Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

Book VI

I having stated in a former part of this treatise that men should choose the mean instead of either the excess or defect, and that the mean is according to the dictates of Right Reason; we will now proceed to explain this term.

For in all the habits which we have expressly mentioned, as likewise in all the others, there is, so to speak, a mark with his eye fixed on which the man who has Reason tightens or slacks his rope; and there is a certain limit of those mean states which we say are in accordance with Right Reason, and lie between excess on the one hand and defect on the other.

Now to speak thus is true enough but conveys no very definite meaning: as, in fact, in all other pursuits requiring attention and diligence on which skill and science are brought to bear; it is quite true of course to say that men are neither to labour nor relax too much or too little, but in moderation, and as Right Reason directs; yet if this were all a man had he would not be greatly the wiser; as, for instance, if in answer to the question, what are proper applications to the body, he were to be told, "Oh! of course, whatever the science of medicine, and in such manner as the physician, directs."

And so in respect of the mental states it is requisite not merely that this should be true which has been already stated, but further that it should be expressly laid down what Right Reason is, and what is the definition of it.

[Sidenote: 1139a] Now in our division of the Excellences of the Soul, we said there were two classes, the Moral and the Intellectual: the former we have already gone through; and we will now proceed to speak of the others, premising a few words respecting the Soul itself. It was stated before, you will remember, that the Soul consists of two parts, the Rational, and Irrational: we must now make a similar division of the Rational.

Let it be understood then that there are two parts of the Soul possessed of Reason; one whereby we realise those existences whose causes cannot be otherwise than they are, and one whereby we realise those which can be otherwise than they are (for there must be, answering to things generically different, generically different parts of the soul naturally adapted to each, since these parts of the soul possess their knowledge in virtue of a certain resemblance and appropriateness in themselves to the objects of which they are percipients); and let us name the former, "that which is apt to know," the latter, "that which is apt to calculate" (because deliberating and calculating are the same, and no one ever deliberates about things which cannot be otherwise than they are: and so the Calculative will be one part of the Rational faculty of the soul).

We must discover, then, which is the best state of each of these, because that will be the Excellence of each; and this again is relative to the work each has to do.


There are in the Soul three functions on which depend moral action and truth; Sense, Intellect, Appetition, whether vague Desire or definite Will. Now of these Sense is the originating cause of no moral action, as is seen from the fact that brutes have Sense but are in no way partakers of moral action.

[Intellect and Will are thus connected,] what in the Intellectual operation is Affirmation and Negation that in the Will is Pursuit and Avoidance, And so, since Moral Virtue is a State apt to exercise Moral Choice and Moral Choice is Will consequent on deliberation, the Reason must be true and the Will right, to constitute good Moral Choice, and what the Reason affirms the Will must pursue. Now this Intellectual operation and this Truth is what bears upon Moral Action; of course truth and falsehood than the conclusion such knowledge as he has will be merely accidental.


[Sidenote:1140a] Let thus much be accepted as a definition of Knowledge. Matter which may exist otherwise than it actually does in any given case (commonly called Contingent) is of two kinds, that which is the object of Making, and that which is the object of Doing; now Making and Doing are two different things (as we show in the exoteric treatise), and so that state of mind, conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Do, is distinct from that also conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Make: and for this reason they are not included one by the other, that is, Doing is not Making, nor Making Doing. Now as Architecture is an Art, and is the same as "a certain state of mind, conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Make," and as there is no Art which is not such a state, nor any such state which is not an Art, Art, in its strict and proper sense, must be "a state of mind, conjoined with true Reason, apt to Make."

Now all Art has to do with production, and contrivance, and seeing how any of those things may be produced which may either be or not be, and the origination of which rests with the maker and not with the thing made.

And, so neither things which exist or come into being necessarily, nor things in the way of nature, come under the province of Art, because these are self-originating. And since Making and Doing are distinct, Art must be concerned with the former and not the latter. And in a certain sense Art and Fortune are concerned with the same things, as, Agathon says by the way,

"Art Fortune loves, and is of her beloved."

So Art, as has been stated, is "a certain state of mind, apt to Make, conjoined with true Reason;" its absence, on the contrary, is the same state conjoined with false Reason, and both are employed upon Contingent matter.


As for Practical Wisdom, we shall ascertain its nature by examining to what kind of persons we in common language ascribe it.

