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[1215b] [1] Of these the philosophic life denotes being concerned with the contemplation of truth, the political life means being occupied with honorable activities (and these are the activities that spring from goodness), and the life of enjoyment is concerned with the pleasures of the body. Owing to this, different people give the name of happy to different persons, as was said before too; and Anaxagoras1 of Clazomenae when asked 'Who is the happiest man?' said 'None of those whom you think, but he would seem to you an odd sort of person.' But Anaxagoras answered in that way because he saw that the man who put the question supposed it to be impossible to receive the appellation 'happy' without being great and beautiful or rich, whereas he himself perhaps thought that the person who humanly speaking enjoys bliss is he that lives by the standard of justice without pain and in purity, or participates in some form of divine contemplation.2

While there are many different things as to which it is not easy to make a right judgement, this is especially the case with one about which everybody thinks that it is very easy to judge and that anybody can decide—the question which of the things contained in being alive is preferable, and which when attained would fully satisfy a man's desire. For many of life's events are such that they cause men to throw life away, [20] for instance, diseases, excessive pains, storms; so that it is clear that on account of these things any way it would actually be preferable, if someone offered us the choice, not to be born at all.3 And in addition, the kind of life that people live while still children is not desirable—in fact no sensible person could endure to go back to it again. And further, many of the experiences that contain no pleasure nor pain, and also of those that do contain pleasure but pleasure of an ignoble kind, are such that non-existence would be better than being alive. And generally, if one collected together the whole of the things that the whole of mankind do and experience yet do and experience unwillingly, because not for the sake of the things themselves, and if one added an infinite extent of time, these things would not cause a man to choose to be alive rather than not alive. But moreover, also the pleasure of food or of sex alone, with the other pleasures abstracted that knowledge or sight or any other of the senses provides for human beings, would not induce anybody to value life higher if he were not utterly slavish, for it is clear that to one making this choice there would be no difference between being born a beast or a man; at all events, the ox in Egypt,

1 The physical philosopher, 500-428 B.C., born at Clazomenae in Ionia, taught at Athens.

2 i.e. the man who displays the virtues of Temperance, Justice and Wisdom (the fourth cardinal virtue, Courage, is omitted), enhanced by pleasure or freedom from pain. This passage illustrates how Aristotle prepared the way for the hedonism of Epicurus.

3 Cf. Soph. O.C. 1225μὴ φῦναι τὸν ἅπαντα νικᾷ λόγον.

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