If one who censures
pleasure is seen sometimes to desire it himself, his swerving towards it is thought to
show that he really believes that all pleasure is desirable; for the mass of mankind
Hence it appears that true theories are the most valuable for conduct as well as for
science; harmonizing with the facts, they carry conviction, and so encourage those who
understand them to guide their lives by them.
With so much by way of introduction, let us now review the theories about pleasure that
have been advanced.
That pleasure is the Good was held by Eudoxus, on the following grounds. He saw that all
creatures, rational and irrational alike, seek to obtain it; but in every case
（he argued） that which is desirable is good, and that which is most
desirable is the best; therefore the fact that all creatures ‘move in the
thing indicates that this thing is the Supreme Good for all （since everything
finds its own particular good, just as it finds its own proper food）; but that
which is good for all, and which all seek to obtain, is the Good.
His arguments owed their acceptance however more to the excellence of his character than
to their own merit. He had the reputation of being a man of exceptional temperance, and
hence he was not suspected of upholding this view because he was a lover of pleasure, but
people thought it must really be true.
He also held that the goodness of pleasure was equally manifest from the converse: pain
is intrinsically an object of avoidance to all,
therefore its opposite must be intrinsically an object of desire to all.
Again, he argued that that thing is most desirable which we choose not as a means to or
for the sake of something else; but such admittedly is pleasure: we never ask a man for
what purpose he indulges in pleasure—we assume it to be desirable in itself.
He also said that the addition of pleasure to any good—for instance, just or
temperate conduct—makes that good more desirable; but only the good can enhance
Now as for the last argument, it seems only to prove that pleasure is a good, and not
that it is in any way better than any other good; for every good is more desirable when
combined with some other good than in isolation. In fact, a similar argument is employed
to refute the view that pleasure is the Good: the life of pleasure, he urges, is
more desirable in combination with intelligence than without it; but if pleasure combined
with something else is better than pleasure alone, it is not the Good, for the Good is not
rendered more desirable by the addition of anything to it. And it is clear that nothing
else either will be the Good if it becomes more desirable when combined with something
good in itself.
thing is there then of this nature,3
which is attainable by us? for it is something of this nature that
we are in search of.
on the other hand who deny that that which all
creatures seek to obtain is good, are surely talking nonsense.