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[1248a] [1] The fact is that the good fortune here and that in the other case are the same. Or is good fortune of more than one kind, and is fortune twofold? But since we see some people being fortunate contrary to all the teachings of science and correct calculation, it is clear that the cause of good fortune must be something different. But is it or is it not good fortune whereby a man formed a desire for the right thing and at the right time when in his case human reasoning could not make this calculation? For a thing the desire for which is natural is not altogether uncalculated, but the reasoning is perverted by something. So no doubt he seems fortunate, because fortune is the cause of things contrary to reason, and this is contrary to reason, for it is contrary to knowledge and to general principle. But probably it does not really come from fortune, but seems to do so from the above cause. So that this argument does not prove that good fortune comes by nature, but that not all those who seem fortunate succeed because of fortune, but because of nature; nor does it prove that there is no such thing as fortune, nor that fortune is not the cause of anything, but that it is not the cause of all the things of which it seems to be the cause.

Yet someone may raise the question whether fortune is the cause of precisely this—forming a desire for the right thing at the right time. Or, on that showing, will not fortune be the cause of everything—even of thought and deliberation? since it is not the case, that one only deliberates when one has deliberated even previously to that deliberation, [20] nor does one only think when one has previously thought before thinking, and so on to infinity, but there is some starting-point; therefore thought is not the starting-point of thinking, nor deliberation of deliberating. Then what else is, save fortune? It will follow that everything originates from fortune. Or shall we say that there is a certain starting-point outside which there is no other, and that this, merely owing to its being of such and such a nature, can produce a result of such and such a nature? But this is what we are investigating—what is the starting-point of motion in the spirit? The answer then is clear: as in the universe, so there, everything is moved by God; for in a manner the divine element in us is the cause of all our motions. And the starting-point of reason is not reason but something superior to reason. What, then, could be superior even to knowledge and to intellect, except God? Not goodness, for goodness is an instrument of the mind; and owing to this, as I was saying some time ago,1 those are called fortunate who although irrational succeed in whatever they start on. And it does not pay them to deliberate, for they have within them a principle of a kind that is better than mind and deliberation (whereas the others have reason but have not this): they have inspiration, but they cannot deliberate. For although irrational they attain even what belongs to the prudent and wise—swiftness of divination: only the divination that is based on reason we must not specify, but some of them attain it by experience and others by practice in the use of observation; and these men use the divine.2 For this quality discerns aright the future as well as the present, and these are the men whose reason is disengaged.3 This is why the melancholic even have dreams that are true; for it seems that when the reason is disengaged principle has more strength—

1 See Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1247b 26.

2 The Ms. reading gives 'and experience and habit use God.'

3 Or, with Jackson's text, 'But some of them by experience and others by habituation have this capacity of consulting God in examining things, and of discerning aright both the future and the present; and those also have it whose reason is disengaged in the manner described.'

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 8.1247b
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