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[1227a] [1] for even if it is not precisely accurate, yet at all events it approximates to the truth in a way. But we will speak about this in our examination of justice.1 As to purposive choice, it is clear that it is not absolutely identical with wish nor with opinion, but is opinion plus appetition when these follow as a conclusion from deliberation.

But since one who deliberates always deliberates for the sake of some object, and a man deliberating always has some aim in view with reference to which he considers what is expedient, nobody deliberates about his End, but this is a starting-point or assumption, like the postulates in the theoretic sciences (we have spoken about this briefly at the beginning of this discourse, and in detail in Analytics2); whereas with all men deliberation whether technical or untechnical is about the means that lead to their End, e.g. when they deliberate about whether to go to war or not to go to war with a given person. And the question of means will depend rather on a prior question, that is, the question of object, for instance wealth or pleasure or something else of that kind which happens to be our object. For one who deliberates deliberates if he has considered, from the standpoint of the End, either what tends to enable him to bring the End to himself or how he can himself go to the End.3 And by nature the End is always a good and a thing about which men deliberate step by step [20] (for example a doctor may deliberate whether he shall give a drug, and a general where he shall pitch his camp) when their End is the good that is the absolute best; but in contravention of nature and by perversion not the good but the apparent good is the End. The reason is that there are some things that cannot be employed for something other than their natural objects, for instance sight—it is not possible to see a thing that is not visible, or to hear a thing that is not audible; but a science does enable us to do a thing that is not the object of the science. For health and disease are not the objects of the same science in the same way: health is its object in accordance with nature, and disease in contravention of nature. And similarly, by nature good is the object of wish, but evil is also its object in contravention of nature; by nature one wishes good, against nature and by perversion one even wishes evil.

But moreover with everything its corruption and perversion are not in any chance direction, but leads to the contrary and intermediate states. For it is not possible to go outside these, since even error does not lead to any chance thing, but, in the case of things that have contraries, to the contraries, and to those contraries that are contrary according to their science.4 It therefore necessarily follows that both error and purposive choice take place from the middle point to the contraries (the contraries of the middle being the more and the less).—And the cause is pleasure and pain; for things are so constituted that the pleasant appears to the spirit good and the more pleasant better, the painful bad and the more painful worse.

1 Not in Eud. Eth., but cf. Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1135a 16ff.

2 See Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1214b 6ff., and Aristot. Anal. Post. 72a 20 and context.

3 i.e. he works back in thought from his intended End to some means to its attainment that is already within his power.

4 This division of contraries is unusual: elsewhere (e.g. Aristot. Met. 1061a 18) Aristotle merely states that contraries are the objects of the same science.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 1.1214b
    • Aristotle, Metaphysics, 11.1061a
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1135a
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