and also in regard to large and small amount of property
and of good fortune. Now
in what preceded1
we stated the standard 'as reason directs'; but this is as if
in matters of diet one were to say 'as medical science and its
principles direct,' and this though true is not clear. It is proper, therefore, here
as in other matters to live with reference to the ruling factor, and
to the state and the activity of the ruling factor, as for example
slave must live with reference to the rule of master, and each person
with reference to the rule appropriate to each. And since man consists by
nature of a ruling part and a subject part, and each would properly
live with reference to the ruling principle within him (and this is
twofold, for medical science is a ruling principle in one way and
health is in another, and the former is a means to the latter), this
is therefore the case in regard to the faculty of contemplation. For
God is not a ruler in the sense of issuing commands, but is the End as
a means to which wisdom gives commands (and the term 'End' has two
meanings, but these have been distinguished elsewhere2
); since clearly God is in need of nothing.
mode of choosing and of acquiring things good by
nature—whether goods of body or wealth or friends or the
other goods—will best promote the contemplation of God, that
is the best mode, and that standard is the finest;
and any mode of choice and
acquisition that either through deficiency or excess hinders us from
serving and from contemplating God—that is a bad one.
This is how it is
for the spirit, and this is the best spiritual standard—to
be as far as possible unconscious of the irrational part of the
spirit, as such.
Let this, then, be our
statement of what is the standard of nobility and what is the aim of
things absolutely good.