Front Page Titles (by Subject) 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. - The Nicomachean Ethics
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. - 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?
Pleasure is good, and the pleasure that consists in the highest activity isthegood. All admit that happiness is pleasant. Bodily pleasures not the only pleasures.
But all admit that pain is a bad thing and undesirable; partly bad in itself, partly bad as in some sort an impediment to activity. But that which is opposed to what is undesirable, in that respect in which it is undesirable and bad, is good. It follows, then, that pleasure is a good thing. And this argument cannot be met, as Speusippus tried to meet it, by the analogy of the greater which is opposed to the equal as well as to the less; for no one would say that pleasure is essentially a bad thing.
Moreover, there is no reason why a certain kind of pleasure should not be the supreme good, even though some kinds be bad, just as there is no reason why a certain kind of knowledge should not be, though some kinds be bad. Nay, perhaps we ought rather to say that since every formed faculty admits of unimpeded exercise, it follows that, whether happiness be the exercise of all these faculties, or of some one of them, that exercise must necessarily be most desirable when unimpeded: but unimpeded exercise of faculty is pleasure: a certain kind of pleasure, therefore, will be the supreme good, even though most pleasures should turn out to be bad in themselves.
And on this account all men suppose that the happy life is a pleasant one, and that happiness involves pleasure: and the supposition is reasonable; for no exercise of a faculty is complete if it be impeded; but happiness we reckon among complete things; and so, if he is to be happy, a man must have the goods of the body and external goods and good fortune, in order that the exercise of his faculties may not be impeded. And those who say that though a man be put to the rack and overwhelmed by misfortune, he is happy if only he be good, whether they know it or not, talk nonsense.
Because fortune is a necessary condition, some people consider good fortune to be identical with happiness; but it is not really so, for good fortune itself, if excessive, is an impediment, and is then, perhaps, no longer to be called good fortune; for good fortune can only be defined by its relation to happiness.
Again, the fact that all animals and men pursue pleasure is some indication that it is in some way the highest good:
- “Not wholly lost can e’er that saying be
- Which many peoples share.”
But as the nature of man and the best development of his faculties neither are nor are thought to be the same for all, so the pleasure which men pursue is not always the same, though all pursue pleasure. Yet, perhaps, they do in fact pursue a pleasure different from that which they fancy they pursue and would say they pursue—a pleasure which is one and the same for all. For all beings have something divine implanted in them by nature.
But bodily pleasures have come to be regarded as the sole claimants to the title of pleasure, because they are oftenest attained and are shared by all; these then, as the only pleasures they know, men fancy to be the only pleasures that are.
But it is plain that unless pleasure—that is, unimpeded exercise of the faculties—be good, we can no longer say that the happy man leads a pleasant life; for why should he need it if it be not good? Nay, he may just as well lead a painful life: for pain is neither bad nor good, if pleasure be neither; so why should he avoid pain? The life of the good man, then, would be no pleasanter than others unless the exercise of his faculties were pleasanter.