question archive Nicomachean Ethics By Aristotle     Translated by W

Nicomachean Ethics By Aristotle     Translated by W

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Nicomachean Ethics

By Aristotle



Translated by W. D. Ross








Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit,

is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly

been declared to be that at which all things aim. But a certain difference

is found among ends; some are activities, others are products apart

from the activities that produce them. Where there are ends apart

from the actions, it is the nature of the products to be better than

the activities. Now, as there are many actions, arts, and sciences,

their ends also are many; the end of the medical art is health, that

of shipbuilding a vessel, that of strategy victory, that of economics

wealth. But where such arts fall under a single capacity- as bridle-making

and the other arts concerned with the equipment of horses fall under

the art of riding, and this and every military action under strategy,

in the same way other arts fall under yet others- in all of these

the ends of the master arts are to be preferred to all the subordinate

ends; for it is for the sake of the former that the latter are pursued.

It makes no difference whether the activities themselves are the ends

of the actions, or something else apart from the activities, as in

the case of the sciences just mentioned.




If, then, there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for

its own sake (everything else being desired for the sake of this),

and if we do not choose everything for the sake of something else

(for at that rate the process would go on to infinity, so that our

desire would be empty and vain), clearly this must be the good and

the chief good. Will not the knowledge of it, then, have a great influence

on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be

more likely to hit upon what is right? If so, we must try, in outline

at least, to determine what it is, and of which of the sciences or

capacities it is the object. It would seem to belong to the most authoritative

art and that which is most truly the master art. And politics appears

to be of this nature; for it is this that ordains which of the sciences

should be studied in a state, and which each class of citizens should

learn and up to what point they should learn them; and we see even

the most highly esteemed of capacities to fall under this, e.g. strategy,

economics, rhetoric; now, since politics uses the rest of the sciences,

and since, again, it legislates as to what we are to do and what we

are to abstain from, the end of this science must include those of

the others, so that this end must be the good for man. For even if

the end is the same for a single man and for a state, that of the

state seems at all events something greater and more complete whether

to attain or to preserve; though it is worth while to attain the end

merely for one man, it is finer and more godlike to attain it for

a nation or for city-states. These, then, are the ends at which our

inquiry aims, since it is political science, in one sense of that





Our discussion will be adequate if it has as much clearness as the

subject-matter admits of, for precision is not to be sought for alike

in all discussions, any more than in all the products of the crafts.

Now fine and just actions, which political science investigates, admit

of much variety and fluctuation of opinion, so that they may be thought

to exist only by convention, and not by nature. And goods also give

rise to a similar fluctuation because they bring harm to many people;

for before now men have been undone by reason of their wealth, and

others by reason of their courage. We must be content, then, in speaking

of such subjects and with such premisses to indicate the truth roughly

and in outline, and in speaking about things which are only for the

most part true and with premisses of the same kind to reach conclusions

that are no better. In the same spirit, therefore, should each type

of statement be received; for it is the mark of an educated man to

look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature

of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable

reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific



Now each man judges well the things he knows, and of these he is a

good judge. And so the man who has been educated in a subject is a

good judge of that subject, and the man who has received an all-round

education is a good judge in general. Hence a young man is not a proper

hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in

the actions that occur in life, but its discussions start from these

and are about these; and, further, since he tends to follow his passions,

his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at

is not knowledge but action. And it makes no difference whether he

is young in years or youthful in character; the defect does not depend

on time, but on his living, and pursuing each successive object, as

passion directs. For to such persons, as to the incontinent, knowledge

brings no profit; but to those who desire and act in accordance with

a rational principle knowledge about such matters will be of great



These remarks about the student, the sort of treatment to be expected,

and the purpose of the inquiry, may be taken as our preface.




Let us resume our inquiry and state, in view of the fact that all

knowledge and every pursuit aims at some good, what it is that we

say political science aims at and what is the highest of all goods

achievable by action. Verbally there is very general agreement; for

both 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. For the former

think it is some plain and obvious thing, like pleasure, wealth, or

honour; they differ, however, from one another- and often even the

same man identifies it with different things, with health when he

is ill, with wealth when he is poor; but, conscious of their ignorance,

they admire those who proclaim some great ideal that is above their

comprehension. Now some thought that apart from these many goods there

is another which is self-subsistent and causes the goodness of all

these as well. To examine all the opinions that have been held were

perhaps somewhat fruitless; enough to examine those that are most

prevalent or that seem to be arguable.


Let us not fail to notice, however, that there is a difference between

arguments from and those to the first principles. For Plato, too,

was right in raising this question and asking, as he used to do, 'are

we on the way from or to the first principles?' There is a difference,

as there is in a race-course between the course from the judges to

the turning-point and the way back. For, while we must begin with

what is known, things are objects of knowledge in two senses- some

to us, some without qualification. Presumably, then, we must begin

with things known to us. Hence any one who is to listen intelligently

to lectures about what is noble and just, and generally, about the

subjects of political science must have been brought up in good habits.

For the fact is the starting-point, and if this is sufficiently plain

to him, he will not at the start need the reason as well; and the

man who has been well brought up has or can easily get startingpoints.

And as for him who neither has nor can get them, let him hear the

words of Hesiod:


Far best is he who knows all things himself;

Good, he that hearkens when men counsel right;

But he who neither knows, nor lays to heart

Another's wisdom, is a useless wight.



Let us, however, resume our discussion from the point at which we

digressed. To judge from the lives that men lead, most men, and men

of the most vulgar type, seem (not without some ground) 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. Now the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish

in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts, but they get

some ground for their view from the fact that many of those in high

places share the tastes of Sardanapallus. A consideration of the prominent

types of life shows that people of superior refinement and of active

disposition identify happiness with honour; for this is, roughly speaking,

the end of the political life. But it seems too superficial to be

what we are looking for, since it is thought to depend on those who

bestow honour rather than on him who receives it, but the good we

divine to be something proper to a man and not easily taken from him.

Further, men seem to pursue honour in order that they may be assured

of their goodness; at least it is by men of practical wisdom that

they seek to be honoured, and among those who know them, and on the

ground of their virtue; clearly, then, according to them, at any rate,

virtue is better. And perhaps one might even suppose this to be, rather

than honour, the end of the political life. But even this appears

somewhat incomplete; for possession of virtue seems actually compatible

with being asleep, or with lifelong inactivity, and, further, with

the greatest sufferings and misfortunes; but a man who was living

so no one would call happy, unless he were maintaining a thesis at

all costs. But enough of this; for the subject has been sufficiently

treated even in the current discussions. Third comes the contemplative

life, which we shall consider later.


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

and for the sake of something else. And so one might rather take the

aforenamed objects to be ends; for they are loved for themselves.

But it is evident that not even these are ends; yet many arguments

have been thrown away in support of them. Let us leave this subject,





We had perhaps better consider the universal good and discuss thoroughly

what is meant by it, although such an inquiry is made an uphill one

by the fact that the Forms have been introduced by friends of our

own. Yet it would perhaps be thought to be better, indeed to be our

duty, for the sake of maintaining the truth even to destroy what touches

us closely, especially as we are philosophers or lovers of wisdom;

for, while both are dear, piety requires us to honour truth above

our friends.


The men who introduced this doctrine did not posit Ideas of classes

within which they recognized priority and posteriority (which is the

reason why they did not maintain the existence of an Idea embracing

all numbers); but the term 'good' is used both in the category of

substance and in that of quality and in that of relation, and that

which is per se, i.e. substance, is prior in nature to the relative

(for the latter is like an off shoot and accident of being); so that

there could not be a common Idea set over all these goods. Further,

since 'good' has as many senses as 'being' (for it is predicated both

in the category of substance, as of God and of reason, and in quality,

i.e. of the virtues, and in quantity, i.e. of that which is moderate,

and in relation, i.e. of the useful, and in time, i.e. of the right

opportunity, and in place, i.e. of the right locality and the like),

clearly it cannot be something universally present in all cases and

single; for then it could not have been predicated in all the categories

but in one only. Further, since of the things answering to one Idea

there is one science, there would have been one science of all the

goods; but as it is there are many sciences even of the things that

fall under one category, e.g. of opportunity, for opportunity in war

is studied by strategics and in disease by medicine, and the moderate

in food is studied by medicine and in exercise by the science of gymnastics.

And one might ask the question, what in the world they mean by 'a

thing itself', is (as is the case) in 'man himself' and in a particular

man the account of man is one and the same. For in so far as they

are man, they will in no respect differ; and if this is so, neither

will 'good itself' and particular goods, in so far as they are good.

But again it will not be good any the more for being eternal, since

that which lasts long is no whiter than that which perishes in a day.

The Pythagoreans seem to give a more plausible account of the good,

when they place the one in the column of goods; and it is they that

Speusippus seems to have followed.


But let us discuss these matters elsewhere; an objection to what we

have said, however, may be discerned in the fact that the Platonists

have not been speaking about all goods, and that the goods that are

pursued and loved for themselves are called good by reference to a

single Form, while those which tend to produce or to preserve these

somehow or to prevent their contraries are called so by reference

to these, and in a secondary sense. Clearly, then, goods must be spoken

of in two ways, and some must be good in themselves, the others by

reason of these. Let us separate, then, things good in themselves

from things useful, and consider whether the former are called good

by reference to a single Idea. What sort of goods would one call good

in themselves? Is it those that are pursued even when isolated from

others, such as intelligence, sight, and certain pleasures and honours?

Certainly, if we pursue these also for the sake of something else,

yet one would place them among things good in themselves. Or is nothing

other than the Idea of good good in itself? In that case the Form

will be empty. But if the things we have named are also things good

in themselves, the account of the good will have to appear as something

identical in them all, as that of whiteness is identical in snow and

in white lead. But of honour, wisdom, and pleasure, just in respect

of their goodness, the accounts are distinct and diverse. The good,

therefore, is not some common element answering to one Idea.


But what then do we mean by the good? It is surely not like the things

that only chance to have the same name. Are goods one, then, by being

derived from one good or by all contributing to one good, or are they

rather one by analogy? Certainly as sight is in the body, so is reason

in the soul, and so on in other cases. But perhaps these subjects

had better be dismissed for the present; for perfect precision about

them would be more appropriate to another branch of philosophy. And

similarly with regard to the Idea; even if there is some one good

which is universally predicable of goods or is capable of separate

and independent existence, clearly it could not be achieved or attained

by man; but we are now seeking something attainable. Perhaps, however,

some one might think it worth while to recognize this with a view

to the goods that are attainable and achievable; for having this as

a sort of pattern we shall know better the goods that are good for

us, and if we know them shall attain them. This argument has some

plausibility, but seems to clash with the procedure of the sciences;

for all of these, though they aim at some good and seek to supply

the deficiency of it, leave on one side the knowledge of the good.

Yet that all the exponents of the arts should be ignorant of, and

should not even seek, so great an aid is not probable. It is hard,

too, to see how a weaver or a carpenter will be benefited in regard

to his own craft by knowing this 'good itself', or how the man who

has viewed the Idea itself will be a better doctor or general thereby.

For a doctor seems not even to study health in this way, but the health

of man, or perhaps rather the health of a particular man; it is individuals

that he is healing. But enough of these topics.




Let us again return to the good we are seeking, and ask what it can

be. It seems different in different actions and arts; it is different

in medicine, in strategy, and in the other arts likewise. What then

is the good of each? Surely that for whose sake everything else is

done. In medicine this is health, in strategy victory, in architecture

a house, in any other sphere something else, and in every action and

pursuit the end; for it is for the sake of this that all men do whatever

else they do. Therefore, if there is an end for all that we do, this

will be the good achievable by action, and if there are more than

one, these will be the goods achievable by action.


So the argument has by a different course reached the same point;

but we must try to state this even more clearly. Since there are evidently

more than one end, and we choose some of these (e.g. wealth, flutes,

and in general instruments) for the sake of something else, clearly

not all ends are final ends; but the chief good is evidently something

final. Therefore, if there is only one final end, this will be what

we are seeking, and if there are more than one, the most final of

these will be what we are seeking. Now we call that which is in itself

worthy of pursuit more final than that which is worthy of pursuit

for the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable

for the sake of something else more final than the things that are

desirable both in themselves and for the sake of that other thing,

and therefore we call final without qualification that which is always

desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else.


Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for this

we choose always for self and never for the sake of something else,

but honour, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed for

themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should still choose

each of them), 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.


From the point of view of self-sufficiency the same result seems to

follow; for the final good is thought to be self-sufficient. Now by

self-sufficient we do not mean that which is sufficient for a man

by himself, for one who lives a solitary life, but also for parents,

children, wife, and in general for his friends and fellow citizens,

since man is born for citizenship. But some limit must be set to this;

for if we extend our requirement to ancestors and descendants and

friends' friends we are in for an infinite series. Let us examine

this question, however, on another occasion; the self-sufficient we

now define as that which when isolated makes life desirable and lacking

in nothing; and such we think happiness to be; and further we think

it most desirable of all things, without being counted as one good

thing among others- if it were so counted it would clearly be made

more desirable by the addition of even the least of goods; for that

which is added becomes an excess of goods, and of goods the greater

is always more desirable. Happiness, then, is something final and

self-sufficient, and is the end of action.


Presumably, however, to say that happiness is the chief good seems

a platitude, and a clearer account of what it is still desired. This

might perhaps be given, if we could first ascertain the function of

man. For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, and,

in general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good

and the 'well' is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem

to be for man, if he has a function. Have the carpenter, then, and

the tanner certain functions or activities, and has man none? Is he

born without a function? Or as eye, hand, foot, and in general each

of the parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man

similarly has a function apart from all these? What then can this

be? Life seems to be common even to plants, but we are seeking what

is peculiar to man. Let us exclude, therefore, the life of nutrition

and growth. Next there would be a life of perception, but it also

seems to be common even to the horse, the ox, and every animal. There

remains, then, an active life of the element that has a rational principle;

of this, one part has such a principle in the sense of being obedient

to one, the other in the sense of possessing one and exercising thought.

And, as 'life of the rational element' also has two meanings, we must

state that life in the sense of activity is what we mean; for this

seems to be the more proper sense of the term. Now if the function

of man is an activity of soul which follows or implies a rational

principle, and if we say 'so-and-so-and 'a good so-and-so' have a

function which is the same in kind, e.g. a lyre, and a good lyre-player,

and so without qualification in all cases, eminence in respect of

goodness being idded to the name of the function (for the function

of a lyre-player is to play the lyre, and that of a good lyre-player

is to do so well): if this is the case, and we state the function

of man to be a certain kind of life, and this to be an activity or

actions of the soul implying a rational principle, and the function

of a good man to be the good and noble performance of these, and if

any action is well performed when it is performed in accordance with

the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, 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.


But we must add 'in a complete life.' For one swallow does not make

a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does

not make a man blessed and happy.


Let this serve as an outline of the good; for we must presumably first

sketch it roughly, and then later fill in the details. But it would

seem that any one is capable of carrying on and articulating what

has once been well outlined, and that time is a good discoverer or

partner in such a work; to which facts the advances of the arts are

due; for any one can add what is lacking. And we must also remember

what has been said before, and not look for precision in all things

alike, but in each class of things such precision as accords with

the subject-matter, and so much as is appropriate to the inquiry.

For a carpenter and a geometer investigate the right angle in different

ways; the former does so in so far as the right angle is useful for

his work, while the latter inquires what it is or what sort of thing

it is; for he is a spectator of the truth. We must act in the same

way, then, in all other matters as well, that our main task may not

be subordinated to minor questions. Nor must we demand the cause in

all matters alike; it is enough in some cases that the fact be well

established, as in the case of the first principles; the fact is the

primary thing or first principle. Now of first principles we see some

by induction, some by perception, some by a certain habituation, and

others too in other ways. But each set of principles we must try to

investigate in the natural way, and we must take pains to state them

definitely, since they have a great influence on what follows. For

the beginning is thought to be more than half of the whole, and many

of the questions we ask are cleared up by it.




We must consider it, however, in the light not only of our conclusion

and our premisses, but also of what is commonly said about it; for

with a true view all the data harmonize, but with a false one the

facts soon clash. Now 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. Therefore our account must be sound, at least according to this

view, which is an old one and agreed on by philosophers. It is correct

also in that we identify the end with certain actions and activities;

for thus it falls among goods of the soul and not among external goods.