[Sidenote: 1140b] It is thought then to be the property of the Practically Wise man to be able to deliberate well respecting what is good and expedient for himself, not in any definite line, as what is conducive to health or strength, but what to living well. A proof of this is that we call men Wise in this or that, when they calculate well with a view to some good end in a case where there is no definite rule. And so, in a general way of speaking, the man who is good at deliberation will be Practically Wise. Now no man deliberates respecting things which cannot be otherwise than they are, nor such as lie not within the range of his own action: and so, since Knowledge requires strict demonstrative reasoning, of which Contingent matter does not admit (I say Contingent matter, because all matters of deliberation must be Contingent and deliberation cannot take place with respect to things which are Necessarily), Practical Wisdom cannot be Knowledge nor Art; nor the former, because what falls under the province of Doing must be Contingent; not the latter, because Doing and Making are different in kind.

It remains then that it must be "a state of mind true, conjoined with Reason, and apt to Do, having for its object those things which are good or bad for Man:" because of Making something beyond itself is always the object, but cannot be of Doing because the very well-doing is in itself an End.

For this reason we think Pericles and men of that stamp to be Practically Wise, because they can see what is good for themselves and for men in general, and we also think those to be such who are skilled in domestic management or civil government. In fact, this is the reason why we call the habit of perfected self-mastery by the name which in Greek it bears, etymologically signifying "that which preserves the Practical Wisdom:" for what it does preserve is the Notion I have mentioned, 'i.e.' of one's own true interest, For it is not every kind of Notion which the pleasant and the painful corrupt and pervert, as, for instance, that "the three angles of every rectilineal triangle are equal to two right angles," but only those bearing on moral action.

For the Principles of the matters of moral action are the final cause of them: now to the man who has been corrupted by reason of pleasure or pain the Principle immediately becomes obscured, nor does he see that it is his duty to choose and act in each instance with a view to this final cause and by reason of it: for viciousness has a tendency to destroy the moral Principle: and so Practical Wisdom must be "a state conjoined with reason, true, having human good for its object, and apt to do."

Then again Art admits of degrees of excellence, but Practical Wisdom does not: and in Art he who goes wrong purposely is preferable to him who does so unwittingly, but not so in respect of Practical Wisdom or the other Virtues. It plainly is then an Excellence of a certain kind, and not an Art.

Now as there are two parts of the Soul which have Reason, it must be the Excellence of the Opinionative [which we called before calculative or deliberative], because both Opinion and Practical Wisdom are exercised upon Contingent matter. And further, it is not simply a state conjoined with Reason, as is proved by the fact that such a state may be forgotten and so lost while Practical Wisdom cannot.


Now Knowledge is a conception concerning universals and Necessary matter, and there are of course certain First Principles in all trains of demonstrative reasoning (that is of all Knowledge because this is connected with reasoning): that faculty, then, which takes in the first principles of that which comes under the range of Knowledge, cannot be either Knowledge, or Art, or Practical Wisdom: not Knowledge, because what is the object of Knowledge must be derived from demonstrative reasoning; not either of the other two, because they are exercised upon Contingent matter only. [Sidenote: 1141a] Nor can it be Science which takes in these, because the Scientific Man must in some cases depend on demonstrative Reasoning.

It comes then to this: since the faculties whereby we always attain truth and are never deceived when dealing with matter Necessary or even Contingent are Knowledge, Practical Wisdom, Science, and Intuition, and the faculty which takes in First Principles cannot be any of the three first; the last, namely Intuition, must be it which performs this function.


Science is a term we use principally in two meanings: in the first place, in the Arts we ascribe it to those who carry their arts to the highest accuracy; Phidias, for instance, we call a Scientific or cunning sculptor; Polycleitus a Scientific or cunning statuary; meaning, in this instance, nothing else by Science than an excellence of art: in the other sense, we think some to be Scientific in a general way, not in any particular line or in any particular thing, just as Homer says of a man in his Margites; "Him the Gods made neither a digger of the ground, nor ploughman, nor in any other way Scientific."

So it is plain that Science must mean the most accurate of all Knowledge; but if so, then the Scientific man must not merely know the deductions from the First Principles but be in possession of truth respecting the First Principles. So that Science must be equivalent to Intuition and Knowledge; it is, so to speak, Knowledge of the most precious objects, 'with a head on'.

I say of the most precious things, because it is absurd to suppose [Greek: politikae], or Practical Wisdom, to be the highest, unless it can be shown that Man is the most excellent of all that exists in the Universe. Now if "healthy" and "good" are relative terms, differing when applied to men or to fish, but "white" and "straight" are the same always, men must allow that the Scientific is the same always, but the Practically Wise varies: for whatever provides all things well for itself, to this they would apply the term Practically Wise, and commit these matters to it; which is the reason, by the way, that they call some brutes Practically Wise, such that is as plainly have a faculty of forethought respecting their own subsistence.

And it is quite plain that Science and [Greek: politikae] cannot be identical: because if men give the name of Science to that faculty which is employed upon what is expedient for themselves, there will be many instead of one, because there is not one and the same faculty employed on the good of all animals collectively, unless in the same sense as you may say there is one art of healing with respect to all living beings.

[Sidenote: 1141b] If it is urged that man is superior to all other animals, that makes no difference: for there are many other things more Godlike in their nature than Man, as, most obviously, the elements of which the Universe is composed.

It is plain then that Science is the union of Knowledge and Intuition, and has for its objects those things which are most precious in their nature. Accordingly, Anexagoras, Thales, and men of that stamp, people call Scientific, but not Practically Wise because they see them ignorant of what concerns themselves; and they say that what they know is quite out of the common run certainly, and wonderful, and hard, and very fine no doubt, but still useless because they do not seek after what is good for them as men.

But Practical Wisdom is employed upon human matters, and such as are objects of deliberation (for we say, that to deliberate well is most peculiarly the work of the man who possesses this Wisdom), and no man deliberates about things which cannot be otherwise than they are, nor about any save those that have some definite End and this End good resulting from Moral Action; and the man to whom we should give the name of Good in Counsel, simply and without modification, is he who in the way of calculation has a capacity for attaining that of practical goods which is the best for Man. Nor again does Practical Wisdom consist in a knowledge of general principles only, but it is necessary that one should know also the particular details, because it is apt to act, and action is concerned with details: for which reason sometimes men who have not much knowledge are more practical than others who have; among others, they who derive all they know from actual experience: suppose a man to know, for instance, that light meats are easy of digestion and wholesome, but not what kinds of meat are light, he will not produce a healthy state; that man will have a much better chance of doing so, who knows that the flesh of birds is light and wholesome. Since then Practical Wisdom is apt to act, one ought to have both kinds of knowledge, or, if only one, the knowledge of details rather than of Principles. So there will be in respect of Practical Wisdom the distinction of supreme and subordinate.


Further: [Greek: politikhae] and Practical Wisdom are the same mental state, but the point of view is not the same.

Of Practical Wisdom exerted upon a community that which I would call the Supreme is the faculty of Legislation; the subordinate, which is concerned with the details, generally has the common name [Greek: politikhae], and its functions are Action and Deliberation (for the particular enactment is a matter of action, being the ultimate issue of this branch of Practical Wisdom, and therefore people commonly say, that these men alone are really engaged in government, because they alone act, filling the same place relatively to legislators, that workmen do to a master).

Again, that is thought to be Practical Wisdom in the most proper sense which has for its object the interest of the Individual: and this usually appropriates the common name: the others are called respectively Domestic Management, Legislation, Executive Government divided into two branches, Deliberative and Judicial. Now of course, knowledge for one's self is one kind of knowledge, but it admits of many shades of difference: and it is a common notion that the man [Sidenote:1142a] who knows and busies himself about his own concerns merely is the man of Practical Wisdom, while they who extend their solicitude to society at large are considered meddlesome.

Euripides has thus embodied this sentiment; "How," says one of his Characters, "How foolish am I, who whereas I might have shared equally, idly numbered among the multitude of the army ... for them that are busy and meddlesome [Jove hates]," because the generality of mankind seek their own good and hold that this is their proper business. It is then from this opinion that the notion has arisen that such men are the Practically-Wise. And yet it is just possible that the good of the individual cannot be secured independently of connection with a family or a community. And again, how a man should manage his own affairs is sometimes not quite plain, and must be made a matter of inquiry.

A corroboration of what I have said is the fact, that the young come to be geometricians, and mathematicians, and Scientific in such matters, but it is not thought that a young man can come to be possessed of Practical Wisdom: now the reason is, that this Wisdom has for its object particular facts, which come to be known from experience, which a young man has not because it is produced only by length of time.

