previous next
[1325b] [1] if it is the case that the most desirable of existing things will belong to men that use robbery and violence. But perhaps it cannot belong to them, and this is a false assumption. For a man's acts can no longer be noble if he does not excel as greatly as a man excels a woman or a father his children or a master his slaves, so that one who transgresses cannot afterwards achieve anything sufficient to rectify the lapse from virtue that he had already committed; because for equals the noble and just consists in their taking turns, since this is equal and alike, but for those that are equal to have an unequal share and those that are alike an unlike share is contrary to nature, and nothing contrary to nature is noble. Hence in case there is another person who is our superior in virtue and in practical capacity for the highest functions, him it is noble to follow and him it is just to obey; though he must possess not only virtue but also capacity that will render him capable of action. But if these things are well said, and if happiness is to be defined as well-doing, the active life is the best life both for the whole state collectively and for each man individually. But the active life is not necessarily active in relation to other men, as some people think, nor are only those processes of thought active that are pursued for the sake of the objects that result from action, but far more [20] those speculations and thoughts that have their end in themselves and are pursued for their own sake; for the end is to do well, and therefore is a certain form of action.1 And even with actions done in relation to external objects we predicate action in the full sense chiefly of the master-craftsmen who direct the action by their thoughts. Moreover with cities also, those that occupy an isolated situation and pursue a policy of isolation are not necessarily inactive; for state activities also can be sectional, since the sections of the state have many common relations with one another. And this is also possible similarly in the case of any individual human being; for otherwise God and the whole universe could hardly be well circumstanced, since they have no external activities by the side of their own private activities.

It is therefore manifest that the same life must be the best both for each human being individually and for states and mankind collectively.

And as we have prepared the way by this prefatory discussion of the subject, and have previously studied all the other forms of constitution,2 the starting-point for the remainder of our subject is first to specify the nature of the conditions that are necessary in the case of the state that is to be constituted in the ideally best manner. For the best constitution cannot be realized without suitable equipment.3 We must therefore posit as granted in advance a number of as it were ideal conditions, although none of these must be actually impossible. I mean for instance in reference to number of citizens and territory. All other craftsmen, for example a weaver or a shipwright,

1 Cf. 1323b 32 n., 1325a 21.

2 This seems to refer to Books 4-6.

3 Cf. 1288b 39 n.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1957)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: