It is also the
business of the political philosopher to examine the nature of Pleasure and Pain; for he
is the master-craftsman, and lays down the end which is the standard whereby we pronounce
things good or bad in the absolute sense.
investigation is fundamental for our study, because we have established1
that Moral Virtue and Vice are concerned
with pleasures and pains, and most people hold that pleasure is a necessary adjunct of
Happiness, which is why the word denoting ‘supreme bliss’ is derived
from the verb meaning ‘to enjoy.’2
Now （1） some people think that no pleasure is a good thing, whether
essentially or accidentally. They argue that Good and Pleasure are two distinct things.
（2） Others hold that though some pleasures are good, most are bad.
（3） There is also a third view, that even if all pleasures are good,
nevertheless pleasure cannot be the Supreme Good.3
（1） To prove that pleasure is not a good at all, it is argued that
（a） Every pleasure is a conscious process towards a natural state; but
a process can in no case belong to the same order of things as its end; for example, the
process of building cannot be a thing of the same sort as the house built.
（b） The temperate man avoids pleasures.
（c） The prudent man pursues freedom from pain, not pleasure.
（d） Pleasures are a hindrance to prudent deliberation, and the more so
the more enjoyable they are; for instance, sexual pleasure: no one could think of anything
while indulging in it.
（e） There is no art of pleasure; yet with every good thing there is an
art which produces it.
（f） Children and animals pursue
（2） To prove that not all pleasures are good, it is argued that
（a） Some pleasures are disgraceful, and discredit the man who indulges
（b） Some pleasures are harmful, for certain pleasant things cause
（3） To prove that pleasure is not the Supreme Good, it is argued that
it is not an end but a process.
These then, more or less, are the current views.12.
But the following considerations will show that these arguments are not conclusive to
prove （1） that pleasure is not a good at all, nor （3）
that it is not the Supreme Good.
（1） （a） In the first place （i.）
‘the good’ has two meanings: it means both that which is good
absolutely, and that which is good for somebody, or relatively. Consequently the term
‘good’ has the same double meaning when applied to men's natures and
dispositions; and therefore also when applied to movements and to processes. Also those
processes which are thought to be bad will in some cases, though bad absolutely, be not
bad relatively, but in fact desirable for a particular person, or in other cases, though
not even desirable generally for the particular person, nevertheless desirable for him in
particular circumstances and for a short time, although not really desirable. And some
are not really pleasures at all, but only
seem to be so: I mean the painful processes that are undergone for their curative effects,
for instance, treatment applied to the sick.
Again （ii.） , the good is either an activity
. Now the pleasures that restore us to our natural state
are only accidentally pleasant; while the activity
of desire is the activity
of that part of us which has remained in the natural state5
: for that matter, there are some pleasures which do not
involve pain or desire at all