I. HE SHOWS THAT WE MUST CONSIDER PLEASURE.
A. He proposes his intention. — 1953-1954
After these matters we ought perhaps next to discuss pleasure.
B. Three reasons why we must treat pleasure.
1. FIRST. — 1955
For it seems to be adapted especially to humankind. This is why masters of households teach children by means of pleasure and pain.
2. SECOND. — 1956-1957
Likewise, it seems that a man’s rejoicing in the things he ought and hating the things he ought has great importance for moral virtue; they extend throughout the whole of life, having influence and power for virtue and a happy life, since men choose pleasure and shun pain—motives that should not, it seems, determine our choice.
a. He enumerates the diffcrent opinions. — 1958-1959
Moreover, they (pleasure and pain) particularly admit of much uncertainty. Some people say that pleasure is a good, while others, on the contrary, maintain it is something very evil—some of them because they are convinced, and others because they think it better for human living to declare pleasure an evil, though it is not—for most men are disposed to it and are in fact slaves of pleasure. Therefore they are to be induced to the opposite, since in this way they will attain the mean.
b. He rejects a statement contained in the opinions. — 1960-1963
But perhaps this is not a wise attitude, for in questions concerning the passions and actions, arguments are less convincing than facts. Therefore, when arguments are at variance with facts they are spurned and their truth destroyed. If a man who censures b pleasure is seen in his own way to desire it, his inclination to it seems to indicate that all pleasure is desirable. For the majority of people do not draw nice distinctions. Consequently, true arguments are most useful not only for science but also for living, for when they are in accord with the facts they are accepted, and so move those who understand their truth to live by them.
These matters have been discussed sufficiently. Let us pass on to the treatment of pleasure.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1953.After the Philosopher has finished the consideration of the moral and intellectual virtues-and of continence and friendship which have a relation to virtue-in the tenth book he intends to consider the end of virtue. First, concerning the end of virtue that perfects man in himself; then [Lect. 14], at “Have we sufficiently etc.” (B. 1179 a 33), concerning the end of virtue in relation to the common good, the good of the whole state. He discusses the first point from two aspects. First he defines pleasure which is designated by some as the end of virtue. Next [Lect. 9], at “After the discussion etc.” (B. 1176 a 30), he defines happiness, which in the opinion of everyone is the end of virtue. He treats the first point in a twofold manner. First [I] by way of introduction he shows we must consider pleasure. Second [Lect. 2; II], after the introduction, at “Eudoxus thought etc.” (B. 1172 b 9), he pursues his proposition. He considers the first point under two headings. First [I, A] he proposes his intention.
1954. He remarks that after the previous treatise (245-1952), it is logical for pleasure to be treated in passing, i.e., briefly. To be sure he had already treated pleasure in the seventh book (1354-1367), inasmuch as it is the object of continence. Hence there his study dwelt chiefly on sensible and bodily pleasures. But here he intends to consider pleasure as an adjunct to happiness. Therefore, he gives special attention to intellectual and spiritual pleasure.
1955. Then [II, B], at “For it seems,” he proves by three reasons why we must treat pleasure. The first [B, 1] is taken from the relation of pleasure to us. For pleasure seems in a marked degree to be naturally adapted to humankind. For this reason orakizontes, i.e., rulers of households, teach children especially by means of pleasure and pain. People who wish to induce children to good or restrain them from evil try to please the well-behaved, e.g., with small presents, and to punish those who misbehave, e.g., by whipping. Since moral philosophy considers human affairs, it is the business of moral science to treat pleasure.
1956. At “Likewise, it seeme’ he presents the second reason [B, 2], which istaken from a comparison with virtue. He says that it seems to be a particular concern of moral virtue that a mat enjoy the things he ought and hate the things he ought and grieve over them. For moral virtue consists principally in the regulation of the appetite; and this is judged by the regulation of pleasure and pain which all the movements of the appetitive part follow, as has been pointed out in the second book (296). And he adds: they, viz., pleasure and pain extend to all phases of human life, exerting great influence on man to be virtuous and live happily. This cannot happen unless his pleasures and pain are properly ordered.
1957. Men frequently choose even harmful pleasures and avoid even salutary afflictions. But it seems that the man who wishes to be virtuous and happy ought not to choose pleasure and reject pain as such, that is, commit evil deeds or omit virtuous actions on this account. And, conversely, it can be said that he must not choose to do evil or avoid good for the sake of these, i.e., to obtain pleasure and shun pain. Obviously then it is the function of moral philosophy to treat pleasure, just as it treats moral virtue and happiness.
1958. He offers a third reason [B, 3] at “Moreover, they.” It is taken from the uncertainty prevalent concerning pleasure. He discusses this point from two aspects. First [3, a] he enumerates the different opinions about pleasure, from which the uncertainty arises. Then [3, b], at “But perhaps this etc.,” he rejects a statement contained in the opinions. He says first that we must treat pleasure and pain for another reason: because they admit of much uncertainty. This is obvious from the different views of thinkers who discuss these subjects.
1959. Some say pleasure is a kind of good. Others, on the contrary, maintain that it is something very badand this in different ways. For some hold the opinion because they are convinced that it is so and believe they are speaking the truth. But others, though they may not believe that pleasure is an evil, nevertheless judge it better for human living to declare that pleasure is an evil-although it is not-to withdraw men from pleasure to which the majority are inclined (for people are in fact slaves to pleasure). For this reason men must be induced to the opposite, i.e., to have an aversion to pleasures by declaring them evil. In this way we attain the mean, that is, men use pleasures with moderation.
1960. Then [3, b], at “But perhaps this,” he rejects the last statement. It hardly seems correct for people to say what they do not believe—that pleasures are evil just to withdraw us from them, because in questions of human actions and passions we give less credence to words than to actions. For if a man does what he says is evil, he incites by his example more than he restrains by his word.
1961. The reason for this is that everyone seems to choose what appears to him good in a particular case, the object of human actions and passions. When, therefore, a man’s arguments are at variance with his clearly manifest actions, such arguments are spurned; and consequently the truth enunciated by them is destroyed. Thus it will happen in our proposition.
1962. If someone censuring all pleasure is seen to give way to a pleasure lie might give the impression that all pleasure ought to be chosen. The common people cannot determine by distinguishing this as good and that as evil, but without discrimination they accept as good what appears good in one instance. In this way, then, sound arguments seem to be useful not only for science but also for good living, for they are convincing to the extent they are in accord with actions. For this reason such arguments move those who understand their truth to live by them.
1963. Finally, he concludes in an epilogue that these matters have been discussed sufficiently. Now we must pass on to the observations made by others about pleasure.
Opinions on Pleasure as a Good
II. HE CONTINUES WITH THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS.
A. The opinion of those who set pleasure in the category of good.
1. THE ARGUMENTS EUDOXUS USED TO PROVE THAT PLEASURE IS IN THE CATEGORY OF GOOD.
a. On the part of pleasure itself.
i. The opinion and argument of Eudoxus. — 1964-1965
Eudoxus thought that pleasure is an absolute good because he saw all creatures, both rational and irrational, seeking it. But in every case what is desirable is good, and what is most desirable is the greatest good. Hence the fact that all things are drawn to the same object shows that it is a most excellent good for all, since everything finds its own good just as it finds its own food. Now what is good for all and what all desire is an absolute good.
ii. Why the opinion and argument were accepted. — 1966
But his arguments were accepted because of his excellent character rather than for their merit. For he appeared to be a man moderate in the different pleasures; and consequently did not seem to defend his opinion as a lover of pleasure but because it was really true.
b. On the part of the contrary. — 1967
He also thought that his view was otherwise substantiated by pleasure’s contrary. Since pain in itself is an object to be avoided by all, so its opposite is likewise an object to be chosen.
2. THE ARGUMENTS EUDOXUS USED TO PROVE THAT (PLEASURE) IS THE GREATEST GOOD.
a. First. — 1968
Moreover, that is most worthy of choice which we choose not because or for the sake of another. Now, it is admitted that pleasure is such an object. For no one asks to what end a man is pleased, so that pleasure in itself is desirable.
i. The argument. — 1969
Further, pleasure added to any good makes it more desirable. Thus the addition of pleasure to just or temperate action enhances its goodness.
ii. The flaw in this argument. — 1970
But this argument seems to prove only that pleasure is a good and not a greater good than any other. For every good joined to another is more desirable than by itself.
B. The contrary opinion.
1. HOW THEY MEET THE PRECEDING ARGUMENTS.
a. How they used in the opposite way the argument... advanced.
i. How Plato used this argument. — 1971-1972
It is by an argument of this kind that Plato attempts to nullify the previous view, by showing that pleasure is not an absolute good. He argued that the life of pleasure is more desirable with prudence than without it. But if the combination is better, pleasure is not an absolute good; for a good of this type does not become more desirable by any addition.
ii. He rejects Plato’s process of reasoning. — 1973
Obviously nothing else either will be an absolute good if it is made more desirable by the addition of any of the things that are good in themselves. What then is there bf this nature that we can share? This is what we are looking for.
b. How they met the other arguments.
i. On the part of pleasure itself. — 1974-1977
Those who deny that what all beings desire is good are talking nonsense. For that which all men believe to be true, we say is really so; and the man who rejects this belief expresses beliefs hardly more acceptable. If only creatures without understanding desire pleasures, some weight might be conceded in the contention; but if intelligent beings do so too, it does not seem to make sense. Perhaps even in evil men there is some natural good better than themselves which seeks their own proper good.
ii. On the part of the contrary. — 1978-1979
Nor does the argument seem to be correct about the contrary. They say that if pain is evil it does not follow that pleasure is good, for evil is also opposed to evil. And both good and evil are opposed to what is neither the one nor the other. In this they were correct but their statement does not apply to the present question. For, if both were evil, both ought to be avoided; but if neither was evil, neither should be an object of aversion, or both should be equally so. However, as it is, man seems to avoid the one as evil and to seek the other as good. In this way then they are in opposition.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1964. After the Philosopher has shown that we must treat pleasure, he now begins to treat it. First [II] he continues with the opinions of others. Then [Lect. 5], at “The nature and quality etc.” (B. 1174 a 13), he defines the truth. He discusses the first point under two headings. First [II, A] he proceeds with the opinion of those who set pleasure in the category of good; next [II, B], at “It is by an argument etc.,” with the contrary opinion. He considers his first point from two aspects. First [A, 1] he presents the arguments Eudoxus used to prove that pleasure is in the category of good. Second [A, 2], at “Moreover, that is etc.,” he offers the arguments Eudoxus used to prove that it is the greatest good. He handles the first point in a twofold manner. First [1, a] he shows how Eudoxus proved that pleasure is
in the genus of good on the part of pleasure itself; then [1, b], at “He also thought etc.,” how Eudoxus proved this on the part of the contrary. He treats the first point in two ways. First [a, i] he proposes the opinion and argument of Eudoxus. Next [a, ii], at “But his arguments etc.,” he shows why the opinion and argument were accepted.
1965. He says first that Eudoxus was of the opinion that pleasure comes under the category of good because he saw that all creatures, both rational and irrational, i.e., men and brutes, seek pleasure. But what all choose seems to be proper and good and has great influence in goodness because it can attract every appetite to itself. And so, the fact that all are moved toward the same object, viz., pleasure, indicates that pleasure, is not only a good but a most excellent good. For it is obvious that everything seeks to find what is good. Thus food is good to all animals who commonly desire it. Therefore it is evident that pleasure sought by all is a good.
1966. Then [a, ii], at “But his arguments” he shows why Eudoxus was especially given credence. He observes that Eudoxus’ arguments were accepted because of the moral virtue of the speaker rather than their cogency. He was indeed a man moderate in the different pleasures, being more exemplary than others. For this reason, when he praised pleasure, he did not seem to be speaking as a lover of pleasure but because it was really true.
1967. Next [i, b], at “He also thought,” he presents Eudoxus’ argument that was taken on the part of the contrary. He remarks that Eudoxus thought it no less clear from the contrary (i.e., on the part of pain rather than on the part of pleasure itself) that pleasure belongs to the category of good. For it is obvious that pain in itself ought to be avoided by everyone. Hence the contrary, pleasure, apparently ought to be ch95en by everyone.
1968. At “Moreover, that is” [A, 2] he presents two arguments of Eudoxus to show that pleasure is the greatest good. The first is this [2, a]. That seems most worthy of choice, and consequently the greatest good, which is chosen not because of another incidental to it, or for the sake of something as an end. But all men plainly acknowledge this about pleasure. For no one asks another why he desires pleasure, which would indicate that pleasure is desirable in itself. Therefore pleasure is good in the highest degree.
1969. He offers the second argument [2, b] at “Further, pleasure,” explaining it in a twofold manner. First [b, i] he presents the argument itself. It is evident that pleasure added to any good makes it more desirable. Thus the addition of pleasure to just action and temperate conduct increases their goodness, for a man is better who takes pleasure in a work of justice or temperance. From this he (Eudoxus) wished to conclude that pleasure was best, as enhancing the goodness in all actions.
1970. Next [b, ii], at “But this argument,” he shows the flaw in this argument. He remarks that the reason just given proves that pleasure comes under the category of good, but not that it is a greater good than any other. For it is also true of any good that, when joined to another, it constitutes a greater good than it was by itself.
1971. Then [II, B], at “It is by an argument,” he pursues the opinion of those who maintain that pleasure is not a good. First [B, 1] he explains how they meet the preceding arguments. Second [Lect. 3; B, 2], at “However, it does not follow etc.” (B. 1173 a 14), he gives the arguments they allege to the contrary. He discusses the first point from two aspects. First [B, 1, a] he shows how they used in the opposite way the argument previously advanced to show that pleasure is the highest good. Next [B, i, b], at “Those who deny etc.,” he shows how they met the other arguments. He treats the first point in a twofold manner. First [B, i, a, i] he explains how Plato used this argument to prove the opposite. Then [B, 1, a, ii], at “Obviously nothing else etc.,” he rejects Plato’s process of reasoning. He observes first that, by the reason just given, Plato, who held the contrary opinion, attempted to nullify what has been asserted (1965-1970), by showing that pleasure is not a good in itself nor in the absolute sense. It is evident that pleasure is more worthy of choice when accompanied by prudence. Since then pleasure combined with something else is better, he concluded that pleasure is not a good in itself. That which is a good in itself does not become more desirable by an addition of something else.
1972. On this point we must understand that Plato named as a good in itself that which is the essence of goodness; for example, man in himself (per se) is the essence of man. But to this essence of goodness nothing can be added that is good in a way other than by participating in the essence of goodness. So, whatever goodness is an addition is derived from the very essence of goodness. Thus the good in itself does not become better by any addition.
1973. At “Obviously nothing else” [B, 1, a, ii] Aristotle rejects Plato’s process of reasoning. According to this argument obviously nothing in human affairs will be good in itself, since every human good added to any good in itself is rendered more desirable. For nothing can be found associated with human life that is of such a nature that it does not become better by the addition of another good. But we are seeking something of this kind associated with human life. People who hold that pleasure is a good mean a human good and not the divine good itself, which is the essence of goodness.
1974. Next [ B, 1, b ], at “Those who deny,” he shows how the Platonists met Eudoxus’ arguments proving that pleasure is a good. First [B, 1, b, i], how they met the argument taken on the part of pleasure itself; then [B, 1, b, ii], at “Nor does the argument etc.,” the argument taken on the part of the contrary. They answered the first argument by denying this: that which all desire is good. But Aristotle rejects this, observing that those who oppose the argument of Eudoxus by maintaining that what all desire is not necessarily good seem to talk nonsense.
1975. That which all believe to be true, we say, is really so. And we hold this as a principle, because it is impossible for natural judgment to fail in all cases. But, since the appetite tends only to that which seems good, what is desired by all seems good to all. So, pleasure that all desire is good.
1976. The man who rejects what is accepted by everyone expresses views that are hardly more acceptable. That position might be defended if only those creatures who are without understanding, like dumb animals and evil men, desired pleasures. The reason is that the senses judge good only in its immediacy; and in this way it would not be necessary that pleasure be a good simply but only that it be a good here and now. But since even intelligent creatures desire some pleasure, it does not seem to make any sense.
1977. However, if even all creatures which act without understanding desired pleasure, it might still be probable that pleasure was a good, because even in wicked men there is some natural good that tends to the desire of a suitable good; and this natural good is better than evil men as such. As virtue is a perfection of nature-and for this reason moral virtue is better than natural virtue (we noted this in the sixth book, 1275-1280)—so, since vice is a corruption of nature, the natural good is better: the integral thing is better than the corrupt. But it is clear that evil men are diversified by their connection with vice, for vices are contrary to one another. Therefore, the object on which evil men agree, viz., the desire of pleasure, seems to belong rather to nature than vice.
1978. Then [B, 1, b, ii], at “Nor does the argument,” he shows how they answered the argument taken on the part of pain. They held that, even if pain is an evil, it does not follow that pleasure is good; since we know that evil is opposed not only to good but also to evil, for example, rashness is opposed not only to fortitude but also cowardice. And both good and evil are opposed to that which is neither good nor evil, as the extremes are opposed to the mean; for there is such an act considered according to its species, for instance, to pick up a straw from the ground, or the like.
1979. However, Aristotle in refutation of this process of reasoning remarks that they are correct in reference to this opposition of evil to evil, but their statement does not apply to the present question. For pain is not opposed to pleasure, as evil to evil. If both were evil, both would have to be avoided; just as good as such is to be sought, so evil as such is to be avoided. But if neither of them was evil, neither should be an object of aversion, or they should be viewed in the same light. However, as it is, all men seem to avoid pain as evil and seek pleasure as good. Thus then they are opposed to each other as good and evil.
