The Nicomachean Ethics

Table of Contents



[ Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 ]

[ Book 6 | Book 7 | Book 8 | Book 9 | Book 10 ]

Book 1. The Good for Man

[ Book 1. ]

A. Subject of our inquiry.

1. All human activities aim at some good: some goods subordinate to others.

2. The science of the good for man is politics.

B. Nature of the science.

3. We must not expect more precision than the subject-matter admits. The student should have reached years of discretion.

C. What is the good for man?

4. It is generally agreed to be happiness, but there are various views as to what happiness is. What is required at the start is an unreasoned conviction about the facts, such as is produced by a good upbringing.

5. Discussion of the popular views that the good is pleasure, honour, wealth; a fourth kind of life, that of contemplation, deferred for future discussion.

6. Discussion of the philosophical view that there is an Idea of good.

7. The good must be something final and self-sufficient. Definition of happiness reached by considering the characteristic function of man.

8. This definition is confirmed by current beliefs about happiness.

9. Is happiness acquired by learning or habituation, or sent by God or by chance?

10. Should no man be called happy while he lives?

11. Do the fortunes of the living affect the dead?

12. Virtue is praiseworthy, but happiness is above praise.

D. Kinds of virtue.

13. Division of the faculties, and resultant division of virtue into intellectual and moral.

Books II-V. Moral Virtue

[ Book 2. ]

Books 2.1 -- 3.5. General Account

A. Moral virtue, how produced, in what materials and in what manner exhibited.

1. It, like the arts, is acquired by repetition of the corresponding acts.

2. These acts cannot be prescribed exactly, but must avoid excess and defect.

3. Pleasure in doing virtuous acts is a sign that the virtuous disposition has been acquired: a variety of considerations show the essential connexion of moral virtue with pleasure and pain.

4. The actions that produce moral virtue are not good in the same sense as those that flow from it: the latter must fulfil certain conditions not necessary in the case of the arts.

B. Definition of moral virtue.

5. Its genus: it is a state of character, not a passion nor a faculty.

6. Its differentia: it is a disposition to choose the mean.

7. This proposition illustrated by reference to the particular virtues.

C. Characteristics of the extreme and mean states: practical corollaries.

8. The extremes are opposed to each other and the mean.

9. The mean is hard to attain, and is grasped by perception, not by reasoning.

[ Book 3. ]

D. Inner side of moral virtue: conditions of responsibility for action.

1. Praise and blame attach to voluntary actions, i.e. actions done (1) not under compulsion, and (2) with knowledge of the circumstances. [continues here]

2. Moral virtue implies that the action is done (3) by choice; the object of choice is the result of previous deliberation.

3. The nature of deliberation and its objects: choice is the deliberate desire of things in our own power.

4. The object of rational wish is the end, i.e. the good or the apparent good.

5. We are responsible for bad as well as for good actions.

Books 3.6 -- 5.2. The Virtues and Vices

A. Courage.

6. Courage concerned with the feelings of fear and confidence -- strictly speaking, with the fear of death in battle.

7. The motive of courage is the sense of honour: characteristics of the opposite vices, cowardice and rashness.

8. Five kinds of courage improperly so called.

9. Relation of courage to pain and pleasure.

B. Temperance.

10. Temperance is limited to certain pleasures of touch.

11. Characteristics of temperance and its opposites, self-indulgence and 'insensibility'.

12. Self-indulgence more voluntary than cowardice: comparison of the self-indulgent man to the spoilt child.

[ Book 4. ]

C. Virtues concerned with money.

1. Liberality, prodigality, meanness. [continues here]

2. Magnificence, vulgarity, niggardliness.

D. Virtues concerned with honour.

3. Pride, vanity, humility. [continues here]

4. Ambition, unambitiousness, and the mean between them.

E. The virtue concerned with anger.

5. Good temper, irascibility, inirascibility.

F. Virtues of social intercourse.

6. Friendliness, obsequiousness, churlishness.

7. Truthfulness, boastfulness, mock-modesty.

8. Ready wit, buffoonery, boorishness.

G. A quasi-virtue.

9. Shame, bashfulness, shamelessness.

[ Book 5. ]

H. Justice.

I. Its sphere and outer nature: in what sense it is a mean.

1. The just as the lawful (universal justice) and the just as the fair and equal (particular justice): the former considered.

2. The latter considered: divided into distributive and rectificatory justice.

3. Distributive justice, in accordance with geometrical proportion.

4. Rectificatory justice, in accordance with arithmetical progression.

5. Justice in exchange, reciprocity in accordance with proportion.

6. Political justice and analogous kinds of justice.

7. Natural and legal justice.

2. Its inner nature as involving choice.

8. The scale of degrees of wrongdoing.

9. Can a man be voluntarily treated unjustly? Is it the distributor or the recipient that is guilty of injustice in distribution? Justice not so easy as it might seem, because it is not a way of acting but an inner disposition.

