Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 10, Chapter 4 (1174a14-1175a20)

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Book 10, Chapter 4 (1174a14-1175a20)

  • Aristotle now musters his defenses for pleasure as the good. He begins by using a comparison to the eye. Seeing isn't incomplete just because other things may come into view.
  • Pleasure is like this, whole and complete at all times. Pleasure doesn't become something else just because it lasts longer.
  • For a similar reason, it's not a motion—since a motion is part of something larger and continuous.
  • He uses locomotion as an example, since it's a motion. It's incomplete and differs in form and type, depending on type of movement and who's doing the moving. Pleasure isn't like this.
  • Motion also takes place over time. Pleasure can as well, but it can also be complete in the present moment.
  • Aristotle references sense perception to support his theory of pleasure as the good. If all our sensory organs are working well, they help us perceive the best thing in each sense category.
  • When this happens—when our sensory experiences are complete--we experience pleasure.
  • Pleasure doesn't happen when we perceive something horrible, dirty, or rotten. It only happens when we perceive that which is good and noble.
  • And pleasure perfects or completes the sensory experience.
  • Also, pleasure only works its magic when both the perceiver and the perceived are good (each in their proper way).
  • If both the viewer and the object of the gaze are exactly what they should be, then, pleasure happens.
  • Pleasure can't go on continuously, forever. Aristotle says that's because it's linked with activity—as in the activity of the senses, for one.
  • Since living is an activity, Aristotle posits that humans might actually live for pleasure. We find it in different things—since pleasure is relative—but we do seek it in our daily lives.
  • It completes our good work, and we kind of love that. It makes us glad to be alive.
  • Pleasure's uniquely linked with activity—it is the happy completion of everything that we do.

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