Another belief which harmonizes with our account is that the happy

man lives well and does well; for we have practically defined happiness

as a sort of good life and good action. The characteristics that are

looked for in happiness seem also, all of them, to belong to what

we have defined happiness as being. For 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.

Now some of these views have been held by many men and men of old,

others by a few eminent persons; and it is not probable that either

of these should be entirely mistaken, but rather that they should

be right in at least some one respect or even in most respects.


With those who identify happiness with virtue or some one virtue our

account is in harmony; for to virtue belongs virtuous activity. But

it makes, perhaps, no small difference whether we place the chief

good in possession or in use, in state of mind or in activity. For

the state of mind may exist without producing any good result, as

in a man who is asleep or in some other way quite inactive, but the

activity cannot; for one who has the activity will of necessity be

acting, and acting well. And as in the Olympic Games it is not the

most beautiful and the strongest that are crowned but those who compete

(for it is some of these that are victorious), so those who act win,

and rightly win, the noble and good things in life.


Their life is also in itself pleasant. For pleasure is a state of

soul, and to each man that which he is said to be a lover of is pleasant;

e.g. not only is a horse pleasant to the lover of horses, and a spectacle

to the lover of sights, but also in the same way just acts are pleasant

to the lover of justice and in general virtuous acts to the lover

of virtue. Now for most men their pleasures are in conflict with one

another because these are not by nature pleasant, but the lovers of

what is noble find pleasant the things that are by nature pleasant;

and virtuous actions are such, so that these are pleasant for such

men as well as in their own nature. Their life, therefore, has no

further need of pleasure as a sort of adventitious charm, but has

its pleasure in itself. For, besides what we have said, 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, nor any man liberal

who did not enjoy liberal actions; and similarly in all other cases.

If this is so, virtuous actions must be in themselves pleasant. But

they are also good and noble, and have each of these attributes in

the highest degree, since the good man judges well about these attributes;

his judgement is such as we have described. Happiness then is the

best, noblest, and most pleasant thing in the world, and these attributes

are not severed as in the inscription at Delos-


Most noble is that which is justest, and best is health;


But pleasantest is it to win what we love.


For all these properties belong to the best activities; and these,

or one- the best- of these, we identify with happiness.


Yet evidently, as we said, it needs the external goods as well; for

it is impossible, or not easy, to do noble acts without the proper

equipment. In many actions we use friends and riches and political

power as instruments; and there are some things the lack of 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, and perhaps a man would

be still less likely if he had thoroughly bad children or friends

or had lost good children or friends by death. As we said, then, 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.




For this reason also the question is asked, whether happiness is to

be acquired by learning or by habituation or some other sort of training,

or comes in virtue of some divine providence or again by chance. Now

if there is any gift of the gods to men, it is reasonable that happiness

should be god-given, and most surely god-given of all human things

inasmuch as it is the best. But this question would perhaps be more

appropriate to another inquiry; 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 godlike 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.


It will also on this view be very generally shared; for all who are

not maimed as regards their potentiality for virtue may win it by

a certain kind of study and care. But if it is better to be happy

thus than by chance, it is reasonable that the facts should be so,

since everything that depends on the action of nature is by nature

as good as it can be, and similarly everything that depends on art

or any rational cause, and especially if it depends on the best of

all causes. To entrust to chance what is greatest and most noble would

be a very defective arrangement.


The answer to the question we are asking is plain also from the definition

of happiness; for it has been said to be a virtuous activity of soul,

of a certain kind. Of the remaining goods, some must necessarily pre-exist

as conditions of happiness, and others are naturally co-operative

and useful as instruments. And this will be found to agree with what

we said at the outset; for we stated the end of political science

to be the best end, and political science spends most of its pains

on making the citizens to be of a certain character, viz. good and

capable of noble acts.


It is natural, then, that we call neither ox nor horse nor any other

of the animals happy; for none of them is capable of sharing in such

activity. For this reason also a boy is not happy; for he is not yet

capable of such acts, owing to his age; and boys who are called happy

are being congratulated by reason of the hopes we have for them. For

there is required, as we said, not only complete virtue but also a

complete life, since many changes occur in life, and all manner of

chances, and the most prosperous may fall into great misfortunes in

old age, as is told of Priam in the Trojan Cycle; and one who has

experienced such chances and has ended wretchedly no one calls happy.




Must no one at all, then, be called happy while he lives; must we,

as Solon says, see the end? Even if we are to lay down this doctrine,

is it also the case that a man is happy when he is dead? Or is not

this quite absurd, especially for us who say that happiness is an

activity? But if we do not call the dead man happy, and if Solon does

not mean this, but that one can then safely call a man blessed as

being at last beyond evils and misfortunes, this also affords matter

for discussion; for both evil and good are thought to exist for a

dead man, as much as for one who is alive but not aware of them; e.g.

honours and dishonours and the good or bad fortunes of children and

in general of descendants. And this also presents a problem; for though

a man has lived happily up to old age and has had a death worthy of

his life, many reverses may befall his descendants- some of them may

be good and attain the life they deserve, while with others the opposite

may be the case; and clearly too the degrees of relationship between

them and their ancestors may vary indefinitely. It would be odd, then,

if the dead man were to share in these changes and become at one time

happy, at another wretched; while it would also be odd if the fortunes

of the descendants did not for some time have some effect on the happiness

of their ancestors.


But we must return to our first difficulty; for perhaps by a consideration

of it our present problem might be solved. Now if we must see the

end and only then call a man happy, not as being happy but as having

been so before, surely this is a paradox, that when he is happy the

attribute that belongs to him is not to be truly predicated of him

because we do not wish to call living men happy, on account of the

changes that may befall them, and because we have assumed happiness

to be something permanent and by no means easily changed, while a

single man may suffer many turns of fortune's wheel. For clearly if

we were to keep pace with his fortunes, we should often call the same

man happy and again wretched, making the happy man out to be chameleon

and insecurely based. Or is this keeping pace with his fortunes quite

wrong? Success or failure in life does not depend on these, but human

life, as we said, needs these as mere additions, while virtuous activities

or their opposites are what constitute happiness or the reverse.


The question we have now discussed confirms our definition. For no

function of man has so much permanence as virtuous activities (these

are thought to be more durable even than knowledge of the sciences),

and of these themselves the most valuable are more durable because

those who are happy spend their life most readily and most continuously

in these; for this seems to be the reason why we do not forget them.

The attribute in question, then, will belong to the happy man, and

he will be happy throughout his life; for always, or by preference

to everything else, 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'.


Now many events happen by chance, and events differing in importance;

small pieces of good fortune or of its opposite clearly do not weigh

down the scales of life one way or the other, but a multitude of great

events if they turn out well will make life happier (for not only

are they themselves such as to add beauty to life, but the way a man

deals with them may be noble and good), while if they turn out ill

they crush and maim happiness; for they both bring pain with them

and hinder many activities. Yet even in these nobility shines through,

when a man bears with resignation many great misfortunes, not through

insensibility to pain but through nobility and greatness of soul.


If activities are, as we said, what gives life its character, no happy

man can become miserable; for he will never do the acts that are hateful

and mean. For the man who is truly good and wise, we think, bears

all the chances life becomingly and always makes the best of circumstances,

as a good general makes the best military use of the army at his command

and a good shoemaker makes the best shoes out of the hides that are

given him; and so with all other craftsmen. And if this is the case,

the happy man can never become miserable; though he will not reach

blessedness, if he meet with fortunes like those of Priam.


Nor, again, is he many-coloured and changeable; for neither will he

be moved from his happy state easily or by any ordinary misadventures,

but only by many great ones, nor, if he has had many great misadventures,

will he recover his happiness in a short time, but if at all, only

in a long and complete one in which he has attained many splendid



When 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? Or must

we add 'and who is destined to live thus and die as befits his life'?

Certainly the future is obscure to us, while happiness, we claim,

is an end and something in every way final. If so, we shall call happy

those among living men in whom these conditions are, and are to be,

fulfilled- but happy men. So much for these questions.




That the fortunes of descendants and of all a man's friends should

not affect his happiness at all seems a very unfriendly doctrine,

and one opposed to the opinions men hold; but since the events that

happen are numerous and admit of all sorts of difference, and some

come more near to us and others less so, it seems a long- nay, an

infinite- task to discuss each in detail; a general outline will perhaps

suffice. If, then, as some of a man's own misadventures have a certain

weight and influence on life while others are, as it were, lighter,

so too there are differences among the misadventures of our friends

taken as a whole, and it makes a difference whether the various suffering

befall the living or the dead (much more even than whether lawless

and terrible deeds are presupposed in a tragedy or done on the stage),

this difference also must be taken into account; or rather, perhaps,

the fact that doubt is felt whether the dead share in any good or

evil. For it seems, from these considerations, that even if anything

whether good or evil penetrates to them, it must be something weak

and negligible, either in itself or for them, or if not, at least

it must be such in degree and kind as not to make happy those who

are not happy nor to take away their blessedness from those who are.

The good or bad fortunes of friends, then, seem to have some effects

on the dead, but effects of such a kind and degree as neither to make

the happy unhappy nor to produce any other change of the kind.




These questions having been definitely answered, let us consider whether

happiness is among the things that are praised or rather among the

things that are prized; for clearly it is not to be placed among potentialities.

Everything that is praised seems to be praised because it is of a

certain kind and is related somehow to something else; for we praise

the just or brave man and in general both the good man and virtue

itself because of the actions and functions involved, and we praise

the strong man, the good runner, and so on, because he is of a certain

kind and is related in a certain way to something good and important.

This is clear also from the praises of the gods; for it seems absurd

that the gods should be referred to our standard, but this is done

because praise involves a reference, to something else. But if if

praise is for things such as we have described, clearly what applies

to the best things is not praise, but something greater and better,

as is indeed obvious; for what we do to the gods and the most godlike

of men is to call them blessed and happy. And so too with good things;

no one praises happiness as he does justice, but rather calls it blessed,

as being something more divine and better.


Eudoxus also seems to have been right in his method of advocating

the supremacy of pleasure; he thought that the fact that, though a

good, it is not praised indicated it to be better than the things

that are praised, and that this is what God and the good are; for

by reference to these all other things are judged. Praise is appropriate

to virtue, for as a result of virtue men tend to do noble deeds, but

encomia are bestowed on acts, whether of the body or of the soul.

But perhaps nicety in these matters is more proper to those who have

made a study of encomia; to us it is clear from what has been said

that happiness is among the things that are prized and perfect. It

seems to be so also from the fact that it is a first principle; for

it is for the sake of this that we all do all that we do, and the

first principle and cause of goods is, we claim, something prized

and divine.




Since happiness is an activity of soul in accordance with perfect

virtue, we must consider the nature of virtue; for perhaps we shall

thus see better the nature of happiness. The true student of politics,

too, is thought to have studied virtue above all things; for he wishes

to make his fellow citizens good and obedient to the laws. As an example

of this we have the lawgivers of the Cretans and the Spartans, and

any others of the kind that there may have been. And if this inquiry

belongs to political science, clearly the pursuit of it will be in

accordance with our original plan. But clearly the virtue we must

study is human virtue; for the good we were seeking was human good

and the happiness human happiness. By human virtue we mean not that

of the body but that of the soul; and happiness also we call an activity

of soul. But if this is so, clearly the student of politics must know

somehow the facts about soul, as the man who is to heal the eyes or

the body as a whole must know about the eyes or the body; and all

the more since politics is more prized and better than medicine; but

even among doctors the best educated spend much labour on acquiring

knowledge of the body. The student of politics, then, must study the

soul, and must study it with these objects in view, and do so just

to the extent which is sufficient for the questions we are discussing;

for further precision is perhaps something more laborious than our

purposes require.


Some things are said about it, adequately enough, even in the discussions

outside our school, and we must use these; e.g. that one element in

the soul is irrational and one has a rational principle. Whether these

are separated as the parts of the body or of anything divisible are,

or are distinct by definition but by nature inseparable, like convex

and concave in the circumference of a circle, does not affect the

present question.


Of the irrational element one division seems to be widely distributed,

and vegetative in its nature, I mean that which causes nutrition and

growth; for it is this kind of power of the soul that one must assign

to all nurslings and to embryos, and this same power to fullgrown

creatures; this is more reasonable than to assign some different power

to them. Now the excellence of this seems to be common to all species

and not specifically human; for this part or faculty seems to function

most in sleep, while goodness and badness are least manifest in sleep

(whence comes the saying that the happy are not better off than the

wretched for half their lives; and this happens naturally enough,

since sleep is an inactivity of the soul in that respect in which

it is called good or bad), unless perhaps to a small extent some of

the movements actually penetrate to the soul, and in this respect

the dreams of good men are better than those of ordinary people. Enough

of this subject, however; let us leave the nutritive faculty alone,

since it has by its nature no share in human excellence.


There seems to be also another irrational element in the soul-one

which in a sense, however, shares in a rational principle. For we

praise the rational principle of the continent man and of the incontinent,

and the part of their soul that has such a principle, since it urges

them aright and towards the best objects; but there is found in them

also another element naturally opposed to the rational principle,

which fights against and resists that principle. For exactly as paralysed

limbs when we intend to move them to the right turn on the contrary

to the left, so is it with the soul; the impulses of incontinent people

move in contrary directions. But while in the body we see that which

moves astray, in the soul we do not. No doubt, however, we must none

the less suppose that in the soul too there is something contrary

to the rational principle, resisting and opposing it. In what sense

it is distinct from the other elements does not concern us. Now even

this seems to have a share in a rational principle, as we said; at

any rate in the continent man it obeys the rational principle and

presumably in the temperate and brave man it is still more obedient;

for in him it speaks, on all matters, with the same voice as the rational



Therefore the irrational element also appears to be two-fold. For

the vegetative element in no way shares in a rational principle, but

the appetitive and in general the desiring element in a sense shares

in it, in so far as it listens to and obeys it; this is the sense

in which we speak of 'taking account' of one's father or one's friends,

not that in which we speak of 'accounting for a mathematical property.

That the irrational element is in some sense persuaded by a rational

principle is indicated also by the giving of advice and by all reproof

and exhortation. And if this element also must be said to have a rational

principle, that which has a rational principle (as well as that which

has not) will be twofold, one subdivision having it in the strict

sense and in itself, and the other having a tendency to obey as one

does one's father.


Virtue too is distinguished into kinds in accordance with this difference;

for we say that some of the virtues are intellectual and others moral,

philosophic wisdom and understanding and practical wisdom being intellectual,

liberality and temperance moral. For in speaking about a man's character

we do not say that he is wise or has understanding but that he is

good-tempered or temperate; yet we praise the wise man also with respect

to his state of mind; and of states of mind we call those which merit

praise virtues.








Virtue, then, being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual

virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching

(for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue

comes about as a result of habit, whence also its name (ethike) is

one that is formed by a slight variation from the word ethos (habit).

From this it is also plain that none of the moral virtues arises in

us by nature; for nothing that exists by nature can form a habit contrary

to its nature. For instance the stone which by nature moves downwards

cannot be habituated to move upwards, not even if one tries to train

it by throwing it up ten thousand times; nor can fire be habituated

to move downwards, nor can anything else that by nature behaves in

one way be trained to behave in another. Neither by nature, then,

nor contrary to nature do the virtues arise in us; rather we are adapted

by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit.


Again, of all the things that come to us by nature we first acquire

the potentiality and later exhibit the activity (this is plain in

the case of the senses; for it was not by often seeing or often hearing

that we got these senses, but on the contrary we had them before we

used them, and did not come to have them by using them); but the virtues

we get by first exercising them, as also happens in the case of the

arts as well. For the things we have to learn before we can do them,

we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building and lyreplayers

by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate

by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.


This is confirmed by what happens in states; for legislators make

the citizens good by forming habits in them, and this is the wish

of every legislator, and those who do not effect it miss their mark,

and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one.