Pleasure Is Not a Good According to Plato
(B)2. HE PRESENTS (PLATONISTS’) ARGUMENTS AGAINST EUDOXUS’ POSITION.
a. He proposes the arguments.
i. First. — 1980-1981
However it does not follow that if pleasure is not a quality, therefore it is not a good; for neither virtuous activities nor happiness are qualities either.
x. THE REASON OF THE PLATONISTS. — 1982
But they maintain that good is determinate, and that pleasure is indeterminate, because it admits of more and less.
y. HE REJECTS SUCH AN ARGUMENT. — 1983-1988
Now if they judge in this way about partaking of pleasure, then the same applies to justice and other virtues according to which some are clearly said to be more or less virtuous. For people are in fact just and brave in a greater or less degree, and can act more or less justly and temperately. However if their judgment is based on the nature of the pleasures themselves, perhaps they are not stating the real cause since some pleasures are pure (or unmixed) and others mixed. Why may not pleasure be like health which is determinate and still admits of degrees? Health is not constituted by the same proportion of humors in all men, nor by one proportion always in the same person; but, even when diminished, it remains up to a certain point, and so differs in degree.
x. HE PROPOSES THE ARGUMENT. — 1989
Again, they postulate that the good in itself (per se) is perfect, while movements and processes of generation are imperfect; and then they try to show that pleasure is a motion or process.
y. HE REJECTS THIS ARGUMENT.
aa. First... that pleasure is a motion. — 1990-1992
But they do not seem to be correct. In fact pleasure is not a motion, for swiftness and slowness are proper to all movement, if not absolutely like the motion of the earth, then relative to another moving body. But neither of these is true of pleasure. A man can become pleased quickly just as he can get angry quickly; but he cannot be pleased quickly, not even in relation b to somebody else, as he can walk, grow, and so on quickly. Therefore someone can change into a pleasurable state quickly or slowly, but he cannot function or be pleased in that state quickly.
bb. Next ... that pleasure is a process of generation.
a’. First. — 1993-1994
And how can it be a process of generation? It does not seem that any chance thing can be generated from any other chance thing, but everything is dissolved into that from which it came; and pain would be the destruction of that which pleasure generates. Further, they affirm that pain is a deficiency of the natural state and pleasure a replenishment. But these experiences are bodily passions. If then pleasure is a replenishment of the natural state, the part replenished will feel the pleasure. Consequently the body can feel pleasure. However, this does not seem to be the case. Therefore, pleasure is not replenishment; but after replenishment takes place, a man will feel pleasure just as after a surgical operation he will feel pain.
b’. The origin of this opinion. — 1995-1996
This opinion seems to arise from pains and pleasures associated with food. Certainly people who are distressed beforehand by lack of food receive pleasure by replenishment. However, this is not the case with all pleasures. For pleasures of (mathematical) knowledge are not preceded by pain, nor are the pleasures of sense-for example, smell-and sounds and sights; and the same is true of memories and hopes. If these are the result of generation, by what are they generated? No lack of anything has occurred to be replenished.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1980. After the Philosopher has dismissed the Platonists’ opposition to the arguments of Eudoxus, he now [B, 2] presents their arguments against Eudoxus’ position. He treats this point in a twofold manner. First [2, a] he proposes the arguments designed to show that pleasure does not belong to the category of good. Then [Lect. 4; 2, b], at “The distinction between etc.” (B. 1173 b 33), he offers the arguments to show that pleasure i t an absolute and universal good. Sit the first set of arguments conclude falsely, therefore Aristotle presents and disproves them at the same time. He gives four arguments on the first point. The first [a, i] is this. Good seems to come under the genus of quality; for, to a person asking what the quality of a thing is we answer that it is good. But pleasure is not a quality. Therefore it is not a good.
1981. But Aristotle rejects this, observing that even if pleasure does not come under the genus of quality, it does not follow that pleasure is not a good. For good is predicated not only of quality but also of every genus, as was indicated in the first book (81).
1982. He presents the second argument [a, ii] at “But they maintain.” First [ii, x] he offers the reason of the Platonists themselves. They hold that good is determinate, as is evident from the discussion in the ninth book (1887)Now pleasure is indeterminate according to them-a statement they proved from the fact that it admits of degrees. Thus they concluded that pleasure did not come under the genus of good.
1983. Next [ii, y], at “Now if they etc.,” he rejects such an argument. On this point we must remember that a thing admits of degrees in two ways: one, in the concrete; the other, in the abstract. Something is called more and and less by reason of nearness to an object or remoteness from it. When, therefore, a thing that exists in a subject has oneness and simplicity, it does not admit of more and less in itself. Hence it is not said to admit of degrees in the abstract. But it can be predicated according to more and less in the concrete because the subject partakes more and less of such a form, as is evident in the case of light which is an undivided and simple form. Consequently, light itself is not predicated according to more and less. However, a body is termed more or less luminous from this that it partakes of light more or less perfectly.
1984. On the other hand, when there exists a form that in its nature indicates a proportion between many individuals referred to one principle, that form admits of degrees even according to its own nature. This is evident of health and beauty: each implies a proportion appropriate to the nature of an object designated as beautiful or healthy. And since a proportion of this kind can be more or less appropriate, consequently beauty and health considered in themselves are predicated according to more and less. It is obvious from this that unity, by which something is determinate, is the reason why a thing may not admit of degrees. Since then pleasure does admit of degrees, it seemed not to be something determinate and consequently not to belong to the genus of good.
1985. Therefore, Aristotle in opposing this observes that, if the Platonists hold that pleasure is something indeterminate because it admits of degrees in the concrete—by reason of the fact that someone can be pleased more and less—they will have to admit the same about justice and other virtues according to which people are designated such more and less. Certainly some men are just and brave in a greater or less degree. The same is true concerning actions, for someone can act more and less justly and temperately. Thus, either virtues will not belong to the genus of good, or the reason offered does not remove pleasure from the genus of good.
1986. However, if they maintain that pleasure admits of degrees on the part of the pleasures themselves, we must consider that perhaps their argument may not apply to all pleasures; but they are indicating the reason why some pleasures are pure and unmixed, for example, the pleasure following the contemplation of truth, and other pleasures are mixed like those following a pleasing combination of some kinds of sensibles, for instance, pleasures resulting from musical harmony or the blending of tastes or colors. Obviously, pure pleasure of itself does not admit of degrees but only mixed pleasure, inasmuch as a pleasing combination of sensibles causing pleasure can be more or less agreeable to the nature of the person enjoying it.
1987. Nevertheless, neither is it necessary that pleasures, which in themselves admit of degrees by reason of their admixture, are not determinate or good. Nothing prevents pleasure, which allows of more or less, from being determinate-as health is in fact. Qualities of this kind may be called determinate inasmuch as they reach in some way that to which they are ordered although they might come closer. Thus a’ mixture of humors contains the reason for health from the fact that it attains a harmony in human nature; and by reason of this it is called determinate attaining its proper end, so to speak.
1988. But a temperament that in no way attains this is not determinate but is far from the notion of health. For that reason health of itself admits of more and less because the same proportion of humors is not found in all men, nor is it always the same in one and the same person. But, even when diminished, health remains up to a certain point. Hence health differs according to degrees; and the same is true of pleasure.
1989. At “Again, they postulate” he offers the third argument [a, iii] and discusses it in a twofold manner. First [iii, x] he proposes the argument. The Platonists held that what is good in itself (per se) is something perfect. But motion and processes of generation are imperfect, for motion is an act of an imperfect thing, as stated in the third book of the Physics (Ch. 2, 201 b 27-202 a 2; St. Th. Lect. 3, 296). Consequently they maintain that no motion or process of generation belongs to the genus of good. And they try to establish that pleasure is a motion or a process of generation. Hence they conclude that pleasure is not a good in itself (per se).
1990. Then [iii, y], at “But they do not seem,” he rejects this argument under two aspects. First [y, aa], as to their assertion that pleasure is a mo. tion. He states that they are apparently not correct when they maintain that pleasure is a motion, for every motion seems to be swift or slow. But swiftness and slowness are not proper to motion considered absolutely and in itself but in relation to something else. For example, the motion of the earth, i.e., the daily motion, in which the whole heavens revolve, is called swift in comparison with other motions.
1991. The reason for this—as is pointed out in the sixth book of the Physics (Ch. 2, 232 a 25-232 b 20; St. Th. Lect. 3, 766-773)—is that a thing is called “swift” which moves a great distance in a short time and “slow” a little distance in a long time. Now “great” and “little” are predicated relatively, as indicated in the Categories (Ch. 6, 5 b 15-30). But neither swiftness nor slowness are attributable to pleasure. To be sure a man can become pleased quickly, just as he can become angry quickly. But we do not say that a man can be pleased quickly or slowly, not even in comparison with someone else, as we do say that a man can walk quickly or slowly, can grow quickly or slowly, and so on. So then obviously someone can be changed into a state of pleasure, i.e., can arrive at it quickly or slowly.
1992. This is so because we can attain pleasure by a kind of motion. But we cannot function quickly in the state of pleasure so that we are quickly pleased. The reason is that the act of being pleased consists in something done (in facto) rather than in something taking place (in fieri).
1993. Next [y, bb], at “And how can it be,” he rejects the Platonists’ argument to uphold their opinion that pleasure is a process of generation. He discusses this point in a twofold manner. First [bb, a’] he shows that pleasure is not a process of generation. Then [bb, b’], at “This opinion seems etc.,” he shows the origin of this opinion. He remarks first that pleasure does not appear to be a process of generation, for it does not seem that any chance thing is generated from any other chance thing. But everything is dissolved into that from which it is generated. If pleasure is a generation, pain must be the destruction of the same thing which pleasure generates. This is affirmed by the Platonists who hold that pain is a deficiency in what is according to nature, for we see that pain follows a person’s privation of those things to which he is naturally united. Likewise they maintain that pleasure is a replenishment because pleasure follows when something naturally belonging to a man is added to him.
1994. But Aristotle rejects this argument because privation and replenishment are bodily passions. If then pleasure is a replenishment of what is according to nature, the part replenished will feel pleasure. Consequently the body can feel pleasure. But this does not seem to be the case because pleasure is a passion of the soul. Therefore it is clear that pleasure is not a replenishment or a process of generation but a consequence of it. A man feels pleasure after replenishment just as he feels pain and distress after a surgical operation.
1995. Then [bb, b], at “This opinion seems,” he shows its origin. He observes that the view that sees pleasure as a replenishment and pain as a privation seems to arise from pains and pleasures concerned with food. People who beforehand are distressed by the lack of food, afterwards are pleased by replenishment. But this does not occur in connection with all pleasures where replenishment of a deficiency does not take place. For pleasures resulting from mathematical studies do not have an opposite pain, which they say consists in a deficiency. Thus pleasures of this sort do not exist for a replenishment of a need. It is evidently the same with some pleasures of sense such as smell, sound and the sight of physical objects.
1996. Besides, many delightful hopes and memories exist; and no cause can be assigned whose generations are pleasures of this sort, because there are no preceding defects which are replenished by means of these pleasures. But it was pointed out (1993) that if pleasure is the generation of a thing, pain is its destruction. Therefore, if any pleasure is found without the defect of pain, it follows that a pain is not the correlative of every pleasure.
A Fourth Argument that Pleasure Is Not a Good
(a) iv. He refutes a fourth (argument).
x. FIRST (REPUTATION) — 1997-1998
In answer to those who bring forward very disgraceful pleasures it can be said that these are not pleasant; for even if they are pleasing to the ill-disposed, we must not assume that they are really pleasant—except to such people—any more than what is wholesome or sweet or bitter to the sick is so in fact, or any more than objects which seem white to persons with diseased eyes are actually white.
y. SECOND. — 1999
Or we may concede that pleasures are desirable but not from these sources. Thus wealth is desirable but not as the price of betrayal, so too is health but not as a result of eating things indifferently.
z. THIRD. — 2000
Again, we may say that pleasures differ in kind: some are derived from honorable sources and others from base sources. Now it is impossible to enjoy the pleasure proper to the just man without being just, to enjoy the pleasure proper to a musician without being musical. And this applies to other pleasures.
b. Pleasure is not a good in itself for three reasons.
i. First. — 2001
The distinction between a friend and a flatterer seems to show that pleasure is not a good or that pleasures differ in kind. For a friend is thought to intend good in his association but the flatterer, pleasure; the latter is blamed with reproach but the former praised, for no other reason than the ends they pursue.
ii. Second. — 2002
And certainly no one would choose to retain the mind of a child throughout life in order to have the pleasures that children are thought especially to enjoy. Nor would anyone choose to find pleasure in doing an extremely shameful act even though he might never have to suffer pain as a result.
iii. Third. — 2003-2004
Likewise, there are many things we should be eager about even though they do not produce pleasure, for example, sight, memory, knowledge, possession of virtues. It makes no difference whether pleasures necessarily follow these activities, for we would choose them if no pleasure resulted. It is obvious, therefore, that pleasure is not a good in itself (per se), that not every pleasure is desirable, and that some pleasures are desirable in themselves, being different from the others in kind or in their sources. We have now treated sufficiently the opinions about pleasure and pain.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1997. After the Philosopher has disproved the three arguments of the Platonists concluding that pleasure does not belong to the category of good, he now [a, iv] refutes a fourth argument that they draw from the vileness of some pleasures. The Platonists adduce certain disgraceful pleasures, like adultery and drunkenness, to show that pleasures do not come under the category of good. But Aristotle answers this argument in a threefold manner.
1998. First [iv, x], as someone might observe, disgraceful pleasures are not pleasant in the absolute sense. If some pleasures are delightful to the ill-disposed, it does not follow that they are pleasing in themselves but only to persons prone to vice. just as the things that seem healthful to the sick are not in themselves healthful, so the things that seem sweet or bitter to people with perverted taste are not in themselves sweet or bitter; nor are objects that seem white to persons with diseased eyes really white. This solution proceeds on the assumption that unqualified pleasure for man is what is pleasant according to reason—a circumstance not possible with physical pleasures of this kind, although they are pleasing to the senses.
1999. He presents the second refutation [iv, y] at “Or we may concede.” It can be admitted that all pleasures are desirable but not in relation to all persons. For example, it is good to be enriched, but it is not good for a traitor to his country to be enriched because in this way he can do more harm. Likewise health is good but not for one who has eaten something harmful. Thus eating a snake sometimes cures a leper although it may destroy health. Similarly bestial pleasures are certainly desirable for animals but not for men.
2000. At “Again, we may say” [iv, z] he offers the third refutation, observing that pleasures differ in kind. Pleasures resulting from virtuous actions differ in kind from those resulting from shameful actions, for passions differ according to their objects. The unjust man cannot enjoy the pleasure proper to the just man, just as an unmusical person cannot enjoy a musician’s delight. And the same applies to other pleasures.
2001. Then [2, b], at “The distinction between,” he proves that pleasure is not a good in itself (per se) and in a universal sense, for three reasons. Concerning the first reason [b, i] he remarks: the difference between a friend and a flatterer shows that pleasure is not a good or that there are different kinds of pleasure some honorable and others base. A friend converses with a friend to some go purpose, but the flatterer to please. Hence a flatterer is blamed with reproach but a friend is praised, and so it is clear that they converse out of different motives. Therefore pleasure is one thing and good another.
2002. He presents the second reason [b, ii] at “And certainly no one.” No man, he says, would choose to retain a childish mind all his life so that he might always have the so-called pleasures of childhood. Nor would anyone choose to take pleasure in doing cxtremely shameful actions throughout his life even if he might never have to suffer pain. This statement is made against the Epicureans who maintain that shameful pleasures are to be shunned only because they bring about greater suffering. Thus it is clear that pleasure is not a good in itself (per se), because it would have to be chosen under every circumstance.
2003. He states the third reason [b, iii] at “Likewise, there are.” Obviously there are many things a man should be eager about even though no pleasure results from them, for example, sight, memory, knowledge, the possession of virtue. It makes no difference in the case whether pleasures follow from these activities, because he would choose them even if they brought about no pleasure. But that which is good in itself (per se) is of such a nature that without it nothing is desirable, as is evident concerning happiness. Therefore pleasure is not a good in itself (per se).
2004. Finally, he summarizes in conclusion that it seems obvious from the premises that pleasure is not a good in itself (per se), and that not every pleasure is desirable; and that some pleasures are desirable even in themselves, being different from evil pleasures either in their kind or in their sources. We have now discussed sufficiently the opinions of others on pleasure and pain.
Pleasure Is Neither a Motion Nor a Process of Change
I. HE SHOWS THAT PLEASURE DOES NOT COME UNDER THE CATEGORY OF MOTION.
A. He proposes his intention. — 2005
The nature and quality of pleasure will become clearer if we take up the question again from the beginning.
B. He carries out his proposition.
1. A PRINCIPLE NECESSARY FOR AN EXPLANATION. — 2006-2007
Now, seeing seems perfect at any moment whatsoever, for it does not require anything coming later to complete its form. But pleasure appears to be a thing of this nature: it is a whole, and at no time can anyone find a pleasure whose form will be completed if it lasts longer.
2. HE PROVES THE PROPOSITION (BY TWO ARGUMENTS).
i. He ... states a conclusion. — 2008-2009
Therefore, pleasure is not a form of motion.
ii. The major of the previous argument.
x. CONCERNING THE PROCESS OF GENERATION. — 2010-2012
For every motion involves duration and is a means to an end, e.g., the process of building that is perfect when it effect ts what it aims at—a thing achieved either over the whole time or at the final moment. All the movements are imperfect during the portions of that time and are different in kind from the completed process and from one another. Thus in building a temple the fitting of the stones is different from the fluting of a column, and both are different from the construction of the whole edifice. And while the building of the temple is a perfect process requiring nothing more to achieve the end, laying the foundation and constructing the triglyph are imperfect processes (each produces only a part). Therefore they differ in kind, and it is not possible to find motion specifically perfect at any one moment but, if at all, only in the whole space of time.
y. CONCERNING LOCOMOTION. — 2013-2017
The same is true of walking and other movements. For, if locomotion is motion from one point in space to another, it also has differences in kind-flying, walking, leaping, and so on. And not only this, but there are differences in walking itself; for the starting and finishing points of the whole racecourse are not the same as those of a part of the course, nor are those of one part the same as those of another; nor is the motion of traversing this line and that line the same, since a runner not only travels along a line but along a line existing in place and this line is in a different place b from that. We have adequately discussed motion in another work, and it seems that motion is not complete at any moment but there are many incomplete motions differing in kind, since the starting and finishing points specify the motion. On the other hand pleasure is specifically complete at any and every moment. It is obvious then that motions are different from one another and that pleasure belongs to the things which are whole and complete.
b. Second (argument). — 2018-2019
Likewise, this is thought to be the case because motion necessarily occupies a space of time, but pleasure does not because that which occurs in a moment is a whole.
3. HE CONCLUDES WHAT HE PRINCIPALLY INTENDED. — 2020-2021
From these considerations it is obviously a mistake to speak of pleasure as motion or a process of generation. For these attributes cannot be predicated of all things but only of such as are divisible and not wholes. Thus there is no process of generation in the act of seeing, in a point or in unity, nor is there any motion in them. Consequently there is no motion or process in pleasure either, for it is a whole.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2005. After the Philosopher has outlined other opinions about pleasures, he now gives the real definition. First [I] he shows that pleasure does not come under the category of motion or process of generation, as the Platonists held. Then [Lect. 6; II], at “Again, every sense etc.” (B. 1174 b 14), he defines its nature and characteristic quality. He treats the first point from two aspects. First [I, A] he proposes his intention and method of procedure, remarking that the natureof pleasure (according to its genus) and its quality (whether it is good or bad) will be made clearer from the following discussion if we take up this question again from the beginning.
2006. Next [I, B], at “Now, seeing seems,” he carries out his proposition. He does this in a threefold manner. First [B, 1] he introduces a principle necessary for an explanation of the proposition. Then [B, 2], at “Therefore, etc.,” he proves the proposition. Third [B, 3], at “From these considerations etc.,” he concludes what he principally intended. He says first that the operation of the sense of sight called seeing is complete at any moment whatsoever. It does not require anything coming later to perfect its form. This is so because seeing is completed in the first instant of time. Now if time were needed for its completion, no time whatsoever would suffice but a certain duration would be necessary, as is the case with other activities occurring in time whose generation requires a particular measure of time. But seeing is perfected in a moment. The same is true of pleasure.