By the way, a person might also inquire why a boy may be made a mathematician but not Scientific or a natural philosopher. Is not this the reason? that mathematics are taken in by the process of abstraction, but the principles of Science and natural philosophy must be gained by experiment; and the latter young men talk of but do not realise, while the nature of the former is plain and clear.

Again, in matter of practice, error attaches either to the general rule, in the process of deliberation, or to the particular fact: for instance, this would be a general rule, "All water of a certain gravity is bad;" the particular fact, "this water is of that gravity."

And that Practical Wisdom is not knowledge is plain, for it has to do with the ultimate issue, as has been said, because every object of action is of this nature.

To Intuition it is opposed, for this takes in those principles which cannot be proved by reasoning, while Practical Wisdom is concerned with the ultimate particular fact which cannot be realised by Knowledge but by Sense; I do not mean one of the five senses, but the same by which we take in the mathematical fact, that no rectilineal figure can be contained by less than three lines, i.e. that a triangle is the ultimate figure, because here also is a stopping point.

This however is Sense rather than Practical Wisdom, which is of another kind.


Now the acts of inquiring and deliberating differ, though deliberating is a kind of inquiring. We ought to ascertain about Good Counsel likewise what it is, whether a kind of Knowledge, or Opinion, or Happy Conjecture, or some other kind of faculty. Knowledge it obviously is not, because men do not inquire about what they know, and Good Counsel is a kind of deliberation, and the man who is deliberating is inquiring and calculating. [Sidenote:1142b]

Neither is it Happy Conjecture; because this is independent of reasoning, and a rapid operation; but men deliberate a long time, and it is a common saying that one should execute speedily what has been resolved upon in deliberation, but deliberate slowly.

Quick perception of causes again is a different faculty from good counsel, for it is a species of Happy Conjecture. Nor is Good Counsel Opinion of any kind.

Well then, since he who deliberates ill goes wrong, and he who deliberates well does so rightly, it is clear that Good Counsel is rightness of some kind, but not of Knowledge nor of Opinion: for Knowledge cannot be called right because it cannot be wrong, and Rightness of Opinion is Truth: and again, all which is the object of opinion is definitely marked out.

Still, however, Good Counsel is not independent of Reason, Does it remain then that it is a rightness of Intellectual Operation simply, because this does not amount to an assertion; and the objection to Opinion was that it is not a process of inquiry but already a definite assertion; whereas whosoever deliberates, whether well or ill, is engaged in inquiry and calculation.

Well, Good Counsel is a Rightness of deliberation, and so the first question must regard the nature and objects of deliberation. Now remember Rightness is an equivocal term; we plainly do not mean Rightness of any kind whatever; the [Greek: akrataes], for instance, or the bad man, will obtain by his calculation what he sets before him as an object, and so he may be said to have deliberated 'rightly' in one sense, but will have attained a great evil. Whereas to have deliberated well is thought to be a good, because Good Counsel is Rightness of deliberation of such a nature as is apt to attain good.

But even this again you may get by false reasoning, and hit upon the right effect though not through right means, your middle term being fallacious: and so neither will this be yet Good Counsel in consequence of which you get what you ought but not through proper means.

Again, one man may hit on a thing after long deliberation, another quickly. And so that before described will not be yet Good Counsel, but the Rightness must be with reference to what is expedient; and you must have a proper end in view, pursue it in a right manner and right time.

Once more. One may deliberate well either generally or towards some particular End. Good counsel in the general then is that which goes right towards that which is the End in a general way of consideration; in particular, that which does so towards some particular End.

Since then deliberating well is a quality of men possessed of Practical Wisdom, Good Counsel must be "Rightness in respect of what conduces to a given End, of which Practical Wisdom is the true conception." [Sidenote: X 1143'a'] There is too the faculty of Judiciousness, and also its absence, in virtue of which we call men Judicious or the contrary.

Now Judiciousness is neither entirely identical with Knowledge or Opinion (for then all would have been Judicious), nor is it any one specific science, as medical science whose object matter is things wholesome; or geometry whose object matter is magnitude: for it has not for its object things which always exist and are immutable, nor of those things which come into being just any which may chance; but those in respect of which a man might doubt and deliberate.

And so it has the same object matter as Practical Wisdom; yet the two faculties are not identical, because Practical Wisdom has the capacity for commanding and taking the initiative, for its End is "what one should do or not do:" but Judiciousness is only apt to decide upon suggestions (though we do in Greek put "well" on to the faculty and its concrete noun, these really mean exactly the same as the plain words), and Judiciousness is neither the having Practical Wisdom, nor attaining it: but just as learning is termed [Greek: sunievai] when a man uses his knowledge, so judiciousness consists in employing the Opinionative faculty in judging concerning those things which come within the province of Practical Wisdom, when another enunciates them; and not judging merely, but judging well (for [Greek: eu] and [Greek: kalos] mean exactly the same thing). And the Greek name of this faculty is derived from the use of the term [Greek: suvievai] in learning: [Greek: mavthaveiv] and [Greek: suvievai] being often used as synonymous.

[Sidenote: XI] The faculty called [Greek: gvomh], in right of which we call men [Greek: euyvomoves], or say they have [Greek: gvomh], is "the right judgment of the equitable man." A proof of which is that we most commonly say that the equitable man has a tendency to make allowance, and the making allowance in certain cases is equitable. And [Greek: sungvomae] (the word denoting allowance) is right [Greek: gvomh] having a capacity of making equitable decisions, By "right" I mean that which attains the True. Now all these mental states tend to the same object, as indeed common language leads us to expect: I mean, we speak of [Greek: gnomae], Judiciousness, Practical Wisdom, and Practical Intuition, attributing the possession of [Greek: gnomae] and Practical Intuition to the same Individuals whom we denominate Practically-Wise and Judicious: because all these faculties are employed upon the extremes, i.e. on particular details; and in right of his aptitude for deciding on the matters which come within the province of the Practically-Wise, a man is Judicious and possessed of good [Greek: gnomae]; i.e. he is disposed to make allowance, for considerations of equity are entertained by all good men alike in transactions with their fellows.

And all matters of Moral Action belong to the class of particulars, otherwise called extremes: for the man of Practical Wisdom must know them, and Judiciousness and [Greek: gnomae] are concerned with matters of Moral Actions, which are extremes.

[Sidenote:1143b] Intuition, moreover, takes in the extremes at both ends: I mean, the first and last terms must be taken in not by reasoning but by Intuition [so that Intuition comes to be of two kinds], and that which belongs to strict demonstrative reasonings takes in immutable, i.e. Necessary, first terms; while that which is employed in practical matters takes in the extreme, the Contingent, and the minor Premiss: for the minor Premisses are the source of the Final Cause, Universals being made up out of Particulars. To take in these, of course, we must have Sense, i.e. in other words Practical Intuition. And for this reason these are thought to be simply gifts of nature; and whereas no man is thought to be Scientific by nature, men are thought to have [Greek: gnomae], and Judiciousness, and Practical Intuition: a proof of which is that we think these faculties are a consequence even of particular ages, and this given age has Practical Intuition and [Greek: gnomae], we say, as if under the notion that nature is the cause. And thus Intuition is both the beginning and end, because the proofs are based upon the one kind of extremes and concern the other.

And so one should attend to the undemonstrable dicta and opinions of the skilful, the old and the Practically-Wise, no less than to those which are based on strict reasoning, because they see aright, having gained their power of moral vision from experience.


Well, we have now stated the nature and objects of Practical Wisdom and Science respectively, and that they belong each to a different part of the Soul. But I can conceive a person questioning their utility. "Science," he would say, "concerns itself with none of the causes of human happiness (for it has nothing to do with producing anything): Practical Wisdom has this recommendation, I grant, but where is the need of it, since its province is those things which are just and honourable, and good for man, and these are the things which the good man as such does; but we are not a bit the more apt to do them because we know them, since the Moral Virtues are Habits; just as we are not more apt to be healthy or in good condition from mere knowledge of what relates to these (I mean, of course, things so called not from their producing health, etc., but from their evidencing it in a particular subject), for we are not more apt to be healthy and in good condition merely from knowing the art of medicine or training.

"If it be urged that 'knowing what is' good does not by itself make a Practically-Wise man but 'becoming' good; still this Wisdom will be no use either to those that are good, and so have it already, or to those who have it not; because it will make no difference to them whether they have it themselves or put themselves under the guidance of others who have; and we might be contented to be in respect of this as in respect of health: for though we wish to be healthy still we do not set about learning the art of healing.

"Furthermore, it would seem to be strange that, though lower in the scale than Science, it is to be its master; which it is, because whatever produces results takes the rule and directs in each matter."

This then is what we are to talk about, for these are the only points now raised.

