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[7] (iii.) Moreover, it is clear that if pleasure is not good and activity is not pleasure,1 the life of the happy man will not necessarily be pleasant. For why should he need pleasure if it is not good? On the contrary, his life may even be painful; for if pleasure is neither good nor evil, no more is pain either, so why should he avoid it? And if the good man's activities are not pleasanter than those of others, his life will not be pleasanter either.14.

On the subject of the bodily pleasures, we must examine the view of those who say that though it is true that some pleasures, which they call the noble pleasures, are highly desirable, yet bodily pleasures and those which are the objects of the profligate are not desirable. [2] If so, why are the pains opposed to them evil? since the opposite of evil is good. Perhaps the true view is, that the necessary pleasures are good in the sense that what is not evil is good; or that they are good up to a point: for though you cannot have excessive pleasure from states and movements which cannot themselves be in excess of what is good, you can have excessive pleasure from those which themselves admit of excess. Now you can have an excess of the bodily goods; and it is pursuing this excess that makes a bad man, not pursuing the necessary pleasures, for everybody enjoys savory food, wine, and sexual pleasure in some degree, though not everybody to the right degree. With pain it is the other way about2: one avoids not merely excessive pain, but all pain; for the opposite of excessive pleasure is not pain at all, except to the man who pursues excessive pleasure. [3]

We ought however not only to state the true view, but also to account for the false one, since to do so helps to confirm the true; for when we have found a probable explanation why something appears to be true though it is not true, this increases our belief in the truth.

We have then to explain why it is that bodily pleasures appear to be more desirable than others. [4]

(1) Now the first reason is that pleasure drives out pain; and excessive pain leads men to seek excessive pleasure, and bodily pleasure generally, as a restorative. And these restorative pleasures are intense, and therefore sought for, because they are seen in contrast with their opposite. (The view that pleasure is not a good at all is also due to these two facts, as has been said,3 (a) that some pleasures are actions indicative of an evil nature, whether it be depraved from birth, like the nature of an animal,4 or corrupted by habit, as is the case with evil men, and (b) that others are restoratives of a defective state,5 and to be in the natural state is better than to be in process of returning to it.

1 The mss. give ‘if pleasure and activity are not good.’

2 Whereas bodily pleasure is good in moderation and bad only in excess, all pain is bad; but this does not mean that the absence of excessive pleasure is bad, for it is not painful to the good man.

3 The reference is presumably to 12.1, but the two passages do not correspond very closely.

4 Cf. 6.6, second note.

5 Or possibly ‘that the restorative pleasures imply a defective state.’

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