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2. [11] Probably therefore nobody actually identifies choice with opinion in general. But neither is it the same as some particular opinion.1 For it is our choice of good or evil that determines our character, not our opinion about good or evil. 2. [12] And we choose to take or avoid some good or evil thing, but we opine what a thing is, or for whom it is advantageous, or how it is so:2 we do not exactly form an opinion to take or avoid a thing. 2. [13] Also we praise a choice rather for choosing the right thing, but an opinion for opining in the right way. And we choose only things that we absolutely know to be good, we opine things we do not quite certainly know to be true. 2. [14] Nor do the same persons appear to excel both at choosing and at forming opinions: some people seem to form opinions better, but yet to choose the wrong things from wickedness. 2. [15] That choice is preceded or accompanied by the formation of an opinion is immaterial, for that is not the point we are considering, but whether choice is the same thing as some form of opinion.2. [16]

What then are the genus and differentia of Choice, inasmuch as it is not any of the things above mentioned? It manifestly belongs to the genus voluntary action; but not every voluntary act is chosen. 2. [17] Perhaps we may define it as voluntary action preceded by deliberation, since choice involves reasoning and some process of thought. Indeed previous deliberation seems to be implied by the very term proaireton, which denotes something chosen before other things.3.

As for Deliberation, do people deliberate about everything—are all things possible objects of deliberation—, or are there some things about which deliberation is impossible? 3. [2] The term ‘object of deliberation’ presumably must not be taken to include things about which a fool or a madman might deliberate, but to mean what a sensible person would deliberate about.3. [3]

Well then, nobody deliberates about things eternal,3 such as the order of the universe, or the incommensurability of the diagonal and the side, of a square. 3. [4] Nor yet about things that change but follow a regular process, whether from necessity or by nature4 or through some other cause: such phenomena for instance as the solstices and the sunrise. 3. [5] Nor about irregular occurrences, such as droughts and rains. Nor about the results of chance, such as finding a hidden treasure. 3. [6] The reason5 why we do not deliberate about these things is that none of them can be effected by our agency. 3. [7] We deliberate about things that are in our control and are attainable by action (which are in fact the only things that still remain to be considered; for Nature, Necessity, and Chance, with the addition of Intelligence and human agency generally, exhaust the generally accepted list of causes). But we do not deliberate about all human affairs without exception either: for example, no Lacedaemonian deliberates about the best form of government6 for Scythia; but any particular set of men deliberates about the things attainable by their own actions.

1 i.e., an opinion or belief that so-and-so is good, and is within our power to obtain.

2 Perhaps to be emended ‘how it is to be achieved.’

3 The term includes the notion if immutability.

4 Here and in 3.7 ‘necessity’ denotes natural law in the inanimate world, while ‘nature’ or ‘growth’ means natural law as governing animate creatures. Aristotle held that these agencies, and with them the operation of human intelligence and art, beside their designed results, produced by their interplay certain by-products in the shape of undesigned and irregular occurrences, which are referred to in the next section. These in the natural world he spoke of as due to τὸ αὐτόματον, or ‘spontaneous’; when due to the activity of man he ascribed them to fortune or chance. In 3.7 chance is made to include ‘the spontaneous.’

5 In the mss. the words ‘The reason why . . . list of causes’ come after ‘But we do not deliberate . . . Scythia.’

6 Or, ‘the best line of policy.’

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