Atlanta Technical College Aristotle Hierarchical Nature of Activities Questions

Assigned Reading ComprehensionQuestions
Here are the questions for this week. These questions will serve as the
pool from which I will construct the final exam. Note: not all questions
are assigned to an individual student. You should answer those on your
own. As always, let me know if you have questions. Length requirement 1
to 2 paragraphs or fully explaining in your own words.
Second section: Transition from popular moral philosophy to the
metaphysics of morals
1. Why can’t we use experience to discover moral rules? pp. 4:408-409
2. What is the worst thing we can do for morality? pp. 4:408-409
3. Why can’t even Jesus Christ serve as a model for moral action? pp. 4:408409
4. What does Kant mean when he says that all moral concepts must be a
priori? pp. 4:411-412
5. What happens when reason is perfect and perfectly controls the will? pp.
6. What does Kant mean when he says “Actions objectively recognized as
necessary are subjectively contingent?” p. 412-413
7. What is the relationship between the objective principle of reason and
the subjective will? pp. 4:412-414
8. What are the two different kinds of imperatives? pp. 4:414-415
9. What end do we all have? (Kant thinks that it is naturally necessary.) pp.
10. Why can the moral law not be to maximize happiness? pp. 4:417-418
11. What is the natural law formulation of the categorical imperative? pp.
12. On the natural law formulation, why is suicide immoral? pp. 4:421-422
13. On the natural law formulation, why is a lying promise immoral? pp.
14. On the natural law formulation, why is not developing one’s talents
immoral? pp. 4:422-423
15. On the natural law formulation, why is rejecting charity immoral? pp.
16. Explain the two tests for consistency of natural law and maxim. What
two different kinds of duties are illustrated? pp. 4:423-424
17. Why does Kant believe that the rational will is of absolute value, i.e.,
valuable as an end in itself? Pp. 4:427-429
18. What is the end-in-itself formulation of the categorical imperative? pp.
19. On the end-in-itself formulation, why is suicide immoral? pp. 4:429
20. On the end-in-itself formulation, why is a false promise immoral? pp.
21. On the end-in-itself formulation, why is rejecting talent’s immoral? pp.
22. On the end-in-itself formulation, why is rejecting charity immoral? pp.
Assigned Reading Comprehension
Here are the questions for this week. These questions will serve as the
pool from which I will construct the final exam. Note: not all questions
are assigned to an individual student. You should answer those on your
own. As always, let me know if you have questions. Length requirement 1
to 2 paragraphs or full explanation in your own words fully explaining.
1. Explain Aristotle’s view of the hierarchical nature of activities.
2. Explain what Aristotle means when he says that there must be an
ultimate good or end at which all acts aim. Alston
3. Carefully explain Aristotle’s view of “good” using examples.
4. What is the highest human good? Why? Explain carefully. Arnold
5. Choose some object other than a human and explain the relationship
between excellences and a thing’s good.
6. Explain the relationship between function, virtue and happiness
7. What is the relationship between the highest human good and pleasure?
8. Explain Aristotle’s account of human virtue. Generally, what are
virtues? How are they obtained?
9. Describe the virtue and vices associated with feelings of fear (§2).
10. Describe the virtue and vices associated with pleasure and pain (§3).
11. Describe the virtue and vices associated with giving and taking money
12. Describe the virtue and vices associated with other conditions of money
13. Describe the virtue and vices associated with honor (§7).
14. Describe the virtue and vices associated with anger (§10).
15. Describe the virtue and vices associated with truth telling (§12).
16. Describe the virtue and vices associated with pleasures in amusements
17. Describe the virtue and vices associated with pleasures in daily life (§13).
18. Describe the virtue and vices associated with feelings about feelings
Assigned Reading Comprehension
Here are the questions for this week. These questions will serve as the
pool from which I will construct the final exam. Note: not all questions
are assigned to an individual student. You should answer those on your
own. As always, let me know if you have questions. Length requirement 1
to 2 paragraphs or fully explaining in your own words.
Second section: Transition from popular moral philosophy to the
metaphysics of morals
1. Why can’t we use experience to discover moral rules? pp. 4:408-409
2. What is the worst thing we can do for morality? pp. 4:408-409
3. Why can’t even Jesus Christ serve as a model for moral action? pp. 4:408409
4. What does Kant mean when he says that all moral concepts must be a
priori? pp. 4:411-412
5. What happens when reason is perfect and perfectly controls the will? pp.
6. What does Kant mean when he says “Actions objectively recognized as
necessary are subjectively contingent?” p. 412-413
7. What is the relationship between the objective principle of reason and
the subjective will? pp. 4:412-414
8. What are the two different kinds of imperatives? pp. 4:414-415
9. What end do we all have? (Kant thinks that it is naturally necessary.) pp.
10. Why can the moral law not be to maximize happiness? pp. 4:417-418
11. What is the natural law formulation of the categorical imperative? pp.
12. On the natural law formulation, why is suicide immoral? pp. 4:421-422
13. On the natural law formulation, why is a lying promise immoral? pp.
14. On the natural law formulation, why is not developing one’s talents
immoral? pp. 4:422-423
15. On the natural law formulation, why is rejecting charity immoral? pp.
16. Explain the two tests for consistency of natural law and maxim. What
two different kinds of duties are illustrated? pp. 4:423-424
17. Why does Kant believe that the rational will is of absolute value, i.e.,
valuable as an end in itself? Pp. 4:427-429
18. What is the end-in-itself formulation of the categorical imperative? pp.
19. On the end-in-itself formulation, why is suicide immoral? pp. 4:429
20. On the end-in-itself formulation, why is a false promise immoral? pp.
21. On the end-in-itself formulation, why is rejecting talent’s immoral? pp.
22. On the end-in-itself formulation, why is rejecting charity immoral? pp.
Second section Transition from popular moral philosophy to the metaphysics of morals If so far we have
drawn our concept of duty from the common use of our practical reason, it is by no means to be
inferred from this that we have treated it as an experiential concept. Rather, if we attend to our
experience of the behavior of human beings we meet frequent and, as we ourselves concede, just
complaints that no reliable example can be cited of the dispositionc to act from pure duty; that, though
much may be done that conforms with what duty commands, still it is always doubtful whether it is
actually done from duty and thus has a moral worth. That is why there have been philosophers in every
age who have absolutely denied the actuality of this disposition in human actions, and attributed
everything to a more or less refined self-love, without however calling into doubt the correctness of the
concept of morality because of this; rather, with intimate regret they made mention of the frailty and
impurity of a human nature that is indeed noble enough to take an idea so worthy of respect as its
prescription, but at the same time too weak to follow it, and that uses reason, which should serve it for
legislation, only to take care of the interest of inclinations, whether singly or, at most, in their greatest
compatibility with one another. In fact, it is absolutely impossible by means of experience to make out
with complete certainty a single case in which the maxim of an action that otherwise conforms with
duty did rest solely on moral grounds and on the c The standard translation has been retained, but it is
problematic. Gesinnung is not just a disposition to behave in a certain way, but one’s moral attitude,
state of mind, conviction, or character. representation of one’s duty. For at times it is indeed the case
that with the acutest self-examination we find nothing whatsoever that – besides the moral ground of
duty – could have been powerful enough to move us to this or that good action and so great a sacrifice;
but from this it cannot be inferred with certainty that the real determining cause of the will was not
actually a covert impulse of self-love under the mere pretense of that idea; for which we then gladly
flatter ourselves with the false presumption of a nobler motive, whereas in fact we can never, even by
the most strenuous examination, get entirely behind our covert incentives, because when moral worth
is at issue what counts is not the actions, which one sees, but their inner principles, which one does not
see. Moreover, one cannot better serve the wishes of those who ridicule all morality as the mere
phantasm of a human imagination overreaching itself through self-conceit, than by conceding to them
that the concepts of duty had to be drawn solely from experience (as people gladly find comfort in
persuading themselves is the case with all remaining concepts as well); for then one affords them a sure
triumph. From love of humanity I am willing to concede that the majority of our actions conforms with
duty; but if we look more closely at the imaginations and intentions of their thoughts we everywhere
come up against the dear self, which is always flashing forth, and it is on this – and not on the strict
command of duty, which in many cases would require self-denial – that their purpose relies. One need
not even be an enemy of virtue, but only a cold-blooded observer who does not at once take the
liveliest wish for the good as its actuality, to become doubtful at certain moments (principally with
advancing years and a power of judgment that experience has partly made wiser and partly more acute
in observation) whether any true virtue is actually to be found in the world at all. And here nothing can
protect us from falling away entirely from our ideas of duty and preserve a well-founded respect for its
law in our soul, except the clear conviction that, even if there never have been actions that have sprung
from such pure sources, still, what is at issue here is not at all whether this or that does happen, but that
reason by itself and independently of all appearances commands what ought to happen; and hence that
actions of which the world so far has perhaps not yet given an example, and the feasibility of which
might be very much doubted by someone who makes experience the foundation of everything, are still
unrelentingly commanded by reason; and that e.g. pure sincerity in friendship can no less be required of
everyone even if up to now there had never been a sincere friend; because this duty as a duty as such,
prior to all experience, lies in the idea of a reason determining the will by a priori grounds. If one adds
that, unless one wants to refuse the concept of morality all truth and reference to some possible object,
one cannot deny that its law is so extensive in its significance that it must hold not merely for human
beings but for all rational beings as such, not merely under contingent conditions and with exceptions,
but with absolute necessity; then it is clear that no experience can give occasion to infer even just the
possibility of such apodictic laws. For by what right can we bring what is perhaps valid only under the
contingent conditions of humanity into unlimited respect, as a universal prescription for every rational
nature, and how shall laws of the determination of our will be taken as laws of the determination of the
will of a rational being as such and, only as such, for our will as well, if they were merely empirical, and
did not originate completely a priori from pure but practical reason? Moreover, one could not give
morality worse counsel than by seeking to borrow it from examples. For every example of it that is
presented to me must itself first be judged according to principles of morality, whether it is actually
worthy to serve as an original example, i.e. as a model; but by no means can it furnish the concept of it
at the outset. Even the Holy One of the Gospeld must first be compared with our ideal of moral
perfection before he is recognized as onee; also, he says of himself: why do you call me (whom you see)
good, there is none good (the archetype of the good) but one, that is, God (whom you do not see).10
But whence do we have the concept of God, as the highest good? Solely from the idea that reason a
priori devises of moral perfection, and connects inseparably with the concept of a free will. Imitation has
no place at all in moral matters, and examples serve for encouragement only, i.e. they put beyond doubt
the feasibility of what the law commands, they make intuitive what the practical rule expresses more
generally, but they can never entitle us to set aside their true original, which lies in reason, and to go by
examples. If, then, there is no genuine supreme principle of morality that would not have to rest merely
on pure reason independently of all experience, I believe it unnecessary even to ask whether it is a good
thing to set forth these concepts in general (in abstracto) as they, along with the principles that belong
to them, are established a priori, if this cognition is to differ from common cognition and to be
called philosophical. But in our age this may well be necessary. For if one were to collect votes as
to what is to be preferred – pure rational cognition separated off from anything empirical, hence
metaphysics of morals, or popular practical philosophy – one will soon guess on which side the
preponderancef will fall. This condescension to popular concepts is certainly very commendable if
the elevation to the principles of pure reason has already happened and been achieved to complete
satisfaction; and that would mean first founding the doctrine of morals on metaphysics and, when
it has been established, afterwards obtaining access for it by means of popularity. But it is without
rhyme or reason to want to comply with it in the first investigation, on which all correctness of
principles depends. Not only can this procedure never lay claim to the supremely rare merit of a
true philosophical popular- ity, since there is no art in making oneself commonly understood when
one renounces all thorough insight; it brings to light a disgusting mish- mash of gleaned
observations and half-rationalizing principles, which dreary pates savor because it is quite useful
for everyday chatter, while men of insight feel confused, and discontented – yet unable to help
themselves – avert their eyes, even though philosophers, who quite easily see through the dazzling
deception, get little hearing when they call for suspending this pretended popularity for a while, to
earn the rightful permission to be popular only when they have first acquired determinate insight.
