1181 aI. Ἐπειδὴ προαιρούμεθα λέγειν ὑπὲρ ἠθικῶν,1 πρῶτον ἂν εἴη σκεπτέον τίνος ἐστὶ μέρος τὸ ἦθος. 25ὡς μὲν οὖν συντόμως εἰπεῖν, δόξειεν <ἂν> οὐκ ἄλλης ἢ τῆς πολιτικῆς εἶναι μέρος. ἔστι γὰρ οὐθὲν ἐν τοῖς πολιτικοῖς δυνατὸν πρᾶξαι ἄνευ τοῦ ποῖόν τινα εἶναι, λέγω δ᾿ οἷον σπουδαῖον· τὸ δὲ 1181 bσπουδαῖον εἶναί ἐστι τὸ τὰς ἀρετὰς ἔχειν· δεῖ ἄρα,2 εἴ τις μέλλει ἐν τοῖς πολιτικοῖς πρακτικὸς εἶναι, τὸ 25ἦθος εἶναι σπουδαῖος· μέρος ἐστὶν ἄρα, ὡς ἔοικε,3 καὶ ἀρχὴ ἡ περὶ τὰ ἤθη πραγματεία τῆς πολιτικῆς, τὸ δ᾿ ὅλον καὶ τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν δικαίως δοκεῖ ἄν μοι ἔχειν ἡ πραγματεία οὐκ ἠθικὴν ἀλλὰ πολιτικήν.


Magna Moralia, I. i

[Aristotle] Magna Moralia

Book I

(With §§ 1–4 and 9–10 cf. Nicomachus I. i., ii.)

1I. As we are undertaking to treat of Ethics orEthics are a Branch of Sociology. Morality, we must begin by inquiring by what branch of science moral character is considered. We may answer briefly, by Political or Social science,a and no other. For without character, a man can achieve nothing in association with his fellows. He must be a man of moral worth; and moral worth means 2possession of the virtues.b Whosoever therefore would achieve anything in social or political life must 3be of good moral character; which indicates that the discussion of character not only belongs to Social science, but is its very foundation or starting-point. And I would go so far as to assert that such a discussion would more fittingly be termed Social than Ethical.

  • aIn its wider sense πολιτική, as here, includes the whole field of “sociology.” In its narrower sense it is limited to the structure and administration of the State (πόλις).
  • bThe distinction between Moral Character (ἦθος) and Intellect (διάνοια) is drawn at the end of the first and the beginning of the second book of Nicomachus. (See especially I. c. xiii. §§ 19–20: and II. c. i. § 1, where ἦθος is derived from ἔθος, “habit,” because by habit character is formed.) Each has its proper excellences (ἀρεταί); but the Greek word is commonly used without qualification to denote the excellences of Character (ἀρεταὶ ἠθικαί) and is thus equivalent to the English “Virtues.” For the ἀρεταὶ διανοητικαί cf. c. v. §§ 1. 2 below: for the ἀρετή of an artist as artist cf. c. iii. § 5: for a definition of ἀρετή see c. iv. § 10, and Eudemus II. c. i. § 2.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-magna_moralia.1935