Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 7, Chapter 13 (1153b1-1154a7)

By Aristotle

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Book 7, Chapter 13 (1153b1-1154a7)

  • Aristotle wants to go on record: pain is a bad thing and should be avoided.
  • Pain is bad in a general sense. But it can also be bad because it's an impediment to other things.
  • The opposite of the bad, then, is the good.
  • Do you see where this is headed? (Hint: pleasure is good).
  • Moreover, a pleasure might be the best thing. If pleasure is the activity of characteristics (i.e. virtues), the pursuit of pleasure might be happiness—which is the best thing ever.
  • Happy life = a pleasant life. Happiness is complete in itself, but requires other things to remain unspoiled (health, enough money to feed ourselves, good fortune).
  • Also, consider that everything, including animals and humans, is looking for pleasure. How, then, is this not the best thing?
  • We all pursue different pleasures according to our "characteristics," but essentially, we're going after the same thing.
  • It's a mistake to think that the term "pleasure" means only bodily pleasures, but it's easy to see how this happens. People like bodily pleasures above everything else.
  • Aristotle ends this chapter with a zinger: if pleasure weren't good, why is it that happy people live pleasantly?
  • Well, there you go.

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