One need only look at the essays on morality in that much admired taste, and one will find in a
marvelous mixture now the special function of human nature (but once in a while also the idea of a
rational nature as such), now perfection, now happiness, here moral feeling, there fear of God, a bit
of this and a bit of that; but it does not occur to anyone to ask whether the principles of morality are
to be sought in our acquaintance with human nature at all (which after all we can get only from
experience) and, if this is not the case – if these principles are to be found completely a priori, free
from all that is empirical, simply in pure rational concepts and nowhere else, not even in the least
part – to resolve rather to separate off entirely this investigation as pure practical philosophy, or (if
one may f das Übergewicht, second edition. The first edition has die Wahrheit, which makes no
sense. Kant’s original manuscript may have read die Wahl, “the choice. employ so notorious a
name) as a metaphysics* of morals, to bring it all by itself to its entire completeness, and to put off
a public that demands popularity until the conclusion of this undertaking. But such a completely
isolated metaphysics of morals, mixed with no anthropology, no theology, no physics or
hyperphysics,g still less with occult qualities (which one might call hypophysicalh), is not just an
indispensable substrate of all theoretical securely determined cognition of duties, but at the same
time a desideratum of the highest importance for the actual execution of its prescriptions. For the
pure representation of duty, and in general of the moral law, mixed with no alien addition of
empirical stimuli, has by the route of reason alone (which in this first becomes aware that by itself
it can also be practical) an influence on the human heart so much more powerful than all other
incentives† one can summon from the empirical field, that reason, in the consciousness of its
dignity, regards the latter with contempt, and little by little can master them; in the place of which a
mixed doctrine of morals, composed of incentives of feelings and inclinations and at the same time
of rational concepts, must make the mind waveri between motives that can be brought under no
principle, that can lead only very contingently to what is good, but quite often also to what is evil. It
is clear from what has been said that all moral concepts have their seat and origin completely a
priori in reason, and indeed in the commonest human reason, just as in that which is speculative in
the highest measure; * One can, if one wants to, distinguish (just as pure mathematics is
distinguished from applied, and pure logic from applied, thus) pure philosophy of morals
(metaphysics) from applied (namely to human nature). Also, by using this label one is reminded at
once that moral principles are not to be founded on the peculiarities of human nature but must
exist a priori by themselves, and that from such principles it must be possible to derive practical
rules for every rational nature, and thus for human nature as well. † I have a letter from the late
excellent Sulzer, in which he asks me what the cause may be that the doctrinesj of virtue, however
convincing they are to reason, yet accomplish so little.11 My reply was delayed by my preparations
for making it complete. However, it is none other than that the teachers themselves have not
purified their concepts, and as they try to do too well by getting hold of motives to moral goodness
everywhere, to make their medicine ever so strong, they spoil it. For the commonest observation
shows that when one represents an action of righteousness – as it was performed with a steadfast
soul, without aiming at any advantage, in this world or another, even under the greatest temptations
of need, or of enticement – it leaves far behind and obscures every similar action that was even in
the least affected by an alien incentive, that it elevates the soul and stirs up the wish to be able to
act like that too. Even children of intermediate age feel this impression, and one should never
represent duties to them in any other way. g that which lies beyond physical nature h that which
underlies physical nature i schwankend, second edition; the first has verwirrt, “confused” j or
“teachings” (of virtue) that they cannot be abstracted from any empirical and hence merely
contingent cognition; that their dignity to serve us as supreme practical principles lies just in this
purity of their origin; that every time in adding anything empirical to them one takes away as much
from their genuine influence and from the unlimited worth of actions; that it is not only a
requirement of the greatest necessity for theoretical purposes, when only speculation counts, but
also a matter of the greatest practical importance to draw its concepts and laws from pure reason,
to set them forth pure and unmingled, indeed to determine the scope of this entire practical but
pure rational cognition, i.e. the entire faculty of pure practical reason, and in so doing not – as
speculative philosophy may well permit, indeed at times even finds necessary – to make its
principles dependent on the particular nature of human reason, but because moral laws are to hold
for every rational being as such, already to derive them from the universal concept of a rational
being as such, and in this way (as should be possible in this species of entirely separate
cognitions) completely to set forth all moral science – which for its application to human beings
needs anthropology – first independently of this as pure philosophy, i.e. as metaphysics; well
aware that without being in its possession it would be futile, I do not say to determine precisely for
speculative judging the moral element of duty in everything that conforms with duty, but impossible
to found morals on their genuine principles even for the merely common and practical use, principally of moral instruction, and thereby to effect pure moral dispositions and to engraft them on
people’s minds for the highest good of the world. However, in order to progress in this work by its
natural steps not merely from common moral judging (which is worthy of great respect here) to
philosophical, as has been done elsewhere, but from a popular philosophy – that goes no further
than it can get by groping by means of examples – to metaphysics (which does not let itself be
held back any further by anything empirical and, as it must survey the totality of rational cognition
of this kind, perhaps goes up to ideas, where even examples desert usk), we must trace and
distinctly present the practical rational faculty from its general rules of determination up to where
there arises from it the concept of duty. Every thing in nature works according to laws. Only a
rational being has the capacity to act according to the representation of laws, i.e. according to
principles, or a will. Since reason is required for deriving actions from laws, the will is nothing other
than practical reason. If reason determines the will without fail, then the actions of such a being
that are recognized as objectively necessary are also subjectively necessary; i.e. the will is a capacity to choose only that which reason, independently of inclination, rec- ognizes as practically
necessary, i.e. as good. If, however, reason all by itself does not sufficiently determine the will, if it
is also subject to subjective conditions (to certain incentives) that are not always in agreement with
the objectiveones;inaword,ifthewilldoesnotinitselfcompletelyconformwith reason (as is actually the
case with human beings), then actions objectively recognized as necessary are subjectively
contingent, and the determination of such a will, in conformity with objective laws, is necessitation;
i.e. the relation of objective laws to a will not altogether good is represented as the determi- nation
of the will of a rational being by grounds of reason, to which this will is not, however, according to
its nature necessarily obedient. The representation of an objective principle in so far as it is
necessitat- ing for a will is called a command (of reason), and the formula of the command is called
imperative. All imperatives are expressed by an ought, and by this indicate the relation of an
objective law of reason to a will that according to its subjective constitution is not necessarily
determined by it (a necessitation). They say that to do or to omit something would be good, but
they say it to a will that does not always do something just because it is represented to it that it
would be good to do it. Practically good, however, is what determines the will by means of
represen- tations of reason, hence not from subjective causes, but objectively, i.e. from grounds
that are valid for every rational being, as such. It is distinguished from the agreeable, as that which
influences the will only by means of sensation from merely subjective causes, which hold only for
the senses of this or that one, and not as a principle of reason, which holds for everyone.* *
proves a need. The dependence, however, of a contingently determinable willl on principles of
reason is called an interest. This therefore takes place only within a dependent will, which does not
of itself always conform with reason; in the divine will, interest is inconceivable. But even the
human will can take an interest in something without therefore acting from interest. The first
signifies the practical interest in the action, the second the pathological interest in the object of the
action. The first indicates only depend- ence of the will on principles of reason by itself, the second
on its principles for the sake of inclination, namely when reason states only the practical rule as to
how to remedy the need of inclination. In the first case the action interests me, in the second the
object of the action (in so far as it is agreeable to me). We saw in the first section: that in an action
from duty one must pay attention not to the interest in the object, but merely to that in the action
itself and in its principle in reason (the law). l second edition; the first edition merely has “of the
will” Thus a perfectly good will would just as much stand under objective laws (of the good), but it
could not be represented as thereby necessitated to actions that conform with laws, because it can
of itself, according to its subjective constitution, be determined only by the representation of the
good. Therefore no imperatives hold for the divine will and generally for a holy will: here the ought is
out of place, because willing already of itself necessarily agrees with the law. Therefore imperatives
are only formulae to express the relation of objective laws of willing as such to the subjective
imperfection of the will of this or that rational being, e.g. of the human will. Now, all imperatives
command either hypothetically, or categorically. The former represent the practical necessity of a
possible action as a means to achieving something else that one wants (or that at least is possible
for one to want). The categorical imperative would be the one that represented an action as
objectively necessary by itself, without reference to another end. Because every practical law
represents a possible action as good and hence, for a subject practically determinable by reason,
as necessary, all imperatives are formulae for the determination of an action necessary according
to the principle of a will that is good in some way. Now, if the action would be good merely as a
means to something else, the imperative is hypothetical; if the action is represented as good in
itself, hence as neces- sary in a will that in itself conforms to reason, as its principle, then it is
categorical. The imperative thus says which action possible by me would be good, and represents
the practical rule in relation to a will that does not at once do an action just because it is good,
partly because the subject does not always know that it is good, partly because, even if he knew
this, his maxims could still be opposed to the objective principles of a practical reason. The
hypothetical imperative thus says only that the action is good for some possible or actual purpose.