Again, it is from the same causes and by the same means that every

virtue is both produced and destroyed, and similarly every art; for

it is from playing the lyre that both good and bad lyre-players are

produced. And the corresponding statement is true of builders and

of all the rest; men will be good or bad builders as a result of building

well or badly. For if this were not so, there would have been no need

of a teacher, but all men would have been born good or bad at their

craft. This, then, is the case with the virtues also; by doing the

acts that we do in our transactions with other men we become just

or unjust, and by doing the acts that we do in the presence of danger,

and being habituated to feel fear or confidence, we become brave or

cowardly. The same is true of appetites and feelings of anger; some

men become temperate and good-tempered, others self-indulgent and

irascible, by behaving in one way or the other in the appropriate

circumstances. Thus, in one word, states of character arise out of

like activities. This is why the activities we exhibit must be of

a certain kind; it is because the states of character correspond to

the differences between these. 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.




Since, then, the present inquiry does not aim at theoretical knowledge

like the others (for we are inquiring not in order to know what virtue

is, but in order to become good, since otherwise our inquiry would

have been of no use), we must examine the nature of actions, namely

how we ought to do them; for these determine also the nature of the

states of character that are produced, as we have said. Now, that

we must act according to the right rule is a common principle and

must be assumed-it will be discussed later, i.e. both what the right

rule is, and how it is related to the other virtues. But this must

be agreed upon beforehand, that 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; matters concerned with conduct and questions of what

is good for us have no fixity, any more than matters of health. The

general account being of this nature, the account of particular cases

is yet more lacking in exactness; for they do not fall under any art

or precept but the agents themselves must in each case consider what

is appropriate to the occasion, as happens also in the art of medicine

or of navigation.


But though our present account is of this nature we must give what

help we can. First, then, let us consider this, that 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 (for to gain light on things imperceptible

we must use the evidence of sensible things); both excessive and defective

exercise destroys the strength, and similarly drink or food which

is above or below a certain amount destroys the health, while that

which is proportionate both produces and increases and preserves it.

So too is it, then, in the case of temperance and courage and the

other virtues. For the man who flies from and fears everything and

does not stand his ground against anything becomes a coward, and the

man who fears nothing at all but goes to meet every danger becomes

rash; and similarly the man who indulges in every pleasure and abstains

from none becomes self-indulgent, while the man who shuns every pleasure,

as boors do, becomes in a way insensible; temperance and courage,

then, are destroyed by excess and defect, and preserved by the mean.


But not only are the sources and causes of their origination and growth

the same as those of their destruction, but also the sphere of their

actualization will be the same; for this is also true of the things

which are more evident to sense, e.g. of strength; it is produced

by taking much food and undergoing much exertion, and it is the strong

man that will be most able to do these things. So too is it with the

virtues; by abstaining from pleasures we become temperate, and it

is when we have become so that we are most able to abstain from them;

and similarly too in the case of courage; for by being habituated

to despise things that are terrible and to stand our ground against

them we become brave, and it is when we have become so that we shall

be most able to stand our ground against them.




We must take as a sign of states of character the pleasure or pain

that ensues on acts; for the man who abstains from bodily pleasures

and delights in this very fact is temperate, while the man who is

annoyed at it is self-indulgent, and he who stands his ground against

things that are terrible and delights in this or at least is not pained

is brave, while the man who is pained is a coward. For moral excellence

is concerned with pleasures and pains; it is on account of the pleasure

that we do bad things, and on account of the pain that we abstain

from noble ones. Hence we ought to have been brought up in a particular

way from our very youth, as Plato says, so as both to delight in and

to be pained by the things that we ought; for this is the right education.


Again, if the virtues are concerned with actions and passions, and

every passion and every action is accompanied by pleasure and pain,

for this reason also virtue will be concerned with pleasures and pains.

This is indicated also by the fact that punishment is inflicted by

these means; for it is a kind of cure, and it is the nature of cures

to be effected by contraries.


Again, as we said but lately, every state of soul has a nature relative

to and concerned with the kind of things by which it tends to be made

worse or better; but it is by reason of pleasures and pains that men

become bad, by pursuing and avoiding these- either the pleasures and

pains they ought not or when they ought not or as they ought not,

or by going wrong in one of the other similar ways that may be distinguished.

Hence men even define the virtues as certain states of impassivity

and rest; not well, however, because they speak absolutely, and do

not say 'as one ought' and 'as one ought not' and 'when one ought

or ought not', and the other things that may be added. We assume,

then, that this kind of excellence tends to do what is best with regard

to pleasures and pains, and vice does the contrary.


The following facts also may show us that virtue and vice are concerned

with these same things. There being three objects of choice and three

of avoidance, the noble, the advantageous, the pleasant, and their

contraries, the base, the injurious, the painful, about all of these

the good man tends to go right and the bad man to go wrong, and especially

about pleasure; for this is common to the animals, and also it accompanies

all objects of choice; for even the noble and the advantageous appear



Again, it has grown up with us all from our infancy; this is why it

is difficult to rub off this passion, engrained as it is in our life.

And we measure even our actions, some of us more and others less,

by the rule of pleasure and pain. For this reason, then, our whole

inquiry must be about these; for to feel delight and pain rightly

or wrongly has no small effect on our actions.


Again, it is harder to fight with pleasure than with anger, to use

Heraclitus' phrase', but both art and virtue are always concerned

with what is harder; for even the good is better when it is harder.

Therefore for this reason also the whole concern both of virtue and

of political science is with pleasures and pains; for the man who

uses these well will be good, he who uses them badly bad.


That virtue, then, is concerned with pleasures and pains, and that

by the acts from which it arises it is both increased and, if they

are done differently, destroyed, and that the acts from which it arose

are those in which it actualizes itself- let this be taken as said.




The question might be asked,; what we mean by saying that we must

become just by doing just acts, and temperate by doing temperate acts;

for if men do just and temperate acts, they are already just and temperate,

exactly as, if they do what is in accordance with the laws of grammar

and of music, they are grammarians and musicians.


Or is this not true even of the arts? It is possible to do something

that is in accordance with the laws of grammar, either by chance or

at the suggestion of another. A man will be a grammarian, then, only

when he has both done something grammatical and done it grammatically;

and this means doing it in accordance with the grammatical knowledge

in himself.


Again, the case of the arts and that of the virtues are not similar;

for the products of the arts have their goodness in themselves, so

that it is enough that they should have a certain character, but if

the acts that are in accordance with the virtues have themselves a

certain character it does not follow that they are done justly or

temperately. The agent also must be in a certain condition when he

does them; in the first place he must have knowledge, secondly he

must choose the acts, and choose them for their own sakes, and thirdly

his action must proceed from a firm and unchangeable character. These

are not reckoned in as conditions of the possession of the arts, except

the bare knowledge; but as a condition of the possession of the virtues

knowledge has little or no weight, while the other conditions count

not for a little but for everything, i.e. the very conditions which

result from often doing just and temperate acts.


Actions, then, are called just and temperate when they are such as

the just or the temperate man would do; but it is not the man who

does these that is just and temperate, but the man who also does them

as just and temperate men do them. It is well said, then, that it

is by doing just acts that the just man is produced, and by doing

temperate acts the temperate man; without doing these no one would

have even a prospect of becoming good.


But most people do not do these, but take refuge in theory and think

they are being philosophers and will become good in this way, behaving

somewhat like patients who listen attentively to their doctors, but

do none of the things they are ordered to do. As the latter will not

be made well in body by such a course of treatment, the former will

not be made well in soul by such a course of philosophy.




Next we must consider what virtue is. Since things that are found

in the soul are of three kinds- passions, faculties, states of character,

virtue must be one of these. 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; by faculties the things in virtue of which we are said to

be capable of feeling these, e.g. of becoming angry or being pained

or feeling pity; 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.


Now neither the virtues nor the vices are passions, because we are

not called good or bad on the ground of our passions, but are so called

on the ground of our virtues and our vices, and because we are neither

praised nor blamed for our passions (for the man who feels fear or

anger is not praised, nor is the man who simply feels anger blamed,

but the man who feels it in a certain way), but for our virtues and

our vices we are praised or blamed.


Again, we feel anger and fear without choice, but the virtues are

modes of choice or involve choice. Further, in respect of the passions

we are said to be moved, but in respect of the virtues and the vices

we are said not to be moved but to be disposed in a particular way.


For these reasons also they are not faculties; for we are neither

called good nor bad, nor praised nor blamed, for the simple capacity

of feeling the passions; again, we have the faculties by nature, but

we are not made good or bad by nature; we have spoken of this before.

If, then, the virtues are neither passions nor faculties, all that

remains is that they should be states of character.


Thus we have stated what virtue is in respect of its genus.




We must, however, not only describe virtue as a state of character,

but also say what sort of state it is. We may remark, then, that every

virtue or excellence both brings into good condition the thing of

which it is the excellence and makes the work of that thing be done

well; e.g. the excellence of the eye makes both the eye and its work

good; for it is by the excellence of the eye that we see well. Similarly

the excellence of the horse makes a horse both good in itself and

good at running and at carrying its rider and at awaiting the attack

of the enemy. Therefore, if this is true in every case, the virtue

of man also will be the state of character which makes a man good

and which makes him do his own work well.


How this is to happen we have stated already, but it will be made

plain also by the following consideration of the specific nature of

virtue. In everything that is continuous and divisible it is possible

to take more, less, or an equal amount, and that either in terms of

the thing itself or relatively to us; and the equal is an intermediate

between excess and defect. By the intermediate in the object I mean

that which is equidistant from each of the extremes, which is one

and the same for all men; by the intermediate relatively to us that

which is neither too much nor too little- and this is not one, nor

the same for all. For instance, if ten is many and two is few, six

is the intermediate, taken in terms of the object; for it exceeds

and is exceeded by an equal amount; this is intermediate according

to arithmetical proportion. But the intermediate relatively to us

is not to be taken so; if ten pounds are too much for a particular

person to eat and two too little, it does not follow that the trainer

will order six pounds; for this also is perhaps too much for the person

who is to take it, or too little- too little for Milo, too much for

the beginner in athletic exercises. The same is true of running and

wrestling. Thus a master of any art avoids excess and defect, but

seeks the intermediate and chooses this- the intermediate not in the

object but relatively to us.


If it is thus, then, that every art does its work well- by looking

to the intermediate and judgling its works by this standard (so that

we often say of good works of art that it is not possible either to

take away or to add anything, implying that excess and defect destroy

the goodness of works of art, while the mean preserves it; and good

artists, as we say, look to this in their work), and if, further,

virtue is more exact and better than any art, as nature also is, then

virtue must have the quality of aiming at the intermediate. I mean

moral virtue; for it is this that is concerned with passions and actions,

and in these there is excess, defect, and the intermediate. For instance,

both fear and confidence and appetite and anger and pity and in general

pleasure and pain may be felt both too much and too little, and in

both cases not well; but to feel them at the right times, with reference

to the right objects, towards the right people, with the right motive,

and in the right way, is what is both intermediate and best, and this

is characteristic of virtue. Similarly with regard to actions also

there is excess, defect, and the intermediate. Now 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.


Again, it is possible to fail in many ways (for evil belongs to the

class of the unlimited, as the Pythagoreans conjectured, and good

to that of the limited), while to succeed is possible only in one

way (for which reason also one is easy and the other difficult- to

miss the mark easy, to hit it difficult); for these reasons also,

then, excess and defect are characteristic of vice, and the mean of



For men are good in but one way, but bad in many.


Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying

in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by

a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical

wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that

which depends on excess and that which depends on defect; and again

it is a mean because the vices respectively fall short of or exceed

what is right in both passions and actions, while virtue both finds

and chooses that which is intermediate. Hence in respect of its substance

and the definition which states its essence virtue is a mean, with

regard to what is best and right an extreme.


But not every action nor every passion admits of a mean; for some

have names that already imply badness, e.g. spite, shamelessness,

envy, and in the case of actions adultery, theft, murder; for all

of these and suchlike things imply by their names that they are themselves

bad, and not the excesses or deficiencies of them. It is not possible,

then, ever to be right with regard to them; one must always be wrong.

Nor does goodness or badness with regard to such things depend on

committing adultery with the right woman, at the right time, and in

the right way, but simply to do any of them is to go wrong. It would

be equally absurd, then, to expect that in unjust, cowardly, and voluptuous

action there should be a mean, an excess, and a deficiency; for at

that rate there would be a mean of excess and of deficiency, an excess

of excess, and a deficiency of deficiency. But as there is no excess

and deficiency of temperance and courage because what is intermediate

is in a sense an extreme, so too of the actions we have mentioned

there is no mean nor any excess and deficiency, but however they are

done they are wrong; for in general there is neither a mean of excess

and deficiency, nor excess and deficiency of a mean.




We must, however, not only make this general statement, but also apply

it to the individual facts. For among statements about conduct those

which are general apply more widely, but those which are particular

are more genuine, since conduct has to do with individual cases, and

our statements must harmonize with the facts in these cases. We may

take these cases from our table. With regard to feelings of fear and

confidence courage is the mean; of the people who exceed, he who exceeds

in fearlessness has no name (many of the states have no name), while

the man who exceeds in confidence is rash, and he who exceeds in fear

and falls short in confidence is a coward. With regard to pleasures

and pains- not all of them, and not so much with regard to the pains-

the mean is temperance, the excess self-indulgence. Persons deficient

with regard to the pleasures are not often found; hence such persons

also have received no name. But let us call them 'insensible'.


With regard to giving and taking of money the mean is liberality,

the excess and the defect prodigality and meanness. In these actions

people exceed and fall short in contrary ways; the prodigal exceeds

in spending and falls short in taking, while the mean man exceeds

in taking and falls short in spending. (At present we are giving a

mere outline or summary, and are satisfied with this; later these

states will be more exactly determined.) With regard to money there

are also other dispositions- a mean, magnificence (for the magnificent

man differs from the liberal man; the former deals with large sums,

the latter with small ones), an excess, tastelessness and vulgarity,

and a deficiency, niggardliness; these differ from the states opposed

to liberality, and the mode of their difference will be stated later.

With regard to honour and dishonour the mean is proper pride, the

excess is known as a sort of 'empty vanity', and the deficiency is

undue humility; and as we said liberality was related to magnificence,

differing from it by dealing with small sums, so there is a state

similarly related to proper pride, being concerned with small honours

while that is concerned with great. For it is possible to desire honour

as one ought, and more than one ought, and less, and the man who exceeds

in his desires is called ambitious, the man who falls short unambitious,

while the intermediate person has no name. The dispositions also are

nameless, except that that of the ambitious man is called ambition.

Hence the people who are at the extremes lay claim to the middle place;

and we ourselves sometimes call the intermediate person ambitious

and sometimes unambitious, and sometimes praise the ambitious man

and sometimes the unambitious. The reason of our doing this will be

stated in what follows; but now let us speak of the remaining states

according to the method which has been indicated.


With regard to anger also there is an excess, a deficiency, and a

mean. Although they can scarcely be said to have names, yet since

we call the intermediate person good-tempered let us call the mean

good temper; of the persons at the extremes let the one who exceeds

be called irascible, and his vice irascibility, and the man who falls

short an inirascible sort of person, and the deficiency inirascibility.


There are also three other means, which have a certain likeness to

one another, but differ from one another: for they are all concerned

with intercourse in words and actions, but differ in that one is concerned

with truth in this sphere, the other two with pleasantness; and of

this one kind is exhibited in giving amusement, the other in all the

circumstances of life. We must therefore speak of these too, that

we may the better see that in all things the mean is praise-worthy,

and the extremes neither praiseworthy nor right, but worthy of blame.

Now most of these states also have no names, but we must try, as in

the other cases, to invent names ourselves so that we may be clear

and easy to follow. With regard to truth, then, the intermediate is

a truthful sort of person and the mean may be called truthfulness,

while the pretence which exaggerates is boastfulness and the person

characterized by it a boaster, and that which understates is mock

modesty and the person characterized by it mock-modest. With regard

to pleasantness in the giving of amusement the intermediate person

is ready-witted and the disposition ready wit, the excess is buffoonery

and the person characterized by it a buffoon, while the man who falls

short is a sort of boor and his state is boorishness. With regard

to the remaining kind of pleasantness, that which is exhibited in

life in general, the man who is pleasant in the right way is friendly

and the mean is friendliness, while the man who exceeds is an obsequious

person if he has no end in view, a flatterer if he is aiming at his

own advantage, and the man who falls short and is unpleasant in all

circumstances is a quarrelsome and surly sort of person.


There are also means in the passions and concerned with the passions;

since shame is not a virtue, and yet praise is extended to the modest

man. For even in these matters one man is said to be intermediate,

and another to exceed, as for instance the bashful man who is ashamed

of everything; while he who falls short or is not ashamed of anything

at all is shameless, and the intermediate person is modest. Righteous

indignation is a mean between envy and spite, and these states are

concerned with the pain and pleasure that are felt at the fortunes

of our neighbours; the man who is characterized by righteous indignation

is pained at undeserved good fortune, the envious man, going beyond

him, is pained at all good fortune, and the spiteful man falls so

far short of being pained that he even rejoices. But these states

there will be an opportunity of describing elsewhere; with regard

to justice, since it has not one simple meaning, we shall, after describing

the other states, distinguish its two kinds and say how each of them

is a mean; and similarly we shall treat also of the rational virtues.




There are three kinds of disposition, then, two of them vices, involving

excess and deficiency respectively, and one a virtue, viz. the mean,

and all are in a sense opposed to all; for the extreme states are

contrary both to the intermediate state and to each other, and the

intermediate to the extremes; as the equal is greater relatively to

the less, less relatively to the greater, so the middle states are

excessive relatively to the deficiencies, deficient relatively to

the excesses, both in passions and in actions. For the brave man appears

rash relatively to the coward, and cowardly relatively to the rash

man; and similarly the temperate man appears self-indulgent relatively

to the insensible man, insensible relatively to the self-indulgent,

and the liberal man prodigal relatively to the mean man, mean relatively

to the prodigal. Hence also the people at the extremes push the intermediate

man each over to the other, and the brave man is called rash by the

coward, cowardly by the rash man, and correspondingly in the other



These states being thus opposed to one another, the greatest contrariety

is that of the extremes to each other, rather than to the intermediate;

for these are further from each other than from the intermediate,

as the great is further from the small and the small from the great

than both are from the equal. Again, to the intermediate some extremes

show a certain likeness, as that of rashness to courage and that of

prodigality to liberality; but the extremes show the greatest unlikeness

to each other; now contraries are defined as the things that are furthest

from each other, so that things that are further apart are more contrary.


To the mean in some cases the deficiency, in some the excess is more

opposed; e.g. it is not rashness, which is an excess, but cowardice,

which is a deficiency, that is more opposed to courage, and not insensibility,

which is a deficiency, but self-indulgence, which is an excess, that

is more opposed to temperance. This happens from two reasons, one

being drawn from the thing itself; for because one extreme is nearer

and liker to the intermediate, we oppose not this but rather its contrary

to the intermediate. E.g. since rashness is thought liker and nearer

to courage, and cowardice more unlike, we oppose rather the latter

to courage; for things that are further from the intermediate are

thought more contrary to it. This, then, is one cause, drawn from

the thing itself; another is drawn from ourselves; for the things

to which we ourselves more naturally tend seem more contrary to the

intermediate. For instance, we ourselves tend more naturally to pleasures,

and hence are more easily carried away towards self-indulgence than

towards propriety. We describe as contrary to the mean, then, rather

the directions in which we more often go to great lengths; and therefore

self-indulgence, which is an excess, is the more contrary to temperance.




That moral virtue is a mean, then, and in what sense it is so, and

that it is a mean between two vices, the one involving excess, the

other deficiency, and that it is such because its character is to

aim at what is intermediate in passions and in actions, has been sufficiently

stated. Hence also it is no easy task to be good. For in everything

it is no easy task to find the middle, e.g. to find the middle of

a circle is not for every one but for him who knows; so, too, any

one can get angry- that is easy- or give or spend money; but to do

this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time,

with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every

one, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable

and noble.


Hence he who aims at the intermediate must first depart from what

is the more contrary to it, as Calypso advises-


Hold the ship out beyond that surf and spray.


For of the extremes one is more erroneous, one less so; therefore,

since to hit the mean is hard in the extreme, we must as a second

best, as people say, take the least of the evils; and this will be

done best in the way we describe. But we must consider the things

towards which we ourselves also are easily carried away; for some

of us tend to one thing, some to another; and this will be recognizable

from the pleasure and the pain we feel. We must drag ourselves away

to the contrary extreme; for we shall get into the intermediate state

by drawing well away from error, as people do in straightening sticks

that are bent.


Now in everything the pleasant or pleasure is most to be guarded against;

for we do not judge it impartially. We ought, then, to feel towards

pleasure as the elders of the people felt towards Helen, and in all

circumstances repeat their saying; for if we dismiss pleasure thus

we are less likely to go astray. It is by doing this, then, (to sum

the matter up) that we shall best be able to hit the mean.


But this is no doubt difficult, and especially in individual cases;

for or is not easy to determine both how and with whom and on what

provocation and how long one should be angry; for we too sometimes

praise those who fall short and call them good-tempered, but sometimes

we praise those who get angry and call them manly. The man, however,

who deviates little from goodness is not blamed, whether he do so

in the direction of the more or of the less, but only the man who

deviates more widely; for he does not fail to be noticed. 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, any more than

anything else that is perceived by the senses; 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, but that we must incline sometimes towards the excess, sometimes

towards the deficiency; for so shall we most easily hit the mean and

what is right.








Since virtue is concerned with passions and actions, and on voluntary

passions and actions praise and blame are bestowed, on those that

are involuntary pardon, and sometimes also pity, to distinguish the

voluntary and the involuntary is presumably necessary for those who

are studying the nature of virtue, and useful also for legislators

with a view to the assigning both of honours and of punishments. Those

things, then, are thought-involuntary, which take place under compulsion

or owing to ignorance; and that is compulsory of which the moving

principle is outside, being a principle in which nothing is contributed

by the person who is acting or is feeling the passion, e.g. if he

were to be carried somewhere by a wind, or by men who had him in their



But with regard to the things that are done from fear of greater evils

or for some noble object (e.g. if a tyrant were to order one to do

something base, having one's parents and children in his power, and

if one did the action they were to be saved, but otherwise would be

put to death), it may be debated whether such actions are involuntary

or voluntary. Something of the sort happens also with regard to the

throwing of goods overboard in a storm; for in the abstract no one

throws goods away voluntarily, but on condition of its securing the

safety of himself and his crew any sensible man does so. Such actions,

then, are mixed, but are more like voluntary actions; for they are

worthy of choice at the time when they are done, and the end of an

action is relative to the occasion. Both the terms, then, 'voluntary'

and 'involuntary', must be used with reference to the moment of action.

Now the man acts voluntarily; for the principle that moves the instrumental

parts of the body in such actions is in him, and the things of which

the moving principle is in a man himself are in his power to do or

not to do. Such actions, therefore, are voluntary, but in the abstract

perhaps involuntary; for no one would choose any such act in itself.


For such actions men are sometimes even praised, when they endure

something base or painful in return for great and noble objects gained;

in the opposite case they are blamed, since to endure the greatest

indignities for no noble end or for a trifling end is the mark of

an inferior person. On some actions praise indeed is not bestowed,

but pardon is, when one does what he ought not under pressure which

overstrains human nature and which no one could withstand. But some

acts, perhaps, we cannot be forced to do, but ought rather to face

death after the most fearful sufferings; for the things that 'forced'

Euripides Alcmaeon to slay his mother seem absurd. It is difficult

sometimes to determine what should be chosen at what cost, and what

should be endured in return for what gain, and yet more difficult

to abide by our decisions; for as a rule what is expected is painful,

and what we are forced to do is base, whence praise and blame are

bestowed on those who have been compelled or have not.


What sort of acts, then, should be called compulsory? We answer that

without qualification actions are so when the cause is in the external

circumstances and the agent contributes nothing. But the things that

in themselves are involuntary, but now and in return for these gains

are worthy of choice, and whose moving principle is in the agent,

are in themselves involuntary, but now and in return for these gains

voluntary. They are more like voluntary acts; for actions are in the

class of particulars, and the particular acts here are voluntary.

What sort of things are to be chosen, and in return for what, it is

not easy to state; for there are many differences in the particular



But if some one were to say that pleasant and noble objects have a

compelling power, forcing us from without, all acts would be for him

compulsory; for it is for these objects that all men do everything

they do. And those who act under compulsion and unwillingly act with

pain, but those who do acts for their pleasantness and nobility do

them with pleasure; it is absurd to make external circumstances responsible,

and not oneself, as being easily caught by such attractions, and to

make oneself responsible for noble acts but the pleasant objects responsible

for base acts. The compulsory, then, seems to be that whose moving

principle is outside, the person compelled contributing nothing.


Everything that is done by reason of ignorance is not voluntary; it

is only what produces pain and repentance that is involuntary. For

the man who has done something owing to ignorance, and feels not the

least vexation at his action, has not acted voluntarily, since he

did not know what he was doing, nor yet involuntarily, since he is

not pained. Of people, then, who act by reason of ignorance he who

repents is thought an involuntary agent, and the man who does not

repent may, since he is different, be called a not voluntary agent;

for, since he differs from the other, it is better that he should

have a name of his own.


Acting by reason of ignorance seems also to be different from acting

in ignorance; for the man who is drunk or in a rage is thought to

act as a result not of ignorance but of one of the causes mentioned,

yet not knowingly but in ignorance.


Now every wicked man is ignorant of what he ought to do and what he

ought to abstain from, and it is by reason of error of this kind that

men become unjust and in general bad; but the term 'involuntary' tends

to be used not if a man is ignorant of what is to his advantage- for

it is not mistaken purpose that causes involuntary action (it leads

rather to wickedness), nor ignorance of the universal (for that men

are blamed), but ignorance of particulars, i.e. of the circumstances

of the action and the objects with which it is concerned. For it is

on these that both pity and pardon depend, since the person who is

ignorant of any of these acts involuntarily.


Perhaps it is just as well, therefore, to determine their nature and

number. A man may be ignorant, then, of who he is, what he is doing,

what or whom he is acting on, and sometimes also what (e.g. what instrument)

he is doing it with, and to what end (e.g. he may think his act will

conduce to some one's safety), and how he is doing it (e.g. whether

gently or violently). Now of all of these no one could be ignorant

unless he were mad, and evidently also he could not be ignorant of

the agent; for how could he not know himself? But of what he is doing

a man might be ignorant, as for instance people say 'it slipped out

of their mouths as they were speaking', or 'they did not know it was

a secret', as Aeschylus said of the mysteries, or a man might say

he 'let it go off when he merely wanted to show its working', as the

man did with the catapult. Again, one might think one's son was an

enemy, as Merope did, or that a pointed spear had a button on it,

or that a stone was pumicestone; or one might give a man a draught

to save him, and really kill him; or one might want to touch a man,

as people do in sparring, and really wound him. The ignorance may

relate, then, to any of these things, i.e. of the circumstances of

the action, and the man who was ignorant of any of these is thought

to have acted involuntarily, and especially if he was ignorant on

the most important points; and these are thought to be the circumstances

of the action and its end. Further, the doing of an act that is called

involuntary in virtue of ignorance of this sort must be painful and

involve repentance.


Since that which is done under compulsion or by reason of ignorance

is involuntary, the voluntary would seem to be that of which the moving

principle is in the agent himself, he being aware of the particular

circumstances of the action. Presumably acts done by reason of anger

or appetite are not rightly called involuntary. For in the first place,

on that showing none of the other animals will act voluntarily, nor

will children; and secondly, is it meant that we do not do voluntarily

any of the acts that are due to appetite or anger, or that we do the

noble acts voluntarily and the base acts involuntarily? Is not this

absurd, when one and the same thing is the cause? But it would surely

be odd to describe as involuntary the things one ought to desire;

and we ought both to be angry at certain things and to have an appetite

for certain things, e.g. for health and for learning. Also what is

involuntary is thought to be painful, but what is in accordance with

appetite is thought to be pleasant. Again, what is the difference

in respect of involuntariness between errors committed upon calculation

and those committed in anger? Both are to be avoided, but the irrational

passions are thought not less human than reason is, and therefore

also the actions which proceed from anger or appetite are the man's

actions. It would be odd, then, to treat them as involuntary.




Both the voluntary and the involuntary having been delimited, we must

next discuss choice; for it is thought to be most closely bound up

with virtue and to discriminate characters better than actions do.


Choice, then, seems to be voluntary, but not the same thing as the

voluntary; the latter extends more widely. For both children and the

lower animals share in voluntary action, but not in choice, and acts

done on the spur of the moment we describe as voluntary, but not as



Those who say it is appetite or anger or wish or a kind of opinion

do not seem to be right. For choice is not common to irrational creatures

as well, but appetite and anger are. Again, the incontinent man acts

with appetite, but not with choice; while the continent man on the

contrary acts with choice, but not with appetite. Again, appetite

is contrary to choice, but not appetite to appetite. Again, appetite

relates to the pleasant and the painful, choice neither to the painful

nor to the pleasant.


Still less is it anger; for acts due to anger are thought to be less

than any others objects of choice.


But neither is it wish, though it seems near to it; for choice cannot

relate to impossibles, and if any one said he chose them he would

be thought silly; but there may be a wish even for impossibles, e.g.

for immortality. And wish may relate to things that could in no way

be brought about by one's own efforts, e.g. that a particular actor

or athlete should win in a competition; but no one chooses such things,

but only the things that he thinks could be brought about by his own

efforts. Again, wish relates rather to the end, choice to the means;

for instance, we wish to be healthy, but we choose the acts which

will make us healthy, and we wish to be happy and say we do, but we

cannot well say we choose to be so; for, in general, choice seems

to relate to the things that are in our own power.


For this reason, too, it cannot be opinion; for opinion is thought

to relate to all kinds of things, no less to eternal things and impossible

things than to things in our own power; and it is distinguished by

its falsity or truth, not by its badness or goodness, while choice

is distinguished rather by these.


Now with opinion in general perhaps no one even says it is identical.

But it is not identical even with any kind of opinion; for by choosing

what is good or bad we are men of a certain character, which we are

not by holding certain opinions. And we choose to get or avoid something

good or bad, but we have opinions about what a thing is or whom it

is good for or how it is good for him; we can hardly be said to opine

to get or avoid anything. And choice is praised for being related

to the right object rather than for being rightly related to it, opinion

for being truly related to its object. And we choose what we best

know to be good, but we opine what we do not quite know; and it is

not the same people that are thought to make the best choices and

to have the best opinions, but some are thought to have fairly good

opinions, but by reason of vice to choose what they should not. If

opinion precedes choice or accompanies it, that makes no difference;

for it is not this that we are considering, but whether it is identical

with some kind of opinion.


What, then, or what kind of thing is it, since it is none of the things

we have mentioned? It seems to be voluntary, but not all that is voluntary

to be an object of choice. Is it, then, what has been decided on by

previous deliberation? At any rate choice involves a rational principle

and thought. Even the name seems to suggest that it is what is chosen

before other things.




Do we deliberate about everything, and is everything a possible subject

of deliberation, or is deliberation impossible about some things?

We ought presumably to call not what a fool or a madman would deliberate

about, but what a sensible man would deliberate about, a subject of

deliberation. Now about eternal things no one deliberates, e.g. about

the material universe or the incommensurability of the diagonal and

the side of a square. But no more do we deliberate about the things

that involve movement but always happen in the same way, whether of

necessity or by nature or from any other cause, e.g. the solstices

and the risings of the stars; nor about things that happen now in

one way, now in another, e.g. droughts and rains; nor about chance

events, like the finding of treasure. But we do not deliberate even

about all human affairs; for instance, no Spartan deliberates about

the best constitution for the Scythians. For none of these things

can be brought about by our own efforts.


We deliberate about things that are in our power and can be done;

and these are in fact what is left. For nature, necessity, and chance

are thought to be causes, and also reason and everything that depends

on man. Now every class of men deliberates about the things that can

be done by their own efforts. And in the case of exact and self-contained

sciences there is no deliberation, e.g. about the letters of the alphabet

(for we have no doubt how they should be written); but the things

that are brought about by our own efforts, but not always in the same

way, are the things about which we deliberate, e.g. questions of medical

treatment or of money-making. And we do so more in the case of the

art of navigation than in that of gymnastics, inasmuch as it has been

less exactly worked out, and again about other things in the same

ratio, and more also in the case of the arts than in that of the sciences;

for we have more doubt about the former. Deliberation is concerned

with things that happen in a certain way for the most part, but in

which the event is obscure, and with things in which it is indeterminate.

