The prestige which Aristotle enjoyed after his death was greater, and more enduring, than perhaps that of any other thinker has ever been. So great was it that, centuries later, appeal to his authority was often made, and often accepted, as perfectly conclusive in philosophical argument and even, with far less reason, in questions of natural science. This was in many ways unfortunate. Eventually, when, about the sixteenth century and later, new beginnings were made in many fields of human inquiry, it became the mark of a progressive thinker to ignore or abuse the man with whose authority so much in preceding centuries had been so closely associated. At all times, too, his admirers were inclined to treat his works as constituting a rigid and final system, consistent, undeveloping, to be defended sentence by sentence. It is only quite recently that it has become orthodox to recognize, what after all would naturally be expected, that Aristotle in the course of his life sometimes changed his opinions. In particular the work of Werner Jaeger has put forward the picture of him as gradually tending away from his Platonic beginnings to a very different mode of thought that was more naturally his own.
It must be remembered that for no less than twenty years Aristotle was actually a member of Plato's school at Athens. In this period he wrote dialogues in the Platonic manner, which have not come down to us. It is quite probable that these, which surviving fragments show to have been elegant literary productions, were in some respects critical of Academic doctrine, but still they were certainly in the Platonic mode. Put the bulk of Aristotle's work which we now possess consists of writings not published during his lifetime, not in dialogue form, not highly finished, and often very far from Platonic. These manuscript treatises and lecture notes were collected and arranged after his death, and appear to have had some limited circulation until, in the first century B.C., Andronicus, then the head of the Peripatetic school, produced an edition on which all our surviving texts are based. In the meantime Aristotle's published works were increasingly neglected, until at last they were finally lost, and with them, unfortunately, the best reminder of Aristotle's purely Platonic beginnings.
Speaking in very general terms indeed — and here we cannot possibly hope to do otherwise — we may say that the point on which Aristotle came to differ most fundamentally from Plato was that of the separation, always conspicuous in Plato, between the ordinary world and its contents, and a supposed other world of "intelligible" entities. The divergence here was, perhaps, as much a matter of temperament as strictly of argument. There was in Plato a powerfully imaginative, almost fantastic, streak which inclined him always towards bold flights of speculation and away from the humdrum details of the everyday world. This aspect of his doctrines was that chiefly emphasized by his immediate successors, and this fact, combined with the progressive emancipation of Aristotle's own thinking, led to a widening breach between Aristotle and Platonism. About Aristotle there was nothing other-worldly. In ethics, in science, in politics, even in theology, the problems that concerned him related to man's place in this world, his understanding of it, the life he should live in the conditions here actually obtaining. The Platonic inclination to condemn this world as "unreal" by comparison with the world of Forms would have seemed to him fantastic, implying a kind of deliberate rejection of all that to man is most familiar, most solid, most important. Thus, broadly speaking, he sought to substitute in metaphysics, for Plato's distinction between this "unreal" world and another, a distinction between two aspects of this one real world. He was inclined to agree that Forms, timeless and unchanging, were the proper objects of the highest knowledge. But he regarded them not as independently existing entities quite separate from the things of this world, but as features of the things of this world, inseparable from them. We can indeed distinguish, he held, between Form and Matter; but actually existing objects must have both. The stuff that, say, a statue is made of can be distinguished from the particular form that it has; it might have had, and may come to have in the future, some other form. But it cannot exist with no form at all. And still less could the form that it now has be supposed to exist, independently of any matter having that form. Forms are in things; they cannot be detached from things. And against the supposition of such a detachment Aristotle repeatedly deploys arguments, some of which had indeed been first raised by Plato himself, but to which no acceptable answer had ever been found. Socrates, Aristotle would say, was right in attaching the importance that he did to exact definition; and Plato was right in holding that definition is "of the Form"; but any Form thus defined is the form that some matter has, and not itself a separately existing individual thing.
A very large part of Aristotle's surviving work deals with questions that might nowadays be classified as scientific. He devoted much time, particularly in his later years, to the organization of systematic, cooperative research, consisting largely in an accumulation of facts about the natural world of a sort that had not previously been attempted. But rather differently from this, he also paid great attention to what might be called the conceptual side of science — to the general categories, forms of classification, and types of explanation that should provide the framework for factual research. At this point the influence of Plato upon Aristotle was very strong; and unfortunately Aristotle's own influence upon his successors was predominantly bad. His preferred type of explanation proved unfertile.
Plato held, and in his Phaedo attributes to Socrates also, the view that true explanation must be teleological, in terms of purpose. "Is my sitting here in prison," Socrates asks, "explained by the fact that I have bones and joints and flexible muscles, all of which together enable me to sit here?" No, surely. These factors may render him able to sit in prison, but they do not explain why he is sitting there. To explain this one must mention his decision to remain, his purpose of total obedience to the laws of Athens even though they should work to his disadvantage. One must not confuse, Plato says, the antecedent conditions which are necessary for a given event, and the true cause which really explains why it occurs. The best explanation, the only real explanation, consists in mentioning the end or purpose to be achieved. This view was enthusiastically adopted by Aristotle. One might well wish to object that Plato's conclusion in its general form involves the assumption that what is true of human behavior is true also of mere physical events — human behavior can be explained in terms of purposes, for human beings really do have and act from purposes, but the same surely cannot be said of plants, or seas, or the stars. But Aristotle deliberately overrules this objection. He says in the Physics,
"As in intelligent action, so in nature. Intelligent action is for the sake of an end, therefore the nature of things also is so."
In this passage (quoted below) he seems to have been led to this conclusion through a false opposition of purpose and chance. If, he implies, we deny that natural happenings occur with a purpose, we shall have to say that they occur by chance. But "we do not ascribe to chance the frequency of rain in winter"; fire does not burn by chance, nor is each sunrise a happy coincidence.
"Therefore action for an end is present in things which come to be and are by nature."
However, the conclusion does not follow. Certainly the rising of the sun is not a mere coincidence; but what this means is simply that it is part of the order of nature, a regularly occurring "natural" phenomenon; we are not in the least obliged to assume any purpose or end. To do so is in fact to extend into the physical world a way of thinking that suits the special case of human, and perhaps a few other, living beings.
The great defect in the. approach which Aristotle thus adopted consists in the fact that it seems to yield satisfactory results, which however mark no real advance in our knowledge at all. That flames tend to rise upwards can be verbally "explained" by saying that their end or "aim" is to reach a higher place; that plants grow can be similarly explained by the supposition that they aim at achieving the full-grown state. But it is clear that these explanations are really nothing more than rephrasings of the very fact to be explained: fire rises because it naturally does so, plants grow because they grow. Genuine advances in scientific understanding have in fact always taken the form that Plato and Aristotle explicitly disapproved — that is, the discovery of antecedent conditions upon which a certain result is found to follow. And the scientific propagandists of the Renaissance, attempting to encourage practical research into causes in this sense, reserved their most withering criticism and contempt for Aristotle's damaging wrong step at this important point.
It is sometimes held that Aristotle's pioneering work in logic has been equally damaging. This, however, is certainly unfair. It is true that his investigation and classification of certain types of deductive argument was so powerfully done that for centuries it was thought to be both final and complete; but this prejudice among his successors was not Aristotle's fault. And on the whole what he achieved has withstood amazingly the test of time. A few years ago many modern logicians, engaged in researches quite different from those of Aristotle, were apt to insinuate that their results were not only different from, but inconsistent with, his — that in the light of modern logic he was seen to have been often mistaken. But this was not so. His inquiries can now be seen to have been limited — he restricted his attention very narrowly to syllogistic forms — but new extensions of logic do not conflict with his limited findings. In many ways his work in logic was more powerfully creative than anything else that he did; and probably, even if in succeeding centuries it was glorified too much and in some ways debased, the discipline which it provided for at least two thousand years was on balance enormously beneficial to the history of thought. Here again, though, he was a target for much abuse at the Renaissance, since his interest in deduction — inevitable in a formal logician — made his work of no help to those whose interests lay in the non-deductive procedures of scientific discovery. His logical writings came to be known as the Organum, "the instrument." Francis Bacon's Novum Organum offered, at the start of the seventeenth century, a deliberate challenge to the Aristotelian tradition, which had, he unkindly asserted, "done more harm than good."
I have thought it best to include in this book, from Aristotle's writings, a fairly long extract from his best-known ethical work, the Nicomachean Ethics. Too much of the rest of his work is so difficult, so unfamiliar, or in other ways so obscure that it would scarcely be intelligible without an impossibly detailed commentary. But this objection does not apply to his moral philosophy, which is on the whole, though closely argued, very lucidly written, and the general tone of which is often startlingly contemporary. This makes it all the more necessary to bear in mind a few points at which Aristotle's ideas do differ from ours.
First (though this is partly a mere difficulty in translation from the Greek) it has to be remembered that, when Aristotle talks about "happiness," he does not mean exactly what we might naturally expect, though "happiness" is perhaps the most convenient near-synonym in English. To achieve eudaimonia is, for Aristotle, rather to succeed in living "the good life," than to achieve that more or less transitory state of mind and mood that we often think of as "being happy." To be eudaimon certainly includes being happy, but it implies also more than this — that the condition achieved is a stable, long-term affair, and also that it is attained by the right means, by proper conduct. It follows from this that Aristotle is not a hedonist; he does not regard the attainment of happiness, considered as a state of feeling — still less, the attainment of pleasure — as in itself a sufficient justification for any action or course of action. The eudaimon man is he who orders his life well, not he who, by hook or by crook, secures pleasure or happiness.
This point to a large extent mitigates the oddity of another — namely, that Aristotle seems not to believe in the desirability, perhaps not even in the possibility, of genuine altruism. Deliberation by me as to how I should act is always represented by him as, in the last analysis, consideration of means to eudaimonia for myself. The resulting theory is, I think, genuinely egoistic. However, since the attainment of my own eudaimonia requires me to act well in my relations with others, Aristotle certainly gives here no countenance to selfishness; for selfishness implies, what Aristotle disallows, pursuit of my own interests without regard for the interests of other people.
It should be noticed also that Aristotle, unlike Plato, and in very sharp contrast with his immediate successors, regards eudaimonia as a public affair. The good life, in his view, implies good conduct in relation to others, and in public life, and at least a reasonable degree also of worldly success. Plato had been inclined to think of eudaimonia as strictly an inner, psychological condition; in post-Aristotelian philosophy, it was to be consistently represented as invulnerable to the impact of all external affairs. But Aristotle takes the, surely, more ordinary view that to live well includes living with reasonable material success, and conducting one's self well in one's dealings with other people. Nor does he for a moment suppose that this is impossible, too difficult, or too dangerous to adopt as one's aim.
A more subtle point is this: There is a sense in which Aristotle does not employ at all our concept of "morality." Here again one is apt to be misled by difficulties of translation. The Greek word arete in this context is usually rendered as "virtue," and we naturally think of virtue as a moral affair. But this implies a restriction that is not present in the Greek. "Moral virtues" in Aristotle are simply good qualities of character displayed in right conduct; and any good qualities of character may be so called — good manners, affability, wit, proper dignity of bearing, as well as honesty, truthfulness, temperance, or charity. It is not, of course, that Aristotle does not discuss what we should regard as moral questions; it is only that he does not specially distinguish them from other questions of what is good in conduct and character, and indeed he has not the linguistic means of doing so. This absence of our modern, limited concept of morality seems characteristic of the ancient world in general. In Cicero for instance, writing three centuries later, we again find no distinction drawn between moral and non-moral questions about human character, no sharp distinction between good manners, "good form," and good morals.
Finally, we should observe that Aristotle was no reformer. With his insistence upon the avoidance of all extremes, and his constant reference to "what is ordinarily said," he appears as being concerned to codify and elucidate the ordinary judgments of enlightened, educated men; he had no desire to propagate any radically new moral attitudes. For this reason some, who are accustomed to the expression by moralists of views more lofty than those most applied in practice, find Aristotle's tone somewhat low and unedifying. Others complain that he has nothing to say of extreme situations, of desperate predicaments. But I think it may be found that he often states, with masterly clarity, what civilized men are in fact disposed to think and do, in the ordinary conditions in which civilized life is to be lived.
The Nicomachean Ethics begins as follows:
I. Every art and every investigation, and likewise every practical pursuit or undertaking seems to aim at some good: hence it has been well said that the Good is that at which all things aim. (It is true that a certain variety is to be observed among the ends at which the arts and sciences aim: in some cases the activity of practising the art is itself the end, whereas in others the end is some product over and above the mere exercise of the art; and in the arts whose ends are certain things beside the practice of the arts themselves, these products are essentially superior in value to the activities.) But as there are numerous pursuits and arts and sciences, it follows that their ends are correspondingly numerous: for instance, the end of the science of medicine is health, that of the art of shipbuilding a vessel, that of strategy victory, that of domestic economy wealth. Now in cases where several such pursuits are subordinate to some single faculty — as bridle-making and the other trades concerned with horses' harness are subordinate to horsemanship, and this and every other military pursuit to the science of strategy, and similarly other arts to different arts again — in all these cases, I say, the ends of the master arts are things more to be desired than the ends of the arts subordinate to them; since the latter ends are only pursued for the sake of the former. (And it makes no difference whether the ends of the pursuits are the activities themselves or some other thing beside these, as in the case of the sciences mentioned.)
II. If therefore among the ends at which our actions aim there be one which we will for its own sake, while we will the others only for the sake of this, and if we do not choose everything for the sake of something else (which would obviously result in a process ad infinitum, so that all desire would be futile and vain), it is clear that this one ultimate End must be the Good, and indeed the Supreme Good. Will not then a knowledge of this Supreme Good be also of great practical importance for the conduct of life? Will it not better enable us to attain our proper object, like archers having a target to aim at? If this be so, we ought to make an attempt to comprehend at all events in outline what exactly this Supreme Good is, and of which of the sciences or faculties it is the object.
Now it would seem that this supreme End must be the object of the most authoritative of the sciences — some science which is pre-eminently a master craft. But such is manifestly the science of Politics; for it is this that ordains which of the sciences are to exist in states, and what branches of knowledge the different classes of the citizens are to learn, and up to what point; and we observe that even the most highly esteemed off the faculties, such as strategy, domestic economy, oratory, are subordinate to the political science. Inasmuch then as the rest of the sciences are employed by this one, and as it moreover lays down laws as to what people shall do and what things they shall refrain from doing, the end of this science must include the ends of all the others. Therefore, the Good of man must be the end of the science of Politics. For even though it be the case that the Good is the same for the individual and for the state, nevertheless, the good of the state is manifestly a greater and more perfect good, both to attain and to preserve. To secure the good of one person only is better than nothing; but to secure the good of a nation or a state is a nobler and more divine achievement.
This then being its aim, our investigation is in a sense the study of Politics.
III. Now our treatment of this science will be adequate, if it achieves that amount of precision which belongs to its subject matter. The same exactness must not be expected in all departments of philosophy alike, any more than in all the products of the arts and crafts. The subjects studied by political science are Moral Nobility and Justice; but these conceptions involve much difference of opinion and uncertainty, so that they are sometimes believed to be mere conventions and to have no real existence in the nature of things. And a similar uncertainty surrounds the conception of the Good, because it frequently occurs that good things have harmful consequences: people have before now been ruined by wealth, and in other cases courage has cost men their lives. We must therefore be content if, in dealing with subjects and starting from premises thus uncertain, we succeed in presenting a rough outline of the truth: when our subjects and our premises are merely generalities, it is enough if we arrive at generally valid conclusions. Accordingly we may ask the student also to accept the various views we put forward in the same spirit; for it is the mark of an educated mind to expect that amount of exactness in each kind which the nature of the particular subject admits. It is equally unreasonable to accept merely probable conclusions from a mathematician, and to demand strict demonstration from an orator.
Again, each man judges correctly those matters with which he is acquainted; it is of these that he is a competent critic. To criticize a particular subject, therefore, a man must have been trained in that subject: to be a good critic generally, he must have had an all-round education. Hence the young are not fit to be students of Political Science. For they have no experience of life and conduct, and it is these that supply the premises and subject matter of this branch of philosophy. And moreover they are led by their feelings; so that they will study the subject to no purpose or advantage, since the end of this science is not knowledge but action. And it makes no difference whether they are young in years or immature in character: the defect is not a question of time, it is because their life and its various aims are guided by feeling; for to such persons their knowledge is of no use, any more than it is to persons of defective self-restraint. But Moral Science may be of great value to those who guide their desires and actions by principle.
Let so much suffice by way of introduction as to the student of the subject, the spirit in which our conclusions are to be received, and the object that we set before us.
IV.To resume, inasmuch as all studies and undertakings are directed to the attainment of some good, let us discuss what it is that we pronounce to be the aim of Politics, that is, what is the highest of all the goods that action can achieve. As far as the name goes, we may almost say that the great majority of mankind are agreed about this; for both the multitude and persons of refinement speak of it as Happiness, and conceive "the good life" or "doing well" to be the same thing as "being happy." But what constitutes happiness is a matter of dispute; and the popular account of it is not the same as that given by the philosophers. Ordinary people identify it with some obvious and visible good, such as pleasure or wealth or honour — some say one thing and some another, indeed very often the same man says different things at different times: when he falls sick he thinks health is happiness, when he is poor, wealth. At other times, feeling conscious of their own ignorance, men admire those who propound something grand and above their heads; and it has been held by some thinkers that beside the many good things we have mentioned, there exists another Good, that is good in itself, and stands to all those goods as the cause of their being good.
Now perhaps it would be a somewhat fruitless task to review all the different opinions that are held. It will suffice to examine those which are most widely accepted, or which seem to be supported by some measure of reason.
And we must not overlook the distinction between arguments that start from first principles and those that lead to first principles. This is a matter that was rightly raised by Plato, who used to enquire whether the true procedure is to start from or to lead up to one's first principles, as in a race-course one may run from the judges to the far end of the track or the reverse. Now no doubt it is proper to start from the known. But "the known" has two meanings — "what is familiar to us," which is one thing, and "what is intelligible in itself," which is another. Perhaps then for us at all events it is proper to start from what is known to us. This is why in order to be a competent student of the Right and Just, and in short of the topics of Politics in general, the pupil is bound to have had a right moral upbringing. For the starting-point or first principle is the fact that a thing is so; if this be satisfactorily ascertained, there will be no need also to know the reason why it is so. And the man of good moral training knows first principles already, or can easily acquire them. As for the person who neither knows nor can learn, let him hear the words of Hesiod:
Best is the man who can himself advise;
He too is good who hearkens to the wise;
But who, himself being witless, will not heed
Another's wisdom, is a fool indeed.
But let us continue from the point where we digressed. To judge from the recognized types of Lives, the more or less reasoned conceptions of the Good or Happiness that prevail are the following. On the one hand the generality of men and the most vulgar identify the Good with pleasure, and accordingly look no higher than the Life of Enjoyment — for there are three specially prominent Lives, the one just mentioned, the Life of Politics, and thirdly, the Life of Contemplation. The generality of mankind then show themselves to be utterly slavish, by preferring what is only a life for cattle; but they get a hearing for their view as reasonable because many persons of high position share the feelings of Sardanapalus.
Men of refinement, on the other hand, and men of action think that the Good is honour — for this may be said to be the end of the Life of Politics. But honour after all seems too superficial to be the Good for which we are seeking; since it appears to depend on those who confer it more than on him upon whom it is conferred, whereas we instinctively feel that the Good must be something proper to its possessor and not easy to be taken away from him. Moreover men's motive in pursuing honour seems to be to assure themselves of their own merit; at least they seek to be honoured by men of judgement and by people who know them, that is, they desire to be honoured on the ground of virtue. It is clear therefore that in the opinion at all events of men of action, virtue is a greater good than honour; and one might perhaps accordingly suppose that virtue rather than honour is the end of the Political Life. But even virtue proves on examination to be too incomplete to be the End; since it appears possible to possess it while you are asleep, or without putting it into practice ,throughout the whole of your life; and also for the virtuous man to suffer the greatest misery and misfortune — though no one would pronounce a man living a life of misery to be happy, unless for the sake of maintaining a paradox. But we need not pursue this subject, since it has been sufficiently treated in the ordinary discussions.
The third type of life is the Life of Contemplation, which we shall consider in the sequel.
The Life of Money-making is a hard kind of life; and clearly wealth is not the Good we are in search of, for it is only good as being useful, a means to something else. On this score indeed one might conceive the ends before mentioned to have a better claim, for they are approved for their own sakes. But even they do not really seem to be the Supreme Good; however, many arguments against them have been disseminated, so we may dismiss them. . . .
VII. We may now return to the Good which is the object of our search, and try to find out what exactly it can be. For good appears to be one thing in one pursuit or art and another in another: it is different in medicine from what it is in strategy, and so on with the rest of the arts. What definition of the Good then will hold true in all the arts? Perhaps we may define it as that for the sake of which everything else is done. This applies to something different in each different art — to health in the case of medicine, to victory in that of strategy, to a house in architecture, and to something else in each of the other arts; but in every pursuit or undertaking it describes the end of that pursuit or undertaking, since in all of them it is for the sake of the end that everything else is done. Hence if there be something which is the end of all the things done by human action, this will be the practicable Good — or if there be several such ends, the sum of these will be the Good. Thus by changing its ground the argument has reached the same result as before. We must attempt however to render this still more precise.
Now there do appear to be several ends at which our actions aim; but as we choose some of them — for instance wealth, or flutes, and instruments generally — as a means to something else, it is clear that not all of them are final ends; whereas the Supreme Good seems to be something final or perfect. Consequently if there be some one thing which alone is a final end, this thing — or if there be several final ends, the one among them which is the most final — will be the Good which we are seeking. In speaking of degrees of finality, we mean that a thing pursued as an end in itself is more final than one pursued as a means to something else, and that a thing never chosen as a means to anything else is more final than things chosen both as ends in themselves and as means to that thing; and accordingly a thing chosen always as an end and never as a means we call absolutely final. Now happiness above all else appears to be absolutely final in this sense, since we always choose it for its own sake and never as a means to something else; whereas honour, pleasure, intelligence, and excellence in its various forms, we choose indeed for their own sakes (since we should be glad to have each of them although no extraneous advantage resulted from it), but we also choose them for the sake of happiness, in the belief that they will be a means to our securing it. But no one chooses happiness for the sake of honour, pleasure, etc., nor as a means to anything whatever other than itself.
The same conclusion also appears to follow from a consideration of the self-sufficiency of happiness — for it is felt that the final good must be a thing sufficient in itself. The term self-sufficient, however, we employ with reference not to one-self alone, living a life of isolation, but also to one's parents and children and wife, and one's friends and fellow citizens in general, since man is by nature a social being. On the other hand a limit has to be assumed in these relationships; for if the list be extended to one's ancestors and descendants and to the friends of one's friends, it will go on ad infinitum. But this is a point that must be considered later on; we take a self-sufficient thing to mean a thing which merely standing by itself alone renders life desirable and lacking in nothing, and such a thing we deem happiness to be. Moreover, we think happiness the most desirable of all good things without being itself reckoned as one among the rest; for if it were so reckoned, it is clear that we should consider it more desirable when even the smallest of other good things were combined with it, since this addition would result in a larger total of good, and of two goods the greater is always the more desirable.
Happiness, therefore, being found to be something final and self-sufficient, is the End at which all actions aim.
To say however that the Supreme Good is happiness will probably appear a truism; we still require a more explicit account of what constitutes happiness. Perhaps then we may arrive at this by ascertaining what is man's function. For the goodness or efficiency of a flute-player or sculptor or crafts-man or man of any sort, and in general of anybody who has some function or business to perform, is thought to reside in that function; and similarly it may be held that the good of man resides in the function of man, if he has a function.
Are we then to suppose that, while the carpenter and the shoemaker have definite functions or businesses belonging to them, man as such has none, and is not designed by nature to fulfil any function? Must we not rather assume that, just as the eye, the hand, the foot and each of the various members of the body manifestly has a certain function of its own, so a human being also has a certain function over and above all the functions of his particular members? What then precisely can this function be? The mere act of living appears to be shared even by plants, whereas we are looking for the function peculiar to man; we must therefore set aside the vital activity of nutrition and growth. Next in the scale will come some form of sentient life; but this too appears to be shared by horses, oxen, and animals generally. There remains therefore what may be called the practical life of the rational part of man. (This part has two divisions, one rational as obedient to principle, the other as possessing principle and exercising intelligence.) Rational life again has two meanings; let us assume that we are here concerned with the active exercise of the rational faculty, since this seems to be the more proper sense of the term. If then the function of man is the active exercise of the soul's faculties in conformity with rational principle, or at all events not in dissociation from rational principle, and if we acknowledge the function of an individual and of a good individual of the same class (for instance, a harper and a good harper, and so generally with all classes) to be generically the same, the qualification of the latter's superiority in excellence being added to the function in his case (I mean that if the function of a harper is to play the harp, that of a good harper is to play the harp well): if this is so, and if we declare that the function of man is a certain form of life, and define that form of life as the exercise of the soul's faculties and activities in association with rational principle, and say that the function of a good man is to perform these activities well and rightly, and if a function is well performed when it is performed in accordance with its own proper excellence — if then all this be so, the Good of man proves to be the active exercise of his soul's faculties in conformity with excellence or virtue, or if there be several human xcellences or virtues, in conformity with the best and most perfect among them.
Moreover, to be happy takes a complete lifetime. For one swallow does not make summer, nor does one fine day; and similarly one day or a brief period of happiness does not make a man supremely blessed and happy.
Let this account then serve to describe the Good in outline — for no doubt the proper procedure is to begin by making a rough sketch, and to fill it in afterwards. If a work has been well laid down in outline, to carry it on and complete it in detail may be supposed to be within the capacity of anybody; and in this working out of details Time seems to be a good inventor or at all events coadjutor. This indeed is how advances in the arts have actually come about, since anyone can fill in the gaps. Also the warning given above must not be forgotten; we must not look for equal exactness in all departments of study, but only such as belongs to the subject matter of each, and in such a degree as is appropriate to the particular line of enquiry. A carpenter and a geometrician both try to find a right angle, but in different ways; the former is content with that approximation to it which satisfies the purpose of his work; the latter, being a student of truth, seeks to find its essence or essential attributes. We should therefore proceed in the same manner in other subjects also, and not allow side issues to outbalance the main task in hand.
Nor again must we in all matters alike demand an explanation of the reason why things are what they are; in some cases it is enough if the fact that they are so is satisfactorily established. This is the case with first principles; and the fact is the primary thing — it is a first principle. And different principles are learnt in different ways — some by induction, others by intuition, others again by some form of habituation; so we must endeavour to arrive at the principles of each kind in their natural manner, and must also be careful to define them correctly, since they are of great importance for the subsequent course of the enquiry. The beginning is admittedly more than half of the whole, and throws light at once on many of the questions under investigation.
VIII. Accordingly we must examine our first principle not only as a logical conclusion deduced from certain premises but also in the light of the current opinions on the subject. For if a proposition be true, all the facts harmonize with it, but if it is false, it is quickly seen to be discordant with them. Now things good have been divided into three classes; external goods on the one hand, and goods of the soul and of the body on the other; and of these three kinds of goods, those of the soul are commonly said to be the highest, and good in the fullest degree. But our actions, that is, the soul's active exercise of its functions, must be placed in the class of things of the soul; hence so far as this opinion goes — and it is of long standing, and generally accepted by students of philosophy — it supports the correctness of our definition of Happiness.
It also shows it to be right in declaring the End to consist in certain actions or activities, for thus the End is included among goods of the soul, and not among external goods.
Again, our definition accords with the description of the happy man as one who "lives well" or "does well"; for it has virtually identified happiness with a form of good life or doing well.
And moreover all the various characteristics that are looked for in happiness are found to belong to the Good as we define it. Some people think happiness is goodness or virtue, others prudence, others a form of wisdom; others again say it is all of these things, or one of them, in combination with pleasure, or accompanied by pleasure as an indispensable adjunct; another school include external prosperity as a concomitant factor. Some of these views have been held by many people and from ancient times, others by a few distinguished men, and neither class is likely to be altogether mistaken; the probability is that their beliefs are at least partly, or indeed mainly, correct.
Now with those who pronounce happiness to be virtue, or some particular virtue, our definition is in agreement; for "activity in conformity with virtue" involves virtue. But no doubt it makes a great difference whether we conceive the Supreme Good to depend on possessing virtue or on displaying it — on disposition, or on the manifestation of a disposition in action. For a man may possess the disposition without its producing any good result, as for instance when he is asleep, or has ceased to function from some other cause; but virtue in active exercise cannot be inoperative — it will of necessity act, and act well. And just as at the Olympic games the wreaths of victory are not bestowed upon the handsomest and strongest persons present, but on men who enter for the competitions — since it is among these that the winners are found — so it is those who act rightly who carry off the prizes and good things of life.
And further, the life of active virtue is essentially pleasant. For on the one hand, the feeling of pleasure is an experience of the soul. Also, when a man is described as "fond of" so-and-so, the thing in question gives him pleasure: for instance a horse gives pleasure to one fond of horses, a play to one fond of the theatre, and similarly just actions are pleasant to the lover of justice, and acts conforming with virtue generally to the lover of virtue. But whereas the mass of mankind take pleasure in things that conflict with one another, because they are not pleasant of their own nature, the lovers of what is noble take pleasure in things pleasant by nature. But lovers of the noble take pleasure in actions conforming with virtue. Therefore actions in conformity with virtue are pleasant essentially as well as pleasant to lovers of the right. Thus their life has no need of pleasure as a sort of additional appendage, but contains its pleasure in itself. For there is the further consideration that the man who does not enjoy doing noble actions is not a good man at all; no one would call a man just if he did not like acting justly, nor liberal if he did not like doing liberal things, and similarly with the other virtues. But if so, actions in conformity with virtue must be essentially pleasant.
But they are also of course both good and noble, and each in the highest degree, if the good man judges them rightly; and his judgement is as we have said. It follows therefore that happiness is at once the best, the noblest, and the pleasantest of things: these qualities are not separated as the inscription at Delos makes out—
Justice is noblest, and health is best,
But the heart's desire is the pleasantest—,
for the best activities possess them all; and it is the best activities, or one activity which is the best of all, in which according to our definition happiness consists.
Nevertheless it is manifest that happiness also requires external goods in addition, as we said; for it is impossible, or at least not easy, to play a noble part unless furnished with the necessary equipment. For many noble actions require instruments for their performance, in the shape of friends or wealth or political power; also there are certain external advantages, the lack of which sullies supreme felicity, such as good birth, satisfactory children, and personal beauty: a man of very ugly appearance or low birth, or childless and alone in the world, is not our idea of a happy man, and still less so perhaps is one who has children or friends that are worthless, or who has had good ones but lost them by death. As we said therefore, happiness does seem to require the addition of external prosperity, and this is why some people identify it with good fortune (though others identify it with virtue).
IX. It is this that gives rise to the question whether happiness is a thing that can be learnt, or acquired by training, or cultivated in some other manner, or whether it is bestowed by some divine dispensation or even by fortune. (1) Now if anything that men have is a gift of the gods, it is reasonable to suppose that happiness is divinely given — indeed of all man's possessions it is most likely to be so, inasmuch as it is the best of them all. This subject however may perhaps more properly belong to another branch of study. Still, even if happiness is not sent us from heaven, but is won by virtue and by some kind of study or practice, it seems to be one of the most divine things that exist. For the prize and end of virtue must clearly be supremely good — it must be something divine and blissful. (2) And also on our view it will admit of being widely diffused, since it can be attained through some process of study or effort by all persons whose capacity for virtue has not been stunted or maimed. (3) Again, if it is better to be happy as a result of one's own exertions than by the gift of fortune, it is reasonable to suppose that this is how happiness is won; inasmuch as in the world of nature things have a natural tendency to be ordered in the best possible way, and the same is true of the products of art, and of causation of any kind, and especially the highest. Whereas that the greatest and noblest of all things should be left to fortune would be too contrary to the fitness of things.
Light is also thrown on the question by our definition of happiness, which said that it is a certain kind of activity of the soul; whereas the remaining good things are either merely indispensable conditions of happiness, or are of the nature of auxiliary means, and useful instrumentally. This conclusion moreover agrees with what we laid down at the outset; for we stated that the Supreme Good was the end of the political science, but the principal care of this science is to produce a certain character in the citizens, namely to make them virtuous, and capable of performing noble actions.
We have good reasons therefore for not speaking of an ox or horse or any other animal as being happy, because none of these is able to participate in noble activities. For this cause also children cannot be happy, for they are not old enough to be capable of noble acts; when children are spoken of as happy, it is in compliment to their promise for the future. Happiness, as we said, requires both complete goodness and a complete lifetime. For many reverses and vicissitudes of all sorts occur in the course of life, and it is possible that the most prosperous man may encounter great disasters in his declining years, as the story is told of Priam in the epics; but no one calls a man happy who meets with misfortunes like Priam's, and comes to a miserable end.
X. Are we then to count no other human being happy either, as long as he is alive? Must we obey Solon's warning, and "look to the end"? And if we are indeed to lay down this rule, can a man really be happy even after he is dead? Surely that is an extremely strange notion, especially for us who define happiness as a form of activity! While if on the other hand we refuse to speak of a dead man as happy, and Solon's words do not mean this, but that only when a man is dead can one safely call him blessed as being now beyond the reach of evil and misfortune, this also admits of some dispute; for it is believed that some evil and also some good can befall the dead, just as much as they can happen to the living without their being aware of it — for instance honours, and disgraces, and the prosperity and misfortunes of their children and their descendants in general. But here too there is a difficulty. For suppose a man to have lived in perfect happiness until old age, and to have come to a correspondingly happy end: he may still have many vicissitudes befall his descendants, some of whom may be good and meet with the fortune they deserve, and others the opposite; and moreover these descendants may clearly stand in every possible degree of remoteness from the ancestors in question. Now it would be a strange thing if the dead man also were to change with the fortunes of his family, and were to become a happy man at one time and then miserable at another; yet on the other hand it would also be strange if ancestors were not affected at all, even over a limited period, by the fortunes of their descendants.
But let us go back to our former difficulty, for perhaps it will throw light on the question we are now examining. If we are to look to the end, and congratulate a man when dead not as actually being blessed, but because he has been blessed in the past, surely it is strange if at the actual time when a man is happy that fact cannot be truly predicated of him, because we are unwilling to call the living happy owing to the vicissitudes of fortune, and owing to our conception of happiness as something permanent and not readily subject to change, whereas the wheel of fortune often turns full circle in the same person's experience. For it is clear that if we are to be guided by fortune, we shall often have to call the same man first happy and then miserable; we shall make out the happy man to be a sort of "chameleon, or a house built on the sand."
But perhaps it is quite wrong to be guided in our judgement by the changes of fortune, since true prosperity and adversity do not depend on fortune's favours, although, as we said, our life does require these in addition; but it is the active exercise of our faculties in conformity with virtue that causes happiness, and the opposite activities its opposite.
And the difficulty just discussed is a further confirmation of our definition; since none of man's functions possess the quality of permanence so fully as the activities in conformity with virtue: they appear to be more lasting even than our knowledge of particular sciences. And among these activities themselves those which are highest in the scale of values are the more lasting, because they most fully and continuously occupy the lives of the supremely happy: for this appears to be the reason why they are not easily forgotten.
The happy man therefore will possess that element of stability which we demand, and will remain happy all his life; since he will be always or at least most often employed in doing and contemplating the things that are in conformity with virtue. And he will bear changes of fortune most nobly, and with perfect propriety in every way, being as he is "good in very truth" and "four-square without reproach:"
But the accidents of fortune are many and vary in degree of magnitude; and although small pieces of good luck, as also of misfortune, clearly do not change the whole course of life, yet great and repeated successes will render life more blissful, since both of their own nature they help to embellish happiness, and also they can be nobly and virtuously utilized; while great and frequent reverses can crush and mar our bliss both by the pain they cause and by the hindrance they offer to many activities. Yet nevertheless even in adversity nobility shines through, when a man endures repeated and severe misfortune with patience, not owing to insensibility but from generosity and greatness of soul. And if, as we said, a man's life is determined by his activities, no supremely happy man can ever become miserable. For he will never do hateful or base actions, since we hold that the truly good and wise man will bear all kinds of fortune in a seemly way, and will always act in the noblest manner that the circumstances allow; even as a good general makes the most effective use of the forces at his disposal, and a good shoemaker makes the finest shoe possible out of the leather supplied him, and so on with all the other crafts and professions. And this being so, the happy man can never become miserable; though it is true he will not be supremely blessed if he encounters the misfortunes of a Priam. Nor yet assuredly will he be variable and liable to change; for he will not be dislodged from his happiness easily, nor by ordinary misfortunes, but only by severe and frequent disasters, nor will he recover from such disasters and become happy again quickly, but only, if at all, after a long term of years, in which he has had time to compass high distinctions and achievements.
May not we then confidently pronounce that man happy who realizes complete virtue in action, and is adequately furnished with external goods, not for any casual period but throughout a complete lifetime? Or should we add, that he must also be destined to go on living in the same manner, and to die accordingly, because the future is hidden from us, and we conceive happiness as an end, something utterly and absolutely final and complete? If this is so, we shall pronounce those of the living who possess and are destined to go on possessing the good things we have specified to be supremely blessed, though on the human scale of bliss.
So much for a discussion of this question.
XI. That the happiness of the dead is not influenced at all by the fortunes of their descendants and their friends in. general seems too heartless a doctrine, and contrary to accepted beliefs. But the accidents of life are many and diverse, and vary in the degree in which they affect us. To distinguish between them in detail would clearly be a long and indeed endless undertaking, and a general treatment in outline may perhaps be enough. Even our own misfortunes, then, though in some cases they exercise considerable weight and influence upon the course of our lives, in other cases seem comparatively unimportant; and the same is true of the misfortune of our friends of all degrees. Also it makes a great difference whether any calamity happens during one's lifetime or when one is dead, much more so than it does in a tragedy whether the crimes and horrors are assumed to have taken place beforehand or are enacted on the stage. We ought therefore to take this difference also into account, and still more perhaps the doubt that exists whether the dead really participate in good or evil at all. For the above considerations seem to show that even if any good or evil does penetrate to them, the effect is only small and trifling, either intrinsically or in relation to them, or if not trifling, at all events not of such magnitude and kind as to make the unhappy happy or to rob the happy of their blessedness.
It does then appear that the dead are influenced in some measure by the good fortune of their friends, and likewise by their misfortunes, but that the effect is not of such a kind or degree as to render the happy unhappy or vice versa.
XII. These questions being settled, let us consider whether happiness is one of the things we praise or rather one of those that we honour; for it is at all events clear that it is not a mere potentiality.
Now it appears that a thing which we praise is always praised because it has a certain quality and stands in a certain relation to something. For we praise just men and brave men, in fact good men and virtue generally, because of their actions and the results they produce; and also we praise those who are strong of body, swift of foot and the like on account of their possessing certain natural qualities, and standing in a certain relation to something good and excellent. The point is also illustrated by our feeling about praises addressed to the gods: it strikes us as absurd that the gods should be referred to our standards, and this is what praising them amounts to, since praise, as we said, involves a reference of its object to something else. But if praise belongs to what is relative, it is clear that the best things do not merit praise, but something greater and better: as indeed is generally recognized, since we speak of the gods as blessed and happy, and also "blessed" is the term that we apply to the most godlike men; and similarly with good things — no one praises happiness as one praises justice, but we call it "a blessing," deeming it something higher and more divine than things we praise.
Indeed it seems that Eudoxus took a good line in advocating the claims of pleasure to the prize of highest excellence, when he held that the fact that pleasure, though a good, is not praised, is an indication that it is superior to the things we praise, as God and the Good are, because they are the standards to which everything else is referred.
For praise belongs to virtue, since it is this that makes men capable of accomplishing noble deeds, while encomia are for deeds accomplished, whether bodily feats or achievements of the mind. However, to develop this subject is perhaps rather the business of those who have made a study of encomia. For our purpose we may draw the conclusion from the foregoing remarks, that happiness is a thing honoured and perfect. This seems to be borne out by the fact that it is a first principle or starting-point, since all other things that all men do are done for its sake; and that which is the first principle and cause of things good we agree to be something honourable and divine.
XIII. But inasmuch as happiness is a certain activity of soul in conformity with perfect virtue, it is necessary to examine the nature of virtue. For this will probably assist us in our investigation of the nature of happiness. Also, the true statesman seems to be one who has made a special study of virtue, since his aim is to make the citizens good and law-abiding men — witness the lawgivers of Crete and Sparta, and the other great legislators of history; but if the study of virtue falls within the province of Political Science, it is clear that in investigating virtue we shall be keeping to the plan which we laid down at the outset.
Now the virtue that we have to consider is clearly human virtue, since the good or happiness which we set out to seek is human good and human happiness. But human virtue means in our view excellence of soul, not excellence of body; indeed our definition of happiness is an activity of the soul. Now if this is so, clearly it behooves the statesman to have some acquaintance with psychology, just as the physician who is to heal the eye or the other parts of the body must know their anatomy. Indeed a foundation of science is even more requisite for the statesman, inasmuch as politics is a higher and more honourable art than medicine; but physicians of the better class devote much attention to the study of the human body. The student of politics therefore as well as the psychologist must study the nature of the soul, though he will do so as an aid to politics, and only so far as is requisite for the objects of enquiry that he has in view: to pursue the subject in further detail would doubtless be more laborious than is necessary for his purpose.
Now on the subject of psychology some of the teaching current in extraneous discourses is satisfactory, and may be adopted here: namely that the soul consists of two parts, one irrational and the other capable of reason. (Whether these two parts are really distinct in the sense that the parts of the body or of any other divisible whole are distinct, or whether though distinguishable in thought as two they are inseparable in reality, like the convex and concave sides of a curve, is a question of no importance for the matter in hand.) Of the irrational part of the soul again one division appears to be common to all living things, and of a vegetative nature: I refer to the p_ art that causes nutrition and growth; for we must assume that a vital faculty of this nature exists in all things that assimilate nourishment, including embryos — the same faculty being present also in the fully-developed organism (this is more reasonable than to assume a different nutritive faculty in the latter). The excellence of this faculty therefore appears to be common to all animate things and not peculiar to man; for it is believed that this faculty or part of the soul is most active during sleep, but when they are asleep you cannot tell a good man from a bad one (whence the saying that for half their lives there is no difference between the happy and the miserable). This is a natural result of the fact that sleep is a cessation of the soul from the functions on which its goodness or badness depend — except that in some small degree certain of the bodily processes may emerge into consciousness during sleep, and consequently the dreams of the good are better than those of ordinary men. We need not however pursue this subject further, but may omit from consideration the nutritive part of the soul, since it exhibits no specifically human excellence.
But there also appears to be another element in the soul, which, though irrational, yet in a manner participates in rational principle. In self-restrained and unrestrained people we approve their principle, or the rational part of their souls, because it urges them in the right way and exhorts them for their good; but their nature seems also to contain another element beside that of rational principle, which combats and resists that principle. Exactly the same thing may take place in the soul as occurs with the body in a case of paralysis: when the patient wills to move his limbs to the right they swerve to the left; and similarly in unrestrained persons their impulses run counter to their principle. But whereas in the body we see the erratic member, in the case of the soul we do not see it; nevertheless it cannot be doubted that in the soul also there is an element beside that of principle, which opposes and runs counter to principle (though in what sense the two are distinct does not concern us here). But this second element also seems, as we said, to participate in rational principle; at least in the self-restrained man it obeys the behest of principle — and no doubt in the temperate and brave man it is still more amenable, for all parts of his nature are in harmony with principle.
Thus we see that the irrational part, as well as the soul as a whole, is double. One division of it, the vegetative, does not share in rational principle at all; the other, the seat of the appetites and of desire in general, does in a sense participate in principle, as being amenable and obedient to it (in the sense in fact in which we speak of "paying heed" to one's father and friends, not in the sense of the term "rational" in mathematics). And that principle can in a manner appeal to the irrational part, is indicated by our practice of admonishing delinquents, and by our employment of rebuke and exhortation generally.