In the first case it is a problematically practical principle, in the second an assertorically practical
principle. The categorical imperative, which declares the action to be of itself objectively necessary
without reference to any purpose, i.e. even apart from any other end, holds as an apodictically
practical principle. What is possible only by means of powers of some rational being can also be
thought as a purpose possible for some will, and therefore there are in fact infinitely many
principles of action, in so far as it is represented as necessary for attaining some possible purpose
to be effected by it. All sciences have some practical part that consists of tasks to make some end
possible for us, and of imperatives as to how it can be attained. These can therefore as such be
called imperatives of skill. There is no question here whether the end is rational and good, but only
what one must do in order to attain it. The prescriptions for the physician thoroughly to cure his
man, and for a poisoner reliably to kill him, are of equal worth, in so far as each serves to effect its
purpose perfectly. Since in early youth it is unknown what ends we might encounter in life, parents
principally seek to have their children learn ever so many kinds of things, and take care to develop
skill in the use of means to all sorts of discretionary ends; they cannot determine whether any of
them could in the future actually become the purpose of their protégé, while it is entirely possible
that one day he might have it; and with this they take so much care that they commonly fail to form
and to correct their judgment about the worth of the things they might make their ends. Even so,
there is one end that can be presupposed as actual in all rational beings (in so far as imperatives
suit them, namely as dependent beings), and thus one purpose that they not merely can have, but
that one can safely presuppose they one and all actually do have according to a natural necessity,
and that is the purpose of happiness. The hypothetical imper- ative that represents the practical
necessity of an action as a means to the advancement of happiness is assertoric. One must
present it as necessary not merely to some uncertain, merely possible purpose, but to a purpose
that one can presuppose safely and a priorim in every human being, because it belongs to his
essence.n Now, the skill in the choice of the means to one’s own greatest well-being can be called
prudence* in the narrowest sense. Thus the imperative that refers to the choice of means to one’s
own happiness, i.e. the prescription of prudence, is still hypothetical; the action is not commanded
per se, but just as a means to another purpose. Finally, there is one imperative that – without
presupposing as its condition any other purpose to be attained by a certain course of conduct –
commands this conduct immediately. This imperative is categorical. It concerns not the matter of
the action or what is to result from it, but the form and the principle from which it does itself follow;
and the essential good in it consists in the disposition, let the result be what it may. This imperative
may be called that of morality. Willing according to these three kinds of principles is also clearly
distinguished by the unequal manner in which they necessitate the will. Now, to make this
noticeable they would, I believe, be labeled most suitably in their order by saying that they are either
rules of skill, or counsels of prudence, or commands (laws) of morality. For only the law carries with
it the concept of an unconditional and indeed objective and hence universally valid necessity, and
commands are laws that must be obeyed, i.e. must be complied with even contrary to inclination.
Giving counsel does indeed contain necessity, but it can hold only under a subjective contingent
condition, if this or that human being counts this or that as belonging to his happiness; whereas
the categorical imperative is limited by no condi- tion, and as absolutely and yet practically
necessary can quite properly be called a command. Imperatives of the first kind could also be
called technical (belonging to art), the second pragmatic* (to welfare), the third moral (belonging to
free conduct as such, i.e. to morals). Now the question arises: how are all these imperatives
possible? This question does not call for knowledge of how to conceive the execution of the action
that the imperative commands, but merely of the necessitation of the will that the imperative
expresses in its task. How an imperative of skill is possible probably requires no special
discussion. Whoever wills the end also wills (in so far as reason has decisive influence on his
actions) the indispensably necessary means to it that is in his control. As far as willing is
concerned, this proposition is analytic; for in the willing of an object, as my effect, my causality is
already thought, as an acting cause, i.e. the use of means, and the imperative already extracts the
concept of actions necessary to this end from the concept of a willing of this end (synthetic
propositions are certainly needed to determine the means themselves to an intended purpose, but
they concern the ground for actualizing not the act of will, but the object). That in order to divide a
line into two equal parts according to a reliable principle I must make two intersecting arcs from its
extremities, mathematics admittedly teaches by synthetic prop- ositions only; but it is an analytic
proposition that – when I know that the effect I have in mind can come about by such action alone
– if I completely will the effect I also will the action required for it; for to represent something as an
effect possible by me in a certain way, and myself, with regard to it, as acting in this way, that is one
and the same thing. The imperatives of prudence would totally and entirely coincide with those of
skill, and be equally analytic, if only it were so easy to provide a determinate concept of happiness.
For here as well as there it would be said: whoever wills the end also wills (in conformity with
reason necessarily) theonlymeanstoitthatareinhiscontrol.But,unfortunately,theconceptof happiness
is so indeterminate a concept that, even though every human being wishes to achieve it, yet he can
never say determinately and in agree- ment with himself what he actually wishes and wants. The
cause of this is: that the elements that belong to the concept of happiness are one and all
empirical, i.e. must be borrowed from experience and that, even so, for the idea of happiness an
absolute whole is required, a maximum of well-being, in my present and every future condition.
Now, it is impossible that the most insightful and at the same time singularly able, but still finite
being should make for himself a determinate concept of what he actually wants here. If he wants
riches, how much worry, envy and intrigue might he not by this bring down upon his shoulders! If he
wants much cognition and insight, that might perhaps only sharpen his eyes all the more, to show
him as all the more terrible the ills that are still concealed from him now and yet cannot be avoided,
or to burden his desires, which already give him enough trouble, with more needs still. If he wants a
long life, who will guarantee him that it would not be a long misery? If at least he wants health, how
often has not bodily discomfort kept someone from excess into which unlimited health would have
plunged him, and so on. In short, he is not able to determine with complete certainty, according to
any principle, what will make him truly happy, because omniscience would be required for this. To
be happy, one cannot therefore act on determinate principles, but only according to empirical
counsels, e.g. of diet, of thrift, of politeness, of restraint, and so on, which experience teaches on
average advance well-being most. From this it follows that the imperatives of prudence cannot, to
be precise, command at all, i.e. present actions objectively as practically necessary; that they are to
be taken rather as counsels (consilia) than as commands (praecepta) of reason; that the problem
of determining reliably and universally which action would advance the happiness of a rational
being is completely insoluble, and hence that there can be no imperative with regard to it that
would in the strict sense command to do what makes us happy because happiness is not an ideal
of reason, but of the imagination, which rests merely on empirical grounds, of which it is futile to
expect that they should determine an action by which the totality of an in fact infinite series of
consequences would be attained. This imperative of prudence would, however, be an analytic
practical proposition if one assumes that the means to happiness could be reliably stated; for it
differs from the imperative of skill only in this, that in the case of the latter the end is merely
possible, whereas in the former it is given: but since both merely command the means to that which
one presupposes one wills as an end, the imperative that commands willing the means for
someone who wills the end is in both cases analytic. There is thus no difficulty with regard to the
possibility of such an imperative either. By contrast, the question of how the imperative of morality
is possible is no doubt the only one in need of a solution, since it is not hypothetical at all, and thus
the objectively represented necessity cannot rely on any presupposition, as in the case of the
hypothetical imperatives. However, it is never to slip our attention in this matter that it cannot be
made out by any example, and hence empirically, whether there is any such imperative at all; but to
be dreaded that all imperatives that appear categorical may yet in some hidden way be
hypothetical. E.g. when it is said that you ought not to make deceitful promises; and one assumes
that the necessity of this omission is not merely giving counsel for avoiding some other ill, so that
what is said would be: you ought not to make lying promises lest, if it comes to light, you are
deprived of your credit; but that an actiono of this kind must be considered as by itself evil, thus
that the imperative of the prohibition is categorical; one still cannot establish in any example with
certainty that the will is here determined, without another incentive, merely by the law, even if it
appears so; for it is always possible that fear of embarrassment, perhaps also an obscure dread of
other dangers, may covertly influence the will. Who can prove the non-existence of a cause by
experience when all that it teaches is that we do not perceive one? In that case, however, the socalled moral imperative, which as such appears categorical and unconditional, would in fact just be
a pragmatic prescrip- tion that alerts us to our advantage, and merely teaches us to attend to it. We
shall thus have to investigate the possibility of a categorical imper- ative entirely a priori, since we
do not here enjoy the advantage that its actuality is being given in experience, in which case its
possibility would be necessary not for corroboration, but merely for explanation. For the time being,
however, this much can be seen: that the categorical imper- ative alone expresses a practical law,
and that the others can indeed one and all be called principles of the will, but not laws; since what it
is necessary to do merely for attaining a discretionary purpose can be regarded as in itself
contingent, and we can always be rid of the prescrip- tion if we give up the purpose, whereas the
unconditional command leaves the will no free discretion with regard to the opposite, and hence
alone carries with it that necessity which we demand for a law. Secondly, in the case of this
categorical imperative or law of morality the ground of the difficulty (of insight into its possibility) is
actually very great. It is an a priori synthetic practical proposition,* and since gaining insight into
the possibility of propositions of this kind causes so much difficulty in theoretical cognition, it can
easily be inferred that in practical cognition there will be no less.13 With this problem, we shall first
try to see whether the mere concept of a categorical imperative may perhaps also furnish its
formula, which contains the proposition that alone can be a categorical imperative; for how such an
absolute command is possible, even if we know how to express it, will still require particular and
arduous effort, which we suspend, however, until the final section. 4:420 When I think of a
hypothetical imperative as such I do not know in advance what it will contain, until I am given the
condition. But when I think of a categorical imperative I know at once what it contains. For since
besides the law the imperative contains only the necessity of the maxim† to conform with this law,
where as the law contains no condition to which it was limited, nothing is left but the universality
of a law as such, with which the maxim of the action ought to conform, and it is this conformity
alone that the imperative actually represents as necessary. There is therefore only a single
categorical imperative, and it is this: act only according to that maxim through which you can at the
same time will that it become a universal law. Now, if from this one imperative all imperatives of
duty can be derived as from their principle, then, even though we leave it unsettled whether what is
called duty is not as such an empty concept, we shall at least be able to indicate what we think by it
and what the concept means. Since the universality of the law according to which effects happen
constitutes that which is actually called nature in the most general sense (according to its form),
i.e. the existence of things in so far as it is determined according to universal laws, the universal
imperative of duty could also be expressed as follows: so act as if the maxim of your action were to
become by your will a universal law of nature. We shall now enumerate some duties, according to
their usual division, into duties to ourselves and to other human beings, into perfect and imperfect
duties.* 1) Someone who feels weary of life because of a series of ills that has grown to the point of
hopelessness is still so far in possession of his reason that he can ask himself whether it is not
perhaps contrary to a duty to oneself to take one’s own life. Now he tries out: whether the maxim of
his action could possibly become a universal law of nature. But his maxim is: from self-love I make
it my principle to shorten my life if, when pro- tracted any longer, it threatens more ill than it
promises agreeableness. The only further question is whether this principle of self-love could
become a universal law of nature. But then one soon sees that a nature whose law it were to
destroy life itself by means of the same sensation the function of which it is to impel towards the
advancement of life, would contradict itself and would thus not subsist as a nature, hence that that
maxim could not possibly take the place of a universal law of nature, and consequently conflicts
entirely with the supreme principle of all duty. 2) Another sees himself pressured by need to borrow
money. He knows full well that he will not be able to repay, but also sees that nothing will be lent to
him unless he solemnly promises to repay it at a determinate time. He feels like making such a
promise; but he still has enough conscience to ask himself: is it not impermissible and contrary to
duty to help oneself out of need in such a way? Suppose that he still resolved to do so, his maxim of
the action would go as follows: when I believe myself to be in need of money I shall borrow money,
and promise to repay it, even though I know that it will never happen. Now this principle of self-love,
or of one’s own benefit, is perhaps quite consistent with my whole future well-being, but the
question now is: whether it is right? I therefore transform the imposi- tion of self-love into a
universal law, and arrange the question as follows: how things would stand if my maxim became a
universal law. Now, I then see at once that it could never hold as a universal law of nature and
harmonize with itself, but must necessarily contradict itself. For the universality of a law that
everyone, once he believes himself to be in need, could promise whatever he fancies with the
intention not to keep it, would make the promise and the end one may pursue with it itself
impossible, as no one would believe he was being promised anything, but would laugh about any
such utterance, as a vain pretense. 3) A third finds in himself a talent that by means of some
cultivation could make him a useful human being in all sorts of respects. However, he sees himself
in comfortable circumstances and prefers to give himself up to gratification rather than to make the
effort to expand and improve his fortunate natural predispositions. Yet he still asks himself:
whether his maxim of neglecting his natural gifts, besides its agreement with his propensity to
amusement, also agrees with what one calls duty. Now he sees that a nature could indeed still
subsist according to such a universal law, even if human beings (like the South Sea Islanders)
should let their talents rust and be intent on devoting their lives merely to idleness, amusement,
procreation, in a word, to enjoyment; but he cannot possibly will that this become a universal law of
nature, or as such be placed in us by natural instinct. For as a rational being he necessarily wills
that all capacities in him be developed, because they serve him and are given to himp for all sorts
of possible purposes. Yet a fourth, who is prospering while he sees that others have to struggle
with great hardships (whom he could just as well help), thinks: what’s it to me? May everyone be as
happy as heaven wills, or as he can make himself, I shall take nothing away from him, not even envy
him; I just do not feel like contributing anything to his well-being, or his assistance in need! Now,
certainly, if such a way of thinking were to become a universal law of nature, the human race could
very well subsist, and no doubt still better than when everyone chatters about compassion and
benevolence, even develops the zeal to perform such actions occasionally, but also cheats
wherever he can, sells out the right of human beings, or infringes it in some other way. But even
though it is possible that a universal law of nature could very well subsist according to that maxim,
it is still impossible to will that such a principle hold everywhere as a law of nature. For a will that
resolved upon this would conflict with itself, as many cases can yet come to pass in which one
needs the love and compassion of others, and in which, by such a law of nature sprung from his
own will, he would rob himself of all hope of the assistance he wishes for himself. These, then, are
some of the many actual duties, or at least of what we take to be such, whose divisionq can clearly
be seen from the one principle stated above. One must be able to will that a maxim of our action
become a universal law: this is as such the canon of judging it morally. Some actions are such that
their maxim cannot even be thought without contradiction as a universal law of nature; let alone
that one could will that it should become such. In the case of others that inner impossibility is
indeed not to be found, but it is still impossible to will that their maxim be elevated to the
universality of a law of nature, because such a will would contradict itself. It is easy to see that the
first conflicts with strict or narrower (unrelenting) duty, the second only with wider (meritorious)
duty, and thus that all duties, as far as the kind of obligation (not the object of their action) is
concerned, have by these examples been set out completely in their dependence on the one
principle. If we now attend to ourselves in every transgression of a duty, we find that we actually do
not will that our maxim should become a universal law, since that is impossible for us, but that its
opposite should rather generally remain a law; we just take the liberty of making an exception to it
for ourselves, orr (just for this once) to the advantage of our inclination. Consequently, if we
considered everything from one and the same point of view, namely that of reason, we would find a
contradiction in our own will, namely that a certain principle be objectively necessary as a universal
law and yet subjectively should not hold universally, but allow of excep- tions. But since we
consider our action at one time from the point of view of a will that entirely conforms with reason,
but then just the same action also from the point of view of a will affected by inclination, there is
actually no contradiction here, but rather a resistance of inclination to the prescription of reason
