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11. Let it be assumed by us that pleasure is a certain movement of the soul, a sudden and perceptible settling down into its natural state, and pain the opposite. [2] If such is the nature of pleasure,
it is evident that that which produces the disposition we have just mentioned is pleasant, and that that which destroys it or produces the contrary settling down is painful. [3] Necessarily, therefore, it must be generally pleasant to enter into a normal state (especially when what is done in accordance with that state has come into its own again)1; and the same with habits. For that which has become habitual becomes as it were natural; in fact, habit is something like nature, for the distance between “often” and “always” is not great, and nature belongs to the idea of “always,” habit to that of “often.” [4] That which is not compulsory is also pleasant, for compulsion is contrary to nature. That is why what is necessary is painful, and it was rightly said, “ For every act of necessity is disagreeable.2

” Application, study, and intense effort are also painful, for these involve necessity and compulsion, if they have not become habitual; for then habit makes them pleasant. Things contrary to these are pleasant; wherefore states of ease, idleness, carelessness, amusement, recreation,3 and sleep are among pleasant things, because none of these is in any way compulsory. [5] Everything of which we have in us the desire is pleasant, for desire is a longing for the pleasant.

Now, of desires some are irrational, others rational. I call irrational all those that are not the result of any
assumption.4 Such are all those which are called natural; for instance, those which come into existence through the body—such as the desire of food, thirst, hunger, the desire of such and such food in particular; the desires connected with taste, sexual pleasures, in a word, with touch, smell, hearing, and sight. I call those desires rational which are due to our being convinced; for there are many things which we desire to see or acquire when we have heard them spoken of and are convinced that they are pleasant.

[6] And if pleasure consists in the sensation of a certain emotion, and imagination is a weakened sensation, then both the man who remembers and the man who hopes will be attended by an imagination of what he remembers or hopes.5 This being so, it is evident that there is pleasure both for those who remember and for those who hope, since there is sensation. [7] Therefore all pleasant things must either be present in sensation, or past in recollection, or future in hope; for one senses the present, recollects the past, and hopes for the future.
[8] Therefore our recollections are pleasant, not only when they recall things which when present were agreeable, but also some things which were not, if their consequence subsequently proves honorable or good; whence the saying: “ Truly it is pleasant to remember toil after one has escaped it,6

” and, “ When a man has suffered much and accomplished much, he afterwards takes pleasure even in his sorrows when he recalls them.7

” [9] The reason of this is that even to be free from evil is pleasant. Things which we hope for are pleasant, when their presence seems likely to afford us great pleasure or advantage, without the accompaniment of pain. In a word, all things that afford pleasure by their presence as a rule also afford pleasure when we hope for or remember them. Wherefore even resentment is pleasant, as Homer said of anger that it is “ Far sweeter than dripping honey;8

” for no one feels resentment against those whom vengeance clearly cannot overtake, or those who are far more powerful than he is; against such, men feel either no resentment or at any rate less.

[10] Most of our desires are accompanied by a feeling of pleasure, for the recollection of a past or the hope of a future pleasure creates a certain pleasurable enjoyment; thus, those suffering from fever and tormented by thirst enjoy the remembrance of having drunk and the hope that they will drink again. [11] The lovesick always take pleasure in talking, writing,
or composing verses9 about the beloved; for it seems to them that in all this recollection makes the object of their affection perceptible. Love always begins in this manner, when men are happy not only in the presence of the beloved, but also in his absence when they recall him to mind. [12] This is why, even when his absence is painful, there is a certain amount of pleasure even in mourning and lamentation; for the pain is due to his absence, but there is pleasure in remembering and, as it were, seeing him and recalling his actions and personality. Wherefore it was rightly said by the poet; “ Thus he spake, and excited in all a desire of weeping.10

[13] And revenge is pleasant; for if it is painful to be unsuccessful, it is pleasant to succeed. Now, those who are resentful are pained beyond measure when they fail to secure revenge, while the hope of it delights them. [14] Victory is pleasant, not only to those who love to conquer, but to all; for there is produced an idea of superiority, which all with more or less eagerness desire. [15] And since victory is pleasant, competitive and disputatious11 amusements must be so too,
for victories are often gained in them; among these we may include games with knuckle-bones, ball-games, dicing, and draughts. It is the same with serious sports; for some become pleasant when one is familiar with them, while others are so from the outset, such as the chase and every description of outdoor sport; for rivalry implies victory. It follows from this that practice in the law courts and disputation are pleasant to those who are familiar with them and well qualified. [16] Honor and good repute are among the most pleasant things, because every one imagines that he possesses the qualities of a worthy man, and still more when those whom he believes to be trustworthy say that he does. Such are neighbors rather than those who live at a distance; intimate friends and fellow-citizens rather than those who are unknown; contemporaries rather than those who come later; the sensible rather than the senseless; the many rather than the few; for such persons are more likely to be trustworthy than their opposites. As for those for whom men feel great contempt, such as children and animals, they pay no heed to their respect or esteem, or, if they do, it is not for the sake of their esteem, but for some other reason.

[17] A friend also is among pleasant things, for it is pleasant to love12—for no one loves wine unless he finds pleasure in it—just as it is pleasant to be loved; for in this case also a man has an impression that he is really endowed
with good qualities, a thing desired by all who perceive it; and to be loved is to be cherished for one's own sake. [18] And it is pleasant to be admired, because of the mere honor. Flattery and the flatterer are pleasant, the latter being a sham admirer and friend. [19] It is pleasant to do the same things often; for that which is familiar is, as we said, pleasant. [20] Change also is pleasant, since change is in the order of nature; for perpetual sameness creates an excess of the normal condition; whence it was said: “ Change in all things is sweet.13

” This is why what we only see at intervals, whether men or things, is pleasant; for there is a change from the present, and at the same time it is rare. [21] And learning and admiring are as a rule pleasant; for admiring implies the desire to learn, so that what causes admiration is to be desired, and learning implies a return to the normal.14 [22] It is pleasant to bestow and to receive benefits; the latter is the attainment of what we desire,
the former the possession of more than sufficient means,15 both of them things that men desire. Since it is pleasant to do good, it must also be pleasant for men to set their neighbors on their feet, and to supply their deficiencies. [23] And since learning and admiring are pleasant, all things connected with them must also be pleasant; for instance, a work of imitation, such as painting, sculpture, poetry, and all that is well imitated, even if the object of imitation is not pleasant; for it is not this that causes pleasure or the reverse, but the inference that the imitation and the object imitated are identical, so that the result is that we learn something. [24] The same may be said of sudden changes and narrow escapes from danger; for all these things excite wonder. [25] And since that which is in accordance with nature is pleasant, and things which are akin are akin in accordance with nature, all things akin and like are for the most part pleasant to each other, as man to man; horse to horse, youth to youth. This is the origin of the proverbs: “The old have charms for the old, the young for the young,”“Like to like,16”“Beast knows beast,”“Birds of a feather flock together,17” and all similar sayings.

[26] And since things which are akin and like are always pleasant to one another, and every man in the highest degree feels this in regard to himself, it must needs be
that all men are more or less selfish; for it is in himself above all that such conditions18 are to be found. Since, then, all men are selfish, it follows that all find pleasure in what is their own, such as their works and words. That is why men as a rule are fond of those who flatter and love them, of honor, and of children; for the last are their own work. It is also pleasant to supply what is wanting,19 [27] for then it becomes our work. And since it is most pleasant to command, it is also pleasant to be regarded as wise20 for practical wisdom is commanding, and philosophy consists In the knowledge of many things that excite wonder. Further, since men are generally ambitious, it follows that it is also agreeable to find fault with our neighbors. [28] And if a man thinks he excels in anything, he likes to devote his time to it; as Euripides says: “ And allotting the best part of each day to that in which he happens to surpass himself, he presses eagerly towards it.21

” [29] Similarly, since amusement, every kind of relaxation, and laughter are pleasant, ridiculous things—men, words, or deeds—must also be pleasant.
The ridiculous has been discussed separately in the Poetics.22 Let this suffice for things that are pleasant; those that are painful will be obvious from the contraries of these.

1 The true nature of the “normal state” was lost during the period of disturbance and unsettlement.

2 From Evenus of Paros (Frag. 8, P.L.G. 2.): see Introd.

3 Or “rest” (bodily).

4 There is no consideration or “definite theory” (Jebb, Welldon) of the results that may follow. The desires arise without anything of the kind; they simply come.

5 The passage ἐπεὶ δ᾽ ἐστὶ . . . αἴσθησις has been punctuated in two ways. (1) With a full stop at ἐλπίζει (Roemer, Jebb). The conclusion then drawn is that memory and hope are accompanied by imagination of what is remembered or hoped. To this it is objected that what Aristotle really wants to prove is that memory and hope are a cause of pleasure. (2) With a comma at ἐλπίζει (Cope, Victorius). The steps in the argument will then be: if pleasure is the sensation of a certain emotion; if imagination is a weakened (faded) sensation; if one who remembers or hopes is attended by an imagination of what he remembers or hopes; then, this being so, pleasure will attend one who remembers or hopes, since there is sensation, and pleasure is sensation and a kind of movement (sect. 1). φαντασία, the faculty of forming mental images (variously translated “imagination,” “mental impression,” “fantasy”) is defined by Aristotle (Aristot. De Anima 3.3.11) as a kind of movement, which cannot arise apart from sensation, and the movement produced must resemble the sensation which produced it. But φαντασία is more than this; it is not merely a faculty of sense, but occupies a place midway between sense and intellect; while imagination has need of the senses, the intellect has need of imagination. If φαντασία is referred to an earlier perception of which the sense image is a copy, this is memory. Imagination carries the sense images ( φαντάσματα) to the seat of memory. They are then transformed into memory (of something past) or hope (of something future) and are handed on to the intellect. (See Cope here, and R. D. Hicks in his edition of the De Anima.)

6 Euripides, Andromeda (Frag. 133, T.G.F.).

7 Hom. Od. 15.400-401, but misquoted in the second line, which runs: ὅς τις δὴ μάλα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ πόλλ᾽ ἐπαληθῇ.

8 Hom. Il. 18.109.

9 Or “doing something that has to do with the beloved.”

10 Hom. Il. 23.108, on the occasion of the mourning for Patroclus; Hom. Od. 4.183, referring to the mourning for the absence of Odysseus.

11 Controversiae or school rhetorical exercises, as well as arguing in the law courts; unless ἐριστικάς means simply “in which there is rivalry.”

12 For the meaning of φιλία, φιλεῖν cf. Book 2.4.

13 Eur. Orest. 234.

14 True knowledge or philosophy, which is the result of learning, is the highest condition of the intellect, its normal or settled state. Consequently, a return to this is pleasure, which is defined (11.1) as a settling down of the soul into its natural state after a period of disturbance.

15 Or, “larger means than the person benefited.”

16 Hom. Od. 17.218 ὡς αἰεὶ τὸν ὁμοῖον ἄγει θεὸς ὡς τὸν ὁμοῖον.

17 Literally, “ever jackdaw to jackdaw.”

18 Of likeness and kinship.

19 11.22.

20 Both practically and speculatively or philosophically.

21 Antiope (Frag. 183, T.G.F.).

22 Only the definition appears in the existing text; “The ridiculous is an error, painless and non-destructive ugliness (Aristot. Poet. 5).”

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 4.113
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