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[1214b] [1] declaring that one contributes more to it than another—some holding that Wisdom is a greater good than Goodness, others the reverse, and others that Pleasure is a greater good than either of them; and some think that the happy life comes from them all, others from two of them, others that it consists in some one of them.

Having then in regard to this subject established that everybody able to live according to his own purposive choice should set before him some object for noble living to aim at1—either honor or else glory or wealth or culture—on which he will keep his eyes fixed in all his conduct (since clearly it is a mark of much folly not to have one's life regulated with regard to some End), it is therefore most necessary first to decide within oneself, neither hastily nor carelessly, in which of the things that belong to us the good life consists, and what are the indispensable conditions for men's possessing it. For there is a distinction between health and the things that are indispensable conditions of health, and this is similarly the case with many other things; consequently also to live finely is not the same as the things without which living finely is impossible. And in the latter class of things some that are indispensable conditions of health and life are not peculiar to special people but common to practically all men—both some states and some actions—for instance, without breathing or being awake or participating in movement we could not possess any good or any evil at all; whereas others are more peculiar to special types of natural constitution— [20] for instance, eating meat and taking walking exercise after dinner are not closely related to health in the same way as the conditions mentioned. And these facts must not be overlooked,2 for these are the causes of the disputes about the real nature of happiness and about the means of procuring it; for some people regard the things that are indispensable conditions of being happy as actual parts of happiness.

Now to examine all the opinions that any people hold about happiness is a superfluous task3 For children and the sick and insane have many opinions which no sensible man would discuss, for these persons need not argument but the former time in which to grow up and alter and the latter medical or official chastisement (treatment with drugs being chastisement just as much as flogging is). And similarly it is also superfluous to examine the opinions of the multitude4 either;

1 Cf. Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1094a 22, 1095a 22-26.

2 In the Mss. this clause comes before the preceding one, 'for instance, eating meat . . . mentioned.'

3 Cf. Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1095a 28-30, b 19ff.

4 Cf. Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1095b 19.

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  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
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    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1094a.20
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1095a
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1095b
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