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This is perhaps especially true of poets, who have an exaggerated affection for their own poems and love them as parents love their children. [4] The position of the benefactor then resembles that of the artist; the recipient of his bounty is his handiwork, and he therefore loves him more than his handiwork loves its maker. The reason of this is that all things desire and love existence; but we exist in activity, since we exist by living and doing; and in a sense1 one who has made something exists actively, and so he loves his handiwork because he loves existence. This is in fact a fundamental principle of nature: what a thing is potentially, that its work reveals in actuality. [5]

Moreover for the benefactor there is an element of nobility in the act, and so he feels pleased with the person who is its object; but there is nothing noble for the recipient of the benefit in his relation to his benefactor: at most, it is profitable; and what is profitable is not so pleasant or lovable as what is noble. [6] The doer's achievement therefore remains, for nobility or beauty is long-lived, but its utility to the recipient passes away.2 But while the actuality of the present, the hope of the future, and the memory of the past are all pleasant, actuality is the most pleasant of the three, and the most loved. Also whereas the memory of noble things is pleasant, that of useful ones is hardly at all so, or at least less so; although with anticipation the reverse seems to be the case.

Again, loving seems to be an active experience, being loved a passive one; hence affection and the various forms of friendly feeling are naturally found in the more active party to the relationship. [7]

Again, everybody loves a thing more if it has cost him trouble: for instance those who have made money love money more than those who have inherited it. Now to receive a benefit seems to involve no labor, but to confer one is an effort. (This is why mothers love their children more than fathers, because parenthood costs the mother more trouble [and the mother is more certain that the child is her own].3) This also then would seem to be a characteristic of benefactors. 8.

The question is also raised whether one ought to love oneself or someone else most. We censure those who put themselves first, and ‘lover of self’ is used as a term of reproach. And it is thought that a bad man considers himself in all he does, and the more so the worse he is—so it is a complaint against him for instance that ‘he never does a thing unless you make him’ —whereas a good man acts from a sense of what is noble, and the better he is the more he so acts, and he considers his friend's interest, disregarding his own. [2]

But the facts do not accord with these theories; nor is this surprising.

1 In a sense he exists ‘actually’ as long as his work lasts, though strictly speaking he exists as an actual maker only while the act of making is going on. A possible variant rendering is ‘and in a sense the work is its maker actualized.’

2 This sentence in the MSS. follows the next.

3 This seems an irrelevant insertion from 8.12.2 f.

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