[Sidenote:1144a] Now first we say that being respectively Excellences of different parts of the Soul they must be choiceworthy, even on the supposition that they neither of them produce results.

In the next place we say that they 'do' produce results; that Science makes Happiness, not as the medical art but as healthiness makes health: because, being a part of Virtue in its most extensive sense, it makes a man happy by being possessed and by working.

Next, Man's work 'as Man' is accomplished by virtue of Practical Wisdom and Moral Virtue, the latter giving the right aim and direction, the former the right means to its attainment; but of the fourth part of the Soul, the mere nutritive principle, there is no such Excellence, because nothing is in its power to do or leave undone.

As to our not being more apt to do what is noble and just by reason of possessing Practical Wisdom, we must begin a little higher up, taking this for our starting-point. As we say that men may do things in themselves just and yet not be just men; for instance, when men do what the laws require of them, either against their will, or by reason of ignorance or something else, at all events not for the sake of the things themselves; and yet they do what they ought and all that the good man should do; so it seems that to be a good man one must do each act in a particular frame of mind, I mean from Moral Choice and for the sake of the things themselves which are done. Now it is Virtue which makes the Moral Choice right, but whatever is naturally required to carry out that Choice comes under the province not of Virtue but of a different faculty. We must halt, as it were, awhile, and speak more clearly on these points.

There is then a certain faculty, commonly named Cleverness, of such a nature as to be able to do and attain whatever conduces to 'any' given purpose: now if that purpose be a good one the faculty is praiseworthy; if otherwise, it goes by a name which, denoting strictly the ability, implies the willingness to do 'anything'; we accordingly call the Practically-Wise Clever, and also those who can and will do anything.

Now Practical Wisdom is not identical with Cleverness, nor is it without this power of adapting means to ends: but this Eye of the Soul (as we may call it) does not attain its proper state without goodness, as we have said before and as is quite plain, because the syllogisms into which Moral Action may be analysed have for their Major Premiss, "since ----------is the End and the Chief Good" (fill up the blank with just anything you please, for we merely want to exhibit the Form, so that anything will do), but 'how' this blank should be filled is seen only by the good man: because Vice distorts the moral vision and causes men to be deceived in respect of practical principles.

It is clear, therefore, that a man cannot be a Practically-Wise, without being a good, man.


[Sidenote:1144b] We must inquire again also about Virtue: for it may be divided into Natural Virtue and Matured, which two bear to each other a relation similar to that which Practical Wisdom bears to Cleverness, one not of identity but resemblance. I speak of Natural Virtue, because men hold that each of the moral dispositions attach to us all somehow by nature: we have dispositions towards justice, self-mastery and courage, for instance, immediately from our birth: but still we seek Goodness in its highest sense as something distinct from these, and that these dispositions should attach to us in a somewhat different fashion. Children and brutes have these natural states, but then they are plainly hurtful unless combined with an intellectual element: at least thus much is matter of actual experience and observation, that as a strong body destitute of sight must, if set in motion, fall violently because it has not sight, so it is also in the case we are considering: but if it can get the intellectual element it then excels in acting. Just so the Natural State of Virtue, being like this strong body, will then be Virtue in the highest sense when it too is combined with the intellectual element.

So that, as in the case of the Opinionative faculty, there are two forms, Cleverness and Practical Wisdom; so also in the case of the Moral there are two, Natural Virtue and Matured; and of these the latter cannot be formed without Practical Wisdom.

This leads some to say that all the Virtues are merely intellectual Practical Wisdom, and Socrates was partly right in his inquiry and partly wrong: wrong in that he thought all the Virtues were merely intellectual Practical Wisdom, right in saying they were not independent of that faculty.

A proof of which is that now all, in defining Virtue, add on the "state" [mentioning also to what standard it has reference, namely that] "which is accordant with Right Reason:" now "right" means in accordance with Practical Wisdom. So then all seem to have an instinctive notion that that state which is in accordance with Practical Wisdom is Virtue; however, we must make a slight change in their statement, because that state is Virtue, not merely which is in accordance with but which implies the possession of Right Reason; which, upon such matters, is Practical Wisdom. The difference between us and Socrates is this: he thought the Virtues were reasoning processes ('i.e.' that they were all instances of Knowledge in its strict sense), but we say they imply the possession of Reason.

From what has been said then it is clear that one cannot be, strictly speaking, good without Practical Wisdom nor Practically-Wise without moral goodness.