(antagonismus), by which the universality of the principle (universalitas) is transformed into a mere
general validity (generalitas), and by this the practical rational principle is meant to meet the maxim
halfway. Now, even though this cannot be justified in our own impartially employed judgment, it still
proves that we actually acknowledge the validity of the categorical imperative, and permit ourselves (with all respect for it) just a few exceptions that, as it seems to us, are immaterial and
wrenched from us. We have thus established at least this much, that if duty is a concept that is to
contain significance and actual legislation for our actions it can be expressed only in categorical
imperatives, but by no means in hypothet- ical ones; likewise we have – and this is already a lot –
presented distinctly and determined for every use the content of the categorical imperative, which
would have to contain the principle of all duty (if there were such a thing at all). But we are not yet
ready to prove a priori that such an imperative is actually in place, that there is a practical law,
which com- mands of itself, absolutely and without any incentives, and that following this law is
one’s duty. For the purpose of achieving this, it is of the utmost importance to let this serve as a
warning, that one must put the thought right out of one’s mind that the reality of this principle can
be derived from some particular property of human nature. For duty is to be practical unconditional
necessity of action; it must thus hold for all rational beings (to which an imperative can at all
apply), and only in virtue of this be a law also for every human will. By contrast, whatever is derived
from the special natural predisposition of humanity, from certain feelings and propensity, and
indeed even, possibly, from a special tendency peculiar to human reason, and would not have to
hold necessarily for the will of every rational being – that can indeed yield a maxim for us, but not a
law, a subjective principle on which propensity and inclination would fain have us act, but not an
objective principle on which we would be instructed to act even if every propensity, inclination and
natural arrangement of ours were against it; so much so that it proves the sublimitys and inner
dignity of the command in a duty all the more, the less the subjective causes are in favor of it, and
the more they are against it, without thereby weakening in the least the necessitation by the law, or
taking anything away from its validity. Here, then, we in fact see Philosophy placed on a precarious
stand- point, which is to be firm even though there is nothing either in heaven, or on earth, from
which she is suspended, or on which she relies. Here she is to prove her purity, as the sovereign
legislatrix15 of her laws, not as the herald of those that an implanted sense, or who knows what
tutelary nature whispers to her, which yet – though they may still be better than nothing at all – can
one and all never make principles that reason dictates, and that must have their source, and with it
at the same time their commanding repute, altogether completely a priori: to expect nothing from
the inclination of a human being, but everything from the authority of the law and the respect owed
to it or, if not, condemn the human being to self-contempt and inner loathing. Thus everything that
is empirical is not only quite unfit to be added to the principle of morality, it is also most
disadvantageous to the purity of morals themselves, in which the actual worth of a will absolutely
good and elevated above any price consists precisely in this: that the principle of action is free from
all influences of contingent grounds, which only experience can furnish. Against this slackness or
even base way of think- ing, in seeking to identify the principle from among empirical motives and
laws, one cannot actually issue too many or too frequent a warning, as human reason in its
weariness gladly rests upon this cushion, and in the dream of sweet pretenses (which instead of
Juno let it embrace a cloud)16 foists on morality a bastard patched up from limbs of quite varied
ancestry, which resembles whatever one wants to see in it, but not Virtue, for him who has once
beheld her in her true form.* The question therefore is this: is it a necessary law for all rational
beings always to judge their actions according to maxims of which they them- selves can will that
they serve as universal laws? If it is, then it must (completely a priori) already be bound up with the
concept of the will of a rational being as such. But in order to discover this connection one must,
however reluctantly, take a step outside, namely into metaphysics, if into a region of it that differs
from that of speculative philosophy, namely into the metaphysics of morals. In a practical
philosophy, where we are not concerned with accepting grounds of what happens, but rather laws
of what ought to happen, even if it never does, i.e. objective practical laws: there we do not need to
investigate the grounds of why something pleases or displeases, how the gratification of mere
sensation differs from taste, and whether the latter differs from a universal delight of reason; on
what feeling pleasure and displeasure rests, and how from this there arise desires and inclinations,
and from them, by cooperation of reason, max- ims; for all of that belongs to an empirical doctrine
of the soul, which would constitute the second part of the doctrine of nature, if considered as
philosophy of nature, in so far as it is founded on empirical laws. But here the objective practical
law is at issue, and hence the relation of a will to itself, in so far as it determines itself merely
through reason, and then everything that has reference to empirical matters is of itself ruled out;
because if reason all by itself determines conduct (the possibility of which is just what we now
want to investigate), it must necessarily do this a priori. The will is thought as a capacity to
determine itselft to action in conformity with the representation of certain laws. And such a
capacity can be found only in rational beings. Now, what serves the will as the objective groundu of
its self-determination is the end, and this, if it is given by mere reason, must hold equally for all
rational beings. By contrast, what contains merely the ground of the possibility of an action the
effect of which is an end is called the means. The subjective ground of desiring is the incentive, the
objective ground of willing the motivating ground; hence the difference between subjective ends,
which rest on incentives, and objective ones, which depend on motivating grounds that hold for
every rational being. Practical principles are formal if they abstract from all subjective ends; they
are material if they have these, and hence certain incentives, at their foundation. The ends that a
rational being intends at its discretion as effects of its actions (material ends) are one and all only
relative; for merely their relation to a particular kind of desiderative faculty of the subject gives
them their worth, which can therefore furnish no universal principles that are valid as well as
necessary for all rational beings, or for all willing, i.e. practical laws. That is why all these relative
ends are the ground of hypothetical imperatives only. But suppose there were something the
existence of which in itself has an absolute worth, that, as an end in itself, could be a ground of
determinate laws, then the ground of a possible categorical imperative, i.e. of a practical law, would
lie in it, and only in it alone. Now I say: a human being and generally every rational being exists as
an end in itself, not merely as a means for the discretionary use for this or that will, but must in all
its actions, whether directed towards itself or also to other rational beings, always be considered at
the same time as an end. All objects of inclinations have a conditional worth only; for if the
inclinations, and the needs founded on them, did not exist, their object would be without worth. But
the inclinations themselves, as sources of need, are so far from having an absolute worth – so as
to make one wish for them as such – that to be entirely free from them must rather be the universal
wish of every rational being. Therefore the worth of any object to be acquired by our action is
always conditional. Beings whose existence rests not indeed on our will but on nature, if they are
non-rational beings, still have only a relative worth, as means, and are therefore called things,
whereas rational beings are called persons, because their nature already marks them out as ends in
themselves, i.e. as something that may not be used merely as a means, and hence to that extent
limits all choice (and is an object of respect). These are therefore not merely subjective ends, the
existence of which, as the effect of our action, has a worth for us; but rather objective ends, i.e.
entitiesv whose existence in itself is an end, an end such that no other end can be put in its place,
for which they would do service merely as means, because without it nothing whatsoever of
absolute worth could be found; but if all worth were conditional, and hence contingent, then for
reason no supreme practical principle could be found at all. If, then, there is to be a supreme
practical principle and, with regard to the human will, a categorical imperative, it must be such that,
from the representation of what is necessarily an end for everyone, because it is an end in itself, it
constitutes an objective principle of the will, and hence can serve as a universal practical law. The
ground of this principle is: a rational naturew exists as an end in itself. That is how a human being
by necessity represents his own existence; to that extent it is thus a subjective principle of human
actions. But every other rational being also represents its existence in this way, as a consequence
of just the same rational ground that also holds for me;* thus it is at the same time an objective
principle from which, as a supreme practical ground, it must be possible to derive all laws of the
will. The practical imperative will thus be the following: So act that you use humanity, in your own
person as well as in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a
means. Let us try to see whether this can be done. To keep to the previous examples: First,
according to the concept of necessary duty to oneself, someone who is contemplating selfmurderx will ask himself whether his action can be consistent with the idea of humanity, as an end
in itself. If to escape from a troublesome condition he destroys himself, he makes use of a person,
merely as a means, to preserving a bearable condition up to the end of life. But a human being is
not a thing, hence not something that can be used merely as a means, but must in all his actions
always be considered as an end in itself. Thus the human being in my own person is not at my
disposal, so as to maim, to corrupt, or to kill him. (I must here pass over the closer determination of
this principle, needed to avoid any misunder- standing, e.g. of amputating limbs to preserve myself,
of putting my life in danger to preserve my life, etc.; that belongs to actual moral science.)
Secondly, as far as necessary or owed duty to others is concerned, someone who has it in mind to
make a lying promise to others will see at once that he wants to make use of another human being
merely as a means, who does not at the same time contain in himself the end. For the one I want to
use for my purposes by such a promise cannot possibly agree to my way of proceeding with him
and thus himself contain the end of this action. This conflict with the principle of other human
beings can be seen more distinctly if one introduces examples of attacks on the freedom and
property of others. For then it is clear that the transgressor of the rights of human beings is
disposed to make use of the person of others merely as a means, without taking into consideration
that, as rational beings, they are always to be esteemed at the same time as ends, i.e. only as
beings who must, of just the same action, also be able to contain in themselves the end.* Thirdly,
with regard to contingent (meritorious) duty to oneself it is not enough that the action not conflict
with humanity in our person, as an end in itself, it must also harmonize with it. Now there are in
humanity predispositions to greater perfection, which belong to the end of nature with regard to
humanity in our subject; to neglect these would perhaps be consistent with the preservation of
humanity, as an end in itself, but not with the advancement of this end. Fourthly, as concerns
meritorious duty to others, the natural end that all human beings have is their own happiness. Now,
humanity could indeed subsist if no one contributed anything to the happiness of others while not
intentionally detracting anything from it; but this is still only a negative and not positive agreement
with humanity, as an end in itself, if everyone does not also try, as far as he can, to advance the
ends of others.
Assigned Reading Comprehension
Here are the questions for this week. These questions will serve as the
pool from which I will construct the final exam. Note: not all questions
are assigned to an individual student. You should answer those on your
own. As always, let me know if you have questions. Length requirement 1
to 2 paragraphs or full explanation in your own words fully explaining.
1. Explain Aristotle’s view of the hierarchical nature of activities.
2. Explain what Aristotle means when he says that there must be an
ultimate good or end at which all acts aim. Alston
3. Carefully explain Aristotle’s view of “good” using examples.
4. What is the highest human good? Why? Explain carefully. Arnold
5. Choose some object other than a human and explain the relationship
between excellences and a thing’s good.
6. Explain the relationship between function, virtue and happiness
7. What is the relationship between the highest human good and pleasure?
8. Explain Aristotle’s account of human virtue. Generally, what are
virtues? How are they obtained?
