Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 1, Chapter 1 (1094a1-19)

By Aristotle

Book 1, Chapter 1 (1094a1-19)

  • Aristotle opens his inquiry by contemplating what is good.
  • Everything, he says, aims at what is good. Since he loves to categorize, Aristotle is going to break it down for us. (Oh, will he ever.)
  • The ends (i.e. the ultimate good at which a person is aiming) differ depending on the field or activity a person is working in.
  • So for military leadership ("generalship") the end would be victory.
  • Within each field there are different "capacities": making horse bridles belongs to horsemanship, which in turn belongs to warfare (cavalry), which belongs to generalship.
  • But of these categories, the "architectonic" ones—the ones that systematize knowledge, creating structure for the field—are the absolute best ones.
  • To be more precise, the ends of the architectonic ones are the most "choiceworthy" because all the arts beneath them (i.e. bridle-making) exist for the sake of them (i.e. generalship).
  • Dang, Aristotle. You're a smart dude.