And by the distinction between Natural and Matured Virtue one can meet the reasoning by which it might be argued "that the Virtues are separable because the same man is not by nature most inclined to all at once so that he will have acquired this one before he has that other:" we would reply that this is possible with respect to the Natural Virtues but not with respect to those in right of which a man is denominated simply good: because they will all belong to him together with the one faculty of Practical Wisdom. [Sidenote:1145a]

It is plain too that even had it not been apt to act we should have needed it, because it is the Excellence of a part of the Soul; and that the moral choice cannot be right independently of Practical Wisdom and Moral Goodness; because this gives the right End, that causes the doing these things which conduce to the End.

Then again, it is not Master of Science (i.e. of the superior part of the Soul), just as neither is the healing art Master of health; for it does not make use of it, but looks how it may come to be: so it commands for the sake of it but does not command it.

The objection is, in fact, about as valid as if a man should say [Greek: politikae] governs the gods because it gives orders about all things in the communty.


On [Greek: epistaemae], from I. Post. Analyt. chap. i. and ii.

(Such parts only are translated as throw light on the Ethics.)

All teaching, and all intellectual learning, proceeds on the basis of previous knowledge, as will appear on an examination of all. The Mathematical Sciences, and every other system, draw their conclusions in this method. So too of reasonings, whether by syllogism, or induction: for both teach through what is previously known, the former assuming the premisses as from wise men, the latter proving universals from the evidentness of the particulars. In like manner too rhetoricians persuade, either through examples (which amounts to induction), or through enthymemes (which amounts to syllogism).

Well, we suppose that we 'know' things (in the strict and proper sense of the word) when we suppose ourselves to know the cause by reason of which the thing is to be the cause of it; and that this cannot be otherwise. It is plain that the idea intended to be conveyed by the term 'knowing' is something of this kind; because they who do not really know suppose themselves thus related to the matter in hand and they who do know really are so that of whatsoever there is properly speaking Knowledge this cannot be otherwise than it is Whether or no there is another way of knowing we will say afterwards, but we do say that we know through demonstration, by which I mean a syllogism apt to produce Knowledge, i.e. in right of which through having it, we know.

If Knowledge then is such as we have described it, the Knowledge produced by demonstrative reasoning must be drawn from premisses 'true' and 'first', and 'incapable of syllogistic proof', and 'better known', and 'prior in order of time', and 'causes of the conclusion', for so the principles will be akin to the conclusion demonstrated.

(Syllogism, of course there may be without such premisses, but it will not be demonstration because it will not produce knowledge).

'True', they must be, because it is impossible to know that which is not.

'First', that is indemonstrable, because, if demonstrable, he cannot be said to 'know' them who has no demonstration of them for knowing such things as are demonstrable is the same as having demonstration of them.

'Causes' they must be, and 'better known', and 'prior' in time, 'causes', because we then know when we are acquainted with the cause, and 'prior', if causes, and 'known beforehand', not merely comprehended in idea but known to exist (The terms prior, and better known, bear two senses for 'prior by nature' and 'prior relatively to ourselves' are not the same, nor 'better known by nature', and 'better known to us' I mean, by 'prior' and 'better known relatively to ourselves', such things as are nearer to sensation, but abstractedly so such as are further Those are furthest which are most universal those nearest which are particulars, and these are mutually opposed) And by 'first', I mean 'principles akin to the conclusion', for principle means the same as first And the principle or first step in demonstration is a proposition incapable of syllogistic proof, i. e. one to which there is none prior. Now of such syllogistic principles I call that a [Greek: thxsis] which you cannot demonstrate, and which is unnecessary with a view to learning something else. That which is necessary in order to learn something else is an Axiom.

Further, since one is to believe and know the thing by having a syllogism of the kind called demonstration, and what constitutes it to be such is the nature of the premisses, it is necessary not merely to 'know before', but to 'know better than the conclusion', either all or at least some of, the principles, because that which is the cause of a quality inhering in something else always inheres itself more as the cause of our loving is itself more lovable. So, since the principles are the cause of our knowing and behoving we know and believe them more, because by reason of them we know also the conclusion following.

Further: the man who is to have the Knowledge which comes through demonstration must not merely know and believe his principles better than he does his conclusion, but he must believe nothing more firmly than the contradictories of those principles out of which the contrary fallacy may be constructed: since he who 'knows', is to be simply and absolutely infallible.