9. Describe the virtue and vices associated with feelings of fear (§2).
10. Describe the virtue and vices associated with pleasure and pain (§3).
11. Describe the virtue and vices associated with giving and taking money
12. Describe the virtue and vices associated with other conditions of money
13. Describe the virtue and vices associated with honor (§7).
14. Describe the virtue and vices associated with anger (§10).
15. Describe the virtue and vices associated with truth telling (§12).
16. Describe the virtue and vices associated with pleasures in amusements
17. Describe the virtue and vices associated with pleasures in daily life (§13).
18. Describe the virtue and vices associated with feelings about feelings
[Ends and goods]
/1094a/ §1 Every craft and every discipline, and likewise action and decision, seems to seek some
good1—that is why some people were right to describe the good as what everything seeks.2 §2 But the
ends appear to differ; for some are activities, and others are /5/ products apart from the activities.3 And
where there are ends apart from the actions, the products are by nature better than the activities.
§3 Now since there are many actions, crafts, and sciences, the ends turn out to be many as well; for
health is the end of medicine, a boat of boat building, victory of generalship, and wealth of household
management. §4 But some /10/ of these pursuits are subordinate to some one capacity; for instance,
bridle making and every other science producing equipment for horses are subordinate to
horsemanship, while this and every action in warfare are in turn subordinate to generalship, and in the
same way4 other pursuits are subordinate to further ones.5
In all such cases, then,6 the ends of the ruling sciences are /15/ more choiceworthy than all the ends
subordinate to them, since the lower ends are also pursued for the sake of the higher. §5 Here it does
not matter whether the ends of the actions are the activities themselves, or something apart from them,
as in the sciences we have mentioned.
[The highest good and political science]
§1 If, then, the things achievable by action have some end that we wish for because of itself, and we
wish for the other things because of this end, and we do not /20/ choose everything because of
something else (for if we do, it will go on without limit, so that desire will prove to be empty and futile),
it is clear that, this end will be the good, that is to say, the best good.1
{2} §2 Then surely knowledge of this good also carries great weight for one’s way of life, and if we know
it, we are more likely, like archers who have a target to aim at, to hit the right mark.2 §3 If /25/ so, we
should try to grasp, in outline at any rate, what the good is, and which is its proper science or capacity.3
§4 Now it seems proper to the most controlling —the highest ruling .4 §5 And this
appears characteristic of political science.5 §6 For it prescribes which of the sciences ought to be studied
in cities, /1094b1/ and which ones each class in the city should learn, and how far; indeed we see that
even the most honoured capacities—generalship, household management, and rhetoric, for instance—
are subordinate to it. §7 And since it uses the other sciences concerned with action,6 /5/ and moreover
legislates what must be done and what avoided, its end will include the ends of the other sciences,7 and
so this will be the human good.
§8 For even if the good is the same for a city as for an individual, still the good of the city is apparently a
greater and more complete good to acquire and preserve.8 For while it is satisfactory to acquire and
preserve the good even for an individual, /10/ it is finer and more divine to acquire and preserve it for a
people and for cities.9
And so our discipline aims at these things,10 being a sort of political science.11
[The method of political science]
But our discussion will be adequate if we make things perspicuous enough to accord with the subject
matter; for we should not seek the same degree of exactness in all sorts of arguments alike, any more
than in the products of different crafts.1 §2 Now fine and just things, /15/ which political science
examines, differ and vary so much2 as to seem to rest on convention only, not on nature.3 §3 But goods
also vary in the same way, because they result in harm to many people—for some have been destroyed
because of their wealth, others because of their bravery.4 §4 And so, since this is our subject /20/ and
these are our premisses, we shall be satisfied to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and since our
subject and our premisses are things that hold good usually, we shall be satisfied to draw conclusions of
the same sort.
Each of our claims, then, ought to be accepted in the same way. For the educated person seeks
exactness in a given area to the extent {3} that the /25/ nature of the subject allows; for apparently it is
just as mistaken to demand demonstrations from a rhetorician as to accept persuasive
arguments from a mathematician.5 §5 Further, each person judges rightly what he knows, and
is /1095a/ a good judge about that; hence the good judge in a given area is the person educated in that
area, and the unqualifiedly good judge is the person educated in every area.
This is why a youth is not a suitable student of political science; for he lacks experience of the actions in
life, which are the subject and premisses of our arguments. §6 Moreover, since he tends to follow his
feelings, his /5/ study will be futile and useless, since the goal is action, not knowledge.6 §7 And it does
not matter whether he is young in years or immature in character, since the deficiency does not depend
on age, but results from following his feelings in his life and in a given pursuit; for an immature person,
like an incontinent person, gets no benefit from his knowledge. /10/ But for those who follow reason in
forming their desires and in their actions, knowledge of these things will be of great
§8 These are the preliminary points about the student, about the way our claims are to be accepted, and
about what we propose to do.7
[Common beliefs]
[c2] Let us, then, begin again.1 Since every sort of knowledge and decision2 /15/ pursues some good,
what is the good that we say political science seeks, and what is the highest of all the goods achievable
in action?
§2 As far as its name goes, most people practically agree; for both the many and the cultivated call it
happiness, and they suppose that living well and doing well are the same as /20/ being happy.3 But
about what happiness is they disagree, and the many do not give the same answer as the wise.4
§3 For the many think it is one of the obvious and evident things, such as pleasure, or wealth, or honour.
Some take it to be one thing, others another. Indeed, the same person often changes his mind; for when
he has fallen ill, he thinks happiness is health, and when he has fallen into poverty, he thinks it is wealth.
And when they are conscious of their own ignorance, /25/ they admire anyone who speaks of something
grand and above their heads.
{4} Some, however, some used to think that besides these many goods there is some other good that
exists in its own right and that causes all these goods to be goods.5
§4 Presumably, then, it is rather futile to examine all these beliefs, and it is enough to examine those
that are most current /30/ or seem to have some argument for them.
§5 We must notice, however, the difference between arguments from principles and arguments
towards principles.6 For Plato also was right to be puzzled about this, when he used to ask if set out from the principles or led towards /1095b/ them7—just as on a race course the path
may go from the starting line to the far end,8 or back again. For we should begin from things known, but
things are known in two ways;9 for some are known to us, some known without qualification.
Presumably, then, we ought to begin from things known to us.
§6 That is why we need to have been brought up in fine habits /5/ if we are to be adequate students of
fine and just things, and of political questions generally. §7 For the that is
the beginning, and if this is apparent enough to us, we will not need why as well;10 and someone who is well brought up has the beginnings, or would easily acquire
them.11 Someone who neither has them nor can acquire them /10/ should listen to Hesiod:12 ‘He who
grasps everything himself is best of all; he is noble also who listens to one who has spoken well; but he
who neither grasps it himself nor takes to heart what he hears from another is a useless man.’
[The three lives]
[c3] But let us begin again from the point from which we digressed.1 For, it would seem, people, not
unreasonably, reach their conception of the good /15/ and of happiness, from the lives. §2 For there are
roughly three most favoured lives—the lives of gratification, of political activity, and, third, of study.2
The many, the most vulgar, would seem to conceive the good and happiness as pleasure, and hence
they also like the life of gratification. §3 In this they appear completely slavish, /20/ since the life they
decide on is a life for grazing animals.3 Still, they have some argument in their defence, since many in
positions of power feel as Sardanapallus4 felt, .
{5} §4 But the cultivated people, those who are active , conceive the good as honour, since
this is more or less the end in the political life. This, however, appears to be too
superficial to be what we are seeking;5 for it seems to /25/ depend more on those who honour than on
the one honoured, whereas we intuitively believe that the good is something of our own and hard to
take from us.6 §5 Further, it would seem, they pursue honour to convince themselves that they are
good; at any rate, they seek to be honoured by prudent people, among people who know them, and for
virtue. It is clear, then, that, in /30/ their view at any rate, virtue is superior .
§6 Perhaps, indeed, one might conceive virtue more to be the end of the political life.
However, this also is apparently too incomplete . For it seems possible for someone to
possess virtue but be asleep or inactive /1096a/ throughout his life, and, moreover, to suffer the worst
evils and misfortunes, but if this is the sort of life he leads, no one would count him happy, except to
defend a philosopher’s paradox.7 Enough about this, since it has been adequately discussed in the
popular works8 as well.
§7 The third life is the life of study, which /5/ we shall examine in what follows.9
§8 The moneymaker’s life is in a way forced on him ;10 and clearly wealth is not
the good we are seeking, since it is useful, for some other end. Hence
one would be more inclined to suppose that the goods mentioned earlier is the end, since they
are liked for themselves. But apparently they are /10/ not either; and many arguments have
been presented against them.11 Let us, then, dismiss them.
[The Platonic Form of the Good]
[c4] Presumably, though, we had better examine the universal good, and go through the puzzles about
what is meant in speaking of it.1 This sort of inquiry is, to be sure, unwelcome to us, because those who
introduced the Forms were friends2 of ours; still, it presumably seems better, indeed only right, /15/ to
destroy even what is close to us if that is the way to preserve truth. And we must especially do this as
philosophers, ; for though we love both the truth and our friends, reverence is due to
the truth first.
{6} §2 Those who introduced this view did not mean to produce an Idea for any in which they
spoke of prior and posterior; that was why they did not mean to establish an Idea for numbers
either.3 /20/ But the good is spoken of both in what-it-is , and in quality and relative;
and what exists in its own right, i.e., substance, is by nature prior to the relative,4 since a relative would
seem to be an appendage and coincident of being. And so there is no common Idea over these.
§3 Further, good is spoken of in as many ways as being is spoken of:5 in what-it-is, as god
and /25/ mind;6 in quality, as the virtues; in quantity, as the measured amount; in relative, as the useful;
in time, as the opportune moment; in place, as the situation; and so on. Hence it is clear that the
good cannot be some common and single universal; for if it were, it would be spoken of in only one of
the predications, not in them all.
§4 Further, if a number of things have /30/ one Idea, there is also one science of them; hence there would also be one science of all goods. But in fact there are many sciences
even of the goods under one predication; for the science of the opportune moment, for
instance, in war is generalship, in disease medicine. And similarly the science of the measured amount in
food is medicine, in exertion gymnastics.7
§5 One might be puzzled about what they /35/ really mean in speaking of the So-and-So Itself,8 since
Man /1096b/ Itself and man9 have one and the same account of man; for insofar as each is man, they
will not differ at all. If that is so, then neither will they differ at all insofar as each is good.10
§6 Moreover, Good Itself will be no more of a good by being eternal; for a white thing is no whiter if it
lasts a long /5/ time than if it lasts a day.
§7 But the Pythagoreans would seem to have a more plausible view about the good, since they place the
One in the column of goods. Indeed, Speusippus seems to have followed them.11 §8 But let us leave this
for another discussion.
A dispute emerges, however, about what we have said, because the arguments /10/ are
not concerned with every sort of good. Rather, goods pursued and liked in their own right are spoken of
as one species of goods, whereas those that in some way tend to produce or preserve these goods, or to
prevent their {7} contraries, are spoken of as goods because of these and in a different way. §9 Clearly,
then, goods are spoken of in two ways, and some are goods in their own right, and others goods
because of these.12 Let us, then, separate /15/ the goods in their own right from the useful
goods, and consider whether goods in their own right correspond to a single Idea.
§10 But what sorts of goods would one take to be goods in their own right? Are they the goods that are
pursued even on their own—for instance, prudence, seeing, some types of pleasures, and
honours?13 For even if we also pursue these because of something else, we may nonetheless take them
to be goods in their own right. Alternatively, is /20/ nothing except the Idea good in its own right, so
that the Form will be futile?14 §11 But if these other things are also goods in their own right, then the
same account of good will have to turn up in all of them, just as the same account of whiteness turns up
in snow and in chalk.15 In fact, however, honour, prudence, and pleasure have different and dissimilar
accounts, /25/ in the respect in which they are goods. Hence the good is not something common
corresponding to a single Idea.
§12 But how, then, is good spoken of, since it is not like homonyms resulting from chance?16 Is it spoken
of from the fact that goods derive from one thing or all contribute to one thing? Or is it spoken of more
by analogy? For as sight is to body, so understanding is to soul, and so on for other cases.17
§13 /30/ Presumably, though, we should leave these questions for now, since their exact treatment is
more appropriate for another philosophy.18 And the same is true about the Idea. For even if
there is some one good predicated in common,19 or some separable good, itself in its own right, clearly
that is not the sort of good a human being can achieve in action or possess; but that is the sort /35/ we
are looking for now.
§14 Perhaps, however, someone might think it is better to get to know /1097a/ the Idea with a view to
the goods that we can possess and achieve in action, for if we have this as a sort of pattern, we shall also
know better about the goods that are goods for us, and if we know about them, we shall hit on
them.20 §15 This argument certainly has some plausibility, but it would seem to clash with the
sciences. /5/ For each of these, though it aims at some good and seeks to supply what is lacking, leaves
out knowledge of the Idea; but surely it would {8} not be reasonable for all craftsmen to know nothing
about such an important aid, and not even to look for it.
§16 Moreover, it is a puzzle to know what the weaver or carpenter will gain for his own craft from
knowing this Good /10/ Itself, or how anyone will be better at medicine or generalship from having
viewed the Idea Itself. For what the doctor appears to consider is not even health, but human health,
and presumably the health of this human being even more, since he treats one particular patient at a
So much, then, for these questions.
[An account of the human good]
[c5] /15/ But let us return once again to the good we are looking for, and consider just what it could be.
For it is apparently one thing in one action or craft, and another thing in another; for it is one thing in
medicine, another in generalship, and so on for the rest. What, then, is the good of each action or craft?
Surely it is that for the sake of which the other things are done. In medicine this is health, in
generalship /20/ victory, in house building a house, in another case something else, but in every action
and decision it is the end, since it is for the sake of the end that everyone does the other actions.1 And
so, if there is some end of everything achievable in action, the good achievable in action will be this end,
but if there are more ends than one, it will be these ends.2
§2 Our argument, then, has followed a different route to reach the same conclusion.3 /25/ But we must
try to make this still more perspicuous.4 §3 Since there are apparently many ends, and we choose some
of them (for instance, wealth, flutes, and, in general, instruments) because of something else, it is clear
that not all ends are complete.5 But the best good is apparently something complete. And so, if only one
end is complete, what we are looking for will be this end, but if more ends than one are
complete, /30/ it will be the most complete of these.6
§4 Now we say that an end pursued in its own right is more complete than an end pursued because of
something else, and that an end that is never choiceworthy because of something else is more complete
than ends that are choiceworthy both in their own right and because of this end. Hence an end that is
always choiceworthy in its own right,7 never because of something else, is complete without
§5 Now happiness, more than anything else, seems complete without qualification.8 /1097b/ For this we
choose always because of itself,9 never {9} because of something else. But honour, pleasure,
understanding, and every virtue we choose because of themselves also—since we would choose each of
them even if it had no further result—but we also choose them for the sake of happiness, /5/ supposing
that through them we shall be happy.10 Happiness, however, no one ever chooses for their sake, or for
the sake of anything else at all.
§6 The same conclusion11 also appears to follow from self-sufficiency. For the complete good seems to
be self-sufficient.12 But what we count as self-sufficient is not what suffices for a solitary person by
himself, living an isolated life, but what suffices also for /10/ parents, children, wife, and in general for
friends and fellow-citizens, since a human being is a naturally political .13 §7 (Here, however,
we must impose some limit; for if we extend the good to parents’ parents and children’s children and to
friends of friends, we shall go on without limit; but we must examine this another time.) But we take
what is self-sufficient to be whatever all /15/ by itself makes a life choiceworthy and lacking nothing;
and that is what we think happiness does.
§8 Moreover, we think happiness is most choiceworthy of all goods, it is not counted as one
good among many. counted as one among many, then, clearly, we think it more
choiceworthy if the smallest of goods added;14 for the good that is added becomes an extra
quantity of goods, and the larger of two goods is always more choiceworthy. /20/ Happiness, then, is
apparently something complete and self-sufficient, since it is the end of the things achievable in action.15
§9 [c6] But presumably the remark that the best good is happiness is apparently something
agreed, and we still feel the need of a clearer statement of what the best good is.16 §10 Perhaps, then,
we shall find this if we first grasp the function of /25/ a human being. For just as the good, i.e.,
well, for a flautist, a sculptor, and every craftsman, and, in general, for whatever has a function and
action, seems to depend on its function,17 the same seems to be true for a human
being, if a human being has some function.
§11 Then do the carpenter and the leatherworker have their /30/ functions and actions, but has a
human being no function?18 Is he by nature idle, without any function?19 Or, just as eye, hand, foot, and,
in general, every part apparently has its function, may we likewise ascribe to a human being
some function apart from all of these?20
{10} §12 What, then, could this be? For living is apparently shared with plants, but what we are looking
for is the special function /1098a/ of a human being; hence we should set aside the life of nutrition and
growth.21 The life next in order is some sort of life of sense perception; but this too is apparently shared
with horse, ox, and every animal.22
§13 The remaining possibility, then, is some sort of life of action23 of the that has
reason.24 One of it has reason as obeying reason; the other has it as /5/ itself having reason and
thinking.25 Moreover, life is also spoken of in two ways , and we must take
life as activity, since this seems to be called life more
fully.26 We have found, then, that the human function is activity of the soul in accord with reason or
requiring reason.27
§14 Now we say that the function of a kind of thing, such as a harpist, is the same in kind as the function
of an excellent individual of the kind, such as an excellent /10/ harpist. And the same is true without
qualification in every case, if we add to the function the superior achievement in accord with the virtue;
for the function of a harpist is to play the harp, and the function of a good harpist is to play it
well.28 Moreover, we take the human function to be a certain kind of life, and take this life to be activity
and actions of the soul that involve reason; hence the function of the excellent man is to do this well
and /15/ finely.
§15 Now each function is completed well by being completed in accord with the virtue proper . And so the human good proves to be activity of the soul in accord with virtue,29 and
indeed in accord with the best and most complete virtue, if there are more virtues than one,30 and,
further, §16 in a complete life31—for one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one day, nor,
similarly, does /20/ one day or a short time make us blessed and happy.
§17 [c7] Let this, then, be our sketch of the good; for, presumably, we must draw the outline first, and
fill it in later.32 If the sketch is good, it would seem to be everyone’s task33 to advance and articulate it,
and in such cases time discovers more, or is a good partner in discovery. That is also how the
crafts /25/ have improved; for it is everyone’s task to supply what is lacking.
