Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 3, Chapter 2 (1111b4-1112a17)

By Aristotle

Book 3, Chapter 2 (1111b4-1112a17)

  • Next up: choice. Choice is voluntary, but not in the same category of voluntary as things that children and animals can participate in (since children and animals are not rational).
  • Aristotle says that if we think choice is related to desire, spiritedness, wish, or opinion, we're mightily mistaken. Desire deals in pleasure and pain, but choice doesn't.
  • He dismisses any relationship of choice to spiritedness outright. And as for wishing...well, choice has nothing to do with impossibilities, as wishing often does.
  • Choice has to be something we can bring about ourselves, and unlike wishing, has nothing to do with the end of something.
  • Choice is about the means—how to achieve what we want.
  • And choice is not opinion.
  • On one hand "opining" about something delays choice, which is a kind of action.
  • On the other, you can opine about what is best and still choose the worse thing.
  • So what is choice? It's definitely voluntary, even though not all voluntary things are something to be chosen.
  • Aristotle ends by saying that it might be the product of deliberation.