We call in others to aid us in deliberation on important questions,

distrusting ourselves as not being equal to deciding.


We deliberate not about ends but about means. For a doctor does not

deliberate whether he shall heal, nor an orator whether he shall persuade,

nor a statesman whether he shall produce law and order, nor does any

one else deliberate about his end. They assume the end and consider

how and by what means it is to be attained; and if it seems to be

produced by several means they consider by which it is most easily

and best produced, while if it is achieved by one only they consider

how it will be achieved by this and by what means this will be achieved,

till they come to the first cause, which in the order of discovery

is last. For the person who deliberates seems to investigate and analyse

in the way described as though he were analysing a geometrical construction

(not all investigation appears to be deliberation- for instance mathematical

investigations- but all deliberation is investigation), and what is

last in the order of analysis seems to be first in the order of becoming.

And if we come on an impossibility, we give up the search, e.g. if

we need money and this cannot be got; but if a thing appears possible

we try to do it. By 'possible' things I mean things that might be

brought about by our own efforts; and these in a sense include things

that can be brought about by the efforts of our friends, since the

moving principle is in ourselves. The subject of investigation is

sometimes the instruments, sometimes the use of them; and similarly

in the other cases- sometimes the means, sometimes the mode of using

it or the means of bringing it about. It seems, then, as has been

said, that man is a moving principle of actions; now deliberation

is about the things to be done by the agent himself, and actions are

for the sake of things other than themselves. For the end cannot be

a subject of deliberation, but only the means; nor indeed can the

particular facts be a subject of it, as whether this is bread or has

been baked as it should; for these are matters of perception. If we

are to be always deliberating, we shall have to go on to infinity.


The same thing is deliberated upon and is chosen, except that the

object of choice is already determinate, since it is that which has

been decided upon as a result of deliberation that is the object of

choice. For every one ceases to inquire how he is to act when he has

brought the moving principle back to himself and to the ruling part

of himself; for this is what chooses. This is plain also from the

ancient constitutions, which Homer represented; for the kings announced

their choices to the people. The object of choice being one of the

things in our own power which is desired after deliberation, choice

will be deliberate desire of things in our own power; for when we

have decided as a result of deliberation, we desire in accordance

with our deliberation.


We may take it, then, that we have described choice in outline, and

stated the nature of its objects and the fact that it is concerned

with means.




That wish is for the end has already been stated; some think it is

for the good, others for the apparent good. Now those who say that

the good is the object of wish must admit in consequence that that

which the man who does not choose aright wishes for is not an object

of wish (for if it is to be so, it must also be good; but it was,

if it so happened, bad); while those who say the apparent good is

the object of wish must admit that there is no natural object of wish,

but only what seems good to each man. Now different things appear

good to different people, and, if it so happens, even contrary things.


If these consequences are unpleasing, are we to say that absolutely

and in truth the good is the object of wish, but for each person the

apparent good; that that which is in truth an object of wish is an

object of wish to the good man, while any chance thing may be so the

bad man, as in the case of bodies also the things that are in truth

wholesome are wholesome for bodies which are in good condition, while

for those that are diseased other things are wholesome- or bitter

or sweet or hot or heavy, and so on; since the good man judges each

class of things rightly, and in each the truth appears to him? For

each state of character has its own ideas of the noble and the pleasant,

and perhaps the good man differs from others most by seeing the truth

in each class of things, being as it were the norm and measure of

them. In most things the error seems to be due to pleasure; for it

appears a good when it is not. We therefore choose the pleasant as

a good, and avoid pain as an evil.




The end, then, being what we wish for, the means what we deliberate

about and choose, actions concerning means must be according to choice

and voluntary. Now the exercise of the virtues is concerned with means.

Therefore virtue also is in our own power, and so too vice. For where

it is in our power to act it is also in our power not to act, and

vice versa; so that, if to act, where this is noble, is in our power,

not to act, which will be base, will also be in our power, and if

not to act, where this is noble, is in our power, to act, which will

be base, will also be in our power. Now if it is in our power to do

noble or base acts, and likewise in our power not to do them, and

this was what being good or bad meant, then it is in our power to

be virtuous or vicious.


The saying that 'no one is voluntarily wicked nor involuntarily happy'

seems to be partly false and partly true; for no one is involuntarily

happy, but wickedness is voluntary. Or else we shall have to dispute

what has just been said, at any rate, and deny that man is a moving

principle or begetter of his actions as of children. But if these

facts are evident and we cannot refer actions to moving principles

other than those in ourselves, the acts whose moving principles are

in us must themselves also be in our power and voluntary.


Witness seems to be borne to this both by individuals in their private

capacity and by legislators themselves; for these punish and take

vengeance on those who do wicked acts (unless they have acted under

compulsion or as a result of ignorance for which they are not themselves

responsible), while they honour those who do noble acts, as though

they meant to encourage the latter and deter the former. But no one

is encouraged to do the things that are neither in our power nor voluntary;

it is assumed that there is no gain in being persuaded not to be hot

or in pain or hungry or the like, since we shall experience these

feelings none the less. Indeed, we punish a man for his very ignorance,

if he is thought responsible for the ignorance, as when penalties

are doubled in the case of drunkenness; for the moving principle is

in the man himself, since he had the power of not getting drunk and

his getting drunk was the cause of his ignorance. And we punish those

who are ignorant of anything in the laws that they ought to know and

that is not difficult, and so too in the case of anything else that

they are thought to be ignorant of through carelessness; we assume

that it is in their power not to be ignorant, since they have the

power of taking care.


But perhaps a man is the kind of man not to take care. Still they

are themselves by their slack lives responsible for becoming men of

that kind, and men make themselves responsible for being unjust or

self-indulgent, in the one case by cheating and in the other by spending

their time in drinking bouts and the like; for it is activities exercised

on particular objects that make the corresponding character. This

is plain from the case of people training for any contest or action;

they practise the activity the whole time. Now not to know that it

is from the exercise of activities on particular objects that states

of character are produced is the mark of a thoroughly senseless person.

Again, it is irrational to suppose that a man who acts unjustly does

not wish to be unjust or a man who acts self-indulgently to be self-indulgent.

But if without being ignorant a man does the things which will make

him unjust, he will be unjust voluntarily. Yet it does not follow

that if he wishes he will cease to be unjust and will be just. For

neither does the man who is ill become well on those terms. We may

suppose a case in which he is ill voluntarily, through living incontinently

and disobeying his doctors. In that case it was then open to him not

to be ill, but not now, when he has thrown away his chance, just as

when you have let a stone go it is too late to recover it; but yet

it was in your power to throw it, since the moving principle was in

you. So, too, to the unjust and to the self-indulgent man it was open

at the beginning not to become men of this kind, and so they are unjust

and selfindulgent voluntarily; but now that they have become so it

is not possible for them not to be so.


But not only are the vices of the soul voluntary, but those of the

body also for some men, whom we accordingly blame; while no one blames

those who are ugly by nature, we blame those who are so owing to want

of exercise and care. So it is, too, with respect to weakness and

infirmity; no one would reproach a man blind from birth or by disease

or from a blow, but rather pity him, while every one would blame a

man who was blind from drunkenness or some other form of self-indulgence.

Of vices of the body, then, those in our own power are blamed, those

not in our power are not. And if this be so, in the other cases also

the vices that are blamed must be in our own power.


Now some one may say that all men desire the apparent good, but have

no control over the appearance, but the end appears to each man in

a form answering to his character. We reply that if each man is somehow

responsible for his state of mind, he will also be himself somehow

responsible for the appearance; but if not, no one is responsible

for his own evildoing, but every one does evil acts through ignorance

of the end, thinking that by these he will get what is best, and the

aiming at the end is not self-chosen but one must be born with an

eye, as it were, by which to judge rightly and choose what is truly

good, and he is well endowed by nature who is well endowed with this.

For it is what is greatest and most noble, and what we cannot get

or learn from another, but must have just such as it was when given

us at birth, and to be well and nobly endowed with this will be perfect

and true excellence of natural endowment. If this is true, then, how

will virtue be more voluntary than vice? To both men alike, the good

and the bad, the end appears and is fixed by nature or however it

may be, and it is by referring everything else to this that men do

whatever they do.


Whether, then, it is not by nature that the end appears to each man

such as it does appear, but something also depends on him, or the

end is natural but because the good man adopts the means voluntarily

virtue is voluntary, vice also will be none the less voluntary; for

in the case of the bad man there is equally present that which depends

on himself in his actions even if not in his end. If, then, as is

asserted, the virtues are voluntary (for we are ourselves somehow

partly responsible for our states of character, and it is by being

persons of a certain kind that we assume the end to be so and so),

the vices also will be voluntary; for the same is true of them.


With regard to the virtues in general we have stated their genus in

outline, viz. that they are means and that they are states of character,

and that they tend, and by their own nature, to the doing of the acts

by which they are produced, and that they are in our power and voluntary,

and act as the right rule prescribes. But actions and states of character

are not voluntary in the same way; for we are masters of our actions

from the beginning right to the end, if we know the particular facts,

but though we control the beginning of our states of character the

gradual progress is not obvious any more than it is in illnesses;

because it was in our power, however, to act in this way or not in

this way, therefore the states are voluntary.


Let us take up the several virtues, however, and say which they are

and what sort of things they are concerned with and how they are concerned

with them; at the same time it will become plain how many they are.

And first let us speak of courage.




That it is a mean with regard to feelings of fear and confidence has

already been made evident; and plainly the things we fear are terrible

things, and these are, to speak without qualification, evils; for

which reason people even define fear as expectation of evil. Now we

fear all evils, e.g. disgrace, poverty, disease, friendlessness, death,

but the brave man is not thought to be concerned with all; for to

fear some things is even right and noble, and it is base not to fear

them- e.g. disgrace; he who fears this is good and modest, and he

who does not is shameless. He is, however, by some people called brave,

by a transference of the word to a new meaning; for he has in him

something which is like the brave man, since the brave man also is

a fearless person. Poverty and disease we perhaps ought not to fear,

nor in general the things that do not proceed from vice and are not

due to a man himself. But not even the man who is fearless of these

is brave. Yet we apply the word to him also in virtue of a similarity;

for some who in the dangers of war are cowards are liberal and are

confident in face of the loss of money. Nor is a man a coward if he

fears insult to his wife and children or envy or anything of the kind;

nor brave if he is confident when he is about to be flogged. With

what sort of terrible things, then, is the brave man concerned? Surely

with the greatest; for no one is more likely than he to stand his

ground against what is awe-inspiring. Now death is the most terrible

of all things; for it is the end, and nothing is thought to be any

longer either good or bad for the dead. But the brave man would not

seem to be concerned even with death in all circumstances, e.g. at

sea or in disease. In what circumstances, then? Surely in the noblest.

Now such deaths are those in battle; for these take place in the greatest

and noblest danger. And these are correspondingly honoured in city-states

and at the courts of monarchs. Properly, then, he will be called brave

who is fearless in face of a noble death, and of all emergencies that

involve death; and the emergencies of war are in the highest degree

of this kind. Yet at sea also, and in disease, the brave man is fearless,

but not in the same way as the seaman; for he has given up hope of

safety, and is disliking the thought of death in this shape, while

they are hopeful because of their experience. At the same time, we

show courage in situations where there is the opportunity of showing

prowess or where death is noble; but in these forms of death neither

of these conditions is fulfilled.




What is terrible is not the same for all men; but we say there are

things terrible even beyond human strength. These, then, are terrible

to every one- at least to every sensible man; but the terrible things

that are not beyond human strength differ in magnitude and degree,

and so too do the things that inspire confidence. Now the brave man

is as dauntless as man may be. Therefore, while he will fear even

the things that are not beyond human strength, he will face them as

he ought and as the rule directs, for honour's sake; for this is the

end of virtue. But it is possible to fear these more, or less, and

again to fear things that are not terrible as if they were. Of the

faults that are committed one consists in fearing what one should

not, another in fearing as we should not, another in fearing when

we should not, and so on; and so too with respect to the things that

inspire confidence. The man, then, who faces and who fears the right

things and from the right motive, in the right way and from the right

time, and who feels confidence under the corresponding conditions,

is brave; for the brave man feels and acts according to the merits

of the case and in whatever way the rule directs. Now the end of every

activity is conformity to the corresponding state of character. This

is true, therefore, of the brave man as well as of others. But courage

is noble. Therefore the end also is noble; for each thing is defined

by its end. Therefore it is for a noble end that the brave man endures

and acts as courage directs.


Of those who go to excess he who exceeds in fearlessness has no name

(we have said previously that many states of character have no names),

but he would be a sort of madman or insensible person if he feared

nothing, neither earthquakes nor the waves, as they say the Celts

do not; while the man who exceeds in confidence about what really

is terrible is rash. The rash man, however, is also thought to be

boastful and only a pretender to courage; at all events, as the brave

man is with regard to what is terrible, so the rash man wishes to

appear; and so he imitates him in situations where he can. Hence also

most of them are a mixture of rashness and cowardice; for, while in

these situations they display confidence, they do not hold their ground

against what is really terrible. The man who exceeds in fear is a

coward; for he fears both what he ought not and as he ought not, and

all the similar characterizations attach to him. He is lacking also

in confidence; but he is more conspicuous for his excess of fear in

painful situations. The coward, then, is a despairing sort of person;

for he fears everything. The brave man, on the other hand, has the

opposite disposition; for confidence is the mark of a hopeful disposition.

The coward, the rash man, and the brave man, then, are concerned with

the same objects but are differently disposed towards them; for the

first two exceed and fall short, while the third holds the middle,

which is the right, position; and rash men are precipitate, and wish

for dangers beforehand but draw back when they are in them, while

brave men are keen in the moment of action, but quiet beforehand.


As we have said, then, courage is a mean with respect to things that

inspire confidence or fear, in the circumstances that have been stated;

and it chooses or endures things because it is noble to do so, or

because it is base not to do so. But to die to escape from poverty

or love or anything painful is not the mark of a brave man, but rather

of a coward; for it is softness to fly from what is troublesome, and

such a man endures death not because it is noble but to fly from evil.




Courage, then, is something of this sort, but the name is also applied

to five other kinds.


First comes the courage of the citizen-soldier; for this is most like

true courage. Citizen-soldiers seem to face dangers because of the

penalties imposed by the laws and the reproaches they would otherwise

incur, and because of the honours they win by such action; and therefore

those peoples seem to be bravest among whom cowards are held in dishonour

and brave men in honour. This is the kind of courage that Homer depicts,

e.g. in Diomede and in Hector:


First will Polydamas be to heap reproach on me then; and


For Hector one day 'mid the Trojans shall utter his vaulting



Afraid was Tydeides, and fled from my face.


This kind of courage is most like to that which we described earlier,

because it is due to virtue; for it is due to shame and to desire

of a noble object (i.e. honour) and avoidance of disgrace, which is

ignoble. One might rank in the same class even those who are compelled

by their rulers; but they are inferior, inasmuch as they do what they

do not from shame but from fear, and to avoid not what is disgraceful

but what is painful; for their masters compel them, as Hector does:


But if I shall spy any dastard that cowers far from the fight,


Vainly will such an one hope to escape from the dogs.


And those who give them their posts, and beat them if they retreat,

do the same, and so do those who draw them up with trenches or something

of the sort behind them; all of these apply compulsion. But one ought

to be brave not under compulsion but because it is noble to be so.


