2.: Statement of difficulties as to how one can know right and do wrong. - Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics 
The Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle, trans. F.H. Peters, M.A. 5th edition (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co., 1893).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
- Preface to the Fifth Edition.
- Book I.: The End.
- 1.: In All He Does Man Seeks Same Good As End Or Means.
- 2.: The End Is the Good; Our Subject Is This and Its Science Politics.
- 3.: Exactness Not Permitted By Subject Nor to Be Expected By Student, Who Needs Experience and Training.
- 4.: Men Agree That the Good Is Happiness, But Differ As to What This Is.
- 5.: The Good Cannot Be Pleasure, Nor Honour, Nor Virtue.
- 6.: Various Arguments to Show Against the Platonists That There Cannot Be One Universal Good.
- 7.: The Good Is the Final End, and Happiness Is This.
- 8.: This View Harmonizes Various Current Views.
- 9.: It Happiness Acquired, Or the Gift of Gods Or of Chance?
- 10.: Can No Man Be Called Happy During Life?
- 11.: Cannot the Fortunes of Survivors Affect the Dead?
- 12.: Happiness As Absolute End Is Above Praise.
- 13.: Division of the Faculties and Resulting Division of the Virtues.
- Book II.: Moral Virtue.
- 1.: Moral Virtue Is Acquired By the Repetition of the Corresponding Acts.
- 2.: These Acts Must Be Such As Reason Prescribes; They Can’t Be Defined Exactly, But Must Be Neither Too Much Nor Too Little.
- 3.: Virtue Is In Various Ways Concerned With Pleasure and Pain.
- 4.: The Conditions of Virtuous Action As Distinct From Artistic Production.
- 5.: Virtue Not an Emotion, Nor a Faculty, But a Trained Faculty Or Habit.
- 6.: Viz., the Habit of Choosing the Mean.
- 7.: This Must Be Applied to the Several Virtues.
- 8.: The Two Vicious Extremes Are Opposed to One Another and to the Intermediate Virtue.
- 9.: The Mean Hard to Hit, and Is a Matter of Perception, Not of Reasoning.
- Book III.
- Chapters 1–5.: the Will.
- 1.: An Act Is Involuntary When Done (a) Under Compulsion, Or (b) Through Ignorance: (a) Means Not Originated By Doer, (b) Means Through Ignorance of the Circumstances: Voluntary Then Means Originated With Knowledge of Circumstances.
- 2.: Purpose, a Mode of Will, Means Choice After Deliberation.
- 3.: We Deliberate On What We Can Do—not On Ends, But Means.
- 4.: We Wish For
- 5.: Virtue and Vice Are Alike Voluntary, Our Acts Are Our Own; For We Are Punished For Them; If This Be Our Character, We Have Made It By Repeated Acts; Even Bodily Vices Are Blamable When Thus Formed. We Cannot Plead That Our Notion of Good Depends On Ou
- Chapters 6—12: the Several Moral Virtues and Vices.
- 6.: Of Courage and the Opposite Vices.
- 7. Of Courage (continued)
- 8. Of Courage Improperly So Called.
- 9.: How Courage Involves Both Pain and Pleasure.
- 10.: Of Temperance.
- 11. Of Temperance (continued)
- 12.: How Profligacy Is More Voluntary Than Cowardice.
- Book IV.: The Several Moral Virtues and Vices— Continued.
- 1.: Of Liberality.
- 2.: Of Magnificence.
- 3.: Of High-mindedness
- 4.: Of a Similar Virtue In Smaller Matters.
- 5.: Of Gentleness.
- 6.: Of Agreeableness.
- 7.: Of Truthfulness.
- 8.: Of Wittiness.
- 9.: Of the Feeling of Shame
- Book V.: The Several Moral Virtues and Vices— Concluded. Justice.
- 1.: Preliminary Two Senses of Justice Distinguished Justice (l) = Obedience to Law = Complete Virtue.
- 2.: Of Justice (2) = Fairness, How Related to Justice (1). What Is Just In Distribution Distinguished From What Is Just In Correction.
- 3.: Of What Is Just In Ditribution and Its Rule of Geometrical Proportion.
- 4.: Of That Which Is Just In Correction, and Its Rule of Arithmetical Proportion.
- 5.: Simple Requital Is Not Identical With What Is Just, But Proportionate Requital Is What Is Just In Exchange; and This Is Effected By Means of Money. We Can Now Give a General Definition of Justice (2).
- 6.: ( One Can Act Unjustly Without Being Unjust. ) That Which Is Just In the Strict Sense Is Between Citizens Only, For It Implies Law.
- 7.: It Is In Part Natural, In Part Conventional.
- 8.: The Internal Conditions of a Just Or Unjust Action, and of a Just Or Unjust Agent.
