Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 3, Chapter 11 (1118b9-1119a20)

By Aristotle

Book 3, Chapter 11 (1118b9-1119a20)

  • The desire for sex and food is natural for humans and common to all of us. But other than these, we're each unique in what we desire.
  • These "natural" desires tend to be abused in one way: through excess.
  • In the more bizarre desires, however, there are many ways to err. We might enjoy things we shouldn't, or just enjoy these things too much.
  • A licentious person suffers pain but it isn't the same kind of pain suffered by a courageous person. Instead, they feel pain when pleasure is taken away from them.
  • A moderate person is never bothered by having to give up pleasures.
  • Also, a licentious person makes all of his decisions based on getting pleasure, which will lead him to bad behavior at some point.
  • So here's a paradox: extreme pleasure-seekers suffer more pain than the moderates, since they are pained when they miss out on pleasure and pained when they choose badly because of it.
  • A moderate person enjoys pleasure, but only the kind that leads to health and happiness.