§18 But we ought also to remember our previous remarks, and not to look for the same degree of
exactness in all areas, but the degree {11} that accords with a given subject matter and is proper to a
given discipline.34 §19 For the inquiries of the carpenter and of the geometer /30/ about the right angle
are also different; for the carpenter restricts himself to what helps his work, but the geometer inquires
into what, or what sort35 of thing, the right angle is, since he studies the truth. We must do the same,
then, in other areas too,36 so that digressions do not overwhelm our main task.
§20 Nor should we make the same demand for /1098b/ an explanation in all cases. On the contrary, in
some cases it is enough to prove rightly that . This is so, for instance, with principles,
where the fact that is the first thing and the principle.37
§21 Now among principles some are studied by means of induction, some by means of perception, some
by means of some sort of habituation, and others by other means.38 §22 And in each case /5/ we should
try to find them out by means suited to their nature, and work hard to define them rightly. §23 For they
carry great weight39 for what follows; for the principle seems to be more than half the whole,40 and
makes evident the answer to many of our questions.
[Defence of the account of the good]
[c8] We should examine the principle, however, not only from the conclusion and /10/ premisses, but
also from the things said about it;1 for all the facts harmonize with a true account, whereas the truth
soon clashes with a false one.
§2 Goods are divided, then, into three types, one type called external, another goods of the soul, and
another goods of the body.2 We say that the goods of the soul are goods most fully, and /15/ more than
the others, and we take actions and activities of the soul to be of the soul. And so our account
is right, to judge by this belief anyhow—and it is an ancient belief, and accepted by
§3 Our account is also correct in saying that some sort of actions and activities are the end; for in that
way the end turns out to be a good of the soul, /20/ not an external good.
§4 The belief that the happy person lives well and does well also agrees with our account, since we have
practically said that the end is a sort of living well and doing well.
{12} §5 [c9] Further, all the features that people look for in happiness appear to belong to the good we
have described.3 §6 For to some people happiness seems to be virtue; to others prudence;4 /25/ to
others some sort of wisdom; to others again it seems to be these, or one of these, including pleasure or
requiring it;5 others add in external prosperity as well. §7 Some of these views are traditional, held by
many, while others are held by a few men who are widely esteemed. It is reasonable for each group not
to be completely wrong, but to be correct on one point at least, or even on most points.
§8 /30/ First, our account agrees with those who say happiness is virtue or some type of virtue; for
activity in accord with virtue is proper to virtue. §9 Presumably, though, it matters quite a bit whether
we suppose that the best good consists in possessing or in using—that is to say, in a state or in its
activity.6 For someone may be in a state that /1099a/ achieves no good—if, for instance, he is asleep or
inactive in some other way—but this cannot be true of the activity; for it will necessarily act and act
well. And just as Olympic prizes are not for the finest and strongest, but for /5/ the contestants—since it
is only these who win—the same is true in life; among the fine and good people, only those who act
correctly7 win the prize.
§10 Moreover, the life of these active people is also pleasant in itself.8 For being pleased is a condition
of the soul, Further, each type of person finds pleasure in whatever he is called a lover of; a horse, for
instance, pleases the horse lover, a spectacle the /10/ lover of spectacles. Similarly, what is just pleases
the lover of justice, and in general what accords with virtue pleases the lover of virtue.
§11 Now the things that please most people conflict,9 because these things are not pleasant by nature,
whereas the things that please lovers of the fine are pleasant by nature. Actions in accord with virtue
are pleasant by nature, so that they are pleasant both to lovers of the fine and /15/ in their own right.
§12 Hence these people’s life does not need pleasure to be added as some sort of
extra decoration; rather, it has its pleasure within itself.10 For besides the reasons already given,
someone who does not enjoy fine actions is not good; for no one would call a person just, for instance, if
he did not enjoy doing just actions, or generous if he did not enjoy /20/ generous actions, and similarly
for the other virtues.
{13} §13 If this is so, actions in accord with the virtues are pleasant in their own right. Moreover, these
actions are good and fine as well as pleasant; indeed, they are good, fine, and pleasant more than
anything else is, since on this question the excellent person judges rightly, and his judgment agrees with
what we have said.
§14 Happiness, then, is best, finest, and most pleasant, and /25/ these things are not distinguished, as
the Delian inscription says they are: ‘What is most just is finest; being healthy is most beneficial; but it is
most pleasant to win our heart’s desire.’11 For all three features are found in the best activities, and we
say happiness is these activities, or one of them, the best one.12
§15 Nonetheless, happiness evidently also needs external goods to be added, as we said; for we cannot,
or cannot easily, do fine actions if we lack the resources.13 For, first of all, in many actions /1099b/ we
use friends, wealth, and political power just as we use instruments. §16 Further, deprivation of certain
—for instance, good birth, good children, beauty—mars our blessedness. For we do not
altogether have the character of happiness14 if we look utterly repulsive or are ill-born, solitary, or
childless; and we have it /5/ even less, presumably, if our children or friends are totally bad, or were
good but have died.
§17 As we have said, therefore, happiness would seem to need this sort of prosperity added also. That is
why some people identify happiness with good fortune, and others identify it with virtue.
[How is happiness achieved?]
[c10] This also leads to a puzzle: Is happiness acquired by learning, or habituation, or by some /10/ other
type of cultivation? Or is it the result of some divine fate, or even of fortune?1
§2 First, then, if the gods give any gift at all to human beings, it is reasonable for them to give us
happiness more than any other human good, insofar as it is the best of human goods. §3 Presumably,
however, this question is more suitable for a different inquiry.
But even if it is /15/ not sent by the gods, but instead results from virtue and some sort of learning or
cultivation, happiness appears to be one of the most divine things, since the prize and goal of virtue
appears to be the best good, something divine and blessed. §4 Moreover it will be widely shared; for anyone who {14} is not deformed for virtue will be
able to achieve happiness through some sort of learning /20/ and attention.
§5 And since it is better to be happy in this way than because of fortune, it is reasonable for this to be
the way we become happy. For whatever is natural is naturally in the finest state possible. §6 The same
is true of the products of crafts and of every other cause, especially the best cause; and it would be
seriously inappropriate to entrust what is greatest and finest to fortune.2
§7 /25/ The answer to our question is also evident from our account. For we have said that happiness is
a certain sort of activity of the soul in accord with virtue.3 Of the other goods, some are necessary
conditions of happiness, while others are naturally useful and co-operative as instruments.
§8 Further, this conclusion agrees with our opening remarks. For we took /30/ the goal of political
science to be the best good; and most of its attention is devoted to the character of the citizens, to
make them good people who do fine actions.4
§9 It is not surprising, then, that we regard neither ox nor horse nor any other kind of animal as happy;
for none of /1100a/ them can share in this sort of activity. §10 For the same reason a child is not happy
either, since his age prevents him from doing these sorts of actions. If he is called happy, he is being
congratulated because of anticipated blessedness; for, as we have said, happiness requires
both complete virtue /5/ and a complete life.5
§11 It needs a complete life because life includes many reversals of fortune, good and bad, and the most
prosperous person may fall into a terrible disaster in old age, as the Trojan stories tell us about Priam.6 If
someone has suffered these sorts of misfortunes and comes to a miserable end, no one counts him
[Can we be happy during our lifetime?]
[c11] /10/ Then should we count no human being happy during his lifetime, but follow Solon’s advice to
wait to see the end?1 §2 But if we agree with Solon, can someone really be happy during the time after
he has died? Surely that is altogether strange, especially when we say happiness is an activity.
§3 /15/ We do not say, then, that someone is happy during the time he is dead, and Solon’s point is not
this, but rather that when a human {15} being has died, we can safely pronounce blessed,
on the assumption that he is now finally beyond evils and misfortunes.2 But this claim is also disputable.
For if a living person has good or evil of which he is not aware, a dead person also, it seems, has good or
evil, if, /20/ for instance, he receives honours or dishonours, and his children, and descendants in
general, do well or suffer misfortune.3
§4 However, this conclusion also raises a puzzle. For even if someone has lived in blessedness until old
age, and has died appropriately, many fluctuations of his descendants’ fortunes may still happen to him;
for some may be /25/ good people and get the life they deserve, while the contrary may be true of
others, and clearly they may be as distantly related to their ancestor as you please. Surely, then, it would
be a strange result if the dead person’s condition changed along with the fortunes of his descendants, so
that at one time he would turn out to have been happy and at another time he would
turn out to have been miserable.4 §5 But /30/ it would also be strange if the condition of descendants
did not affect their ancestors at all or for any length of time.
§6 But we must return to the previous puzzle, since that will perhaps also show us the answer to our
present question. §7 Let us grant that we must wait to see the end, and must then count someone
blessed, not as now being blessed but because he previously was blessed.
Would it not be strange, then, if, at the very time when he is happy, /35/ we refused to ascribe truly to
him the happiness he has?5 Such refusal results from /1100b/ reluctance to call him happy during his
lifetime, because of its ups and downs; for we suppose happiness is enduring and definitely not prone to
fluctuate, but the same person’s fortunes often turn to and /5/ fro.6 §8 For clearly, if we take our cue
from his fortunes, we shall often call him happy and then miserable again, thereby representing the
happy person as a kind of chameleon, insecurely based.
§9 But surely it is quite wrong to take our cue from someone’s fortunes. For his doing well or badly does
not rest on them.7 A human life, as we said, needs these added, but /10/ activities in accord with virtue
control happiness, and the contrary activities control its contrary. §10 Indeed, the present puzzle is
further evidence for our account

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