2007. Pleasure is a whole, i.e., something completed in the first instant of its inception. Thus a space of time cannot be assigned in which pleasure may take place, in the sense that more time is needed to complete its form, as in those activities whose generation requires an interval of time. The moment of human generation can be indicated because more time is necessary to perfect the human form.
2008. At “Therefore” [B, 2] he proves the proposition by two arguments. The first [2, a]: every movement or process of generation is perfected after a lapse of time and the motion is not yet completed in a part of that time. This is not true of pleasure. Therefore pleasure is neither a movement nor a process of generation.
2009. In connection with this argument he first [a, i] states a conclusion deducing from the preceding principle—in which virtually the whole reason is contained—that pleasure is not a motion.
2010. Next [a, ii], at “For every motion,” he presents the major of the previous argument: every motion involves duration; and every motion is a means to an end, i.e., has an end to which it is ordered and which it attains with the lapse of time. He shows this first [ii, x] concerning the process of generation, For the art of building perfects its operation when it completes what it intends, namely, a house. It does this in some whole interval of time; and all the processes are imperfect during the portions of that time and are different in kind—and even among themselves—from the complete process. The reason for this is that generation receives its species from the form which is the end of the process.
2011. But the form of the whole operation is one thing and the forms of the individual parts are another. Hence the processes also differ from one another in kind. For if a temple is constructed in a certain period of time, one portion of time is occupied in fitting the stones for the building of the wall, another portion in fluting (virgantur) the columns, i.e., sculpturing them in the manner of rods (virgarum). But during the whole time the temple itself is constructed. And these three operations differ in kind: the fitting of the stones, the fluting of the columns, and the construction of the temple.
2012. On this point we should note that, as the form of the whole temple is perfect but the forms of the parts are imperfect, so also the building of the temple itself is a perfect process—it requires nothing else to complete the plan of the builder—but laying the foundation is an imperfect process, as is also constructing the triglyph or the sculptured columns arranged in three rows above the foundation. And both of these are the making of a part having the nature of what is imperfect. It is evident then that the preceding constructions of the whole and of the parts differ specifically; and that we are not to understand that motion is specifically perfect at any part of the time but is completed in the whole period of time.
2013. Then [ii, y], at “The same is true,” he shows the same thing concerning locomotion. He observes that what is said about the process of generation seems also to be true about walking and all other movements, for it is obvious that all locomotion or local movement is motion from one point in space to another, i.e., from one term to another. Thus motion must be differentiated in kind according to a difference of terms. There are different kinds of locomotion among the animals: flying (suitable to birds), walking (suitable to gressorial creatures), leaping (suitable to grasshoppers) and other movements of this kind. These differ according to the different kinds of moving principles, for the souls of different animals do not belong to the same classification.
2014. The kinds of locomotion differ not only in the foregoing manner but also in one of these species, for instance, walking which is of different kinds. For traveling the whole racecourse and traveling a part of it do not have the same starting point and finishing line, i.e., the same terms a quo and ad quem. And the case is similar to traveling this or that part of the course because the boundaries are not the same. The motion of traversing this line and that line is not the same specifically, although all lines as such belong to the same species.
2015. As motions are constituted in a determined position or location, they are understood as differing specifically according to the difference of places, which is taken according to a different disposition in regard to the first encompassing spice. Now a runner not only travels along a line but along a line existing in place because this line is in a different place from that. Clearly then the whole locomotion differs specifically from each of its parts according to the difference of boundaries, in such a way however that the whole motion is perfect specifically but the parts imperfectly so.
2016. Because complete knowledge of the nature of motion might be required for a clarification of these points, he adds that a precise, i.e., adequate and complete, account of motion has been given in another work, the Physics (Bk. III, Ch. 1-3, 200 b 12-202 b 29; St. Th. Lect. 1-5, 275-325). But it is enough to say here that motion is not perfect at every moment, but there are many imperfect motions differing in the different parts of time from the fact that the starting points and the finishing lines, i.e., the terms of the motion, specify the motion.
217. Having thus explained the major of the proposition he then adds the minor, that the form of pleasure is complete at any and every momentthis has been shown from previous discussions (2007). He concludes then that pleasure and generation or change obviously differ from one another, and that pleasure is numbered among things that are whole and complete because pleasure has the completion of its form in every part.
2018. He proposes the second argument [2, b] at “Likewise, this is thought.” It is that motion is impossible except in a space of time, as proved in the sixth book of the Physics (Ch. 3, 234 a 24-234 b 9; St. Th. Lect. 5, 794-795), but pleasure is possible without an interval of time. It has been pointed out that a feeling of pleasure is a whole for the reason that this feeling occurs in a moment and is completed immediately. Therefore pleasure is not a motion.
2019. We should note that the difference from which this argument proceeds is the cause of the difference from which the first argument proceeded. Therefore the form of pleasure is complete at every moment but not so motion, because pleasure is instantaneous while all motion occupies an interval of time. And the Philosopher’s way of speaking shows this when he says “Likewise, this is thought to be the case etc.”
2020. Then [ B, 3], at “From these considerations,” he concludes from the premises what he principally intended. He remarks it is clear from the premises (2006-2019) that philosophers are mistaken in speaking of pleasure as a motion or process of generation. The concept of motion and generation cannot be predicated of everything but only of divisible things that are not whole and are not completed immediately.
2021. Neither is it possible to speak of seeing as a process of generation in such a way that seeing attains completion successively. Nor can we speak of a point or unity in a similar fashion. For these are not generated but accompany certain things. Likewise motion cannot be attributed to them, and consequently not to pleasure, which is also a whole, i.e., has its perfection in being indivisible.
The Nature and Properties of Pleasure
II. HE NOW EXPLAINS THE NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF PLEASURE.
A. What pleasure is.
1. PLEASURE IS A PERFECTION OF ACTIVITY.
a. What is the perfect activity.
i. He explains his proposition. — 2022-2023
Again, every sense functions in relation to its object, and functions perfectly when it is in good condition and directed to the finest object falling under it. This seems to be the best description of perfect activity.
ii. He mentions a doubt. — 2024
It does not seem to make any difference whether the sense itself acts or man in whom the sense resides; in either case the most perfect activity proceeds from the best-conditioned agent in relation to the most excellent of the objects falling within its competence.
b. Pleasure is the perfection of activity. — 2025-2026
And this activity is most perfect and most pleasant, for there is a pleasure corresponding to each sense, and also to thought and contemplation. Now, that activity is most pleasant that is most perfect, and the most perfect activity belongs to the best-conditioned faculty in relation to the most excellent object falling within its competence.
c. How pleasure can perfect activity. — 2027
However, pleasure does not perfect the activity in the same way as the sensible object and the sense-both of which are good-perfect it, just as health and a doctor are not in the same way the cause of being healthy.
2. HE CLARIFIES WHAT HE HAS SAID.
a. First. — 2028
That there is a pleasure corresponding to each sense is obvious, for we speak of sights and sounds as pleasant.
b. Second. — 2029
It is also obvious that pleasure is greatest when the sense is keenest and active in relation to its corresponding object. So long, then, as the sensible object and the perceiving subject remain in this condition, the pleasure will continue since the agent and the recipient are both at hand.
c. Finally. — 2030-2031
But pleasure perfects activity not as an inherent habit but as a kind of supervenient end like the bloom of health perfects youth.
B. The properties of pleasure.
1. THE DURATION OF PLEASURE.
a. How long pleasure should last. — 2032
So long then as the sensible or intelligible object and the discerning or contemplative subject are as they should be, there will be pleasure in the activity. For while the active and passive elements are unchanged in themselves and in their relation to one another the same result is produced.
b. Why pleasure cannot be continuous. — 2033
How is it then that no one can feel pleasure continuously? Is it from fatigue? Certainly no creature with a body is capable of uninterrupted activity. Therefore pleasure also is not continuous, for it accompanies activity.
c. Why new things are more pleasing. — 2034-2035
Some things give us pleasure when new but later do not, because at first the mind is stimulated and is intensely active about them. This is so in the case of sight when we look at something intently; later however our reaction is not of this nature but becomes relaxed. For this reason pleasure too slackens.
2. DESIRABILITY (OF PLEASURE).
a. He explains his proposition. — 2036
It might be thought that all men seek pleasure because they desire life. Now life is a form of activity, and everyone is concerned with the things he loves most and devotes himself to their activities. For example, a musician pays close attention to good music, a student of philosophy is intent on intellectual problems, and so on. Since then pleasure perfects these activities, it also perfects life, which all desire. Consequently it is reasonable that men seek pleasure, for it perfects life which is desirable to everyone.
b. He raises a doubt. — 2037-2038
The question whether we choose life for the sake of pleasure or pleasure for the sake of life can be dismissed for the present. Indeed they seem to be united and not to admit of separation, since there is no pleasure without activity.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2022. After the Philosopher has shown that pleasure is not in the category of motion, as some thinkers maintained, he now [II] explains the nature and properties of pleasure. First he shows what pleasure is. Then [Lect. 7], at “Consequently pleasures etc.” (B. 1175 a 22), he treats the variations among pleasures. The first point is discussed in a twofold fashion. First [II, A] he shows what pleasure is. Next [II, B], at “So long then etc.,” from this he defines the properties of pleasure. He considers the first point under two headings. First [A, 1] he shows that pleasure is a perfection of activity. Second [A, 2], at “That there is a pleasure etc.,” he clarifies what he has said. He handles the first point in a threefold manner. First [A, 1, a] he explains what is the perfect activity. Then [A, 1, b], at “And this activity etc.,” he shows that pleasure is the perfection of activity. Third [A, 1. c], at “However, pleasure etc.,” he shows how pleasure can perfect activity. He discusses the first point from two aspects. First [a, i] he explains his proposition.
2023. He observes that the activity of each sense is the functioning of an agent in respect to a sensible thing that is the sense’s object. Hence in the activity of sense two elements are considered: the sense itself that is the active principle, and the sensible thing that is the object of the activity. Consequently, the best condition on the part of both sense and object is required for the perfect activity of sense. For this reason he adds that sense functions perfectly when the activity of sense is well-conditioned in relation to the finest or fittest of the objects falling under the sense. This activity seems to be especially perfect which proceeds from sense in relation to an object of this kind.
2024. Ncxt [a, ii], at “it does not seem,” he mentions a doubt. Since he has just said that sense is active (2023) and—in the first book of the De Anima (Ch. 4, 408 b 11-18; St. Th. Lect. 10, 151-162)—that the soul does not act but man acts by means of the soul, consequently he adds that it makes no difference to our purpose whether it is the sense itself that acts or man (or animal) in whom the sense resides. The reason is: no matter which is affirmed, obviously it is true concerning each that the most perfect activity proceeds from the best-conditioned agent with respect to the most excellent object failing within the competence of such an agent. For the perfection of the activity seems to depend especially on these two: the active principle and the object.
2025. Then [A, i, b], at “And this activity,” he shows that pleasure is a perfection of activity. We shall see that the same activity which we said is most perfect is also most pleasant; wherever a perfect activity is found in any percipient, there also a pleasant activity is found, for a pleasure corresponds not only to touch and taste but also to every sense—not only to sense but also to contemplation inasmuch as the intellect contemplates some truth with certitude.
2026. Among these activities of sense and intellect, that is most pleasant which is most perfect. But the most perfect is that belonging to sense or intellect well-conditioned in relation to the best of the objects that fall under sense or intellect. If then perfect activity is pleasant, and most perfect activity most pleasant, it follows that activity is pleasant to the extent that it is perfect. Therefore pleasure is the perfection of activity.
2027. At “However, pleasure” [A, 1, c] he shows how pleasure can perfect activity. He observes that pleasure does not perfect activity (of sense, for example) in the same way as the object (which is the sensible) and the active principle (which is the sense)—all of which are good elements contributing excellence to the activity—perfect it. Thus health and a doctor are not in the same manner the cause of being healthy, but health is a cause by way of form and a doctor by way of agent. Likewise pleasure, the perfection of activity, perfects activity by way of form; a wellconditioned sense, a mover that is moved, by way of agent; but a suitable sensible object perfects activity, as a mover that is unmoved. The same reasoning is also valid concerning the intellect.
2028. Next [A, 2.], at “That there is,” he clarifies what he has said. First [A, 2, a] it is clear, he states, that there is a pleasure corresponding to each sense-as was just pointed out (2025).from the fact that we say and perceive that there are pleasant sights like beautiful forms and sounds like melodious songs.
2029. Second [A, 2, b], at “It is also,” he clarifies another premise by remarking that it is clear from experience that seeing, hearing, and every activity of sense are exceedingly pleasant when the sense is keenest or strongest and acts in relation to its corresponding best object. So long as the sensible object itself and the animal possessing the sense remain in this condition, the pleasure remains, as is apparent also in other activities. And so long as the condition of the agent and recipient are the same, the effect is necessarily the same.
2030. Finally [A, 2, c], at “But pleasure perfects,” he clarifies a previous statement (2027) about the manner in which pleasure perfects activity. For it was stated that pleasure perfects activity not efficiently but formally. Now, formal perfection is twofold. One is intrinsic constituting a thing’s essence, but the other is added to a thing already constituted in its species.
2031. He says first that pleasure perfects activity not as a habit that is inherent, i.e., not as a form intrinsic to the essence of the thing, but as a kind of end or supervenient perfection, like the bloom of health comes to young people not as being of the essence of youth but as following from a favorable condition of the causes of youth. Likewise pleasure follows from a favorable condition of the causes of activity.
2032. Then [II, B], at “So long then,” he defines the reasons for certain properties of pleasure from what has been defined about its nature. First [B, 1] he considers1the duration of pleasure; next [B, 2], at “It miaht be thought etc.,” its desirability. He discussed the first point from three aspects. First [B, 1, a] he shows how long pleasure should last. He observes that there will be pleasure in activity so long as, on the one hand, the object (sensible or intelligible) and, on the other, the agent itself (which perceives by sense or contemplates by intellect) are well-conditioned. The reason for this is that as long as the condition of the active and passive elements remains the same and the relation between them remains the same, so long will the effect remain the same. Hence if the good condition of the knowing faculty and of the object is the cause of pleasure, as long as this lasts pleasure necessarily lasts.
2033. Next [B, 1, b], at “How is it then,” he assigns the reason why pleasure cannot be continuous. No one, he says, continuously feels pleasure since he grows weary from activity that pleasure accompanies, and in this way activity is not pleasant. This is so because all creatures with bodies capable of suffering are unable to be continuously active, for their bodies are changed in their condition by motion connected with activity. The body itself is subservient in some manner to every activity of the being whose body it is: either immediately to sensitive activity, which is produced by a bodily organ, or mediately to intellectual activity, which uses the activities of the sensitive powers generated by bodily organs. Therefore activity cannot be continuous on the part of its productive principle; and so pleasure also cannot be continuous, for it accompanies activity (155, 1486, 1496).
2034. Third [B, 1, c], at “Some things,” he gives the reason why new things are more pleasing. He remarks that things when new are more delightful but later are not equally so. The reason for this is that at first the mind is eagerly inclined toward such things on account of desire and curiosity and so is intensely or vehemently active about them.
2035. Vehement pleasure accompanies this, as is evident in people who, from curiosity, look hard at something they have not seen previously. Later though, when they become accustomed to the sight, their reaction is not of such a nature that they look so intently or do anything else as before. But they act in a relaxed manner and for this reason the pleasure also fades, i.e., is felt less keenly.
2036. The [B, 2], at “It might be thought,” he presents the reason why pleasure is desired by everyone. He treats this point in a twofold manner. First [B, 2, a] he explains his proposition, observing that a man can judge with reason that all men naturally seek pleasure because they all naturally desire life. But life according to its ultimate perfection consists in a form of activity, as pointed out in the ninth book (1846). Therefore everyone is especially active about those things which he loves most of all and devotes himself to their activities. Thus a musician listens most attentively to good music; a lover of wisdom applies himself especially to the contemplation of intellectual problems or studies. Since then pleasure perfects activityas was indicated (2036).consequently it perfects life itself which all desire. Thus it is reasonable that everyone should seek pleasure from the fact that it perfects life which is desirable to everybody.
2037. Next [B, 2, b], at “The question whether,” he raises a doubt by reason of the discussion. We have stated that all desire pleasure and likewise all desire life which is perfected in activity. But objects of desire, as well as objects of knowledge, have an order among themselves. Therefore a doubt can arise whether men seek life for the sake of pleasure or, conversely, pleasure for the sake of life.
2038. He says that the doubt must two questions are so joined that they do not admit,of any separation. For there is no pleasure without activity, and on the other hand there can be no perfect activity without pleasure, as has been noted (2025, 2026). However activity, rather than pleasure, seems to be principal. For pleasure is a repose of the appetite in a pleasing object which a person enjoys by means of activity. But a person desires repose in a thing only inasmuch as he judges it agreeable to him. Consequently the activity itself that gives pleasure as a pleasing object seems to be desirable be dismissed at present because these prior to pleasure.
Pleasures Differ in Kind
I. HE EXPLAINS THE DIFFERENCE OF PLEASURES TAKEN ON THE PART OF THE ACTIVITIES.
A. How pleasures may differ in kind according to... activities.
1. HE SHOWS (THIS) BY REASON.
a. First. — 2039-2041
Consequently pleasures seem to differ in kind. For we judge that different kinds of things are perfected by different perfections. This is thought to be true both of natural organisms and of productions of art, for instance, animals, trees, paintings, statues, a house, and a receptacle. Likewise, activities differing in kind are perfected by things differing in kind. Moreover, activities of intellect differ from those of the senses; and the latter differ from one another, and so then do the pleasures that perfect them.
