Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

LCL 73: xxiv-xxv

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true that a moral system which so exalts the life of the intellect is in many ways alien to modern thought and practice; but in so far as Aristotle’s End can be interpreted less exclusively, and taken to include complete self-development and self-expression, the full realization in healthy activity of all the potentialities of human nature, his teaching has not lost its appeal. His review of the virtues and graces of character that the Greeks admired stands in such striking contrast with Christian Ethics that this section of the work is a document of primary importance for the student of the Pagan world. But it has more than a historic value. Both in its likeness and in its difference it is a touchstone for that modern idea of a gentleman, which supplies or used to supply an important part of the English race with its working religion.


The text of this edition of the Nicomachean Ethics is based on that of Bekker (1831), the foundation of all subsequent work on Aristotle. I have however revised Bekker’s text with the aid of the editions of Susemihl (1880), Bywater (1891), and Apelt (1902), and the published notes of other scholars. In occasionally preferring other readings or conjectures to those accepted by Bekker,a I have been partly guided by the assumptions that Aristotle was, with certain fairly well-defined qualifications, a thinker and writer of extreme precision, and that his text has undergone, in the ms. tradition, at least an average


amount of corruption of the usual kinds: among others, the replacement of a word by another occurring in or suggested by the context (see H. Richards, Aristotelica, p. 74), and the misplacement of a clause omitted in its proper position and inserted a little lower down. On the other hand I have ignored such far-reaching reconstructions, based on theories of ‘duplicate passages’ and the ‘dislocation’ of whole paragraphs, as have been attempted by Cook Wilson and by Henry Jackson; the very nature of Aristotle’s writings, as described above, seems to preclude the attainment of trustworthy results on these lines.

Where I have departed from Bekker (except in trifles), I have given the rejected reading in the footnotes. These also contain a selection of such ms. variants and conjectural emendations as seem to be of interest for sense or style; but they make no attempt to give a complete view of the state of the mss.


A valuable examination of the chief sources for the text is made in Bywater’s Contributions to the Textual Criticism of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (1892), and other information will be found in Susemihl’s preface.

Bekker bases his text on the following six mss.:

KbLaurentianus lxxxi. 11:10thc.
LbParisiensis 1854:12thc.
MbMarcianus 213:about14thc.
ObRiccardianus 46:
HaMarcianus 214:
NbMarcianus Append, iv. 53: