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3. [8] Also there is no room for deliberation about matters fully ascertained and completely formulated as sciences; such for instance as orthography, for we have no uncertainty as to how a word ought to be spelt. We deliberate about things in which our agency operates, but does not always produce uniform results; for instance about questions of medicine and of business; and we deliberate about navigation more than about athletic training, because it has been less completely reduced to a science; and similarly with other pursuits also. 3. [9] And we deliberate more about the arts1 than about the sciences, because we are more uncertain about them.3. [10]

Deliberation then is employed in matters which, though subject to rules that generally hold good, are uncertain in their issue; or where the issue is indeterminate,2 and where, when the matter is important, we take others into our deliberations, distrusting our own capacity to decide.3. [11]

And we deliberate not about ends, but about means. A doctor does not deliberate whether he is to cure his patient, nor an orator whether he is to convince his audience, nor a statesman whether he is to secure good government, nor does anyone else debate about the end of his profession or calling; they take some end for granted, and consider how and by what means it can be achieved. If they find that there are several means of achieving it, they proceed to consider which of these will attain it most easily and best. If there is only one means by which it can be accomplished, they ask how it is to be accomplished by that means, and by what means that means can itself be achieved, until they reach the first link in the chain of causes, which is the last in the order of discovery. (For when deliberating one seems in the procedure described to be pursuing an investigation or analysis that resembles the analysis of a figure in geometry33. [12] indeed it appears that though not all investigation is deliberation, for example, mathematical investigation is not, yet all deliberation is investigation—and the last step in the analysis seems to be the first step in the execution of the design.) 3. [13] Then, if they have come up against an impossibility, they abandon the project—for instance, if it requires money and money cannot be procured; but if on the other hand it proves to be something possible, they begin to act. By possible, I mean able to be performed by our agency—things we do through the agency of our friends counting in a sense as done by ourselves, since the origin of their action is in us.3. [14]

(In practising an art4) the question is at one moment what tools to use, and at another how to use them; and similarly in other spheres, we have to consider sometimes what means to employ, and sometimes how exactly given means are to be employed.3. [15]

It appears therefore, as has been said, that a man is the origin of his actions, and that the province of deliberation is to discover actions within one's own power to perform; and all our actions aim at ends other than themselves. 3. [16] It follows that we do not deliberate about ends, but about means. Nor yet do we deliberate about particular facts,

1 A less well attested reading gives ‘more about our opinions,’ and Aristotle does not usually distinguish sharply between the arts and crafts and the practical sciences (the theoretic sciences cannot here be meant, see 3.3,4).

2 The text is probably corrupt, and perhaps should be altered to run ‘and in which the right means to take are not definitely determined.’

3 The reference is to the analytical method of solving a problem: the figure required to be drawn is assumed to have been drawn, and then we analyse it and ask what conditions it implies, until we come down to something that we know how to draw already.

4 This clause seems implied by the context.

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