10. Equity, a corrective of legal justice.

11. Can a man treat himself unjustly?

Book 6. Intellectual Virtue

[ Book 6. ]

A. Introduction.

1. Reasons for studying intellectual virtue: intellect divided into the contemplative and the calculative.

2. The object of the former is truth, that of the latter truth corresponding with right desire.

B. The chief intellectual virtues.

3. Science -- demonstrative knowledge of the necessary and eternal.

4. Art -- knowledge of how to make things.

5. Practical wisdom -- knowledge of how to secure the ends of human life.

6. Intuitive reason -- knowledge of the principles from which science proceeds.

7. Philosophic wisdom -- the union of intuitive reason and science.

8. Relations between practical wisdom and political science.

C. Minor intellectual virtues concerned with conduct.

9. Goodness in deliberation, how related to practical wisdom.

10. Understanding -- the critical quality answering to the imperative quality practical wisdom.

11. Judgement -- right discrimination of the equitable: the place of intuition in morals.

D. Relation of philosophic to practical wisdom.

12. What is the use of philosophic and of practical wisdom? Philosophic wisdom is the formal cause of happiness; practical wisdom is what ensures the taking of proper means to the proper ends desired by moral virtue.

13. Relation of practical wisdom to natural virtue, moral virtue, and the right rule.

Book 7. Continence and Incontinence; Pleasure

[ Book 7. ]

A. Continence and incontinence.

1. Six varieties of character: method of treatment: current opinions.

2. Contradictions involved in these opinions.

3. Solution of the problem, in what sense the incontinent man acts against knowledge.

4. Solution of the problem, what is the sphere of incontinence: its proper and its extended sense distinguished.

5. Incontinence in its extended sense includes a brutish and a morbid form.

6. Incontinence in respect of anger less disgraceful than incontinence proper.

7. Softness and endurance: two forms of incontinence -- weakness and impetuosity.

8. Self-indulgence worse than incontinence.

9. Relation of continence to obstinancy, incontinence, 'insensibility', temperence.

10. Practical wisdom is not compatible with incontinence, but cleverness is.

B. Pleasure.

11. Three views hostile to pleasure, and the arguments for them.

12. Discussion of the view that pleasure is not a good.

13. Discussion of the view that pleasure is not the chief good.

14. Discussion of the view that most pleasures are bad, and of the tendency to identify bodily pleasures with pleasure in general.

Books 8, 9. Friendship

[ Book 8. ]

A. Kinds of friendship.

1. Friendship both necessary and noble: main questions about it.

2. Three objects of love: implications of friendship.

3. Three corresponding kinds of friendship: superiority of friendship whose motive is the good.

4. Contrast between the best and the inferior kinds.

5. The state of friendship distinguished from the activity of friendship and from the feeling of friendliness.

6. Various relations between the three kinds.

B. Reciprocity of friendship

7. In unequal friendships a proportion must be maintained.

8. Loving is more of the essence of friendship than being loved.

C. Relation of reciprocity in friendship to that involved in other forms of community.

9. Parallelism of friendship and justice: the state comprehends all lesser communities.

10. Classification of constitutions: analogies with family relations.

11. Corresponding forms of friendship, and of justice.

12. Various forms of friendship between relations.

D. Casuistry of friendship.

13. Principles of interchange of services (a) in friendship between equals.

14. (b) In friendship between unequals.

[ Book 9. ]

1. (c) In friendship in which the motives on the two sides are different.

2. Conflict of obligations.

3. Occasions of breaking off friendship.

E. Internal nature of friendship.

4. Friendship is based on self-love.

5. Relation of friendship to goodwill.

6. Relation of friendship to unanimity.

7. The pleasure of beneficence.

8. The nature of true self-love.

F. The need of friendship.

9. Why does the happy man need friends?

10. The limit to the number of friends.

11. Are friends more needed in good or in bad fortune?

12. The essence of friendship is living together.

Book 10. Pleasure; Happiness

[ Book 10. ]

A. Pleasure.

1. Two opposed views about pleasure.

2. Discussion of the view that pleasure is the good.

3. Discussion of the view that pleasure is wholly bad.

4. Definition of pleasure.

5. Pleasures differ with the activities which they accompany and complete: criterion of the value of pleasures.

B. Happiness.

6. Happiness is a good activity, not amusement.

7. Happiness in the highest sense is the contemplative life.

8. Superiority of the contemplative life further considered.

9. Legislation is needed if the end is to be attained: transition to Politics. [continues here]