If on the other hand it be more correct to speak of the appetitive part of the soul also as rational, in that case it is the rational part which, as well as the whole soul, is divided into two, the one division having rational principle in the proper sense and in itself, the other in the sense in which a child listens to its father.
Now virtue also is differentiated in correspondence with this division of the soul. Some forms of virtue are called intellectual virtues, others moral virtues: Wisdom, Understanding, and Prudence are intellectual, Liberality and Temperance are moral virtues. When describing a man's moral character we do not say that he is wise or intelligent, but gentle or temperate; but a wise man also is praised for his disposition, and praiseworthy dispositions we term virtues.
I have added below a short chapter from Aristotle's Physics, which deals with the already mentioned issue of teleology. Damagingly misguided though the argument may be, its orderly and dispassionate exposition provides a good example of Aristotle's style.
We must now consider why Nature is to be ranked among causes that are final, that is to say purposeful; and further we must consider what is meant by "necessity" when we are speaking of Nature. For thinkers are for ever referring things to necessity as a cause, and explaining that, since hot and cold and so forth are what they are, this or that exists or comes into being "of necessity"; for even if one or another of them alleges some other cause, such as "Sympathy and Antipathy" or "Mind," he straight away drops it again, after a mere acknowledgement.
So here the question arises whether we have any reason to regard Nature as making for any goal at all, or as seeking any one thing as preferable to any other. Why not say, it is asked, that Nature acts as Zeus drops the rain, not to make the corn grow, but of necessity (for the rising vapour must needs be condensed into water by the cold, and must then descend, and incidentally, when this happens, the corn grows), just as, when a man loses his corn on the threshing-floor, it did not rain on purpose to destroy the crop, but the result was merely incidental to the raining? So why should it not be the same with natural organs like the teeth? Why should it not be a coincidence that the front teeth come up with an edge, suited to dividing the food, and the back ones flat and good for grinding it, without there being any design in the matter? And so with all other organs that seem to embody a purpose. In cases where a coincidence brought about such a combination as might have been arranged on purpose, the creatures, it is urged, having been suitably formed by the operation of chance, survived; otherwise they perished, and still perish, as Empedocles says of his "man-faced oxen."
Such and suchlike are the arguments which may be urged in raising this problem; but it is impossible that this should really be the way of it. For all these phenomena and all natural things are either constant or normal, and this is contrary to the very meaning of luck or chance. No one assigns it to chance or to a remarkable coincidence if there is abundant rain in the winter, though he would if there were in the dog-days; and the other way about, if there were parching heat. Accordingly, if the only choice is to assign these occurrences either to coincidence or to purpose, and if in these cases chance coincidence is out of the question, then it must be purpose. But, as our opponents themselves would admit, these occurrences are all natural. There is purpose, then, in what is, and in what happens, in Nature.
Further, in any operation of human art, where there is an end to be achieved, the earlier and successive stages of the operation are performed for the purpose of realizing that end. Now, when a thing is produced by Nature, the earlier stages in every case lead up to the final development in the same way as in the operation of art, andvice-versa, provided that no impediment balks the process. The operation is directed by a purpose; we may, therefore, infer that the natural process was guided by a purpose to the end that is realized. Thus, if a house were a natural product, the process would pass through the same stages that it in fact passes through when it is produced by art; and if natural products could also be produced by art, they would move along the same line that the natural process actually takes. We may therefore say that the earlier stages are for the purpose of leading to the later. Indeed, as a general proposition, the arts either, on the basis of Nature, carry things further than Nature can, or they imitate Nature. If, then, artificial processes are purposeful, so are natural processes too; for the relation of antecedent to consequent is identical in art and in Nature.
This principle comes out most clearly when we consider the other animals. For their doings are not the outcome of art (design) or of previous research or deliberation; so that some raise the question whether the works of spiders and ants and so on should be attributed to intelligence or to some similar faculty. And then, descending step by step, we find that plants too produce organs subservient to their perfect development — leaves, for instance, to shelter the fruit. Hence, if it is by nature and also for a purpose that the swallow makes her nest and the spider his web, and that plants make leaves for the sake of the fruit and strike down (and not up) with their roots in order to get their nourishment, it is clear that causality of the kind we have described is at work in things that come about or exist in the course of Nature.
Also, since the term "nature" is applied both to material and to form, and since it is the latter that constitutes the goal, and all else is for the sake of that goal, it follows that the form is the final cause.
Now there are failures even in the arts (for writers make mistakes in writing and physicians administer the wrong dose); so that analogous failures in Nature may evidently be anticipated as possible. Thus, if in art there are cases in which the correct procedure serves a purpose, and attempts that fail are aimed at a purpose but miss it, we may take it to be the same in Nature, and monstrosities will be like failures of purpose in Nature. So if, in the primal combinations, such "ox-creatures" as could not reach an equilibrium and goal, should appear, it would be by the miscarriage of some principle, as monstrous births are actually produced now by abortive developments of sperm. Besides, the sperm must precede the formation of the animal, and Empedocles' "primal all-generative" is no other than such sperm.
In plants, too, though they are less elaborately articulated, there are manifest indications of purpose. Are we to suppose, then, that as there were "ox-creatures man-faced" so also there were "vine-growths olive-bearing"? Incongruous as such a thing seems, it ought to follow if we accept the principle in the case of animals. Moreover, it ought still to be a matter of chance what comes up when you sow this seed or that.
In general, the theory does away with the whole order of Nature, and indeed with Nature's self. For natural things are exactly those which do move continuously, in virtue of a principle inherent in themselves, towards a determined goal; and the final development which results from any one such principle is not identical for any two species, nor yet is it any random result; but in each there is always a tendency towards an identical result, if nothing interferes with the process. A desirable result and the means to it may also be produced by chance, as for instance we say it was "by luck" that the stranger came and ransomed the prisoner before he left, where the ransoming is done as if the man had come for that purpose, though in fact he did not. In this case the desirable result is incidental; for, as we have explained, chance is an incidental cause. But when the desirable result is effected invariably or normally, it is not an incidental or chance occurrence; and in the course of Nature the result always is achieved either invariably or normally, if nothing hinders. It is absurd to suppose that there is no purpose because in Nature we can never detect the moving power in the act of deliberation. Art, in fact, does not deliberate either, and if the shipbuilding art were incorporate in the timber, it would proceed by nature in the same way in which it now proceeds by art. If purpose, then, is inherent in art, so is it in Nature also. The best illustration is the case of a man being his own physician, for Nature is like that — agent and patient at once.
That Nature is a cause, then, and a goal-directed cause, is above dispute.