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[1219a] [1] This is clear from induction, for we posit this in all cases: for instance, there is a goodness that belongs to a coat, for a coat has a particular function and use, and the best state of a coat is its goodness; and similarly with a ship and a house and the rest. So that the same is true also of the spirit, for it has a work of its own. And therefore let us assume that the better the state is the better is the work of that state, and that as states stand in relation to one another so do the works that result from them. And the work of each thing is its End; from this, therefore, it is plain that the work is a greater good than the state, for the End is the best as being an End, since the greatest good is assumed as an End and as the ultimate object for the sake of which all the other things exist. It is clear, therefore, that the work is a greater good than the state and disposition. But the term 'work' has two meanings; for some things have a work that is something different from the employment of them, for instance the work of architecture is a house, not the act of building, that of medicine health, not the process of healing or curing, whereas with other things their work is the process of using them, for instance the work of sight is the act of seeing, that of mathematical science the contemplation of mathematical truths. So it follows that with the things whose work is the employment of them, the act of employing them must be of more value than the state of possessing them.

And these points having been decided in this way, [20] we say that the same work belongs to a thing and to its goodness (although not in the same way): for example, a shoe is the work of the art of shoemaking and of the act of shoemaking; so if there is such a thing as shoemaking goodness and a good shoemaker, their work is a good shoe; and in the same way in the case of the other arts also.

Again, let us grant that the work of the spirit is to cause life, and that being alive is employment and being awake (for sleep is a kind of inactivity and rest); with the consequence that since the work of the spirit and that of its goodness are necessarily one and the same, the work of goodness would be good life. Therefore this is the perfect good, which as we saw is happiness. And it is clear from the assumptions laid down (for we said that happiness is the greatest good and that the Ends or the greatest of goods are in the spirit, but things in the spirit are either a state or an activity) that, since an activity is a better thing than a disposition and the best activity than the best state, and since goodness is the best state, the activity of goodness is the spirit's greatest good. But also we saw that the greatest good is happiness. Therefore happiness is the activity of a good spirit. And since we saw1 that happiness is something perfect, and life is either perfect or imperfect, and the same with goodness (for some goodness is a whole and some a part), but the activity of imperfect things is imperfect, it would follow that happiness is an activity of perfect life in accordance with perfect goodness.

And that our classification and definition of it are correct is evidenced by opinions that we all hold.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 1.1218b
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