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as in a race-course one may run from the judges to the far end of the track or the reverse. Now no doubt it is proper to start from the known. But ‘the known’ has two meanings—‘what is known to us,’ which is one thing, and ‘what is knowable in itself,’ which is another. Perhaps then for us1 at all events it proper to start from what is known to us. [6] This is why in order to be a competent student of the Right and Just, and in short of the topics of Politics in general, the pupil is bound to have been well-trained in his habits. [7] For the starting-point or first principle is the fact that a thing is so; if this be satisfactorily ascertained, there will be no need also to know the reason why it is so. And the man of good moral training knows first principles already, or can easily acquire them. As for the person who neither knows nor can learn, let him hear the words of Hesiod2: “ Best is the man who can himself advise;
He too is good who hearkens to the wise;
But who, himself being witless, will not heed
Another's wisdom, is a fool indeed.


But let us continue from the point3 where we digressed. To judge from men's lives, the more or less reasoned conceptions of the Good or Happiness that seem to prevail are the following. On the one hand the generality of men and the most vulgar identify the Good with pleasure, [2] and accordingly are content with the Life of Enjoyment—for there are three specially prominent Lives,4 the one just mentioned, the Life of Politics, and thirdly, the Life of Contemplation. [3] The generality of mankind then

1 In contrast apparently with the school of Plato.

2 Hes. WD 293 ff.

3 a 30.

4 The doctrine of the three Lives goes back to Pythagoras, who compared the three kinds of men to the three classes of strangers who went to the Games, traders, competitors, and spectators (Iamblichus, Vit. Pythag. 58). This apologue brings out the metaphor underlying the phrase θεωρητικὸς βίος, lit. ‘the life of the spectator’ ( Burnet).

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