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[1218a] [1]

Again, wherever there is a sequence of factors, a prior and a subsequent, there is not some common element beside these factors and that element separable; for then there would be something prior to the first in the series, for the common and separable term would be prior because when the common element was destroyed the first factor would be destroyed. For example, if double is the first of the multiples, the multiplicity predicated of them in common cannot exist as a separable thing, for then it will be prior to double, if it is the case that the common element is the Form, as it would be if one were to make the common element separable: for if justice is a good, and courage, there is then, they say, a Good-in-itself, so the term 'in itself' is added to the common definition. But what could this denote except that the good is eternal and separable? Yet a thing that is white for days is no more white than a thing that is white for one day, so that the good is no more good by being eternal1; nor yet therefore is the common good the same as the Form, for it is the common property of all the goods.

Also the proper method of proving the Absolute Good is the contrary of the method now adopted. At present it is from things not admitted to possess goodness that they prove the things admitted to be good, for instance, they prove from numbers that justice and health are good, because they are arrangements and numbers— [20] on the assumption that goodness is a property of numbers and monads because the Absolute Good is unity. But the proper method is to start from things admitted to be good, for instance health, strength, sobriety of mind, and prove that beauty is present even more in the unchanging; for all these admitted goods consist in order and rest, and therefore, if that is so, the things unchanging are good in an even greater degree, for they possess order and rest in a greater degree.— And it is a hazardous way of proving that the Absolute Good is unity to say that numbers aim at unity; for it is not clearly stated how they aim at it, but the expression is used in too unqualified a manner; and how can one suppose that things not possessing life can have appetition? One ought to study this matter carefully, and not make an unreasoned assumption about something as to which it is not easy to attain certainty even with the aid of reason.—And the statement that all existing things desire some one good is not true; each thing seeks its own particular good, the eye sight, the body health, and similarly another thing another good.

Such then are the difficulties indicating that the Absolute Good does not exist,—and that it is of no use for political science, but that this has a special good of its own, as have the other sciences also—for instance the good of gymnastics is good bodily condition.

2Further there is also what has been written in the discourse: either the Class-form of the good is in itself useful to no science, or it is useful to all alike.

Further it is not practicable.

And similarly the good as universal also is not an Absolute Good

1 The words rendered 'the good is . . . eternal' are a conjectural insertion.

2 This sentence reads like a mere note. The reference seems to be to Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1217b 16-1218a 32, especially Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1217a 19-25.

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  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 1.1217a
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 1.1217b
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