2. HE MANIFESTS THE SAME PROPOSITION BY INDICATIONS.
a. First. — 2042-2043
This will also be evident from the fact that each pleasure is akin to the activity it perfects, for an activity is stimulated by a pleasure proper to it. People who work pleasurably judge each thing better and investigate them more accurately. For example, those who find pleasure in the study of geometry become geometricians and grasp each problem more clearly. Similarly, those who love music, architecture, and other arts make progress in their own field when they enjoy their work. But pleasure intensifies activity and what intensifies a thing is proper to it. Therefore properties of things differing in kind must themselves differ in kind.
b. Another indication.
i. He shows the difference among pleasures (from the hindrance of other activities). — 2044-2047
A still clearer indication of this is given by the fact that activities are hindered by pleasures arising from other activities. For people who love the flute are incapable of paying attention to a discussion when they hear someone playing the flute because they enjoy the music more than their present activity. Therefore, the pleasure connected with flute-playing destroys that activity which is concerned with discussion. A similar thing happens in other cases where a person tries to do two things at the same time; the more pleasant activity drives out the other, and if it is much more pleasant it does so more effectively so that the other ceases altogether. For this reason when we take intense pleasure in something we can scarcely do anything else; and when we take relaxed pleasure in some things we can be engaged in others. For example, people who eat sweets at stage-plays do so especially when the actors are poor. Since then pleasure proper to activities strengthens, prolongs and improves them, and since other pleasures injure these activities, it is clear that pleasures differ greatly.
ii. He compares alien pleasures with pains belonging to the activities. — 2048-2049
Indeed alien pleasures produce nearly the same effect as proper pains, for activities are destroyed by their proper pains. For instance, if writing or doing sums proves to be an unpleasant and painful task, a person neither writes nor does sums because the activity is painful. Activities then are affected in a different manner by their proper pleasures and pains-these arise from the nature of the activities. But alien pleasures are said to have an effect resembling pain, for they both destroy activity although not to the same degree.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2039. After the Philosopher has explained the nature and properties of pleasure, he now explains the difference among pleasures. He discusses this point from two aspects. First [I] he explains the difference of pleasures taken on the part of the activities; then [Lect. 8; II] at-“It is thought etc.” (B. 1176 a 3), the difference taken on the part of the subject. He treats the first point in a twofold manner. First [I, A] he shows how pleasures may differ in kind according to the difference among activities; next [Lect. 8; I, B], at “Since activities differ etc.” (B. 1175 b 25), how they differ in goodness and badness. He handles the first point in two ways. First [A, 1] he shows by reason that pleasures differ in kind on the basis of differing activities; then [A, 2], at “This will also etc.,” he manifests the same proposition by indications. He observes first: since pleasure is the perfection of activity, it follows that just as activities differ in kind so pleasures too seem to differ. Thus we commonly judge as intrinsically evident (per se notum) that those things that differ in kind are perfected by specifically different perfections. Certainly this is obvious concerning essential perfections which constitute a species. And it is necessarily the same with other consequent perfections, provided they are proper, because they follow the essential principles of the species. We see this happen in the case both of natural and artistic objects.
2040. In natural objects surely, because the perfection of animals, which consists in keenness of sense, is one thing; and the perfection of trees, which consists in their fruitfulness, is another. And in artistic objects, because the perfection of paintings—that they be characterized by pleasing colors—is one thing, and the perfection of statues—that they aptly represent the individuals, whose images they are—is another. Likewise the perfection of a house—that it be a solid dwelling—is one thing, and the perfection of a receptacle—that it have a large capacityis another. Consequently activities differing specifically must be perfected by specifically different pleasures.
2041. It is clear that activities of mind or intellect differ in kind from activities of the senses; similarly the activities of the senses differ from one another. The reason is that they are differentiated according to objects and according to the faculties which are principles of activities. Consequently pleasures that perfect activities differ specifically.
2042. Then [A, 2], at “This will also,” he manifests the same proposition by indications. First [2, a] by the fact that activity is stimulated by its own pleasure.’ He observes first that this difference among pleasures corresponding to activities is evident from the fact that each pleasure is ascribed by a kind of affinity to the activity it perfects, because each activity is intensified by its own pleasure, as everything is naturally intensified by what is similar and agreeable.
2043. We notice that people who do any intellectual work with pleasure can judge each point better and investigate accurately the questions which pleasantly engage their attention. For example, geometricians who take pleasure in the study of geometry can grasp more clearly each problem of this science because their mind is detained longer by that which is pleasant. And the same reason holds for all others (similarly occupied), for instance, those who love music and delight in it, those who love architecture, and so on-that because they find pleasure in such work they make great progress in their art. Evidently then pleasures intensify activities. But it is clear that what intensifies an action is proper to it. Consequently things that are different are intensified by different things. Therefore if activities, which are intensified by’ pleasure, differ in kind—as we have shown (2039-2040—the intensifying pleasures themselves should be specifically different.
2044. At “A still clearer” [2, b] he presents another indication taken from the hindrance to the activities derived from other activities. First [b, i] from this he shows the difference among pleasures. Next [b, ii], at “Indeed alien pleasures etc.,” he compares alien pleasures with pains belonging to the activities. He says first that the remarks (2042-2043) about the difference among pleasures corresponding to the activities are more apparent from the fact that the activities are hindered by the pleasures arising from other occupations. From this then our contention is more evidently sustained because the fact that pleasures intensify activities might, be ascribed to the general nature of pleasure but not to the particular nature of this pleasure according to which pleasures differ from one another.
2045. But it is very clear that pleasures differ in kind. when we discover that activity is promoted by its own pleasure but impeded by extraneous pleasure. For we see that flute-favorers simply cannot hear people talking to them when listening to flute-playing because they take more pleasure in the music of the flute than in their present activity, i.e., hearing talk intended for them. Evidently then pleasure arising from flute-playing impedes the mind’s reflective activities. The same thing apparently happens in other situations when someone is doing two things at once.
2046. For it is obvious that the more pleasant activity drives out the other, to the extent that if there is a great difference in the amount of pleasure, a person entirely neglects the activity less pleasurable to him. Consequently when we take vehement pleasure in something we are incapable of doing anything else. But when something pleases us quietly, i.e., mildly or hardly at all, we can be doing other things too, as is evident of people at a show. Those who find little amusement in what they see there can be busy eating sweets-a diversion only moderately pleasant. People do this especially when watching athletes fighting poorly in public games, so that viewing such a contest is not pleasing to them.
2047. A proper pleasure then (a) strengthens the activities from which it proceeds, so that a person exerts himself more vigorously in them; (b) it prolongs the activities, so that a person stays longer at them; (c) it improves the activities so they attain their end more perfectly. Likewise other pleasures—those accompanying other activities—obstruct or harm all this; hence these facts clearly demonstrate that pleasures differ much from one another, for what one pleasure helps, another hinders.
2048. Next [b, ii], at “Indeed alien pleasures,” he compares extraneous pleasures with pains proper (to the activities) so that the difference among pleasures may in this way be more obvious. He observes that extraneous pleasure (which is caused by some other activity) and proper pain (according to which a person suffers from the activity itself) produce nearly the same effect on an activity. For, evidently, pain arising from an activity destroys it. For instance, if it is unpleasant or rather trying for someone to write or tally figures he will neither write nor tally, owing to the painful nature of such activity.
2049. In this way then activities are affected in a different manner by proper pleasures and pains, as it were being caused by these very activities; but extraneous pleasures are caused by other activities. We have just noted (2045-2046) that extraneous pleasures have an effect resembling proper pain. For in either case activity is destroyed (“although not in the same manner”) but more so by proper pain which is directly and by reason of itself opposed to pleasure. On the other hand the contrariety of extraneous pleasure arises from another source, viz., activity.
The Morality of Pleasures
B. Pleasures differ in goodness and evil according to the difference of activities.
1. IN MORAL GOODNESS.
a. He states his proposition. — 2050
Since activities differ in goodness and badness, and some are to be chosen, others to be avoided, and still others are indifferent, the same is true also of their pleasures; for a proper pleasure corresponds to each activity. Thus the pleasure proper to a virtuous activity is good and that proper to a vicious activity is bad.
b. He proves his proposition. — 2051-2055
just as desires for honorable things are praiseworthy, those for base things are blameworthy. But pleasures accompanying activities are more proper to them than the desires. For the latter are separated in time and distinct in nature from activities, while the former are intimately connected with them and so closely linked as to raise a doubt whether activity is identical with pleasure. However, we are not to understand that pleasure is thought or sensation—this would be unreasonable—although some people have identified them because they are connected. Therefore, just as activities are different, so too are their pleasures.
2. IN PHYSICAL GOODNESS. — 2056
Now sight differs in purity from touch, and hearing and smell from taste; similarly pleasures of intellect diffcr from those of the senses, and each class iias differences within itself.
II. HE SHOWS WHAT THE DIFFERENCE OF PLEASURE IS RELATIVE TO THE SUBJECT.
A. In regard to animals. — 2057-2058
It is thought that each creature has its own pleasure just as it has its own activity, for pleasure corresponds to activity. This will be apparent to a person who considers each thing. Certainly a horse, a dog, a man have different pleasures. As Heraclitus says: an ass prefers grass to gold, since food is more pleasant than gold to asses. Therefore creatures differing in species have different kinds of pleasures. On the other hand it is reasonable to hold that things of the same species have similar pleasures.
B. In regard to men.
1. MEN HAVE DIFFERENT PLEASURES. — 2059-2061
However, pleasures differ considerably among men. For the same things delight some men but sadden others, and things distressing and odious to some are pleasant and attractive to others. This happens in the case of things sweet to the taste, since the same objects do not seem sweet to a sick man and to one in good condition; nor does the same temperature feel warm to an invalid and to a healthy man. The same holds good in other cases too.
2. THE PRINCIPAL PLEASURE IS FOUND IN THE VIRTUOUS MAN. — 2062-2063
In all cases, that seems to be really so which appears to the good man. If this is correct, as it seems to be, and if the measure of everything is virtue and the good man as such, then the things that appear to him to be pleasures are really pleasures and the things that he enjoys are really pleasant. Wherefore it is not surprising that things painful to him are evidently pleasant to someone. For men are subject to much perversion and deterioration. But these things are not pleasant (in themselves) but only to these people an] others similarly inclined. It is obvious then that pleasures admittedly disreputable are pleasures only to men of perverted taste.
3. WHICH IS THE PRINCIPAL PLEASURE. — 2064
But of the pleasures that seem to be virtuous we must discuss which kind and which particular pleasure are peculiarly human. This will be clear from the activities, for the pleasures result from the activities. Therefore, whether the perfect and happy man has one or many activities, it will be the pleasures perfecting these that will be called human in the principal sense. The other pleasures will be so only in various secondary ways, as are the activities.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2050. After the Philosopher has shown that pleasures differ in kind according to the difference of activities, he now [B] shows that pleasures differ in goodness and evil according to the difference of activities. First [B, 1] in moral goodness; then [B, 2], at “Now sight differs etc.,” in physical goodness, which is judged according to purity and impurity. He discusses his first point in a twofold manner. First [1, a] he states his proposition. Next [1I, b], at “Just as desires etc.,” he proves his proposition. He says first that, since activities differ according to goodness and badness, i.e., virtue and vice—in such a way that some activities (the virtuous) are to be chosen, others (the vicious) are to be shunned, and still others are in neither class by their nature but can become either—so also do pleasures. The reason is that each activity is accompanied by a proper pleasure, as was stated previously (2039). Hence the pleasure proper to a virtuous activity is good, and the pleasure proper to a vicious activity is bad.
2051. Next [1, b], at “Just as desires,” he proves his proposition by a reason taken on the part of desires. We see that the desires by which we want good or honorable objects are praiseworthy, for example, if a person wants to act justly or bravely. But desires for base objects are blameworthy, for example, if a person desires to steal or fornicate. Obviously the pleasures by which we enjoy these activities are closer and more proper to the activities than are the desires by which we want them.
2052. Desires are separated from activities by time, for we desire to do an act before we do it. They are also distinct by nature because activity :s an act of a perfect thing but desire is an act of something imperfect and not yet achieved. But pleasures are closely connected with activities because both belong to something perfect. They are also closely linked by time for, if a person has not yet performed an action he is not enjoying this action because pleasure concerns a present thing, as desire a future one. Pleasure is closely linked to activity to such a degree that it seems to be a matter of doubt whether activity is identical with pleasure.
2053. However, we must not say that this is so. Pleasure indeed can be felt only in the activity of the senses or intellect, for creatures lacking perception cannot experience pleasure.
2054. Nevertheless, pleasure is identical neither with the activity of the intellect nor with the activity of the senses. Pleasure pertains rather to the appetitive part. But it is unreasonable that some should think that pleasure is identical with activity because it is not separated from it.
2055. Thus it is evident that, as activities differ according to virtue and vice, so too do pleasures. From this it is clear that some thinkers have inconsistently proclaimed that pleasures are (not) good and bad.
2056. At “Now sight differs” [B, 2] he shows the difference between pleasures based on purity and impurity. Obviously activities of the senses differ according to purity, for the activity of sight is purer than that of touch; similarly, the activity of smell than that of taste. But activity that is more material is called purer. According to this the purest of all sensitive activities is sight because more immaterial, having as it does less admixture of material conditions—both on the part of the object which becomes actually (in actu) visible by light derived from the sun and on the part of the medium which is altered only by a spiritual change. For the same reasons the activity of touch is most material because the qualities of passible matter are its objects and its medium is not separate but contiguous. And the same difference in purity is observed between sensible pleasures among themselves. Likewise activities and pleasures of intellect, as being more immaterial, are purer than those of the senses.
2057. Then [II], at “It is thought,” he shows what the difference of pleasures is relative to the subject. First [II, A] in regard to animals of different species. Next [II, B], at “However, pleasures etc.,” in regard to men. He says first: since pleasure accompanies activity, it seems that each thing has its own pleasure just as it has its own activity. That each thing has its own activity is apparent from the fact that activities follow the forms of things according to which the things differ in kind. That each thing has its own pleasure is apparent if anyone wishes to consider things individually.
2058. For it is clear that a horse finds pleasure in one thing, a dog in another, and man in a third; as Herachtus says, an ass prefers grass to gold, since the nourishment afforded him by the grass is more pleasant to him than the gold. Thus it is obvious that things differing in kind have pleasures specifically different. On the other hand it is reasonable that the things that do not differ in kind have a similar pleasure following the nature of the species.
2059. At “However, pleasure” [II, B] he explains the difference among pleasures in men. First [II, B, 1] he shows that men have different pleasures. Then [II, B, 2], at “In all; cases etc.,” he shows that the principal pleasure is found in the virtuous man. Finally [II, B, 3], at “But of the pleasures etc.,” he shows which is the principal pleasure among the pleasures of a virtuous man. He says first: although it seems reasonable that creatures alike in kind should have a common sort of pleasure—this is so in the case of other animals—nevertheless men, who are all of the same species, do have very different pleasures just as they have different activities.
2060. The reason is that activities and pleasures of other animals follow their natural tendency, which is the same in all animals belonging to the same species. But activities and pleasures of men spring from reason that is not determined to one behavioral pattern. Consequently certain things delight some men and sadden others; and things distressing and odious to some are pleasant and attractive to others.
2061. Situations of this kind occur because everyone takes pleasure in what he loves. And this happens because some are well or badly disposed according to reason. This is the case in regard to the taste of sweet things since the same objects do not seem sweet to a sick man who has a diseased taste and to a well man who has a healthy taste; the same object does not seem hot to a person with a defective sense of touch and to a person whose touch is normal. This is true also of the other senses.
2062. Then [II, B, 2], at “In all cases,” he shows that the pleasure of virtuous persons is the principal human pleasure. He observes: in all cases of this kind connected with human passions and activities, that seems to be really so which appearse to the good man who has correct judgment about such things, for example, the healthy man about what is sweet. And if this is correct—and it seems to be—that virtue is the measure by which we should judge all human affairs and that a man is good inasmuch as he is virtuous, it follows that real pleasures are those which appear so to the virtuous man, and that genuinely delightful things are those which the virtuous man enjoys.
2063. But it is not surprising that some things which are painful to the virtuous man are delightful to other men. For this happens on account of the many corruptions and various deteriorations of man which pervert his reason and appetite. Thus the things that the virtuous person repudiates are not pleasurable in themselves but only to the evilly inclined. Therefore it is obvious that pleasures which all admit to be disreputable must be declared pleasures only to depraved men.
2064. Finally [II, B, 3], at “But of the pleasures,” he shows that there is one principal pleasure among those of the good man. Aristotle notes that of the virtuous pleasures we must consider which kind ai4d which particular one constitute the Ichief pleasure of man. This, he says, will be clear from the activities that the pleasures follow. The reason is that, whether the perfect and happy man has one or many proper activities, obviously the pleasures accompanying these activities are the chief pleasures of man. The others are contained under the chief pleasures in various secondary ways, as happens in the case of activities.
The Nature of Happiness
I. HE CONNECTS THIS WITH HIS EARLIER TREATMENT. — 2065
After the discussion of the various kinds of virtue, friendship, and pleasure, it remains for us to treat happiness in a general way, inasmuch as we consider this to be the end of human activity. But our discussion will be more concise if we reassert what has been stated already.
II. HE CARRIES OUT HIS PROPOSAL.
A. He explains the genus of happiness. — 2066-2067
We have said that happiness is definitely not a habit. If it were it might be enjoyed by a person passing his whole life in sleep, living the life of a vegetable, or by someone suffering the greatest misfortune. If then this inconsistency is unacceptable, we must place happiness in the class of activity, as was indicated previously.
B. He shows the nature of virtuous activity.
1. HAPPINESS IS CONTAIN UNDER THE ACTIVITIES DESIRABLE IN THEMSELVES.
a. A division of activities. — 2068
But some activities are necessary and desirable for the sake of something else while others are desirable in themselves.
b. Happiness falls under... activities... desirable in themselves. — 2069
Now it is clear that we must place happiness among the things desirable in themselves and not among those desirable for the sake of something else. For happiness lacks nothing and is selfsufficient. But those activities are desirable in themselves that are sought for no other reason than the activity itself.
2. HE DIVIDES THESE ACTIONS INTO VIRTUOUS AND AGREEABLE. — 2070
Such actions are thought to be in conformity with virtue, for to do virtuous and honorable deeds is a thing desirable in itself. But agreeable amusements also seem to be desirable in themselves; they are not chosen for the sake of other things, since they are rather harmful than helpful, causing men to neglect their bodies and property.
3. HE SHOWS UNDER WHICH CLASSIFICATION HAPPINESS FALLS.
a. Why some may think that happiness consists in amusement. — 2071-2072
Many apparently happy persons have recourse to such pastimes. This is why the ready-witted in conversation are favorites with tyrants; they show themselves agreeable in furnishing the desired amusement for which the tyrants want them. So these pleasures are thought to constitute happiness because people in high places spend their time in them.
b. He rejects the reason offered for this. — 2073-2075
But perhaps such persons prove nothing; for virtue and intelligence, the principles of good actions, do not depend on the possession of power. Nor should bodily pleasures be thought more desirable, if these persons without a taste for pure and liberal pleasure resort to physical pleasures. Children too think that objects highly prized by them are best. It is reasonable then that just as different things are valuable to a child and to a man, so also are they to good and bad men. Therefore, as we have often mentioned, those actions are worthy and pleasant that appear so to a good man. Now that activity is most desirable to everyone that is in accordance with his proper habit. But the activity most desirable to a good man is in accord with virtue. Consequently, his happiness does not consist in amusement.
c. He resolves the truth (by two arguments).
i. First. — 2076-2077
Surely it would be strange that amusement should be our end-that we should transact business and undergo hardships all through life in order to amuse ourselves. For we choose nearly all things for the sake of something else, except happiness which is an end itself. Now it seems foolish and utterly childish to exert oneself and to labor for the sake of amusement. On the contrary, to play in order to work better is the correct rule according to Anacharsis. This is because amusement is a kind of relaxation that men need, since they are incapable of working continuously. Certainly relaxation is not an end, for it is taken as a means to further activity.
ii. Second argument. — 2078-2079
Moreover, a life lived in conformity with virtue is thought to be a happy one; it is accompanied by joy “ but not by the joy of amusement. Now we say that those things that are done in earnest are better than ludicrous things and things connected with amusement, and we say that the activity of the better part or the better man is more serious. But an activity that belongs to a superior faculty is itself superior and more productive of happiness. Surely anyone can enjoy the pleasures of the body, the bestial man no less than the best of men. However, we do not ascribe happiness to the bestial man, if we do not assign him a life properly human. Therefore happiness does not consist in pursuits of this sort but in virtuous activities, as has been stated already.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2065. After the Philosopher has considered pleasure, he now takes up the consideration of happiness. First [I] he connects this with his earlier treatment. Then [II], at “We have said etc.,” he carries out his proposal. He makes a threefold division of the first point. First he enumerates the subjects already treated: virtues were discussed from the second book to the eighth (245-1537), friendship in the eighth and ninth books (1538-1952), and pleasure in the first part of the tenth book (1953-2064). Next he mentions what remains to be discussed, viz., happiness, which we must touch upon and briefly treat in a general way of in outline, just as we have previously treated other moral questions (43-230). Moreover, we must discuss happiness because everyone in general considers it the end of all human activities. Now, in order that activities be directed to an end without error it is necessary for the end to be known. Finally, he indicates the method of treating happiness, observing that we must reassert what was said about it initially (43-230). In this way our discussion will be more concise if we treat it from the beginning.
2066. Then [II], at “We have said” he carries out his intention. First [II, A] he explains the genus of happiness, showing that it is not a habit, but an activity. Next [II, B], at “But some activities etc.,” he shows the nature of virtuous activity. Finally [Lect. 10], at “If happiness etc.” (B. 1177 a 12), he investigates to what virtue the activity belongs. He says first—as was indicated in the first book (118-130, 152-153)—that happiness is not a habit. For two incongruities might follow: the first is that, since habits remain in a person asleep, it might follow—if happiness were a habit—that a sleeper might be happy throughout his whole life or a greater part of it. But this is unreasonable because one who is asleep does not perfectly exercise vital activities except those belonging to the vegetative soul found in plants to which happiness cannot be attributed. It is certain that sensation and external movements cease when a man is asleep; and internal images are distorted and imperfect. Likewise, intellectual activity in a sleeping person is imperfect, if indeed there is any. On the other hand, only activities of the nutritive part are perfect (in the sleeping person).
2067. A second incongruity is that virtuous habits remain in persons suffering misfortune, but their virtuous activities are hindered by reason of the misfortune. If then happiness is a habit, it might follow that the unfortunate were really happy. The Stoics, though, did not think this to be an inconsistency since they held that external goods are in no way human goods; and for this reason man’s happiness cannot be diminished by misfortunes. However, this is contrary to the common opinion that judges misfortune to be inconsistent with happiness. Therefore, according to those who reject these illogical consequences it must be said that happiness is not a habit but is to be placed among activities, as has been stated in the first book (118-130, 152-153).
2o68. At “But some activities” [II, B] he shows that happiness is a virtuous activity. He discusses this point from three aspects. First [ B, 1] he shows that happiness is contained under the activities desirable in themselves (secundum
se). Then [B, 2], at “Such actions etc.,” he divides these actions into virtuous and agreeable. Finally [B, 3], at “Many apparently happy etc.,” he shows under which classification happiness falls. He treats the first point in a twofold manner. First [1, a] he proposes a division of activities. He notes that some activities are necessary for something else and to be chosen for the sake of other things, being desirable only for this end; other activities are worthy of choice in themselves (secundum seipsas) because, even if no further benefit might come from them they have a characteristic of desirability in themselves.
2069. Second [1, b], at “Now it is clear,” he shows that happiness falls under those activities that are desirable in themselves and not under those which are desirable for the sake of something else. For it is of the nature of happiness to be self-sufficient and in need of nothing further, as is evident from what was said in the first book (118). But those activities are designated as desirable in themselves, from which nothing further than the activity itself is sought, inasmuch as they lack nothing to make them worthy of choice. Thus it is clear that happiness is an activity desirable in itself.
2070. Then [B, 2], at “Such actions,” he subdivides activities desirable in themselves. He says first that these seem to be virtuous actions because it is absolutely (per se) desirable to man that he choose those thing that are of themselves (per se) good and honorable. Consequently some people call an object honorable because it draws us by its virtue and attracts us by its excellence. Second, even agreeable amusements seem to be desirable of themselves. For it does not seem that men choose these pastimes for any utility, since people are more often harmed than helped by such activities. In fact, because of amusements men seem to neglect both their bodies, which are exposed to pains and dangers, and their possessions by reason of the expenses they incur.
2071. Next [B, 3], at “Many apparently happy,” he shows under which classification happiness falls. First [3, a] he explains why some may think that happiness consists in amusement. Then [3, b], at “But perhaps etc.,” he rejects the reason offered for this. Finally [3, c], at “Surely it would etc.,” he resolves the truth. He says first that many who are looked upon as happy have recourse to pastimes of this kind, inasmuch as they want to be amused. Consequently, tyrants highly approve persons of ready wit in conversation for the sharpness of their jests.
2072. He calls people in power tyrants because those who are occupied with amusements do not seem to strive for the common interest but for their own gratification. Moreover, tyrants make favorites of the ready-wittcd because they show themselves pleasing to tyrants in the very things that are desired, i.e., in pleasant amusements for which the tyrants want such men. Thus then happiness is said to consist in pleasures of this nature because persons in power—whom men consider happy—spend their time in them.
2073. Then [3, b], at “But perhaps,” he rejects the preceding reason. He remarks that rulers of this sort cannot be accepted as sufficient evidence that happiness consists in amusement. For these persons are superior to other men only in worldly power, but from this it does not follow that their actions are virtuous, since moral and intellectual virtues, the principles of good deeds, do not depend on a man being powerful. Consequently it is not necessary that amusements, to which princes devote their leisure, be the most excellent activities.
2074. Likewise it does not necessarily follow that a prince is well-behaved in relation to the appetite that is directed by virtue. And so, if the powerful do not interiorly perceive in active and contemplative virtue the pleasure which is pure (i.e., without the corruption of the one enjoying it), and liberal (i.e., in keeping with reason by which man is free in his actions), and therefore resort to bodily pleasures among which amusements are numbered; for this reason we must not judge that these pleasures or activities are more desirable than others. We see that boys too, lacking understanding and virtue, consider childish pleasures they pursue as precious and best, although these have no great significance and are little valued by grown men. It is reasonable then that just as different things seem valuable to boys and mature men so also are they valued by wicked and virtuous persons.
2075. We have often indicated before (494, 1905) that those actions are really excellent and pleasant that are judged such by a good man who is the norm of human acts. But, as an activity that is agreeable to anyone as it arises from a proper habit seems to him to be most desirable, so a virtuous activity is most desirable and excellent to a good man. Consequently happiness must be placed in this activity and ftot in amusement.
2076. At “Surely it would” [3, c] he resolves the truth, proving by two arguments that happiness does not consist in amusement. The first argument [c, i] is taken from the fact that happiness is the end. If it should consist in amusement, this inconsistency would follow, that the purpose of man’s whole life would be amusement so that he would engage in trade and undergo all other labors solely to amuse himself. This would follow because we choose nearly all other things, except happiness which is the ultimate end, for the sake of something else. But it seems foolish and thoroughly childish for a man to pursue contemplation and tiresome action for the sake of amusement.
2077. On the contrary, according to the opinion of Anacharsis it seems proper for a person to amuse himself for a time so that later he may work harder. The reason is that relaxation and rest are found in amusement. But, since men cannot work continuously, they need rest. Hence it is clear that amusement or rest is not an end because this rest is for the sake of activity in order that afterwards men may work more earnestly. Obviously then happiness does not consist in amusement.
2078. He presents the second argument [c, ii] at “Moreover, a life.” Some people place happiness in amusement because of the pleasure found in it. Now happiness does have some pleasure because it is an activity of virtue which is accompanied by joy, but not by the joy of amusement. The reason is that, since happiness is the highest good of man, it must consist in what is best. But we hold virtuous things, that are seriously done, to be better than amusing things that are playfully done. This is evident from the fact that activity which belongs to the better part of the soul and is proper to man is more virtuous. But obviously an activity belonging to a better part is better and consequently more productive of happiness.
2079. Anyone can enjoy the pleasures of the body, even a bestial man no less than the noblest of men. But no one ascribes happiness to a bestial man, or to the animal part of the soul, just as we do not assign to him life which is properly human. Clearly then happiness does not consist in pursuits of this kind, i.e., in physical pleasures-among which amusements are counted-but only in virtuous activities, as has been stated already (2075, 2078).
Happiness, an Activity According to the Highest Virtue
I. (HE SHOWS THIS) IN GENERAL. — 2080-2085
If happiness is an activity in accordance with virtue, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest virtue; and this will be the virtue of the best part in us. Whether this part be the intellect or something else that seems to rule and control us by nature and to understand noble and divine things, whether it be itself divine or the most divine element in us, the activity of this part in accordance with its proper virtue will constitute perfect happiness.
II. (HE SHOWS THIS) IN PARTICULAR.
A. Perfect happiness consists in... contemplative virtue.
1. PERFECT HAPPINESS CONSISTS IN THE ACTIVITY OF CONTEMPLATION.
a. Happiness consists in contemplative activity.
i. He states his intention. — 2086
Now we have already said that this activity is contemplative—a conclusion in harmony both with our previous discussion and with the truth.
ii. He proves his statement by six arguments.
u. FIRST. — 2087
For contemplation is the highest operation, since the intellect is the best element in us and the objects of the intellect are the best of the things that can be known.
v. SECOND. — 2088-2089
It is also most continuous: we can contemplate truth more continuously than we can carry on any other activity.
w. THIRD. — 2090-2092
Again, we think that pleasure is necessarily mingled with happiness. But the most delightful of all activities in accordance with virtue is admittedly activity in accordance with wisdom. For philosophy or the pursuit of wisdom offers pleasures marvelous both in purity and permanence; and it is reasonable that those who have attained the truth will spend their life more pleasantly than those who are occupied in pursuing the truth.
x. FOURTH. — 2093-2096
Then too the quality of self-sufficiency will be found especially in contemplation. For the philosopher indeed needs the necessaries of life no less than the just man and other virtuous men do. However, when the necessities have been provided, the just man still needs people toward whom and with whose aid he may act justly. The same is true of the temperate man and the brave man and so on. But the philosopher can contemplate by himself, and the more so the wiser he is. While it is perhaps better for him to have fellow workers nevertheless he is the most self-sufficient.
y. FIFTH. — 2097
Moreover, this activity would seem to be loved for its own sake, for nothing is produced by it apart from the act of contemplation. On the other hand, from practical activities we acquire a greater or less benefit apart from the action itself.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2080. Now that the Philosopher has shown that happiness is an activity in accordance with virtue he begins here to show which virtue this activity follows. First [I] in general; then [II], at “Now we have etc.,” in particular. He states first: since happiness is an activity in keeping with virtue—as explained also in the first book (119, 124, 128, 131, 151, 160 and elsewhere).we reasonably deduce that happiness is an activity in accordance with the highest virtue. For it was shown in the first book (65, 67, 128, 169, 171) that happiness is the best of all human goods as the goal of them all. Likewise, since the better activity flows from the better faculty—as was just stated (2078) logically the best activity of man will be the activity of the part that is best in him. Ile truth of the matter is: the best part of man is his intellect.
2081. But, as some have thought differently on this point and there is no place here to discuss such matters, for the present he leaves the question in doubt: is the intellect or something else best in man? However, he does offer some evidence from which we can conclude that the intellect is the best of us.
2082. First, from a comparison with inferior things that the intellect rules and controls by reason of its superiority. Certainly the intellect or reason rules the irascible and concupiscible appetites in presiding over them by a quasi-political power, though they can of course resist reason to some extent. On the other hand the reason controls the physical members which obey its command blindly without contradiction. Therefore the reason or intellect governs the body as a slave by a despotic power, as pointed out in the first book of the Politics (Ch. 5, 1254 b 4; StTh. Lect. 3, 64).
2083. Second, he offers some indications of the intellect’s superiority by comparison with higher or divine things to which the intellect is compared in a twofold manner. First, by a special relation to these objects: only the intellect understands things that are essentially noble or divine. In the other way the human intellect is compared to divine things by a natural affinity for them—in a different fashion corresponding to the knowledge of different objects.
2084, Some philosophers held that the intellect is something imperishable and separate; and in their system the intellect would be a divine thing, for we call those beings divine that are imperishable and separate. Others, like Aristotle, considered the intellect a part of the soul; and in this view the intellect is not something divine by itself (simpliciter) but the most divine of all the things in us. This is so because of its greater agreement with the separated substances, inasmuch as its activity exists without a bodily organ.
2085. But whatever way the intellect may be constituted, in keeping with what has been said, happiness is necessarily an activity of this best element in accordance with the virtue proper to it. For the perfect activity required for happiness can come only from a power perfected by a habit that is the power’s virtue making the activity good.
2086. Then [II], at “Now we have,” he shows in particular the activity of what virtue constitutes happiness. He makes two points here. First [II, A] he shows that perfect happiness consists in the activity of contemplative virtue. Next [Lect. 13], at “But, being man etc.” (B. 1178 b 33), he connects perfect happiness with external things. He discusses the first point from two aspects. First [A, 1] he shows that perfect happiness consists in the activity of contemplation. Second [Lect. 12; A, 2], at “But life etc.” (B. 1178 a 9), he prefers this happiness to that which consists in action. He treats the first point in a twofold manner. First [1, a] he shows that happiness consists in contemplative activity. Then [Lect. 11; 1, b], at “Such a life etc.” (B. 1177 b 26), he shows how happiness is related to man. He handles the first point in two ways. First [a, i] he states his intention. From previous discussion in the sixth book (1190) contemplative activity obviously belongs to the intellect in accordance with its proper virtue, i.e., principally in accord with wisdom, which includes understanding and science. And that happiness consists in such activity seems in harmony with our discussions on happiness in the first book (118-130) and with truth itself.
2087. Next [a, ii], at “For contemplation,” he proves his statement by six arguments. The first [ii, u]: happiness is the highest activity, as was pointed out before (2080). But the highest of human activities is contemplation of truth; and this is evident from the two reasons by which we judge the excellence of activity. First, on the part of the faculty that is the principle of the activity. Thus this activity is obviously the highest, as the intellect is also the best element in us (explained before in 2080-2085). Second, on the part of the object determining the species of the activity. Here too this activity is the highest because, among the objects that can be known, the supra-sensible—especially the divine—are the highest. And so it is in the contemplation of these objects that the perfect happiness of man consists.
2088. He offers the second argument [ii, v] at “It is also.” As shown in the first book (129), happiness is especially continuous and lasting. But the most continuous of all human activities is the contemplation of truth. For it is clear that man can persevere in the contemplation of truth more continuously than in any other activity.
2089. The reason fat this is that interruption of our activity is necessary, for we are incapable of laboring without a break. Now distress and weariness come about in our labors from the passibility of the body, which is changed and removed from its natural condition. Since the intellect in operating uses the body very little, it follows that its activity is only slightly affected by toil and fatigue. And there would be none of this if the intellect did not need the phantasms existing in the organs of the body. Thus it is clear that happiness is found most of all in the contemplation of truth because of its freedom from labor.
2090. He presents the third argument [ii, w], at “Again, we think,” by observing that we commonly suppose that pleasure is associated with happiness—as was indicated in the first book (129). But the most delightful of all virtuous activities is the contemplation of wisdom—an evident fact conceded by everyone. For, in the contemplation of wisdom philosophy offers pleasures marvelous both in purity and permanence. The purity of these pleasures is perceived in this: they deal with immaterial objects; their permanence, in that their objects are unchangeable.
2091. A person taking pleasure in material objects incurs some impurity of affection from being engrossed with inferior things; and a person taking pleasure in changeable objects cannot have lasting enjoyment since, when the object affording pleasure is changed or destroyed, the pleasure itself ceases and sometimes becomes painful. Now he calls the pleasures of philosophy marvelous because of the infrequency of such pleasures among men who find enjoyment in material things.
2092. Contemplation of truth is twofold: one consists in the investigation of truth, the other in the reflection on the truth already discovered and known. The second is more perfect since it is the term and end of investigation. Consequently greater pleasure is found in the consideration of truth already known than in its investigation. For this reason he declares that people who already know the truth and have their reason perfected by its intellectual virtue spend their life more delightfully. Hence perfect happiness does not consist in contemplation indiscriminately but in that which corresponds to its proper virtue.
2093. He gives the fourth argument [ii, x] at “Then too the quality.” We have shown in the first book (107-114) that self-sufficiency, in Greek autarchia, is necessary for happiness. But this self-sufficiency is found most of all in contemplation for which man needs only what is commonly required for social living. For the necessaries of life are indeed needed both by the wise or contemplative man and by the just man and others possessing the moral virtues that perfect the active life.
2094. When the necessaries of life are sufficiently provided, the man who is good according to moral virtue needs still more. The just man needs other men for his activity; first, those toward whom he should act justly, since justice refers to another person-as was pointed out in the fifth book (909, 934). Second, he needs others as helpers to do justice, for in this a man frequently requires the assistance of many people. The same argument holds for the temperate or the brave man and for other persons good according to moral virtue.
2095. But this is not the case with the contemplative philosopher who can contemplate truth even if he lives by himself. The reason is that contemplation of the truth is an entirely internal activity not proceeding externally. And the more a person can contemplate the truth when living by himself the more perfect he will be in wisdom. ,This is so because such a man knows much and has little need of help and instruction from others.
2096. This does not mean that companionship is not a help to contemplation, since two together are more effective in intellectual and practical activity, as was pointed out in the eighth book (1540). For this reason he adds that it is better for the philosopher to have fellow workers in the study of truth because sometimes one sees what does not occur to another, who is perhaps wiser. And although the philosopher is helped by others, nevertheless of himself he is more adequate than anyone for his own activity. So it is evident that happiness is found in the activity of wisdom most of all.
2097. He states the fifth reason [ii, y] at “Moreover, this activity.” Now happiness is so desirable in itself (per se) that it is never sought for the sake of anything else, as explained in the first book (iii). But this is evident only in the contemplation of wisdom which is loved for itself and not for something else. In fact the contemplation of truth adds nothing to a man apart from itself, but external activity secures for him a greater or less benefit beyond the action, for example, honor or favor with others; this is not acquired by the philosopher from his contemplation except incidentally, inasmuch as he communicates to others the truth contemplated—something that is now a part of external activity. Therefore it is obvious that happiness consists in contemplation most of all.
Happiness and Leisure
(II) Z. SIXTH (REASON). — 2098-2104
And happiness is thought to depend on leisure, for we are busy in order to have leisure, and we wage war in order to attain peace. Now the exercise of the practical virtues is evident in political and military affairs, but actions concerned with these seem to be without leisure. This is completely the case with warlike activity, for no one chooses to wage war or provoke it merely for the sake of fighting. Indeed a man would be considered a murderous character if he turned his friends into enemies for the sake of causing battles and slaughter. But the activity of the statesman is also without leisure, and aims at—apart from participation in politics—positions of power and honor or even the happiness of himself and fellow citizens as something distinct from political activity (and we are investigating it as something distinct). Even if, among the activities of the moral virtues, political and military actions stand out prominent both in nobility and in greatness, they are without leisure, aim at some other end, and are not desirable for their own sakes. On the other hand the activity of the intellect, being contemplative, is thought to be different by reason of serious application, both in desiring no end beyond itself and in possessing a proper pleasure that increases its activity. So contemplation seems to have self-sufficiency, leisureliness, freedom from labor (as far as humanly possible), and all other activities usually assigned to the happy man. Therefore, man’s perfect happiness will consist in this activity of the intellect, if a long span of life be added (as nothing belonging to happiness should be incomplete).
b. He shows how this contemplative life is associated with man.
i. He explains his proposition. — 2105-2106
Such a life is higher than the human level; and it is not lived by man according to the human mode but according to something divine in him. And so far as this differs from the composite, to that extent its activity differs from the activity flowing from the other kind of virtue. Therefore, if the intellect is divine in comparison with man, so is its life divine in comparison with human life.
ii. He rejects an error. — 2107-2110
Nor ought we to follow the philosophers who advise man to study human things, and mortals to study mortality, but we ought to strive to attain immortality so far as possible and to exert all our power to live according to the best thing in us. For, though this is a small part of us, it far surpasses all else in power and value; it may seem, even, to be the true self of each, being the principal and better part. Consequently it would be strange if a person were to choose to live not his own life but the life of some other. Moreover, our previous statement is applicable here: what is proper to the nature of each thing is best and most pleasant for it. So then the life of the intellect is best and most pleasant for man since the intellect more than anything else is man. This life, therefore, will be the happiest.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2098. After Aristotle has presented five reasons to show that happiness consists in the contemplation of truth, he now adds a sixth reason [ii, z], not previously mentioned, arising from a feature of happiness. Now happiness involves a kind of leisure. For a person is said to have leisure when he has nothing further to do-a condition in which he finds himself on arriving at some goal. For this reason the Philosopher adds that we are busy in order to have leisure, that is, we are active in working—this is being busy—in order to rest at the end, and this is having leisure. And he finds an example of this in soldiers who wage war to obtain a desirable peace.
2099. We should note, as the Philosopher stated before (2077), that rest should be taken for the sake of activity. But there he was speaking of rest which, before attaining the end, suspends activity because of the impossibility of uninterrupted labor—this rest being ordered to activity as an end. On the other hand leisure is rest in the end to which activity is ordered. Thus understood, leisure is a special property of happiness, the ultimqte end; it is not found in the activities of the practical virtues. Prominent among these are the virtues dealing with political affairs involving the direction of the common or most divine good and with warfare involving the defense of the common good against enerdies; nevertheless in such activities leisure has no part.
2100. In the first place this is entirely clear in military operations since no one chooses to wage war or to provoke it solely for the sake of fighting, which would be to have leisure for warfare. The reason is that if someone were to make his end the waging of war he would be a murderous character turning his friends into enemies so that he could fight and kill.
2101. Second, it is obvious that there is no place for leisure in political activities. But a man wants something besides mere participation in politics, like positions of power and honor; and-since these objectives do not constitute the ultimate end, as was pointed out in the first book (60-72)it is rather fitting that by means of politics a person should wish to obtain happiness for himself and everyone else; happiness of this kind sought in political life is distinct from political life itself, and in fact we do seek it as something distinct. This is contemplative happiness to which the whole of political life seems directed; as long as the arrangement of political life establishes and preserves peace giving men the opportunity of contemplating truth.
2102. Among the activities of the moral virtues political and military actions stand out preeminent both in nobility (they are most honorable) and in greatness (they concern the greatest good, i.e., the common good), and these actions do not themselves possess leisure but are directed to a further end and are not desirable for their own sakes. Hence perfect happiness will not be found in the activities of the moral virtues.
2103. But the activity of the intellect, which is contemplative, seems to differ from the preceding activities by reason of serious application, since man applies himself to it for its own sake so that he seeks no further end. This activity also contains a proper pleasure proceeding from itself and augmenting it. So then such contemplative activity of the intellect clearly provides for man the attributes customarily assigned to the happy person: self-sufficiency, leisureliness, and freedom from labor. And I say this insofar as it is possible for man living a mortal life in which such things cannot exist perfectly.
2104. Therefore man’s perfect happiness consists in contemplation of the intellect, if a long span of life be added. This indeed is necessary for the well-being of happiness, as nothing belonging to happiness should be incomplete.
2105. Then [1, b], at “Such a life,” he shows how this contemplative life is associated with man. First [b, i] he explains his proposition. Second [b, ii], at “Nor ought we etc.,” he rejects an error. He says first that the kind of life that has leisure for the contemplation of truth is higher than the human level. Since man is composed of soul and body with a sensitive and intellectual nature, life commensurate to him is thought to consist in this, that he directs by reason his sensitive and bodily affections and activities. But to engage solely in intellectual activity seems proper to the superior substances possessing only an intellectual nature that they participate by their intellect.
2106. For this reason in explaining his statement he adds that man living in this manner, i.e., occupied in contemplation, does not live as man, composed of diverse elements, but as something divine is present in him, partaking in a likeness to the divine intellect. And on that account, as the intellect considered in its purity differs from a composite of soul and body so the contemplative activity differs from the activity following moral virtue, which is properly concerned with human affairs. Therefore, just as the intellect compared to man is something divine, so the contemplative life, which is based upon the intellect, is compared to the life of moral virtue as divine to human life.
2107. Next [b, i], at “Nor ought we,” he rejects the error of some philosophers who advised man that he must strive to know the things of man, and mortals the things of mortals. This was the advice of the poet Simonides, as appears in the beginning of the Metaphysics (Ch. 2, 982 b 30-983 a 4; St. Th., 3, 61-63). But the Philosopher calls it false, since we must strive to attain immortality so far as possible, and exert all our power to live according to reason—the best of all the elements in man who is truly divine and immortal. For, though this best element is a small part, being incorporeal and most simple, and consequently lacking greatness, nevertheless it surpasses everything human in the extent of its power and value.
2108. It excels in power by its activities, which are akin to superior beings and have authority over inferior beings, and so in a way it embraces all things. Likewise, it excels in value as regards the excellence of its nature, since the intellect is immaterial and simple, incorruptible and incapable of suffering. Now each human being, i.e., the whole man, seems to be the intellect if it is true—nay rather because it is true—that the intellect is the principal and better part of man.
2109. We have stated in the ninth book (1868, 1872) that each thing is thought to be especially that which constitutes its chief part, since all other parts are its tools, so to speak. And so when man lives in accordance with the activity of the intellect, he lives in accordance with the life most proper to him; for it would be strange if a person were to choose to live not his own life but the life of some other. Hence they give unwise counsel who say that man should not engage in intellectual contemplation. And the statement made in the ninth book (1807, 1847, 1869-1872) that what accords with reason is proper to man is applicable also to our present purpose. For that which is best in each thing’s nature is most proper to it. But what is best and proper consequently is most delightful because everyone delights in a good that is pleasing to him. So then, if man is especially his intellect, since this is the principal element in him, evidently life according to the intellect is most delightful and proper to him in the highest degree.
2110. Nor is it contrary to our previous assertion (2106) that this is not on the human level but above man. Indeed it is not on the human level considering man’s composite nature, but it is most properly human considering what is principal in man-a thing found most perfectly in superior substances but imperfectly and by participation, as it were, in man. Nevertheless this small part is greater than all the other parts in man, Thus it is clear that the person who gives himself to the contemplation of truth is the happiest a man can be in this life.
Happiness and the Moral Virtues
(A)2. The Philosopher... introduces a kind of a secondary happiness.
a. He proposes his intention. — 2111
But life in accordance with the other kind of virtue is happy only in a secondary degree.
b. He proves his proposition by four reasons.
i. First. — 2112-2116
Its activities are merely human, for we perform works of justice, fortitude, and the other virtues when we observe what is due to everyone in our mutual dealings, our services and various kinds of actions and passions. And all these are human experiences. Besides, some of these matters seem to pertain to the body, and moral virtue is thought to be ascribed especially to the passions. Prudence too is connected with moral virtue, and moral virtue with prudence since the principles of prudence are taken from the moral virtues and the rectitude of the moral virtues from prudence. And both, being connected with the passions, will belong to the nature of the composite. Now the virtues of the composite are human, and so then are life and happiness following these virtues. The intellect, however, is something separate. We have then sufficiently treated this point, and a fuller explanation would be more than our purpose requires.
ii. Second. — 2117-2120
But contemplative happiness seems to need little dispensing of external goods or less than the happiness based on moral virtue. Both indeed need the necessities of life and in an equal degree, even if the statesman is more troubled than the philosopher about the requirements of the body and the like. On this point they differ little but in their activities there is a wide difference. For the generous man needs the means to practice liberality and the just man to make a return of services (since mere wishes are not evident and even the unjust pretend that they want to act justly). Likewise the brave man will need strength if he performs any act in accordance with his virtue; and the temperate man will need opportunity. Otherwise, how can he or any other virtuous person be recognized? Further, it may be asked whether choice or action is more important in virtue, which appears to involve both; surely it is evident that perfection consists in both. Now for action many things are required and the more so the greater and nobler the deeds are; but for the activity of the contemplative man nothing of the kind is needed. In fact it can be said that external goods are obstacles to contemplation. But the contemplative person, insofar as he is man and lives with others, chooses to perform virtuous acts. Hence he will need external goods to live a human life.
iii. Third. — 2121-2123
That perfect happiness is a form of contemplative activity will be clear from what follows. Now we suppose that the gods are supremely happy and blessed. But what kind of actions should we attribute to them? just actions? The gods will appear rather ridiculous making contracts, returning deposits and so on. Brave actionsin undergoing terrors and running risks because it is good to do so? Or .liberal actions? But to whom will they give? Besides it will be strange for them to have money and the like. If they are called temperate, the praise will be distasteful since they do not have lustful desires. In fact, a thorough review shows all the circumstances of these actions trifling and unworthy of the gods. However, we commonly think of them as living and active, for we must not suppose that they are asleep like Endymion. If then we take away from a living being action, and production besides, what is left except contemplation? Therefore the activity of God, which is transcendent in happiness, is contemplative; and that most akin to it among human activities is the greatest source of happiness,
iv. Fourth. — 2124-2125
This is further indicated by the fact that the other animals do not partake of happiness, for they are completely deprived of this activity. The life of the gods is completely happy; the same is true of man’s life insofar as it contains a likeness of contemplative activity. But none of the other animals possess happiness because they do not share in contemplation. So then contemplation and happiness are coextensive; and the more deeply people contemplate, the happier they are, not by accident but by reason of contemplation which is itself admirable. Consequently happiness consists principally in some form of contemplation.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2111. After he has shown that perfect happiness consists principally and primarily in intellectual contemplation, the Philosopher next introduces a kind of secondary happiness [A, 2] arising from the activity of the moral virtues. First [2, a] he proposes his intention: although a man who engages in the contemplation of truth is happiest, another is happy in a secondary degree as lie lives by the standard of a different virtue, prudence, which directs all the moral virtues. For, just as happiness of contemplative living is attributed to wisdom which, as the preeminent virtue, contains in itself other speculative habits, so too the happiness of active living, which is gauged by the activities of the moral virtues, is attributed to prudence perfecting all the moral virtues, as was pointed out in the sixth book (1275-1284).
2112. Then [2, b], at “Its activities,” he proves his proposition by four reasons. First [b, i]: because activities conforming to the other active virtues are human activities, since they concern human affairs. In the first place they deal with commonplace external matters in the life of man. For the works of justice, fortitude, and the other virtues, which we do for one another, are manifest in our dealings, as when men mutually exchange their goods in conformity with justice; in our services, as when one man succors another in need; and in all kinds of -actions and passions where the moral virtues observe what is due to everyone. And all these are human experiences.
2113. Second, some matters, of the virtues seem to pertain to the body and the passions of the soul to which moral virtue is ascribed by a kind of affinity. For many moral virtues deal with the passions, as is apparent from previous discussions (367). So then moral virtue concerns human affairs inasmuch as it deals with external goods, bodily goods, and the passions of the soul.
2114. Prudence, considered as an intellectual virtue, is connected with moral virtue by a kind of affinity; the reverse of this is likewise true, because the principles of prudence are taken from the moral virtues whose ends are the principles of prudence. Moreover, the rectitude of the moral virtues is taken from prudence because prudence makes the right choice of means, as evident from the sixth book (1268-1269). Likewise, moral virtue and prudence are joined at the same time with the passions because the passions are regulated by both. And since the passions belong to the composite they are common to the whole composite of soul and body.
2115. It is obvious then that both moral virtue and prudence are concerned with the composite. Now virtues of the composite, properly speaking, are human inasmuch as man is composed of soul and body. Hence life in accordance with these, namely, prudence and moral virtue, is also human (and is called the active life). Consequently happiness consisting in this kind of life is human. But contemplative life and contemplative happiness, which are proper to the intellect, are separate and divine.
2116. It should suffice for the present to say this much on the matter, for a fuller explanation would be more than what belongs to our purpose. The question is treated in the third book De Anima (Ch. 5, 43- a 22; St. Th. Lect. 10, 742-743), where it is shown that the intellect is separate. Therefore it is evident that happiness of contemplative living is more excellent than happiness of active living according as something separate and divine is more excellent than that which is composite and human.
2117. He continues with the second reason [b, ii] at “But contemplative”: life and happiness based on contemplative virtue have little need—or less than those based on moral virtue—for external goods to be dispensed to man. For it is true that both the contemplative and active forms must have the necessaries of life, like food, drink, and so on; although the statesman is more concerned about the body than the philosopher, since external activities are performed by the body. Nevertheless on this point there is little difference, rather each equally needs the necessities. But in the matter of activities the difference between them is considerable because the virtuous man requires much for his activities, as the generous man obviously needs the means to practice liberality, and likewise the just man needs money to pay what he owes.
2118. And if it be argued that even the will to give is an act of liberality and the will to repay is an act of justice—these are possible without money—we should bear in mind that man’s will is hidden without external activities. In fact, many unjust persons pretend they want to act justly. But in order to show whether a man is brave some external act is necessary; and so he ought to perform some work of fortitude externally. Likewise, the temperate man must have the opportunity of enjoying pleasures in order to manifest temperance. Otherwise, if there is no occasion for action, neither the virtuous person (the temperate or brave) nor any other can be recognized.
2119. For this reason it can be asked, which is more important in moral virtue, internal choice or external acts, since both are requirements of virtue? And although choice is more important in moral virtue, as indicated previously (322, 1129), nevertheless not only choice but also external activity is required for the complete perfection of moral virtue. But for external actions a man needs many things, and the more so the greater and nobler the deeds are.
2120. On the other hand the person engaged in contemplation needs none of these things for the exercise of his activity. Rather it can be said that external goods hinder a man from conterLplation on account of the anxiety they impose on him, distracting his mind so he cannot give himself completely to contemplation. But if the contemplative person requires external goods, this will be because a man needs the necessities of life, or because he lives with many persons he must help at times; and to this extent he chooses to live in accordance with moral virtue. Therefore he will need these things to live a human life. Thus it is evident that contemplative happiness is more excellent than active happiness, which follows moral virtue.
2121. In presenting the third reason [b, iii], at “That perfect happiness,” he says that perfect happiness evidently should consist in contemplative activity because the gods (i.e., separated substances) seem supremely happy and blessed. Yet we cannot ascribe to them the acts of the moral virtues. If the activities of justice were attributed to them they would appear ridiculous in the role of making contracts, depositing their goods with others, and so on. Nor can bravery be attributed to them in the sense that they undergo terrors and run risks for the sake of the common good; nor does liberality, as a human virtue, befit them.
2122. They should not be described as giving to any mortal the kind of gifts that men freely bestow, because it is unseemly to say that they make presents of money or the like. And if anyone complimented them for temperance, such praise would be more distasteful than pleasing to God. For it is not laudable for God to be without lustful desires since his nature does not have them. So then, in running through all the moral virtues it is apparent that their acts are trifling and unworthy of the gods, i.e., the superior substances.
2123. On the other hand, though, they are thought to live and consequently to be active. We cannot suppose they do nothing but sleep like a philosopher who is said to have slept all his life. If therefore we take away from the life of the gods the action of the moral virtues and prudence, and then further take away productionwhich is the property of art-there remains in God no other activity excelling in happiness except contemplation; and he exercises all his activity in the contemplation of wisdom. From this it is clear that of all human activities the one most akin to divine contemplation is the greatest source of happiness.
2124. He then proceeds with the fourth reason at “This is further” [b, iv]: an indication that perfect happiness consists in the contemplation of wisdom is that irrational animals which do not partake of happiness are completely deprived of this activity. The reason is that they are without intellect by which we contemplate truth. To some extent though they share in the activities of the moral virtues: the lion, for instance, in the act of fortitude and liberality, the stork in the act of filial piety. And this they do in a reasonable way.
2125. The life of the gods (i.e., the intellectual substances) is completely happy because they have only intellectual life; and the life of men is happy insofar as some likeness of this contemplative activity is found in them. But none of the animals possess happiness because they do not share at all in contemplation. Consequently it is evident that the more extensive contemplation is, the more extensive happiness is; and people who can contemplate more deeply are happier, not from something incidental but from the contemplation, which is in itself admirable. It follows then that happiness consists principally in some form of contemplation.
Happiness and External Goods
I. HE EXPLAINS HOW THE HAPPY MAN IS DISPOSED TOWARDS INFERIOR CREATURES.
A. To what extent the happy man needs external... goods.
1. (HE) NEEDS EXTERNAL GOODS. — 2126-2127
But, being man, the happy person will also need external prosperity, for human nature is not of itself (per se) sufficient for the activity of contemplation; the body too must have health and food and other requirements.
2. HE DOES NOT NEED MANY AND GREAT POSSESSIONS. — 2128-2129
Yet, even if man’s happiness is not possible without external goods, we must not think that it will require many and great possessions. For self-sufficiency does not depend on a superabundance-neither does judgment nor action—and it is possible to do good deeds without ruling land and sea; one can act virtuously with moderate means. (Experience clearly demonstrates this, for private citizens seem to be not less but more active in good works than the powerful.) It is sufficient then that this much is available, for the life of the man who acts virtuously will be happy.
B. He confirms this by the authority of the philosophers.
1. THEIR OBSERVATIONS.
a. The opinion of Solon. — 2130 —
Solon probably gave a good description of a happy man as one who has a moderate share of external goods, has done (in Solon’s opinion) the most virtuous actions, and has lived temperately. For a man can with only moderate means do what he ought.
b. The opinion of Anaxagoras. — 2131
Anaxagoras also seems to think that a happy man need be neither rich nor powerful; and he is not surprised that this may seem strange to the majority, since they judge by externals, the only things they know.
2. THEY ARE CREDIBLE. — 2132
So the views of the philosophers seem to harmonize with our arguments, and consequently have some credibility. However, in practical matters the truth is tested by a man’s conduct and way of living, for these are the dominant factors. we must therefore examine the preceding opinions by judging them from the facts and from the actual life (of the philosopher). If they agree with the facts we should accept them; if they disagree we should consider them mere theories.
II. (HE EXPLAINS HOW THE HAPPY MAN IS DISPOSED) TOWARD GOD. — 2133-2136
But the man who is active intellectually and cultivates his mind seems to be most worthily disposed and most beloved of the gods. Now if the gods have any care of human affairs-it is generally believed they have-it would be reasonable for them both to delight in that which is best in us and most akin to them (this of course is the intellect) and to confer favors on those who love and honor this most-as if the gods themselves are solicitous for their friends who act rightly and honorably. But that all these attributes belong especially to the philosopher is obvious. He is therefore most beloved by the gods, and he will, in all probability, be also most happy. if this be so then the philosopher will be the happiest of men.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2126. Now that the Philosopher has shown what perfect happiness is, he here shows its relations to external things. First [I] he explains how the happy man is disposed toward inferior creatures; then [II], at “But the man etc.,” towards God. He discusses the first point in a twofold manner. First [I, A] he shows to what extent the happy man needs external and earthly goods. Next [I, B], at “Solon probably etc.,” he confirms this by the authority of the philosophers. He treats the first point from two aspects. First [A, 1] Aristotle proves that the happy person needs external goods; second [A, 2], at “Yet, even if etc.,” that he does not need many and. great possessions. The Philosopher remarks first that the happy man has need of external prosperity, since human nature is not self-sufficient for the activity of contemplation, due to the condition of the body which requires external goods for its sustenance. On the other hand an intellectual and incorporeal substance is of itself (per se) sufficient for contemplative activity.
2127, But man must first of all have a healthy body in order to contemplate, because the sensitive powers he uses in contemplation are weakened by sickness; the mind is also diverted from attention to contemplation. Likewise man must have food and bodily nourishment and other help so that everything necessary for human living be furnished him.
2128. Then [A, 2], at “Yet, even if,” he shows that a man does not need many external things for happiness. Aristotle notes that even if it is not possibic for a person to enjoy the happiness of this life without the external goods necessary for human living, nevertheless we must not think he needs great wealth. For the self-sufficiency required for happiness does not consist in a superabundance of riches; nature, in fact, needs only a few things. Moreover, superabundance makes people less self-sufficient, since a man must have the help or service of many servants to guard and manage excessive possessions. Besides, rectitude of judgment, by both speculative and practical reason, and external virtuous action are possible without an abundance of riches.
2129. Because this statement regarding the judgment of reason is evident, he therefore explains it in relation to virtuous action which seems to need many things-we noted this before (2112-2116). It is possible, he says, for people to do good deeds without ruling land and sea, without—so to speak—abundant wealth. A moderate portion of riches is sufficient for good deeds. Experience shows this clearly, for private citizens apparently perform not less but rather more noble deeds than potentates do. Indeed potentates are hindered from many virtuous actions both by too many occupations and cares and by pride and excessive riches. On the other hand, a moderate amount of wealth enabling a man to perform good works is sufficient for happiness; for if someone should act virtuously, his life would be happy, since happiness consists in virtuous activity—as was indicated previously (119, 124, 128, 190, 1267, 2085 et passim).
2130. Next [I, B], at “Solon probably,” he confirms his opinion by the sayings of the philosophers. First [ B, 1] he proposes their observations; then [B, 2], at “So the views etc.,” he shows they are credible in this matter. He makes two references on the first point. First [1, a] he introduces the opinion of Solon that happy men are well supplied with external goods. For such men especially act virtuously and live temperately, because people with moderate possessions can do what they ought; those with great resources are prevented from this by too much anxiety or by pride, while those without resources must be excessively solicitous about getting food. Besides, these persons lack the opportunity for virtuous activity in most cases.
2131.Second [1, b], at “Anaxagoras also” he reduces to the same position the opinion of Anaxagoras: “a happy man need be neither rich nor powerful.” Nor will he be surprised if this may seem strange to many, since the majority judge by externals, the only things they know. For they are ignorant of intellectual goods, which are the real human goods according to which a man is happy.
2132. At “So the views” [B, 2] he shows that we should accept the observations of the philosophers in this matter, concluding from the premises that their views harmonize with his arguments. Hence they have some credibility. However, in practical matters the truth, of a man’s assertion is tested more by deeds and his way of living than even by argument, because the dominant or principal factor in practical affairs consists in them, i.e., deeds and way of life. For in questions of this kind our principal aim is not knowledge but conduct, as stated in the second book (255-256). This is why we ought to consider what has been said by comparison with the actions and life of the philosophers. Statements in keeping w!th the conduct of the philosophers should be accepted. For instance, abundant riches are not needed for happiness, and the philosophers do not seek them. But if their actions are not in accord we should suspect that their words lack truth. This is evident concerning the opinion held by the Stoics who maintained that external goods are not human goods; yet, their actions show the contrary, for they desire and seek these as goods.
2133. Then [II], at “But the man,” he shows how the happy man is disposed toward superior beings, i.e., towards God: a man happy in contemplative happiness seems to be most worthily disposed—inasmuch as he excels in that which is best in us—and also most pleasing to God, since he exercises his intellect in contemplating the trutli, and cultivates intellectual pursuits. For, supposing—as is really the case—that God exercises solicitude and providence over human affairs, it is reasonable for him to delight in that which is best in men and most akin or similar to himself. This part is the intellect, as is clear from the premises (2109). Consequently it is reasonable that God should confer his greatest favors on those who love and honor their intellect preferring its good to all other goods—as if the gods themselves are solicitous for men who act rightly and honorably.
2134. Now all these attributes clearly belong to the philosopher: he loves and honors his intellect, the most pleasing to God of all human things; he also acts honorably and rightly. It remains then that he is dearest to God. But that man is happiest who is loved most by God, the source of all good. Likewise, since man’s happiness is said to consist in the fact that he is loved by God, we conclude that the philosopher is happy in the highest degree.
2135. Arguing in this vein, Aristotle evidently places the ultimate hapnoneve of man in the activity of wisdom—a question decided in the sixth book (1267).and not in an unbroken series of actions of the active (agens) intelligence, as some imagine.
2136. Likewise, we must keep in mind that he does not specify perfect happiness, but such as can be ascribed to human and mortal life. Hence, in the first book (202) he states: “Those we call happy are men etc.”
The Need of Virtue
I. THE NECESSITY OF LEGISLATION.
A. A question. — 2137
Have we sufficiently discussed in a general way what should be investigated in these matters about virtues, friendship, and pleasure in order to bring our project to a conclusion?
B. He settles the question.
1. HE SHOWS IT IS NECESSARY THAT A MAN BECOME GOOD. — 2138
Indeed, as they say, the end of b science in practicable matters is not to investigate and to know individual things but rather to do them. Therefore it is not sufficient to have knowledge of virtue; we must try to possess and practice virtue, or try any other actual way of becoming virtuous.
2. HE SHOWS THAT HABITUATION TO VIRTUOUS LIVING IS REQUIRED.
a. Persuasive words alone are not enough. — 2139-2142
Were persuasive words sufficient of themselves to make men virtuous, many great rewards would be due according to Theognis; and it would be necessary to give them to those who persuade. At present it seems that persuasive discourse can challenge and move youths of excellent character and can fill the lover of the good with virtue. But it cannot arouse the ma jority to virtue, for most people are not subject by nature to shame but to fear; nor do they refrain from evil because of disgrace but because of punishment. In fact, since they live by passion, they follow their own pleasures, by which the passions themselves are nourished, and avoid the contrary pains. They do not know what is truly good and pleasant, nor can they taste its delight. What words would reform people of this sort? It is impossible or at least difficult to change by argument what is held by inveterate habit.
b. Habituation is needed. — 2143-2147
It is perhaps a thing worthy to be esteemed if we attain virtue after having everything that seems to make men just. Some philosophers think that men are virtuous by nature; others, that they become virtuous by practice; still others, that they become virtuous by instruction. Certainly what pertains to nature is not in our power but comes from some divine cause to a man who is very fortunate. However, discourse and instruction are not effective with everyone but the soul of the hearer must be prepared by good habits to rejoice in the good and hate the evil, just as the soil must be well tilled to nourish the seed. Indeed the man who lives according to passion will not listen to a discourse on virtue nor will he understand it. How is it possible to persuade such a man? In general, passion does not yield to argument but to violence. Obviously there must preexist a natural disposition in some way akin to virtue by which a man loves what is good and hates what is evil.
3. HE SHOWS... LEGISLATION IS REQUIRED.
a. All men become virtuous by means of law.
i. He discloses his proposition.
x. ABOUT THE YOUNG. — 2148-2149
But it is difficult properly to direct anyone to virtue from his youth unless he is reared under good laws; to live a temperate and hard life is unattractive to most people but particularly the young. For this reason the rearing of children and their activities ought to be regulated by law. Thus good things will not be di6steful after they have become habitual.
y. ABOUT OTHERS. — 2150
It is not enough that the young receive proper rearing and care, but on arriving at manhood they must learn these very things by experience and become accustomed to them. For this we need laws even throughout the whole of man’s life, for most men are more attentive to coercion than argument, to what is hurtful than to what is good.
ii. He presents evidence for (his proposition). — 2151-2152
For this reason some think [Plato, Laws 722] that legislators ought to stimulate men to virtue and exhort them on moral grounds: the obedient who are just should be aroused by means of preexisting habits, the insubordinate and the degenerate should be visited with pains and punishments but the absolutely incurable should be completely banished [Plato, Protagoras 325]. The reason is that the just man living a good life obeys exhortation but the evil man seeking pleasure is punished like a beast of burden. Hence, they say, those pains should be inflicted that are especially opposed to the pleasures men love.
b. (Men cannot be made virtuous) without law (for two reasons).
i. First. — 2153
As we have stated, the man who is going to be virtuous must have careful rearing and good habits; then he should live according to a moral code and refrain from evil either by his own will or by coercion. This is possible only to men whose lives are directed by intelligence and right order having coercive force. Certainly this power is not contained in the precept of a father nor does it belong to anyone who is not a ruler or a person in authority. But the law includes coercive force, whereas instruction proceeds from prudence and reason.
ii. The second reason. — 2154
Some men hate people who oppose their inclinations, even when the opposition is just. But the law in commanding what is just is not irksome.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2137. After the Philosopher has determined virtue’s end, which in the virtuous man is pleasure or happiness, now he determines the other end, which is understood in comparison with the common good. He shows that, besides this moral science, it is necessary to have another science, the legislative, whose object is the common good. On this point he does three things. First [I] he shows the necessity of legislation. Next [Lect. 15, II], at “Only in Sparta etc.” (B.1180 a 25), he shows the necessity of a man’s becoming a legislator. Last [Lect. 16, III], at “Then we must etc.” (B.1180 b 28), he shows how a man can become a legislator. He treats the first point from two aspects. First [I, A] It asks a question about the adequacy of the general discussion—inasmuch as the matter should be discussed generally and schematically—on the subjects for investigation: happiness, virtues, friendship, and pleasure. Is the choice we made treating the good of man really finished and perfected, or is there some more to be added?
2138. Next [I, B ], at “Indeed, as they say,” he settles the question, showing that something more is required. First [B, 1] he shows it is necessary that a man become good. Then [B, 2], at “Were persuasive words etc.,” he shows that habituation to virtuous living is required for a man to become good. Last [B, 3], at “But it is difficult etc.,” he shows that to have this habituation legislation is required. He says first that the end of the science concerned with practicable matters is not to know and investigate individual things, as in the speculative sciences, but rather to do them. And since we become virtuous and doers of good works in accordance with virtue, it is not sufficient for the science whose object is man’s good that someone have a knowledge of virtue. But he must try to possess it as a habit and practice it. Or if it is thought that a man can become good in another way than by virtue, then he must try to possess that.
2139. Then [B, 2], at “Were persuasive words,” he shows that habituation is required in order that a man become good. First [2, a] he shows that persuasive words alone are not enough; second [2, b], at “It is perhaps etc.,” that habituation is needed. He says first that if persuasive words sufficed to make men virtuous, many great rewards would be due to a man for his skill, i.e., because of the art of persuading to the good; and it would be absolutely necessary to give great rewards to those who persuade. But this is not generally true.
2140. We see that persuasive words can challenge, and move to good, generous youths who are not slaves of vice and passion and who have excellent natural dispositions inasmuch as they are inclined to virtuous operations. And those who truly love the good can become catocochimon, i.e., full of virtue and honor, for such as are well-disposed to virtue by good advice are incited to the perfection of virtue.
2141. But many men cannot be induced to virtue because they are not subject to shame which fears disgrace, but rather are coerced by the dread of punishment. They do not refrain from evil because of disgracefulness but because of the punishments feared. In fact they live according to their passions and not according to reason; thus their own desires increase and they avoid pains opposed to the pleasures soughtpains inflicted on them by punishments. They do not know what is really good and pleasant, nor can they taste its delight. But people like these cannot be changed by any argument.
2042. Something acceptable must be proposed to change a man by argument. Now, one who does not relish an honorable good but is inclined toward passion does not accept any reasoning that leads to virtue. Hence it is impossible, or at least difficult, for anyone to be able to change a man by argument from what he holds by inveterate usage. So also in speculative matters it is not possible to lead back to truth a man who firmly cleaves to the opposite of those principles to which goals are equivalent in practical matters, as indicated previously (223, 474, 1431)
2143. Next [2, b ], at “It is perhaps,” he shows that habituation is required for a man to become virtuous. To acquire virtue, Aristotle says, we ought not to be satisfied with mere words. But we ought to consider it a thing of great value if—even after possessing everything that seems to make men virtuous—we attain virtue. There are three views on these matters. Some philosophers maintain that men are virtuous by nature, i.e., by natural temperament together with the influence of the heavenly bodies. Others hold that men become virtuous by practice. Still others say that men become virtuous by instruction. All three opinions are true in some degree.
2144. Certainly the natural temperament is a help to virtue; this agrees with what was said in the sixth book (1276-1280) that some people seem brave or temperate right from birth through a natural inclination. But natural virtue of this kind is imperfect, as we pointed out then; and its completion requires that the perfection of the intellect or reason supervene. For this reason there is need of instruction that would be enough if virtue were located in the intellect or reason alone—the opinion of Socrates who maintained that virtue is knowledge. However, because rectitude of the appetitive faculty is needed there must be habituation inclining this faculty to good.
2145. But what pertains to nature manifestly is not in our power but comes to men from some divine cause: from the influence of the heavenly bodies in regard to man’s physical condition, and from God Himself—who alone governs the intellect—in regard to the movement of man’s mind to good. In this men are really very fortunate to be inclined to good by a divine cause, as is evident in the chapter De Bona Fortuna [a compilation from a chapter of the Eudemian Ethics (1246 b 37-1248 b ii) and a chapter of the Magna Moralia (1206 b 30-1207 b 19)].
2146. It was explained previously (2139-2142) that discourse and instruction are not effective with everyone. But, that they be effective the soul of the hearer must be prepared by many good customs to rejoice in the good and hate the evil, just as the soil must be well tilled to nourish the seed abundantly. As seed is conditioned in the earth, so admonition in the soul of the hearer. Indeed the man who lives by passion will not eagerly hear words of advice, nor even understand, so that he can judge the advice to be good. Therefore he cannot be persuaded by anyone.
2147. Generally speaking, passion that—when firmly rooted by habituation—masters man does not yield to argument but must be attacked by violence to compel men to good. So, evidently, for exhortation to have an effect on anyone there must necessarily preexist habituation by which man may acquire the proper disposition to virtue so that he can love the honorable good and hate what is dishonorable.
2148. Then [B, 3], at “But it is difficult,”.he shows that legislation is required for virtuous habituation. First [3, a] he shows that all men become virtuous by means of law. Next [3, b], at “As we have stated etc.,” he shows that this cannot be done properly without law. He discusses the first point in a twofold manner. First [a i] discloses his proposition. Second [a, ii], at “For this reason etc.,” he presents evidence for it. On the first point he does two things. First [i, x] he explains his proposition about the young; then [i, y], at “It is not enough etc.,” about others. He says first that it is difficult for anyone to be guided from his youth to virtue according to good customs unless he is reared under excellent laws by which a kind of necessity impels a man to good.
2149. To live a temperate and a hard life by refraining from pleasures and by not abandoning the good on account of labors and pain is unattractive to many, especially to young men who are prone to pleasures, as we have indicated in the seventh book (1531). For this reason the rearing of children and their activities must be regulated by good laws; thus they will be forced, as it were, to become accustomed to good things which will not be distasteful but pleasant after the habit has been formed.
2150. At “It is not enough” [i, y] he shows that others too need legislation. He says that it is not enough for young men to be reared under good laws and to be well taken care of, but, even more, adults must discover honorable ways to act and become accustomed to them. For this reason we need laws not only in the beginning when someone is growing to manhood but generally throughout man’s entire life. Many indeed there are who obey by necessity or force instead of persuasion; they pay more attention to deprivation, i.e., the hurt they receive from punishment than to what is honorable.
2151. Next [a, ii], at “For this reason,” he presents some evidence for his proposition. He says that, since the restraint induced by law is required for the virtuous life of man, some legislators think that man must be summoned to virtue in this way: the virtuous—who of their own free will comply with what is honorable—should be aroused to good by means of pre-existing customs, by showing the goodness of what is proposed. But the insubordinate and the degenerate are allotted physical punishments like beatings and other chastisements, censure and loss of their possessions. However, the absolutely incurable are exterminated—the bandit, for instance, is hanged.
2152. It is this way because the virtuous man, who adjusts his life to the good, heeds the mere counsel by which good is proposed to him. But the evil man who seeks pleasure ought to be punished by pain or sorrow like a beast of burden—the ass is driven by lashes. Hence, they say, those pains should be inflicted that are directly contrary to cherished pleasures, for example, a drunkard should be forced to drink only water.
2153. Then [3, b], at As we have stated,” he shows that law is necessary to make men good, for two reasons. The first is [b, i] that the man who is going to become virtuous must have careful rearing and good customs; and afterwards he should live by a moral code so that he refrains from evil either by his own will or even by coercion contrary to his will. This is possible only when a mans life is directed by some intellect that has both the right order conducive to good and the firmness, i.e., the coercive power, to compel the unwilling. Certainly the coercive power is not contained in the precept of a father, nor does it belong to any other counselor who is not a ruler or a person in authority. But the law includes coercive power inasmuch as it is promulgated by the ruler or prince; likewise it is an instruction issuing from prudence and reason which gives guidance towards the good. Therefore, law is obviously necessary to make men virtuous.
