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The two topics of this section are founded upon the relation of the ἀρετή of anything to its proper ἔργον or function, the work that it has to do, described by Plato, Rep. I 352 E and foll., and taken up by Aristotle as the foundation of his theory of virtue, Eth. Nic. II 5, init. The virtue or excellence of everything, horse, dog, knife, axe, the eye, the ear, the mind, is shewn in and depends upon the due performance of its proper function (supra 2. 12; 5. 4; 6. 11). τὰ ἔργα therefore, though they extend beyond the moral virtues from which Victorius draws his illustration— the comparison of ἀνδρεία and σωφροσύνη and their opposites in respect of their results good or bad, the kinds of actions that they give rise to—and include the functions of all things that can be applied to any purpose, and everything which has a τέλος, to which the ἔργον must be subservient, and in the approach to which the ἀρετή is shewn; yet the epithets καλλίω and αἰσχίω shew that Aristotle had the moral virtues uppermost in his mind. καὶ ὧν αἱ κακίαι κ.τ.λ.] the converse of the preceding, the argument from the virtue or vice, excellence or defect, of anything, back again to its function or proper work. Virtues and vices, excellences and defects stand to ‘works’ in the relation of cause and origin to consequence and effect or result. Now as of the greater cause and origin, the one produces a greater effect, the other leads to a greater end, (§ 12,) and the less to a less, so in the case of excellence and defect the greater produces a greater work, the less a less, both in human action or comparative virtues, and in instruments of all kinds; in men and things.
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