(2) Experience with regard to particular facts is also thought to

be courage; this is indeed the reason why Socrates thought courage

was knowledge. Other people exhibit this quality in other dangers,

and professional soldiers exhibit it in the dangers of war; for there

seem to be many empty alarms in war, of which these have had the most

comprehensive experience; therefore they seem brave, because the others

do not know the nature of the facts. Again, their experience makes

them most capable in attack and in defence, since they can use their

arms and have the kind that are likely to be best both for attack

and for defence; therefore they fight like armed men against unarmed

or like trained athletes against amateurs; for in such contests too

it is not the bravest men that fight best, but those who are strongest

and have their bodies in the best condition. Professional soldiers

turn cowards, however, when the danger puts too great a strain on

them and they are inferior in numbers and equipment; for they are

the first to fly, while citizen-forces die at their posts, as in fact

happened at the temple of Hermes. For to the latter flight is disgraceful

and death is preferable to safety on those terms; while the former

from the very beginning faced the danger on the assumption that they

were stronger, and when they know the facts they fly, fearing death

more than disgrace; but the brave man is not that sort of person.


(3) Passion also is sometimes reckoned as courage; those who act from

passion, like wild beasts rushing at those who have wounded them,

are thought to be brave, because brave men also are passionate; for

passion above all things is eager to rush on danger, and hence Homer's

'put strength into his passion' and 'aroused their spirit and passion

and 'hard he breathed panting' and 'his blood boiled'. For all such

expressions seem to indicate the stirring and onset of passion. Now

brave men act for honour's sake, but passion aids them; while wild

beasts act under the influence of pain; for they attack because they

have been wounded or because they are afraid, since if they are in

a forest they do not come near one. Thus they are not brave because,

driven by pain and passion, they rush on danger without foreseeing

any of the perils, since at that rate even asses would be brave when

they are hungry; for blows will not drive them from their food; and

lust also makes adulterers do many daring things. (Those creatures

are not brave, then, which are driven on to danger by pain or passion.)

The 'courage' that is due to passion seems to be the most natural,

and to be courage if choice and motive be added.


Men, then, as well as beasts, suffer pain when they are angry, and

are pleased when they exact their revenge; those who fight for these

reasons, however, are pugnacious but not brave; for they do not act

for honour's sake nor as the rule directs, but from strength of feeling;

they have, however, something akin to courage.


(4) Nor are sanguine people brave; for they are confident in danger

only because they have conquered often and against many foes. Yet

they closely resemble brave men, because both are confident; but brave

men are confident for the reasons stated earlier, while these are

so because they think they are the strongest and can suffer nothing.

(Drunken men also behave in this way; they become sanguine). When

their adventures do not succeed, however, they run away; but it was

the mark of a brave man to face things that are, and seem, terrible

for a man, because it is noble to do so and disgraceful not to do

so. Hence also it is thought the mark of a braver man to be fearless

and undisturbed in sudden alarms than to be so in those that are foreseen;

for it must have proceeded more from a state of character, because

less from preparation; acts that are foreseen may be chosen by calculation

and rule, but sudden actions must be in accordance with one's state

of character.


(5) People who are ignorant of the danger also appear brave, and they

are not far removed from those of a sanguine temper, but are inferior

inasmuch as they have no self-reliance while these have. Hence also

the sanguine hold their ground for a time; but those who have been

deceived about the facts fly if they know or suspect that these are

different from what they supposed, as happened to the Argives when

they fell in with the Spartans and took them for Sicyonians.


We have, then, described the character both of brave men and of those

who are thought to be brave.




Though courage is concerned with feelings of confidence and of fear,

it is not concerned with both alike, but more with the things that

inspire fear; for he who is undisturbed in face of these and bears

himself as he should towards these is more truly brave than the man

who does so towards the things that inspire confidence. It is for

facing what is painful, then, as has been said, that men are called

brave. Hence also courage involves pain, and is justly praised; for

it is harder to face what is painful than to abstain from what is



Yet the end which courage sets before it would seem to be pleasant,

but to be concealed by the attending circumstances, as happens also

in athletic contests; for the end at which boxers aim is pleasant-

the crown and the honours- but the blows they take are distressing

to flesh and blood, and painful, and so is their whole exertion; and

because the blows and the exertions are many the end, which is but

small, appears to have nothing pleasant in it. And so, if the case

of courage is similar, death and wounds will be painful to the brave

man and against his will, but he will face them because it is noble

to do so or because it is base not to do so. And the more he is possessed

of virtue in its entirety and the happier he is, the more he will

be pained at the thought of death; for life is best worth living for

such a man, and he is knowingly losing the greatest goods, and this

is painful. But he is none the less brave, and perhaps all the more

so, because he chooses noble deeds of war at that cost. It is not

the case, then, with all the virtues that the exercise of them is

pleasant, except in so far as it reaches its end. But it is quite

possible that the best soldiers may be not men of this sort but those

who are less brave but have no other good; for these are ready to

face danger, and they sell their life for trifling gains.


So much, then, for courage; it is not difficult to grasp its nature

in outline, at any rate, from what has been said.




After courage let us speak of temperance; for these seem to be the

virtues of the irrational parts. We have said that temperance is a

mean with regard to pleasures (for it is less, and not in the same

way, concerned with pains); self-indulgence also is manifested in

the same sphere. Now, therefore, let us determine with what sort of

pleasures they are concerned. We may assume the distinction between

bodily pleasures and those of the soul, such as love of honour and

love of learning; for the lover of each of these delights in that

of which he is a lover, the body being in no way affected, but rather

the mind; but men who are concerned with such pleasures are called

neither temperate nor self-indulgent. Nor, again, are those who are

concerned with the other pleasures that are not bodily; for those

who are fond of hearing and telling stories and who spend their days

on anything that turns up are called gossips, but not self-indulgent,

nor are those who are pained at the loss of money or of friends.


Temperance must be concerned with bodily pleasures, but not all even

of these; for those who delight in objects of vision, such as colours

and shapes and painting, are called neither temperate nor self-indulgent;

yet it would seem possible to delight even in these either as one

should or to excess or to a deficient degree.


And so too is it with objects of hearing; no one calls those who delight

extravagantly in music or acting self-indulgent, nor those who do

so as they ought temperate.


Nor do we apply these names to those who delight in odour, unless

it be incidentally; we do not call those self-indulgent who delight

in the odour of apples or roses or incense, but rather those who delight

in the odour of unguents or of dainty dishes; for self-indulgent people

delight in these because these remind them of the objects of their

appetite. And one may see even other people, when they are hungry,

delighting in the smell of food; but to delight in this kind of thing

is the mark of the self-indulgent man; for these are objects of appetite

to him.


Nor is there in animals other than man any pleasure connected with

these senses, except incidentally. For dogs do not delight in the

scent of hares, but in the eating of them, but the scent told them

the hares were there; nor does the lion delight in the lowing of the

ox, but in eating it; but he perceived by the lowing that it was near,

and therefore appears to delight in the lowing; and similarly he does

not delight because he sees 'a stag or a wild goat', but because he

is going to make a meal of it. Temperance and self-indulgence, however,

are concerned with the kind of pleasures that the other animals share

in, which therefore appear slavish and brutish; these are touch and

taste. But even of taste they appear to make little or no use; for

the business of taste is the discriminating of flavours, which is

done by winetasters and people who season dishes; but they hardly

take pleasure in making these discriminations, or at least self-indulgent

people do not, but in the actual enjoyment, which in all cases comes

through touch, both in the case of food and in that of drink and in

that of sexual intercourse. This is why a certain gourmand prayed

that his throat might become longer than a crane's, implying that

it was the contact that he took pleasure in. Thus the sense with which

self-indulgence is connected is the most widely shared of the senses;

and self-indulgence would seem to be justly a matter of reproach,

because it attaches to us not as men but as animals. To delight in

such things, then, and to love them above all others, is brutish.

For even of the pleasures of touch the most liberal have been eliminated,

e.g. those produced in the gymnasium by rubbing and by the consequent

heat; for the contact characteristic of the self-indulgent man does

not affect the whole body but only certain parts.




Of the appetites some seem to be common, others to be peculiar to

individuals and acquired; e.g. the appetite for food is natural, since

every one who is without it craves for food or drink, and sometimes

for both, and for love also (as Homer says) if he is young and lusty;

but not every one craves for this or that kind of nourishment or love,

nor for the same things. Hence such craving appears to be our very

own. Yet it has of course something natural about it; for different

things are pleasant to different kinds of people, and some things

are more pleasant to every one than chance objects. Now in the natural

appetites few go wrong, and only in one direction, that of excess;

for to eat or drink whatever offers itself till one is surfeited is

to exceed the natural amount, since natural appetite is the replenishment

of one's deficiency. Hence these people are called belly-gods, this

implying that they fill their belly beyond what is right. It is people

of entirely slavish character that become like this. But with regard

to the pleasures peculiar to individuals many people go wrong and

in many ways. For while the people who are 'fond of so and so' are

so called because they delight either in the wrong things, or more

than most people do, or in the wrong way, the self-indulgent exceed

in all three ways; they both delight in some things that they ought

not to delight in (since they are hateful), and if one ought to delight

in some of the things they delight in, they do so more than one ought

and than most men do.


Plainly, then, excess with regard to pleasures is self-indulgence

and is culpable; with regard to pains one is not, as in the case of

courage, called temperate for facing them or self-indulgent for not

doing so, but the selfindulgent man is so called because he is pained

more than he ought at not getting pleasant things (even his pain being

caused by pleasure), and the temperate man is so called because he

is not pained at the absence of what is pleasant and at his abstinence

from it.


The self-indulgent man, then, craves for all pleasant things or those

that are most pleasant, and is led by his appetite to choose these

at the cost of everything else; hence he is pained both when he fails

to get them and when he is merely craving for them (for appetite involves

pain); but it seems absurd to be pained for the sake of pleasure.

People who fall short with regard to pleasures and delight in them

less than they should are hardly found; for such insensibility is

not human. Even the other animals distinguish different kinds of food

and enjoy some and not others; and if there is any one who finds nothing

pleasant and nothing more attractive than anything else, he must be

something quite different from a man; this sort of person has not

received a name because he hardly occurs. The temperate man occupies

a middle position with regard to these objects. For he neither enjoys

the things that the self-indulgent man enjoys most-but rather dislikes

them-nor in general the things that he should not, nor anything of

this sort to excess, nor does he feel pain or craving when they are

absent, or does so only to a moderate degree, and not more than he

should, nor when he should not, and so on; but the things that, being

pleasant, make for health or for good condition, he will desire moderately

and as he should, and also other pleasant things if they are not hindrances

to these ends, or contrary to what is noble, or beyond his means.

For he who neglects these conditions loves such pleasures more than

they are worth, but the temperate man is not that sort of person,

but the sort of person that the right rule prescribes.




Self-indulgence is more like a voluntary state than cowardice. For

the former is actuated by pleasure, the latter by pain, of which the

one is to be chosen and the other to be avoided; and pain upsets and

destroys the nature of the person who feels it, while pleasure does

nothing of the sort. Therefore self-indulgence is more voluntary.

Hence also it is more a matter of reproach; for it is easier to become

accustomed to its objects, since there are many things of this sort

in life, and the process of habituation to them is free from danger,

while with terrible objects the reverse is the case. But cowardice

would seem to be voluntary in a different degree from its particular

manifestations; for it is itself painless, but in these we are upset

by pain, so that we even throw down our arms and disgrace ourselves

in other ways; hence our acts are even thought to be done under compulsion.

For the self-indulgent man, on the other hand, the particular acts

are voluntary (for he does them with craving and desire), but the

whole state is less so; for no one craves to be self-indulgent.


The name self-indulgence is applied also to childish faults; for they

bear a certain resemblance to what we have been considering. Which

is called after which, makes no difference to our present purpose;

plainly, however, the later is called after the earlier. The transference

of the name seems not a bad one; for that which desires what is base

and which develops quickly ought to be kept in a chastened condition,

and these characteristics belong above all to appetite and to the

child, since children in fact live at the beck and call of appetite,

and it is in them that the desire for what is pleasant is strongest.

If, then, it is not going to be obedient and subject to the ruling

principle, it will go to great lengths; for in an irrational being

the desire for pleasure is insatiable even if it tries every source

of gratification, and the exercise of appetite increases its innate

force, and if appetites are strong and violent they even expel the

power of calculation. Hence they should be moderate and few, and should

in no way oppose the rational principle-and this is what we call an

obedient and chastened state-and as the child should live according

to the direction of his tutor, so the appetitive element should live

according to rational principle. Hence the appetitive element in a

temperate man should harmonize with the rational principle; for the

noble is the mark at which both aim, and the temperate man craves

for the things be ought, as he ought, as when he ought; and when he

ought; and this is what rational principle directs.


Here we conclude our account of temperance.








Let us speak next of liberality. It seems to be the mean with regard

to wealth; for the liberal man is praised not in respect of military

matters, nor of those in respect of which the temrate man is praised,

nor of judicial decisions, but with regard to the giving and taking

of wealth, and especially in respect of giving. Now by 'wealth' we

mean all the things whose value is measured by money. Further, prodigality

and meanness are excesses and defects with regard to wealth; and meanness

we always impute to those who care more than they ought for wealth,

but we sometimes apply the word 'prodigality' in a complex sense;

for we call those men prodigals who are incontinent and spend money

on self-indulgence. Hence also they are thought the poorest characters;

for they combine more vices than one. Therefore the application of

the word to them is not its proper use; for a 'prodigal' means a man

who has a single evil quality, that of wasting his substance; since

a prodigal is one who is being ruined by his own fault, and the wasting

of substance is thought to be a sort of ruining of oneself, life being

held to depend on possession of substance.


This, then, is the sense in which we take the word 'prodigality'.

Now the things that have a use may be used either well or badly; and

riches is a useful thing; and everything is used best by the man who

has the virtue concerned with it; riches, therefore, will be used

best by the man who has the virtue concerned with wealth; and this

is the liberal man. Now spending and giving seem to be the using of

wealth; taking and keeping rather the possession of it. Hence it is

more the mark of the liberal man to give to the right people than

to take from the right sources and not to take from the wrong. For

it is more characteristic of virtue to do good than to have good done

to one, and more characteristic to do what is noble than not to do

what is base; and it is not hard to see that giving implies doing

good and doing what is noble, and taking implies having good done

to one or not acting basely. And gratitude is felt towards him who

gives, not towards him who does not take, and praise also is bestowed

more on him. It is easier, also, not to take than to give; for men

are apter to give away their own too little than to take what is another's.

Givers, too, are called liberal; but those who do not take are not

praised for liberality but rather for justice; while those who take

are hardly praised at all. And the liberal are almost the most loved

of all virtuous characters, since they are useful; and this depends

on their giving.


Now virtuous actions are noble and done for the sake of the noble.

Therefore the liberal man, like other virtuous men, will give for

the sake of the noble, and rightly; for he will give to the right

people, the right amounts, and at the right time, with all the other

qualifications that accompany right giving; and that too with pleasure

or without pain; for that which is virtuous is pleasant or free from

pain-least of all will it be painful. But he who gives to the wrong

people or not for the sake of the noble but for some other cause,

will be called not liberal but by some other name. Nor is he liberal

who gives with pain; for he would prefer the wealth to the noble act,

and this is not characteristic of a liberal man. But no more will

the liberal man take from wrong sources; for such taking is not characteristic

of the man who sets no store by wealth. Nor will he be a ready asker;

for it is not characteristic of a man who confers benefits to accept

them lightly. But he will take from the right sources, e.g. from his

own possessions, not as something noble but as a necessity, that he

may have something to give. Nor will he neglect his own property,

since he wishes by means of this to help others. And he will refrain

from giving to anybody and everybody, that he may have something to

give to the right people, at the right time, and where it is noble

to do so. It is highly characteristic of a liberal man also to go

to excess in giving, so that he leaves too little for himself; for

it is the nature of a liberal man not to look to himself. The term

'liberality' is used relatively to a man's substance; for liberality

resides not in the multitude of the gifts but in the state of character

of the giver, and this is relative to the giver's substance. There

is therefore nothing to prevent the man who gives less from being

the more liberal man, if he has less to give those are thought to

be more liberal who have not made their wealth but inherited it; for

in the first place they have no experience of want, and secondly all

men are fonder of their own productions, as are parents and poets.