2154. He gives the second reason [b, ii] at “Some men,” saying that people willing to oppose the inclinations of others are hated by their opponent, even when the opposition is just; they are considered to act from a malicious zeal. But the law commanding good deeds is not irksome, i.e., burdensome, or odious because it is proposed in a general way. Therefore the conclusion stands that law is necessary to make men virtuous.
Man Must Be Capable of Legislating
II. A MAN SHOULD BE A MAKER OF LAWS.
A. (Aristotle) indicates his intention. — 2155-2156
Only in Sparta and a few other states does the lawmaker seem to have considered the questions of education and modes of conduct. For matters of this kind are neglected in most states and each man lives as he pleases dealing with wives and children as the Cyclopes do [Homer, Odyssey, ix. 114]. Therefore it seems best that there be strict public supervision and that we should be able to carry it out. Since men neglect this as a common duty, it seems fitting that each man should do something to help his children and friends become virtuous; or at least select the means for it. Apparently this can best be done, judging by the preceding statements, if a man becomes a legislator.
B. He proves his proposal (by two arguments).
1. FIRST. — 2157-2159
Public supervision is obviously done in accordance with law; and good b supervision is achieved by good laws. It makes no difference whether the laws are written or not, nor whether they instruct one or many, any more than it does in music, gymnastics, or other skills. In fact public laws and customs have the same place in states as paternal precepts and customs have in families. In the latter case supervision is even more effective by reason of relationship and benefits conferred, for children first love their parents and readily obey them out of natural affection.
2. SECOND. — 2160-2163
Furthermore, instruction for general use varies according to each case: in the art of medicine, for instance, fast and rest are usually beneficial to people running a fever but perhaps not for a particular patient. So in athletic contests, an athlete presumably does not use the same plan of battle against every opponent. Thus it would seem that individual attention produces better results in particular cases, for everyone is more likely to get what is suitable. But a thing will be done with the greatest care if a doctor or a trainer or any other working artist knows in a universal way what is common to all men or to a particular class. This is so because the sciences are said to be and actually are concerned with universals. But the unscientific individual may also be successful; for nothing hinders a person from producing a cure even without universal knowledge provided that from experience he can diagnose the symptoms in each case. Thus people seem to be skillful in doctoring themselves but are unable to help others. Nevertheless, if a man wishes to become an artist or a theoretician he must have recourse to the universal and know it in some measure; for the sciences deal with the universal, as we have indicated previously. Likewise the man who wants to make people—either a few or many—better by his supervision must try to become a legislator, if it is true that we are made virtuous by means of laws. The reason is that the ability to dispose any individual adequately is not possessed by everyone but, if anyone can do it, it is the man who knows scientifically. This is evident in the medical art and in other fields w1here prudence and supervision are employed.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2155. After the Philosopher has shown that legislation is necessary to make men virtuous [II], he now shows that a man should be a maker of laws. First [II, A] he indicates his intention. Then [II, B], at “Public supervision etc.,” he proves his proposal. He says first that, as was just pointed out (2148- 2154), legislation is needed for education and the activities of men; nevertheless, only in Sparta and a few other states does the legislator seem to have paid attention to the legal regulation of children’s education and to the established modes of conduct. But matters of this kind are neglected in most states where each man lives as he pleases dealing with his children and wife as he wishes, like the Cyclopes—certain barbarous tribes who are not accustomed to laws. Therefore it is best that there be strict supervision by public authority over the ed cation of children and the virtuous activities of the citizens and that man be so instructed to be able to do this properly.
2156. But men commonly neglect this duty because it is plain they show no public concern for it. Hence it seems fitting that each private person do something to ‘help his children and friends to become virtuous; or if he cannot, at least he should select the means to make this possible. Apparently it can best be done, according to the preceding statements, if a man becomes a legislator, i.e., if he acquires the skill to be able to make good laws. So, to be a legislator pertains principally to a public person, secondarily however also to a private person.
2157. Next [II, B], at “Public supervision,” he proves his proposal by two arguments. He says first [B, 1] that general supervision, as it is exercised by public officials whose function is to frame laws, obviously is done in accordance with law; thus the supervision is exercised over some people inasmuch as laws are made for them. But good supervision is properly achieved by means of good laws.
2158. It makes no difference for our proposal whether this is done by means of written or unwritten laws, or by laws instructing one or many. As is evident also in music, gymnastics, and other skills, it does not matter in the present connection whether instruction is imparted in writing or not; for writing is used to keep information for the future. Neither does it matter whether instruction in such subjects is offered to one or many. Therefore it seems to come to the same thing that a father of a family should instruct his son or a few domestics by a verbal or written admonition, and that a prince should make a law in writing to govern all the people of the state. In fact public laws and customs introduced by rulers hold the same place in states as do paternal precepts and customs introduced by parents in families.
2159. This is the only difference: a father’s precept does not have full coercive power like the royal decree, as was noted previously (2153). Consequently he shows that to some extent this (supervision) is more suitable to a private than a public person by reason of relationship and benefits because of which children love their parents and are readily obedient out of natural affection. So then, although the royal decree is more powerful by way of fear, nevertheless the paternal precept is more powerful by way of love—a way that is more efficacious with people not totally depraved.
2160. At “Furthermore, instruction” he gives the second argument. He says that instruction that is generally useful varies for particular cases. Thus it is evident in the art of medicine that fast and rest are usually beneficial to people running a fever so nature will not be burdened with an abundance of food, and heat will not be generated by activity. But perhaps this is not advisable for a particular fever-stricken patient because fast might weaken him too much; and perhaps the patient might need activity to dissolve the gross humors. The same thing is obvious in athletic contests because the athlete does not use the identical plan of battle against every opponent. In this way the operation of each practical art will seem more certain if special attention is paid to each individual; thus everyone will better acquire what is suitable to him.
2161. However, a thing will be done with the greatest care, if a doctor or a trainer or any other artisan (artifex) knows in a universal way what is common to all men or what will benefit all men of a particular class, for example, the irascible. This is so because science is said to be, and actually is, concerned with universals. Therefore he who proceeds from universal knowledge can best care for an individual case. Nevertheless this is not the only way a healer can produce a cure; nothing hinders him from curing a particular patient without universal knowledge provided that from experience he can properly diagnose the symptoms of each patient. Thus some people seem to be skillful in doctoring themselves because they know their own symptoms from experience, but they are not qualified to help others.
2162. Although a man can operate well in a particular situation without universal knowledge, nevertheless if he wishes to become an artist he must strive for generalized knowledge that he may know the universal in some measure. This is likewise necessary for one who wishes to be a speculative scientist like the geometrician or the physicist. It was indicated before (1213, 1352) that the sciences deal with this matter, namely, universals. This is the case too with men who exercise supervision to make people virtuous.
2163. It is possible that someone, without art and science by which the universal is known, can make this or that man virtuous because of the experience he has had with himself. However, if someone wants to make people—either a few or many—better by his supervision he ought to try to acquire a universal knowledge of the things that make a man virtuous; in other words, he ought to try to become a legislator so that he knows the art by which good laws are framed since we are made virtuous by means of laws, as was pointed out previously (2153-2154). The reason is that the ability to prepare properly any good disposition in man by introducing it and by removing its opposite, for example, health and sickness, virtue and vice, does not belong to everyone but only to the man who knows scientifically. This is evident in the medical art and in all other fields where supervision and human prudence are employed. In all these a man must not only know particulars but have a knowledge of universals because some things may happen which are included under universal knowledge but not under the knowledge of individual cases.
How to Learn the Science of Lawmaking
III. HE NOW ASKS HOW ONE BECOMES A LAWMAKER. A. He states his intention.
B. He carries (it) out. — 2164
Then we must inquire, after these discussions, from whom and how the science of lawmaking may be learned.
1. MEANS FAMILIAR TO PREVIOUS PHILOSOPHERS WERE NOT SUFFICIENT TO TEACH ANYONE THE SCIENCE OF LAWMAKING.
a. The way someone should learn lawmaking. — 2165
Is it not, as in the other areas of knowledge, from those versed in political science? (Legislation) seems to be a part of political science.
b. That this does not follow in practice.
i. He proposes their diversity (among those who busy themselves about legislation). — 2166-2167
Or are we to say that political science is different from the other sciences and arts? Certainly in the other practical sciences persons, like doctors and painters, who teach technique seem to be the very ones who put it into practice. However, in political science the Sophists profess to teach the art and none of them puts it into operation, that being left to those who are engaged in politics.
ii. He shows the deficiencies:
x. OF THE POLITICIANS.
aa. He states... the deficiency. — 2168
These seem to perform their public activities more from a kind of habit and experience than from intellectual discernment.
bb. He verifies his statement. — 2169-2170
Apparently they do not produce anything either in speeches or in writing about matters of this kind; although it might be more to their credit than the composition of speeches on judicial procedure and the art of persuasion. Furthermore they do not make their own sons or any of their friends statesmen. Nevertheless, they would reasonably have done so, if they could. Surely they could leave nothing better to their countries; nor could they choose anything more acceptable to themselves—nor for that matter to their best friends—than the ability to make others statesmen.
cc. He refutes an error. — 2171
Nevertheless experience does seem to contribute not a little, for merely living in a political environment would not have made statesmen of them. And thus we may conclude that those who would wish a knowledge of politics must have (in addition) practice.
y. (THE DEFICIENCY) OF THE SOPHISTS.
aa. He states his proposition. — 2172
But the Sophists who profess to teach political science seem to be a long way from teaching it. Indeed they appear to misunderstand completely what kind of science it is and what its subject matter is.
bb. He verifies his proposition. — 2173-2177
Otherwise they would not make political science identical with rhetoric and even lower; nor would they think it easy to make laws simply by collecting approved statutes and then choosing the best of them—as though a choice did not demand the actual employment of intellect, and as though right judgment were not the greatest thing, as is evident in music. In fact people who have experience with particulars make correct judgments about performances and understand by what means and in what way the works are accomplished and what harmonizes with what. But the inexperienced understandably are ignorant whether a work is done well or badly, on the basis of what is in books. Now laws are, as it were, the effects of the art of politics. Therefore, how can a man learn law-making from compilations of laws, or judge what laws are best? Surely men do not seem to become doctors from books although the authors try to describe not only the cures but the means of curing, what remedies must be prescribed for each individual condition. Nevertheless, these things seem to be useful to the experienced but not to the inexperienced.
cc. We must reject (an) error. — 2178
Perhaps then collections of laws and constitutions will be useful to those who are able to consider and judge which works or laws may be good or bad and which are suitable to the circumstances. But those who review things of this kind without ability cannot properly judge except by chance; although perhaps they will become more capable of understanding them.
2. HE CONCLUDES THAT... (TEACHING THE SCIENCE OF LAWMAKING) HAS TO BE DISCUSSED BY ITSELF.
a. This is incumbent upon him. — 2179
Since our predecessors have left the subject of legislation uninvestigated, perhaps it will be much better for us to attempt to treat this and the forms of government in general. In this way we can complete philosophy with regard to political science as it deals with human affairs.
b. In what order he is going to carry this out. — 2180
Therefore, first we will attempt in passing to secure whatever fragments of good are to be found in the statements of our predecessors. Next, on the basis of the constitutions we have collected, we will study the things that preserve states and the things that corrupt states; we will consider what influences corrupt particular forms of government, and why some states are governed well and others badly. After these discussions we will begin to inquire what is the ideal state, how it ought to be organized and what laws and customs it should follow. This then will serve as a beginning.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
2164. After the Philosopher has shown that a man should be a lawmaker [III], he now asks how one becomes a lawmaker. First [III, A] he states his intention. He concludes from the premises that, since it was shown (2157-2163) to be expedient for man to become a legislator, he m:ust inquire after these discussions whence a man may learn the science of lawmaking: by experience or education, and how this may be achieved.
2165. Second [III, B], at “Is it not etc.,” he carries out his intention. First [ B, 1 ] he shows that the means familiar to previous philosophers were not sufficient to teach anyone the science of lawmaking. Next [B, 2], at “Since our predecessors etc.,” he concludes that this has to be discussed by itself. He treats the first point from two aspects. First [1, a] he shows the way someone should learn lawmaking. Then [1, b], at “Or are we to say etc.,” he shows that this does not follow in practice. He says first that it seems reasonable that the origin and manner of becoming a legislator take place as in other practical sciences which are for the sake of political science. Nor is it out of place for me to treat political science While inquiring about legislation. The reason, as stated in the sixth book (1197-1198), is that legislation is a part of political prudence, for legislation is a kind of architectonic political science.
2166. Then [1, b], at “Or are we to say,” he shows this—that it seems reasonable—does not follow in practice because of the difference among those who busy themselves about legislation. First [b, i] he proposes their diversity. Next [b, ii], at “These seem etc., he shows their deficiencies. He says first that, although there would reasonably appear to be a resemblance between this and other sciences, nevertheless something different seems to be observed in political science and the other practical arts—others are called sciences inasmuch as they have principles of knowledge, and aptitudes inasmuch as they are principles of operation. Indeed in the other practical arts, the people who impart these arts by teaching them seem to be the very ones who practice them: doctors, for example, teach medicine and practice their art. The same situation prevails for painters and any others who operate by art.
2167. However, it seems to be otherwise in political science. Some, the Sophists, profess to teach legislation, but none of them puts it into practice. But others, viz., the politicians seem to practice it.
2168. Next [b, ii], at “These seem,” he shows the deficiencies of both: first [ii, x] of the politicians, and then [ii, y] at “But the Sophists etc.” of the Sophists. On the first point he does three things. First [x, aa] he states what he has in mind about the deficiency of the politicians. Their public activities seem to be performed more from an aptitude or a kind of habit acquired by custom, and from experience than from intellectual discernment, i.e., reason or science.
2169. Second [x, bb], at “Apparently they etc.,” he verifies his statement by two indications. The first is that those who work scientifically can give the reason, written or oral, for the things they do. But politicians do not seem to produce any work on political science either in speeches or writing. Certainly writing of this kind would be much better than the discourses on judicial procedure—by which people are taught how they ought to judge according to certain fixed canons-and on eloquence by which they are taught to speak publicly according to the rules of rhetoric.
2170. The second indication is that men who work scientifically can form other scientific workers by teaching. But men of the kind who practice politics do not make their sons or any of their friends statesmen. Nevertheless it is reasonable that they would so if they could. Surely they could confer on their countries no greater benefit, which would remain after them, than to be the means of making other good statesmen. Likewise there would be nothing more acceptable to themselves than the ability to make other men statesmen-they could do nothing more useful even for their best friends.
2171. Third [x, cc], at “Nevertheless experience,” he refutes an error. Someone might judge from the premises that experience in practicing politics would not be useful. But Aristotle says that, although it is not enough, nevertheless it contributes not a little toward making a man a statesman. Otherwise, some would not become better statesmen by the practice of political life. And experience in political life seems necessary for those who desire to, know something about the art of political science.
2172. At “But the Sophists” [ii, y] he shows the deficiency that the Sophists suffer. On this point he does three things. First [y, aa] he states his proposition, saying that the Sophists who profess to teach political science seem to be a long way from teaching it. Indeed they appear to misunderstand completely what kind of knowledge of political science is as well as its subject matter.
2173. Next [y, bb], at “Otherwise they,” he verifies his proposition by indications, first in regard to his statement that they do not know its characteristic nature. If they understood this they would not identify it with rhetoric; for rhetoric can give persuasive arguments in praise or censure of a person both in assemblies and in the courts—and this on a threefold basis: demonstrative, deliberative, and judicial. But according to them political science only teaches a man to form judgments. They think men are good statesmen who know how to make laws for forming a judgment.
2174. He gives the second indication for his statement that they do not know the subject matter of political science. If they knew this they would not think it easy to frame laws-in accordance with legislation which is the principal part of political science—for they declare that it suffices for lawmaking to collect different approved statutes, choose the best, and institute them.
2175. They err in two ways on this point. In one way by maintaining that to become a legislator it is enough to collect laws and choose the best among them. The reason is that for legislation a man must not only judge about the laws in use but also devise new laws, in imitation of the other practical arts; for a doctor not only judges about the known remedies for effecting a cure but can discover new ones. They err in another way—which he touches upon after disposing of the first error. It not easy for a man to choose the best laws because choice does not depend on the intellect alone, and right judgment is an important matter, as is evident in music.
2176. People who have experience with particulars make correct judgment about results and understand by what means and in what manner these results can be produced, and what kinds are suited to what persons or things. But the inexperienced are understandably ignorant whether a work is done well or badly on the basis of what they read in books, for they do not know how to put into practice what is in the books. Now laws to be framed are, as it were, the results of the art of politics; they are framed as rules for activities of the state. Consequently, men who do not know what kind of results are suitable do not know what kind of laws are suitable.
2177. Therefore it is impossible from a collection of laws for a man to learn the science of lawmaking or to judge what kind of laws are best unless he has experience. Likewise it seems impossible for men to become good doctors only from remedies given in books, even though the authors of these remedies try to determine not only the cures but also the means of curing, how remedies must be prescribed according to the individual conditions of men. Nevertheless all these things seem useful only to people with experience and not to those who are ignorant of particulars because of inexperience.
2178. Last [y, cc], at “Perhaps then,” he infers from the foregoing remarks that we must reject the error that a collection of written laws is absolutely useless. He says-we have already indicated this-that the same applies to remedies in textbooks as to our problem; to collect laws and constitutions, i.e., ordinances of different states, is useful for those who can consider and judge from practice which works or laws may be good or bad, and what kinds are suitable in the circumstances. But those who have not the habit acquired by practice and want to review written documents of this kind cannot properly judge them except by chance. However, they do become more capable of understanding such things by the fact that they have actually read through the written laws and constitutions.
2179. At “Since our predecessors” [B, 2] he points out that he is about to discuss how a man may learn lawmaking. First [2, a] Aristotle shows that this is incumbent upon him. He says that previous persons, viz., philosophers who preceded him, left a poorly organized treatise on legislation. Hence it is well for us to attempt to treat legislation and, in general, the whole question of government, of which lawmaking is a part. In this way we can extend philosophic teaching to political science, the practical knowledge concerned with human affairs—a subject that seems to have been taught last according to this view.
2180. Then [2, b], at “Therefore, first” he shows in what order he is going to carry this out. He says that he will first attempt in passing to touch upon what in part was well treated in political science by our predecessors, i.e., by earlier philosophers. This he will do in the second book of the Politics. After that he will consider which of the various forms of government preserve the states (the good forms are the kingdom, aristocracy, and the citizens’ government) and which forms corrupt the states (the bad forms are tyranny of one ruler, oligarchy, and democracy). Besides, we must consider what things preserve or corrupt particular forms of government, and the reasons why some states are governed well and others badly. This he will determine in the Politics from the third to the seventh book. Then after the previous discussions he begins to inquire what is the ideal state, how it ought to be organized, and what laws and customs it should follow. But before all these things he sets down in the first book certain principles from which he says we must begin. This will serve as a connecting link with the work on the Politics and as a conclusion to the whole work of the Ethics.