For what all think to be good,
that, we assert, is good; and he that subverts our belief in the opinion of all mankind,
will hardly persuade us to believe his own either. If only the irrational creatures strove
to obtain what is pleasant, there would have been some sense in this contention; but
inasmuch as beings endowed with intelligence do so too, how can it be right? And perhaps
even the lower animals possess an instinct superior to their own natures, which seeks to
obtain the good appropriate to their kind.
Again, these thinkers' refutation of the argument from the converse appears equally
unsound. They pain say, if pain is bad, it does not follow therefore that pleasure is
good: for an evil can also be opposed to an evil and to a thing that is neither good nor
evil: a statement which is indeed sound enough, but which does not apply to the things in
question. If both pleasure and pain were in the class of evils, both would be also of
necessity things to be avoided, and if in the class of things neutral, neither ought to be
avoided, or they ought to be avoided alike; but as it is we see men avoid pain as evil and
choose pleasure as good; it is therefore as good and evil that they are opposed.
Nor yet does it follow that if pleasure is not a quality, therefore it is not a good.
Virtuous activities are not qualities either, nor is happiness.
Again they argue1
good is definite, but that pleasure is indefinite, because it admits of degrees. Now
（a） if they base this judgement on the fact that one can be more or less
pleased, the same argument will apply to Justice and the other virtues, the possessors of
which are clearly spoken of as being more or less
virtuous; for example, A may be more just or brave, and may act more, or less, justly or
temperately, than B. If on the other hand （b） they judge by the nature
of the pleasures themselves, I am afraid they do not state the right ground for their
conclusion, if it be true that there are two kinds of pleasures, unmixed as well as
Again, （c） why should not pleasure be like health, which is definite
although it admits of degrees? For health is not constituted by the same proportion of
elements in all persons; nor yet by one particular proportion in the same person always,
but when it is in process of dissolution it still lasts for a certain time, and therefore
it varies in degree. It is possible therefore that the same may be the case with pleasure.
Again, they postulate3
that the Good is perfect, whereas a motion or
process of generation is imperfect, and then they attempt to prove that pleasure is a
motion or process. This appears to be a mistake. （a） It would seem that
pleasure is not a motion; for we hold it to be a property of all motion to be quick or
slow—if （as with the motion4
of the firmament） not absolutely, then relatively to some other moving body. But
pleasure possesses neither absolute nor relative velocity. You can become pleased quickly,
just as you can get angry quickly: