Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

LCL 73: 628-629

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Nicomachean Ethics, X.

Here is another proof that the wise man is the happiest.

ixIf then we have sufficiently discussed in their Transition from Ethics to Politics. outlines the subjects of Happiness and of Virtue in its various forms, and also Friendship and Pleasure, may we assume that the investigation we proposed is now complete? Perhaps however, as we maintain, in the practical sciences the end is not to attain a theoretic knowledge of the various subjects, but 2rather to carry out our theories in action. If so, to know what virtue is is not enough; we must endeavour to possess and to practise it, or in some other manner actually ourselves to become good.

3Now if discourses on ethics were sufficient in themselves to make men virtuous, ‘large fees and many ’ (as Theognisa says) ‘would they win,’ quite rightly, and to provide such discourses would be all that is wanted. But as it is, we see that although theories Ethical theory only influences exceptionally gifted natures. have power to stimulate and encourage generous youths, and, given an inborn nobility of character and a genuine love of what is noble, can make them susceptible to the influence of virtue, yet they are powerless to stimulate the mass of mankind to moral 4nobility. For it is the nature of the many to be amenable to fear but not to a sense of honour, and to abstain from evil not because of its baseness but because of the penalties it entails; since, living as they do by passion, they pursue the pleasures akin to their nature, and the things that will procure those pleasures, and avoid the opposite pains, but have not even a notion of what is noble and truly 5pleasant, having never tasted true pleasure. What

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-nicomachean_ethics.1926