previous next


καὶ τὴν ἡδονὴν ἀγαθὸν εἶναι] What is here taken for granted, as universally admitted, that pleasure is good (though not necessarily the good) is in both the treatises on pleasure, in the 6th and 10th books of the Nicomachean Ethics, carefully investigated and discussed, and the opinions held upon the question by preceding philosophers, as Eudoxus and Plato, examined, Bk. VII, c. 12, seq. and X, c. 2. Aristotle's conclusion (in Bk. X) is that though pleasure may be regarded as good it is not the good, i.e. the supreme good, good in itself, because there are some pleasures which are not proper objects of choice and therefore not good. Eudemus (if the seventh book be his), seems rather to be inclined to the contrary view; it is said at any rate, c. 14, init., ἀνάγκη οὖν τὴν ἡδονὴν ἀγαθόν τι εἶναι, and three lines further, ἄριστον τ᾽ οὐδὲν κωλύει ἡδονήν τινα εἶναι. And at the beginning of c. 13, in answer to Plato's objection in the Philebus, we find, ὅτι δ᾽ οὐ συμβαίνει διὰ ταῦτα μὴ εἶναι ἀγαθὸν μηδὲ τὸ ἄριστον, ἐκ τῶνδε δῆλον. This difference of view between the master and pupil (on the supposition that eudemus is the author of Bk. VII) is in fact in exact conformity with the difference of their respective definitions of pleasure; Aristotle defining it as the perfecting (τελείωσις) of the ἐνέργεια, but not our ἐνέργεια itself, and therefore not ‘the supreme good’; whilst Eudemus goes further and describes it as an ‘unimpeded energy’, ἀνεμπόδιστος ἐνέργεια: and in fact this variation may be regarded as one of the principal arguments for the difference of authorship of the two treatises on pleasure in the Nic. Eth. The principle upon which the fact is here assumed in the Rhetoric, is stated in both treatises of the Ethics; the universal recognition, namely, of the principle that pleasure is desirable. See VII 14 init. and X 2, 1172 b 35, οἱ δ᾽ ἐνιστάμενοι ὡς οὐκ ἀγαθὸν οὗ πάντ̓ ἐφίεται, μὴ οὐθὲν λέγωσιν: γὰρ πᾶσι δοκεῖ, τοῦτ̓ εἶναι φαμέν.

τῶν δὲ καλῶν τὰ μὲν ἡδέα τὰ δέ κ.τ.λ.] This division of καλόν brings into view the physical and moral aspects of it united in the term beauty and right. καλόν as ἡδύ, an object of pleasure, is the physical beauty that pleases in nature and art; in καθ᾽ αὑτὸ αἱρετόν we are referred to the moral side of it, that which is ‘fair’ and right, which is an end in itself, in itself desirable, and to be sought on its own account and with no ulterior object. It is defined in this latter sense, c. 9, 3, ἂν δἰ αὑτὸ αἱρετὸν ὂν ἐπαινετὸν , (its being the object of ‘praise’ confers upon it its moral character) ἂν ἀγαθὸν ὂν ἡδὺ , ὅτι ἀγαθόν. Comp. II 13, 9, τὸ μὲν γὰρ συμφέρον αὐτῷ ἀγαθόν ἐστιν, τὸ δὲ καλὸν ἁπλῶς. Eth. Eudem. VII 15, 3, 1248 b 18, τῶν γὰρ ἀγαθῶν πάντων τέλη ἐστιν, αὐτὰ αὑτῶν ἕνεκά ἐστιν αἱρετά. τούτων δὲ καλά, ὅσα δἰ αὑτὰ ὄντα πάντα ἐπαινετά ἐστιν. On the καλόν as a moral end, the ultimate object and motive of human action, to which all action should be directed and all lower interests sacrificed, see the fine passage of Eth. Nic. IX 8, 1169 a 6, seq., particularly 20—27.

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.

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