- 9.: Sundry Questions About Doing and Suffering Injustice
- 10.: Of Equity
- 11.: Can a Man Wrong Himself?
- Book VI.: The Intellectual Virtues.
- 1.: Must Be Studied Because (a) Reason Prescribes the Mean, (b) They Are a Part of Human Excellence. the Intellect Is (1) Scientific, (2) Calculative: We Want the Virtue of Each.
- 2.: The Function of the Intellect, Both In Practice and Speculation, Is to Attain Truth.
- 3.: Of the Five Modes of Attaining Truth: (1) of Demonstrative Science of Things Invariable.
- 4.: Of Knowledge of Things Variable, Viz. (2) of Art In What We Make;
- 5.: And (3) of Prudence In What We Do, the Virtue of the Calculative Intellect.
- 6.: (4) of Intuitive Reason As the Basis of Demonstrative Science.
- 7.: (5) of Wisdom As the Union of Science and Intuitive Reason. Comparison of the Two Intellectual Virtues, Wisdom and Prudence.
- 8.: Prudence Compared With Statesmanship and Other Forms of Knowledge.
- 9.: Of Deliberation.
- 10.: Of Intelligence
- 11.: Of Judgment of Reason Or Intuitive Perception As the Basis of the Practical Intellect.
- 12.: Of the Uses of Wisdom and Prudence. How Prudence Is Related to Cleverness.
- 13.: How Prudence Is Related to Moral Virtue
- Book VII.
- Chapters 1–10.: Characters Other Than Virtue and Vice.
- 1.: Of Continence and Incontinence, Heroic Virtue and Brutality. of Method. Statement of Opinions About Continence.
- 2.: Statement of Difficulties As to How One Can Know Right and Do Wrong.
- 3.: Solution: to Know Has Many Senses; In What Sense Such a Man Knows.
- 4.: Of Incontinence In the Strict and In the Metaphorical Sense.
- 5.: Of Incontinence In Respect of Brutal Or Morbid Appetites.
- 6.: Incontinence In Anger Less Blamed Than In Appetite.
- 7.: Incontinence Yields to Pleasure, Softness to Pain. Two Kinds of Incontinence, the Hasty and the Weak.
- 8.: Incontinence Compared With Vice and Virtue.
- 9.: Continence and Incontinence Not Identical With Keeping and Breaking a Resolution.
- 10.: Prudence Is Not, But Cleverness Is, Compatible With Incontinence.
- Chapters 11—14.: of Pleasure.
- 11.: We Must Now Discuss Pleasure. Opinions About It.
- 12.: Answers to Arguments Against Goodness of Pleasure. Ambiguity of Good and Pleasant. Pleasure Not a Transition, But Unimpeded Activity.
- 13.: Pleasure Is Good, and the Pleasure That Consists In the Highest Activity Is the Good. All Admit That Happiness Is Pleasant. Bodily Pleasures Not the Only Pleasures.
- 14.: Of the Bodily Pleasures, and the Distinction Between Naturally and Accidentally Pleasant.
- Book VIII.: Friendship Or Love.
- 1.: Uses of Friendship. Differences of Opinion About It.
- 2.: Three Motives of Friendship. Friendship Defined.
- 3.: Three Kinds of Friendship, Corresponding to the Three Motives Perfect Friendship Is That Whose Motive Is the Good.
- 4.: The Others Are Imperfect Copies of This.
- 5.: Intercourse Necessary to the Maintenance of Friendship.
- 6.: Impossible to Have Many True Friends.
- 7.: Of Friendship Between Unequal Persons and Its Rule of Proportion. Limits Within Which This Is Possible.
- 8.: Of Loving and Being Loved.
- 9.: Every Society Has Its Own Form of Friendship As of Justice. All Societies Are Summed Up In Civil Society.
- 10.: Of the Three Forms of Constitution.
- 11.: Of the Corresponding Forms of Friendship.
- 12.: Of the Friendship of Kinsmen and Comrades.
- 13.: Of the Terms of Interchange and Quarrels Hence Arising In Equal Friendships.
- 14.: Of the Same In Unequal Friendships.
- Book IX.: Friendship Or Love— Continued.
- 1.: Of the Rule of Proportion In Dissimilar Friendships.
- 2.: Of the Conflict of Duties.
- 3.: Of the Dissolution of Friendships.
- 4.: A Man’s Relation to His Friend Like His Relation to Himself.
- 5.: Friendship and Goodwill.
- 6.: Friendship and Unanimity
- 7.: Why Benefactors Love More Than They Are Loved.
- 8.: In What Sense It Is Right to Love One’s Self.
- 9.: Why a Happy Man Needs Friends.
- 10.: Of the Proper Number of Friends.
- 11.: Friends Needed Both In Prosperity and Adversity.