It is not easy for the liberal man to be rich, since he is not apt

either at taking or at keeping, but at giving away, and does not value

wealth for its own sake but as a means to giving. Hence comes the

charge that is brought against fortune, that those who deserve riches

most get it least. But it is not unreasonable that it should turn

out so; for he cannot have wealth, any more than anything else, if

he does not take pains to have it. Yet he will not give to the wrong

people nor at the wrong time, and so on; for he would no longer be

acting in accordance with liberality, and if he spent on these objects

he would have nothing to spend on the right objects. For, as has been

said, he is liberal who spends according to his substance and on the

right objects; and he who exceeds is prodigal. Hence we do not call

despots prodigal; for it is thought not easy for them to give and

spend beyond the amount of their possessions. Liberality, then, being

a mean with regard to giving and taking of wealth, the liberal man

will both give and spend the right amounts and on the right objects,

alike in small things and in great, and that with pleasure; he will

also take the right amounts and from the right sources. For, the virtue

being a mean with regard to both, he will do both as he ought; since

this sort of taking accompanies proper giving, and that which is not

of this sort is contrary to it, and accordingly the giving and taking

that accompany each other are present together in the same man, while

the contrary kinds evidently are not. But if he happens to spend in

a manner contrary to what is right and noble, he will be pained, but

moderately and as he ought; for it is the mark of virtue both to be

pleased and to be pained at the right objects and in the right way.

Further, the liberal man is easy to deal with in money matters; for

he can be got the better of, since he sets no store by money, and

is more annoyed if he has not spent something that he ought than pained

if he has spent something that he ought not, and does not agree with

the saying of Simonides.


The prodigal errs in these respects also; for he is neither pleased

nor pained at the right things or in the right way; this will be more

evident as we go on. We have said that prodigality and meanness are

excesses and deficiencies, and in two things, in giving and in taking;

for we include spending under giving. Now prodigality exceeds in giving

and not taking, while meanness falls short in giving, and exceeds

in taking, except in small things.


The characteristics of prodigality are not often combined; for it

is not easy to give to all if you take from none; private persons

soon exhaust their substance with giving, and it is to these that

the name of prodigals is applied- though a man of this sort would

seem to be in no small degree better than a mean man. For he is easily

cured both by age and by poverty, and thus he may move towards the

middle state. For he has the characteristics of the liberal man, since

he both gives and refrains from taking, though he does neither of

these in the right manner or well. Therefore if he were brought to

do so by habituation or in some other way, he would be liberal; for

he will then give to the right people, and will not take from the

wrong sources. This is why he is thought to have not a bad character;

it is not the mark of a wicked or ignoble man to go to excess in giving

and not taking, but only of a foolish one. The man who is prodigal

in this way is thought much better than the mean man both for the

aforesaid reasons and because he benefits many while the other benefits

no one, not even himself.


But most prodigal people, as has been said, also take from the wrong

sources, and are in this respect mean. They become apt to take because

they wish to spend and cannot do this easily; for their possessions

soon run short. Thus they are forced to provide means from some other

source. At the same time, because they care nothing for honour, they

take recklessly and from any source; for they have an appetite for

giving, and they do not mind how or from what source. Hence also their

giving is not liberal; for it is not noble, nor does it aim at nobility,

nor is it done in the right way; sometimes they make rich those who

should be poor, and will give nothing to people of respectable character,

and much to flatterers or those who provide them with some other pleasure.

Hence also most of them are self-indulgent; for they spend lightly

and waste money on their indulgences, and incline towards pleasures

because they do not live with a view to what is noble.


The prodigal man, then, turns into what we have described if he is

left untutored, but if he is treated with care he will arrive at the

intermediate and right state. But meanness is both incurable (for

old age and every disability is thought to make men mean) and more

innate in men than prodigality; for most men are fonder of getting

money than of giving. It also extends widely, and is multiform, since

there seem to be many kinds of meanness.


For it consists in two things, deficiency in giving and excess in

taking, and is not found complete in all men but is sometimes divided;

some men go to excess in taking, others fall short in giving. Those

who are called by such names as 'miserly', 'close', 'stingy', all

fall short in giving, but do not covet the possessions of others nor

wish to get them. In some this is due to a sort of honesty and avoidance

of what is disgraceful (for some seem, or at least profess, to hoard

their money for this reason, that they may not some day be forced

to do something disgraceful; to this class belong the cheeseparer

and every one of the sort; he is so called from his excess of unwillingness

to give anything); while others again keep their hands off the property

of others from fear, on the ground that it is not easy, if one takes

the property of others oneself, to avoid having one's own taken by

them; they are therefore content neither to take nor to give.


Others again exceed in respect of taking by taking anything and from

any source, e.g. those who ply sordid trades, pimps and all such people,

and those who lend small sums and at high rates. For all of these

take more than they ought and from wrong sources. What is common to

them is evidently sordid love of gain; they all put up with a bad

name for the sake of gain, and little gain at that. For those who

make great gains but from wrong sources, and not the right gains,

e.g. despots when they sack cities and spoil temples, we do not call

mean but rather wicked, impious, and unjust. But the gamester and

the footpad (and the highwayman) belong to the class of the mean,

since they have a sordid love of gain. For it is for gain that both

of them ply their craft and endure the disgrace of it, and the one

faces the greatest dangers for the sake of the booty, while the other

makes gain from his friends, to whom he ought to be giving. Both,

then, since they are willing to make gain from wrong sources, are

sordid lovers of gain; therefore all such forms of taking are mean.


And it is natural that meanness is described as the contrary of liberality;

for not only is it a greater evil than prodigality, but men err more

often in this direction than in the way of prodigality as we have

described it.


So much, then, for liberality and the opposed vices.




It would seem proper to discuss magnificence next. For this also seems

to be a virtue concerned with wealth; but it does not like liberality

extend to all the actions that are concerned with wealth, but only

to those that involve expenditure; and in these it surpasses liberality

in scale. For, as the name itself suggests, it is a fitting expenditure

involving largeness of scale. But the scale is relative; for the expense

of equipping a trireme is not the same as that of heading a sacred

embassy. It is what is fitting, then, in relation to the agent, and

to the circumstances and the object. The man who in small or middling

things spends according to the merits of the case is not called magnificent

(e.g. the man who can say 'many a gift I gave the wanderer'), but

only the man who does so in great things. For the magnificent man

is liberal, but the liberal man is not necessarily magnificent. The

deficiency of this state of character is called niggardliness, the

excess vulgarity, lack of taste, and the like, which do not go to

excess in the amount spent on right objects, but by showy expenditure

in the wrong circumstances and the wrong manner; we shall speak of

these vices later.


The magnificent man is like an artist; for he can see what is fitting

and spend large sums tastefully. For, as we said at the begining,

a state of character is determined by its activities and by its objects.

Now the expenses of the magnificent man are large and fitting. Such,

therefore, are also his results; for thus there will be a great expenditure

and one that is fitting to its result. Therefore the result should

be worthy of the expense, and the expense should be worthy of the

result, or should even exceed it. And the magnificent man will spend

such sums for honour's sake; for this is common to the virtues. And

further he will do so gladly and lavishly; for nice calculation is

a niggardly thing. And he will consider how the result can be made

most beautiful and most becoming rather than for how much it can be

produced and how it can be produced most cheaply. It is necessary,

then, that the magnificent man be also liberal. For the liberal man

also will spend what he ought and as he ought; and it is in these

matters that the greatness implied in the name of the magnificent

man-his bigness, as it were-is manifested, since liberality is concerned

with these matters; and at an equal expense he will produce a more

magnificent work of art. For a possession and a work of art have not

the same excellence. The most valuable possession is that which is

worth most, e.g. gold, but the most valuable work of art is that which

is great and beautiful (for the contemplation of such a work inspires

admiration, and so does magnificence); and a work has an excellence-viz.

magnificence-which involves magnitude. Magnificence is an attribute

of expenditures of the kind which we call honourable, e.g. those connected

with the gods-votive offerings, buildings, and sacrifices-and similarly

with any form of religious worship, and all those that are proper

objects of public-spirited ambition, as when people think they ought

to equip a chorus or a trireme, or entertain the city, in a brilliant

way. But in all cases, as has been said, we have regard to the agent

as well and ask who he is and what means he has; for the expenditure

should be worthy of his means, and suit not only the result but also

the producer. Hence a poor man cannot be magnificent, since he has

not the means with which to spend large sums fittingly; and he who

tries is a fool, since he spends beyond what can be expected of him

and what is proper, but it is right expenditure that is virtuous.

But great expenditure is becoming to those who have suitable means

to start with, acquired by their own efforts or from ancestors or

connexions, and to people of high birth or reputation, and so on;

for all these things bring with them greatness and prestige. Primarily,

then, the magnificent man is of this sort, and magnificence is shown

in expenditures of this sort, as has been said; for these are the

greatest and most honourable. Of private occasions of expenditure

the most suitable are those that take place once for all, e.g. a wedding

or anything of the kind, or anything that interests the whole city

or the people of position in it, and also the receiving of foreign

guests and the sending of them on their way, and gifts and counter-gifts;

for the magnificent man spends not on himself but on public objects,

and gifts bear some resemblance to votive offerings. A magnificent

man will also furnish his house suitably to his wealth (for even a

house is a sort of public ornament), and will spend by preference

on those works that are lasting (for these are the most beautiful),

and on every class of things he will spend what is becoming; for the

same things are not suitable for gods and for men, nor in a temple

and in a tomb. And since each expenditure may be great of its kind,

and what is most magnificent absolutely is great expenditure on a

great object, but what is magnificent here is what is great in these

circumstances, and greatness in the work differs from greatness in

the expense (for the most beautiful ball or bottle is magnificent

as a gift to a child, but the price of it is small and mean),-therefore

it is characteristic of the magnificent man, whatever kind of result

he is producing, to produce it magnificently (for such a result is

not easily surpassed) and to make it worthy of the expenditure.


Such, then, is the magnificent man; the man who goes to excess and

is vulgar exceeds, as has been said, by spending beyond what is right.

For on small objects of expenditure he spends much and displays a

tasteless showiness; e.g. he gives a club dinner on the scale of a

wedding banquet, and when he provides the chorus for a comedy he brings

them on to the stage in purple, as they do at Megara. And all such

things he will do not for honour's sake but to show off his wealth,

and because he thinks he is admired for these things, and where he

ought to spend much he spends little and where little, much. The niggardly

man on the other hand will fall short in everything, and after spending

the greatest sums will spoil the beauty of the result for a trifle,

and whatever he is doing he will hesitate and consider how he may

spend least, and lament even that, and think he is doing everything

on a bigger scale than he ought.


These states of character, then, are vices; yet they do not bring

disgrace because they are neither harmful to one's neighbour nor very





Pride seems even from its name to be concerned with great things;

what sort of great things, is the first question we must try to answer.

It makes no difference whether we consider the state of character

or the man characterized by it. Now the man is thought to be proud

who thinks himself worthy of great things, being worthy of them; for

he who does so beyond his deserts is a fool, but no virtuous man is

foolish or silly. The proud man, then, is the man we have described.

For he who is worthy of little and thinks himself worthy of little

is temperate, but not proud; for pride implies greatness, as beauty

implies a goodsized body, and little people may be neat and well-proportioned

but cannot be beautiful. On the other hand, he who thinks himself

worthy of great things, being unworthy of them, is vain; though not

every one who thinks himself worthy of more than he really is worthy

of in vain. The man who thinks himself worthy of worthy of less than

he is really worthy of is unduly humble, whether his deserts be great

or moderate, or his deserts be small but his claims yet smaller. And

the man whose deserts are great would seem most unduly humble; for

what would he have done if they had been less? The proud man, then,

is an extreme in respect of the greatness of his claims, but a mean

in respect of the rightness of them; for he claims what is accordance

with his merits, while the others go to excess or fall short.


If, then, he deserves and claims great things, and above all the great

things, he will be concerned with one thing in particular. Desert

is relative to external goods; and the greatest of these, we should

say, is that which we render to the gods, and which people of position

most aim at, and which is the prize appointed for the noblest deeds;

and this is honour; that is surely the greatest of external goods.

Honours and dishonours, therefore, are the objects with respect to

which the proud man is as he should be. And even apart from argument

it is with honour that proud men appear to be concerned; for it is

honour that they chiefly claim, but in accordance with their deserts.

The unduly humble man falls short both in comparison with his own

merits and in comparison with the proud man's claims. The vain man

goes to excess in comparison with his own merits, but does not exceed

the proud man's claims.


Now the proud man, since he deserves most, must be good in the highest

degree; for the better man always deserves more, and the best man

most. Therefore the truly proud man must be good. And greatness in

every virtue would seem to be characteristic of a proud man. And it

would be most unbecoming for a proud man to fly from danger, swinging

his arms by his sides, or to wrong another; for to what end should

he do disgraceful acts, he to whom nothing is great? If we consider

him point by point we shall see the utter absurdity of a proud man

who is not good. Nor, again, would he be worthy of honour if he were

bad; for honour is the prize of virtue, and it is to the good that

it is rendered. Pride, then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues;

for it makes them greater, and it is not found without them. Therefore

it is hard to be truly proud; for it is impossible without nobility

and goodness of character. It is chiefly with honours and dishonours,

then, that the proud man is concerned; and at honours that are great

and conferred by good men he will be moderately Pleased, thinking

that he is coming by his own or even less than his own; for there

can be no honour that is worthy of perfect virtue, yet he will at

any rate accept it since they have nothing greater to bestow on him;

but honour from casual people and on trifling grounds he will utterly

despise, since it is not this that he deserves, and dishonour too,

since in his case it cannot be just. In the first place, then, as

has been said, the proud man is concerned with honours; yet he will

also bear himself with moderation towards wealth and power and all

good or evil fortune, whatever may befall him, and will be neither

over-joyed by good fortune nor over-pained by evil. For not even towards

honour does he bear himself as if it were a very great thing. Power

and wealth are desirable for the sake of honour (at least those who

have them wish to get honour by means of them); and for him to whom

even honour is a little thing the others must be so too. Hence proud

men are thought to be disdainful.


The goods of fortune also are thought to contribute towards pride.

For men who are well-born are thought worthy of honour, and so are

those who enjoy power or wealth; for they are in a superior position,

and everything that has a superiority in something good is held in

greater honour. Hence even such things make men prouder; for they

are honoured by some for having them; but in truth the good man alone

is to be honoured; he, however, who has both advantages is thought

the more worthy of honour. But those who without virtue have such

goods are neither justified in making great claims nor entitled to

the name of 'proud'; for these things imply perfect virtue. Disdainful

and insolent, however, even those who have such goods become. For

without virtue it is not easy to bear gracefully the goods of fortune;

and, being unable to bear them, and thinking themselves superior to

others, they despise others and themselves do what they please. They

imitate the proud man without being like him, and this they do where

they can; so they do not act virtuously, but they do despise others.

For the proud man despises justly (since he thinks truly), but the

many do so at random.


He does not run into trifling dangers, nor is he fond of danger, because

he honours few things; but he will face great dangers, and when he

is in danger he is unsparing of his life, knowing that there are conditions

on which life is not worth having. And he is the sort of man to confer

benefits, but he is ashamed of receiving them; for the one is the

mark of a superior, the other of an inferior. And he is apt to confer

greater benefits in return; for thus the original benefactor besides

being paid will incur a debt to him, and will be the gainer by the

transaction. They seem also to remember any service they have done,

but not those they have received (for he who receives a service is

inferior to him who has done it, but the proud man wishes to be superior),

and to hear of the former with pleasure, of the latter with displeasure;

this, it seems, is why Thetis did not mention to Zeus the services

she had done him, and why the Spartans did not recount their services

to the Athenians, but those they had received. It is a mark of the

proud man also to ask for nothing or scarcely anything, but to give

help readily, and to be dignified towards people who enjoy high position

and good fortune, but unassuming towards those of the middle class;

for it is a difficult and lofty thing to be superior to the former,

but easy to be so to the latter, and a lofty bearing over the former

is no mark of ill-breeding, but among humble people it is as vulgar

as a display of strength against the weak. Again, it is characteristic

of the proud man not to aim at the things commonly held in honour,

or the things in which others excel; to be sluggish and to hold back

except where great honour or a great work is at stake, and to be a

man of few deeds, but of great and notable ones. He must also be open

in his hate and in his love (for to conceal one's feelings, i.e. to

care less for truth than for what people will think, is a coward's

part), and must speak and act openly; for he is free of speech because

he is contemptuous, and he is given to telling the truth, except when

he speaks in irony to the vulgar. He must be unable to make his life

revolve round another, unless it be a friend; for this is slavish,

and for this reason all flatterers are servile and people lacking

in self-respect are flatterers. Nor is he given to admiration; for

nothing to him is great. Nor is he mindful of wrongs; for it is not

the part of a proud man to have a long memory, especially for wrongs,

but rather to overlook them. Nor is he a gossip; for he will speak

neither about himself nor about another, since he cares not to be

praised nor for others to be blamed; nor again is he given to praise;

and for the same reason he is not an evil-speaker, even about his

enemies, except from haughtiness. With regard to necessary or small

matters he is least of all me given to lamentation or the asking of

favours; for it is the part of one who takes such matters seriously

to behave so with respect to them. He is one who will possess beautiful

and profitless things rather than profitable and useful ones; for

this is more proper to a character that suffices to itself.


