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[1217a] [1] For because to say nothing at random but use reasoned argument seems to mark a philosopher, some people often without being detected advance arguments that are not germane to the subject under treatment and that have nothing in them (and they do this sometimes through ignorance and sometimes from charlatanry), which bring it about that even men of experience and practical capacity are taken in by these people, who neither possess nor are capable of constructive or practical thought.1 And this befalls them owing to lack of education—for in respect of each subject inability to distinguish arguments germane to the subject from those foreign to it is lack of education. And it is also well to judge separately the statement of the cause and the demonstrated fact, both for the reason stated just now,2 that it is not proper in regard to all things to attend to theoretical arguments, but often rather to the facts of observation (whereas now when men are unable to refute an argument they are forced to believe what has been said), and also because often, although the result that seems to have been proved by the arguments is true, it is not true because of the cause asserted in the argument. For it is possible to prove truth by falsehood, as is clear from Analytics.3

These prefatory remarks having also been made, let us proceed by starting first from the firststatements, which, as has been said,4 are not clearly expressed, [20] afterwards seeking to discover clearly the essential nature of happiness. Now it is agreed that happiness is the greatest and best of human goods (and we say 'human' because there might very likely also be a happiness belonging to some higher being, for instance a god); since none of the other animals, which are inferior in nature to men, share in the designation 'happy,' for a horse is not happy, nor is a bird nor a fish nor any other existing thing whose designation does not indicate that it possesses in its nature a share of something divine, but it is by some other mode of participating in things good that one of them has a better life and another a worse.

But the fact that this is so must be considered later.5 At the present let us say that among things good some are within the range of action for a human being and others are not. And we make this distinction for the reason that some existing things do not participate in change at all, and therefore some good things do not, and these are perhaps in their nature the best things; and some things, though practicable, are only practicable for beings superior to us. And inasmuch as 'practicable' has two meanings (for both the Ends for which we act and the actions that we do as means to those Ends have to do with action—for example we class among things practicable both health and wealth and the pursuits that are followed for the sake of health and wealth, healthy exercise and lucrative business), it is clear that happiness must be set down as the best of the things practicable for a human being.

1 i.e. practical men often think that any string of arguments constitutes philosophy, though the arguers may be mere charlatans.

2 1 above.

3 i.e. a proposition that logically follows from premisses that are false may be a a true one: see Aristot. Anal. Pr. 53b 26ff., Aristot. Anal. Post. 88a 20ff. Aristotle's simplest example is the syllogism 'A man is a stone, but a stone is an animal, therefore a man is an animal.'

4 Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1216b 32ff.

5 This promise is not kept.

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