore virtue is a kind of mean, since, as we have seen, it aims at what is intermediate."
16. "With regard to anger also there is an excess, a deficiency, and a mean.... it is not
easy to determine how and with whom and on what provocation and how long one should be angry; ...The man, however, who deviates
little from goodness is not blamed,...the man who deviates more widely; for he does not fail to be noticed."
17. "But up to what point and to what extent a man must deviate before he becomes blameworthy
it is not easy to determine by reasoning,... such things depend on particular facts, and the decision rests with perception.
So much, then, is plain, that the intermediate state is in all things to be praised,"