Further, a slow step is thought proper to the proud man, a deep voice,

and a level utterance; for the man who takes few things seriously

is not likely to be hurried, nor the man who thinks nothing great

to be excited, while a shrill voice and a rapid gait are the results

of hurry and excitement.


Such, then, is the proud man; the man who falls short of him is unduly

humble, and the man who goes beyond him is vain. Now even these are

not thought to be bad (for they are not malicious), but only mistaken.

For the unduly humble man, being worthy of good things, robs himself

of what he deserves, and to have something bad about him from the

fact that he does not think himself worthy of good things, and seems

also not to know himself; else he would have desired the things he

was worthy of, since these were good. Yet such people are not thought

to be fools, but rather unduly retiring. Such a reputation, however,

seems actually to make them worse; for each class of people aims at

what corresponds to its worth, and these people stand back even from

noble actions and undertakings, deeming themselves unworthy, and from

external goods no less. Vain people, on the other hand, are fools

and ignorant of themselves, and that manifestly; for, not being worthy

of them, they attempt honourable undertakings, and then are found

out; and tetadorn themselves with clothing and outward show and such

things, and wish their strokes of good fortune to be made public,

and speak about them as if they would be honoured for them. But undue

humility is more opposed to pride than vanity is; for it is both commoner

and worse.


Pride, then, is concerned with honour on the grand scale, as has been





There seems to be in the sphere of honour also, as was said in our

first remarks on the subject, a virtue which would appear to be related

to pride as liberality is to magnificence. For neither of these has

anything to do with the grand scale, but both dispose us as is right

with regard to middling and unimportant objects; as in getting and

giving of wealth there is a mean and an excess and defect, so too

honour may be desired more than is right, or less, or from the right

sources and in the right way. We blame both the ambitious man as am

at honour more than is right and from wrong sources, and the unambitious

man as not willing to be honoured even for noble reasons. But sometimes

we praise the ambitious man as being manly and a lover of what is

noble, and the unambitious man as being moderate and self-controlled,

as we said in our first treatment of the subject. Evidently, since

'fond of such and such an object' has more than one meaning, we do

not assign the term 'ambition' or 'love of honour' always to the same

thing, but when we praise the quality we think of the man who loves

honour more than most people, and when we blame it we think of him

who loves it more than is right. The mean being without a name, the

extremes seem to dispute for its place as though that were vacant

by default. But where there is excess and defect, there is also an

intermediate; now men desire honour both more than they should and

less; therefore it is possible also to do so as one should; at all

events this is the state of character that is praised, being an unnamed

mean in respect of honour. Relatively to ambition it seems to be unambitiousness,

and relatively to unambitiousness it seems to be ambition, while relatively

to both severally it seems in a sense to be both together. This appears

to be true of the other virtues also. But in this case the extremes

seem to be contradictories because the mean has not received a name.




Good temper is a mean with respect to anger; the middle state being

unnamed, and the extremes almost without a name as well, we place

good temper in the middle position, though it inclines towards the

deficiency, which is without a name. The excess might called a sort

of 'irascibility'. For the passion is anger, while its causes are

many and diverse.


The man who is angry at the right things and with the right people,

and, further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought,

is praised. This will be the good-tempered man, then, since good temper

is praised. For the good-tempered man tends to be unperturbed and

not to be led by passion, but to be angry in the manner, at the things,

and for the length of time, that the rule dictates; but he is thought

to err rather in the direction of deficiency; for the good-tempered

man is not revengeful, but rather tends to make allowances.


The deficiency, whether it is a sort of 'inirascibility' or whatever

it is, is blamed. For those who are not angry at the things they should

be angry at are thought to be fools, and so are those who are not

angry in the right way, at the right time, or with the right persons;

for such a man is thought not to feel things nor to be pained by them,

and, since he does not get angry, he is thought unlikely to defend

himself; and to endure being insulted and put up with insult to one's

friends is slavish.


The excess can be manifested in all the points that have been named

(for one can be angry with the wrong persons, at the wrong things,

more than is right, too quickly, or too long); yet all are not found

in the same person. Indeed they could not; for evil destroys even

itself, and if it is complete becomes unbearable. Now hot-tempered

people get angry quickly and with the wrong persons and at the wrong

things and more than is right, but their anger ceases quickly-which

is the best point about them. This happens to them because they do

not restrain their anger but retaliate openly owing to their quickness

of temper, and then their anger ceases. By reason of excess choleric

people are quick-tempered and ready to be angry with everything and

on every occasion; whence their name. Sulky people are hard to appease,

and retain their anger long; for they repress their passion. But it

ceases when they retaliate; for revenge relieves them of their anger,

producing in them pleasure instead of pain. If this does not happen

they retain their burden; for owing to its not being obvious no one

even reasons with them, and to digest one's anger in oneself takes

time. Such people are most troublesome to themselves and to their

dearest friends. We call had-tempered those who are angry at the wrong

things, more than is right, and longer, and cannot be appeased until

they inflict vengeance or punishment.


To good temper we oppose the excess rather than the defect; for not

only is it commoner since revenge is the more human), but bad-tempered

people are worse to live with.


What we have said in our earlier treatment of the subject is plain

also from what we are now saying; viz. that it is not easy to define

how, with whom, at what, and how long one should be angry, and at

what point right action ceases and wrong begins. For the man who strays

a little from the path, either towards the more or towards the less,

is not blamed; since sometimes we praise those who exhibit the deficiency,

and call them good-tempered, and sometimes we call angry people manly,

as being capable of ruling. How far, therefore, and how a man must

stray before he becomes blameworthy, it is not easy to state in words;

for the decision depends on the particular facts and on perception.

But so much at least is plain, that the middle state is praiseworthy-

that in virtue of which we are angry with the right people, at the

right things, in the right way, and so on, while the excesses and

defects are blameworthy- slightly so if they are present in a low

degree, more if in a higher degree, and very much if in a high degree.

Evidently, then, we must cling to the middle state.- Enough of the

states relative to anger.




In gatherings of men, in social life and the interchange of words

and deeds, some men are thought to be obsequious, viz. those who to

give pleasure praise everything and never oppose, but think it their

duty 'to give no pain to the people they meet'; while those who, on

the contrary, oppose everything and care not a whit about giving pain

are called churlish and contentious. That the states we have named

are culpable is plain enough, and that the middle state is laudable-

that in virtue of which a man will put up with, and will resent, the

right things and in the right way; but no name has been assigned to

it, though it most resembles friendship. For the man who corresponds

to this middle state is very much what, with affection added, we call

a good friend. But the state in question differs from friendship in

that it implies no passion or affection for one's associates; since

it is not by reason of loving or hating that such a man takes everything

in the right way, but by being a man of a certain kind. For he will

behave so alike towards those he knows and those he does not know,

towards intimates and those who are not so, except that in each of

these cases he will behave as is befitting; for it is not proper to

have the same care for intimates and for strangers, nor again is it

the same conditions that make it right to give pain to them. Now we

have said generally that he will associate with people in the right

way; but it is by reference to what is honourable and expedient that

he will aim at not giving pain or at contributing pleasure. For he

seems to be concerned with the pleasures and pains of social life;

and wherever it is not honourable, or is harmful, for him to contribute

pleasure, he will refuse, and will choose rather to give pain; also

if his acquiescence in another's action would bring disgrace, and

that in a high degree, or injury, on that other, while his opposition

brings a little pain, he will not acquiesce but will decline. He will

associate differently with people in high station and with ordinary

people, with closer and more distant acquaintances, and so too with

regard to all other differences, rendering to each class what is befitting,

and while for its own sake he chooses to contribute pleasure, and

avoids the giving of pain, he will be guided by the consequences,

if these are greater, i.e. honour and expediency. For the sake of

a great future pleasure, too, he will inflict small pains.


The man who attains the mean, then, is such as we have described,

but has not received a name; of those who contribute pleasure, the

man who aims at being pleasant with no ulterior object is obsequious,

but the man who does so in order that he may get some advantage in

the direction of money or the things that money buys is a flatterer;

while the man who quarrels with everything is, as has been said, churlish

and contentious. And the extremes seem to be contradictory to each

other because the mean is without a name.




The mean opposed to boastfulness is found in almost the same sphere;

and this also is without a name. It will be no bad plan to describe

these states as well; for we shall both know the facts about character

better if we go through them in detail, and we shall be convinced

that the virtues are means if we see this to be so in all cases. In

the field of social life those who make the giving of pleasure or

pain their object in associating with others have been described;

let us now describe those who pursue truth or falsehood alike in words

and deeds and in the claims they put forward. The boastful man, then,

is thought to be apt to claim the things that bring glory, when he

has not got them, or to claim more of them than he has, and the mock-modest

man on the other hand to disclaim what he has or belittle it, while

the man who observes the mean is one who calls a thing by its own

name, being truthful both in life and in word, owning to what he has,

and neither more nor less. Now each of these courses may be adopted

either with or without an object. But each man speaks and acts and

lives in accordance with his character, if he is not acting for some

ulterior object. And falsehood is in itself mean and culpable, and

truth noble and worthy of praise. Thus the truthful man is another

case of a man who, being in the mean, is worthy of praise, and both

forms of untruthful man are culpable, and particularly the boastful



Let us discuss them both, but first of all the truthful man. We are

not speaking of the man who keeps faith in his agreements, i.e. in

the things that pertain to justice or injustice (for this would belong

to another virtue), but the man who in the matters in which nothing

of this sort is at stake is true both in word and in life because

his character is such. But such a man would seem to be as a matter

of fact equitable. For the man who loves truth, and is truthful where

nothing is at stake, will still more be truthful where something is

at stake; he will avoid falsehood as something base, seeing that he

avoided it even for its own sake; and such a man is worthy of praise.

He inclines rather to understate the truth; for this seems in better

taste because exaggerations are wearisome.


He who claims more than he has with no ulterior object is a contemptible

sort of fellow (otherwise he would not have delighted in falsehood),

but seems futile rather than bad; but if he does it for an object,

he who does it for the sake of reputation or honour is (for a boaster)

not very much to be blamed, but he who does it for money, or the things

that lead to money, is an uglier character (it is not the capacity

that makes the boaster, but the purpose; for it is in virtue of his

state of character and by being a man of a certain kind that he is

boaster); as one man is a liar because he enjoys the lie itself, and

another because he desires reputation or gain. Now those who boast

for the sake of reputation claim such qualities as will praise or

congratulation, but those whose object is gain claim qualities which

are of value to one's neighbours and one's lack of which is not easily

detected, e.g. the powers of a seer, a sage, or a physician. For this

reason it is such things as these that most people claim and boast

about; for in them the above-mentioned qualities are found.


Mock-modest people, who understate things, seem more attractive in

character; for they are thought to speak not for gain but to avoid

parade; and here too it is qualities which bring reputation that they

disclaim, as Socrates used to do. Those who disclaim trifling and

obvious qualities are called humbugs and are more contemptible; and

sometimes this seems to be boastfulness, like the Spartan dress; for

both excess and great deficiency are boastful. But those who use understatement

with moderation and understate about matters that do not very much

force themselves on our notice seem attractive. And it is the boaster

that seems to be opposed to the truthful man; for he is the worse





Since life includes rest as well as activity, and in this is included

leisure and amusement, there seems here also to be a kind of intercourse

which is tasteful; there is such a thing as saying- and again listening

to- what one should and as one should. The kind of people one is speaking

or listening to will also make a difference. Evidently here also there

is both an excess and a deficiency as compared with the mean. Those

who carry humour to excess are thought to be vulgar buffoons, striving

after humour at all costs, and aiming rather at raising a laugh than

at saying what is becoming and at avoiding pain to the object of their

fun; while those who can neither make a joke themselves nor put up

with those who do are thought to be boorish and unpolished. But those

who joke in a tasteful way are called ready-witted, which implies

a sort of readiness to turn this way and that; for such sallies are

thought to be movements of the character, and as bodies are discriminated

by their movements, so too are characters. The ridiculous side of

things is not far to seek, however, and most people delight more than

they should in amusement and in jestinly. and so even buffoons are

called ready-witted because they are found attractive; but that they

differ from the ready-witted man, and to no small extent, is clear

from what has been said.


To the middle state belongs also tact; it is the mark of a tactful

man to say and listen to such things as befit a good and well-bred

man; for there are some things that it befits such a man to say and

to hear by way of jest, and the well-bred man's jesting differs from

that of a vulgar man, and the joking of an educated man from that

of an uneducated. One may see this even from the old and the new comedies;

to the authors of the former indecency of language was amusing, to

those of the latter innuendo is more so; and these differ in no small

degree in respect of propriety. Now should we define the man who jokes

well by his saying what is not unbecoming to a well-bred man, or by

his not giving pain, or even giving delight, to the hearer? Or is

the latter definition, at any rate, itself indefinite, since different

things are hateful or pleasant to different people? The kind of jokes

he will listen to will be the same; for the kind he can put up with

are also the kind he seems to make. There are, then, jokes he will

not make; for the jest is a sort of abuse, and there are things that

lawgivers forbid us to abuse; and they should, perhaps, have forbidden

us even to make a jest of such. The refined and well-bred man, therefore,

will be as we have described, being as it were a law to himself.


Such, then, is the man who observes the mean, whether he be called

tactful or ready-witted. The buffoon, on the other hand, is the slave

of his sense of humour, and spares neither himself nor others if he

can raise a laugh, and says things none of which a man of refinement

would say, and to some of which he would not even listen. The boor,

again, is useless for such social intercourse; for he contributes

nothing and finds fault with everything. But relaxation and amusement

are thought to be a necessary element in life.


The means in life that have been described, then, are three in number,

and are all concerned with an interchange of words and deeds of some

kind. They differ, however, in that one is concerned with truth; and

the other two with pleasantness. Of those concerned with pleasure,

one is displayed in jests, the other in the general social intercourse

of life.




Shame should not be described as a virtue; for it is more like a feeling

than a state of character. It is defined, at any rate, as a kind of

fear of dishonour, and produces an effect similar to that produced

by fear of danger; for people who feel disgraced blush, and those

who fear death turn pale. Both, therefore, seem to be in a sense bodily

conditions, which is thought to be characteristic of feeling rather

than of a state of character.


The feeling is not becoming to every age, but only to youth. For we

think young people should be prone to the feeling of shame because

they live by feeling and therefore commit many errors, but are restrained

by shame; and we praise young people who are prone to this feeling,

but an older person no one would praise for being prone to the sense

of disgrace, since we think he should not do anything that need cause

this sense. For the sense of disgrace is not even characteristic of

a good man, since it is consequent on bad actions (for such actions

should not be done; and if some actions are disgraceful in very truth

and others only according to common opinion, this makes no difference;

for neither class of actions should be done, so that no disgrace should

be felt); and it is a mark of a bad man even to be such as to do any

disgraceful action. To be so constituted as to feel disgraced if one

does such an action, and for this reason to think oneself good, is

absurd; for it is for voluntary actions that shame is felt, and the

good man will never voluntarily do bad actions. But shame may be said

to be conditionally a good thing; if a good man does such actions,

he will feel disgraced; but the virtues are not subject to such a

qualification. And if shamelessness-not to be ashamed of doing base

actions-is bad, that does not make it good to be ashamed of doing

such actions. Continence too is not virtue, but a mixed sort of state;

this will be shown later. Now, however, let us discuss justice.


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