- 12.: Friendship Is Realized In Living Together.
- Book X.
- Chapters 1–5.: Pleasure.
- 1.: Reasons For Discussing Pleasure.
- 2.: Arguments of Eudoxus That Pleasure Is the Good.
- 3.: Argument That It Is Not a Quality; That It Is Not Determined; That It Is a Motion Or Coming Into Being. Pleasures Differ In Kind.
- 4.: Pleasure Defined: Its Relation to Activity.
- 5.: Pleasures Differ According to the Activities the Standard Is the Good Man.
- Chapters 6–9.: Conclusion.
- 6.: Happiness Not Amusement, But Life.
- 7.: Of the Speculative Life As Happiness In the Highest Sense.
- 8.: Of the Practical Life As Happiness In a Lower Sense, and of the Relation Between the Two. Prosperity, How Far Needed.
- 9.: How Is the End to Be Realized?
Statement of difficulties as to how one can know right and do wrong.
But in what sense, it may be objected, can a man judge rightly when he acts incontinently?
Some people maintain that he cannot act so if he really knows what is right; for it would be strange, thought Socrates, if, when real knowledge were in the man, something else should master him and hale him about like a slave. Socrates, indeed, contested the whole position, maintaining that there is no such thing as incontinence: when a man acts contrary to what is best, he never, according to Socrates, has a right judgment of the case, but acts so by reason of ignorance.
Now, this theory evidently conflicts with experience; and with regard to the passion which sways the incontinent man, if it really is due to ignorance, we must ask what kind of ignorance it is due to. For it is plain that, at any rate, he who acts incontinently does not fancy that the act is good till the passion is upon him.
There are other people who in part agree and in part disagree with Socrates. They allow that nothing is able to prevail against knowledge, but do not allow that men never act contrary to what seems best; and so they say that the incontinent man, when he yields to pleasure, has not knowledge, but only opinion.
But if, in truth, it be only opinion and not knowledge, and if it be not a strong but a weak belief or judgment that opposes the desires (as is the case when a man is in doubt), we pardon a man for not abiding by it in the face of strong desires; but, in fact, we do not pardon vice nor anything else that we call blamable.
Are we, then, to say that it is prudence that opposes desire [in those cases when we blame a man for yielding]? For it is the strongest form of belief. Surely that would be absurd: for then the same man would be at once prudent and incontinent; but no one would maintain that a prudent man could voluntarily do the vilest acts. Moreover, we have already shown that prudence is essentially a faculty that issues in act; for it is concerned with the ultimate thing [the thing to be done], and implies the possession of all the moral virtues.
Again, if a man cannot be continent without having strong and bad desires, the temperate man will not be continent, nor the continent man temperate; for it is incompatible with the temperate character to have either very violent or bad desires.
They must, however, be both strong and bad in the continent man: for if they were good, the habit that hindered from following them would be bad, so that continence would not be always good; if they were weak and not bad, it would be nothing to respect; and if they were bad, but at the same time weak, it would be nothing to admire.
Again, if continence makes a man apt to abide by any opinion whatsoever, it is a bad thing—as, for instance, if it makes him abide by a false opinion: and if incontinence makes a man apt to abandon any opinion whatsoever, there will be a kind of incontinence that is good, an instance of which is Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes of Sophocles; for he merits praise for being prevented from persevering in the plan which Ulysses had persuaded him to adopt, by the pain which he felt at telling a lie.
Again, the well-known argument of the sophists, though fallacious, makes a difficulty: for, wishing to establish a paradoxical conclusion, so that they may be thought clever if they succeed, they construct a syllogism which puzzles the hearer; for his reason is fettered, as he is unwilling to rest in the conclusion, which is revolting to him, but is unable to advance, since he cannot find a flaw in the argument. Thus it may be argued that folly combined with incontinence is virtue:—by reason of his incontinence a man does the opposite of that which he judges to be good; but he judges that the good is bad and not to be done; the result is that he will do the good and not the bad.
Again, he who pursues and does what is pleasant from conviction, and deliberately chooses these things, would seem [if this doctrine be true] to be better than he who does so, not upon calculation, but by reason of incontinence. For the former is more curable, as his convictions might be changed; but to the incontinent man we may apply the proverb which says, “If water chokes you, what will you wash it down with?” For if he were convinced that what he does is good, a change in his convictions might stop his doing it; but, as it is, though he is convinced that something else is good, he nevertheless does this.
Again, if incontinence and continence may be displayed in anything, who is the man whom we call incontinent simply? For though no one man unites all the various forms of incontinence, there yet are people to whom we apply the term without any qualification.
Something of this sort, then, are the objections that suggest themselves; and of these we must remove some and leave others; for the resolution of a difficulty is the discovery of the truth.