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- Ethics - 30/58 -

And all matters of Moral Action belong to the class of particulars, otherwise called extremes: for the man of Practical Wisdom must know them, and Judiciousness and [Greek: gnomae] are concerned with matters of Moral Actions, which are extremes.

[Sidenote:1143b] Intuition, moreover, takes in the extremes at both ends: I mean, the first and last terms must be taken in not by reasoning but by Intuition [so that Intuition comes to be of two kinds], and that which belongs to strict demonstrative reasonings takes in immutable, i.e. Necessary, first terms; while that which is employed in practical matters takes in the extreme, the Contingent, and the minor Premiss: for the minor Premisses are the source of the Final Cause, Universals being made up out of Particulars. To take in these, of course, we must have Sense, i.e. in other words Practical Intuition. And for this reason these are thought to be simply gifts of nature; and whereas no man is thought to be Scientific by nature, men are thought to have [Greek: gnomae], and Judiciousness, and Practical Intuition: a proof of which is that we think these faculties are a consequence even of particular ages, and this given age has Practical Intuition and [Greek: gnomae], we say, as if under the notion that nature is the cause. And thus Intuition is both the beginning and end, because the proofs are based upon the one kind of extremes and concern the other.

And so one should attend to the undemonstrable dicta and opinions of the skilful, the old and the Practically-Wise, no less than to those which are based on strict reasoning, because they see aright, having gained their power of moral vision from experience.


Well, we have now stated the nature and objects of Practical Wisdom and Science respectively, and that they belong each to a different part of the Soul. But I can conceive a person questioning their utility. "Science," he would say, "concerns itself with none of the causes of human happiness (for it has nothing to do with producing anything): Practical Wisdom has this recommendation, I grant, but where is the need of it, since its province is those things which are just and honourable, and good for man, and these are the things which the good man as such does; but we are not a bit the more apt to do them because we know them, since the Moral Virtues are Habits; just as we are not more apt to be healthy or in good condition from mere knowledge of what relates to these (I mean, of course, things so called not from their producing health, etc., but from their evidencing it in a particular subject), for we are not more apt to be healthy and in good condition merely from knowing the art of medicine or training.

"If it be urged that _knowing what is_ good does not by itself make a Practically-Wise man but _becoming_ good; still this Wisdom will be no use either to those that are good, and so have it already, or to those who have it not; because it will make no difference to them whether they have it themselves or put themselves under the guidance of others who have; and we might be contented to be in respect of this as in respect of health: for though we wish to be healthy still we do not set about learning the art of healing.

"Furthermore, it would seem to be strange that, though lower in the scale than Science, it is to be its master; which it is, because whatever produces results takes the rule and directs in each matter."

This then is what we are to talk about, for these are the only points now raised.

[Sidenote:1144a] Now first we say that being respectively Excellences of different parts of the Soul they must be choiceworthy, even on the supposition that they neither of them produce results.

In the next place we say that they _do_ produce results; that Science makes Happiness, not as the medical art but as healthiness makes health: because, being a part of Virtue in its most extensive sense, it makes a man happy by being possessed and by working.

Next, Man's work _as Man_ is accomplished by virtue of Practical Wisdom and Moral Virtue, the latter giving the right aim and direction, the former the right means to its attainment; but of the fourth part of the Soul, the mere nutritive principle, there is no such Excellence, because nothing is in its power to do or leave undone.

As to our not being more apt to do what is noble and just by reason of possessing Practical Wisdom, we must begin a little higher up, taking this for our starting-point. As we say that men may do things in themselves just and yet not be just men; for instance, when men do what the laws require of them, either against their will, or by reason of ignorance or something else, at all events not for the sake of the things themselves; and yet they do what they ought and all that the good man should do; so it seems that to be a good man one must do each act in a particular frame of mind, I mean from Moral Choice and for the sake of the things themselves which are done. Now it is Virtue which makes the Moral Choice right, but whatever is naturally required to carry out that Choice comes under the province not of Virtue but of a different faculty. We must halt, as it were, awhile, and speak more clearly on these points.

There is then a certain faculty, commonly named Cleverness, of such a nature as to be able to do and attain whatever conduces to _any_ given purpose: now if that purpose be a good one the faculty is praiseworthy; if otherwise, it goes by a name which, denoting strictly the ability, implies the willingness to do _anything_; we accordingly call the Practically-Wise Clever, and also those who can and will do anything.

Now Practical Wisdom is not identical with Cleverness, nor is it without this power of adapting means to ends: but this Eye of the Soul (as we may call it) does not attain its proper state without goodness, as we have said before and as is quite plain, because the syllogisms into which Moral Action may be analysed have for their Major Premiss, "since ----------is the End and the Chief Good" (fill up the blank with just anything you please, for we merely want to exhibit the Form, so that anything will do), but _how_ this blank should be filled is seen only by the good man: because Vice distorts the moral vision and causes men to be deceived in respect of practical principles.

It is clear, therefore, that a man cannot be a Practically-Wise, without being a good, man.


[Sidenote:1144b] We must inquire again also about Virtue: for it may be divided into Natural Virtue and Matured, which two bear to each other a relation similar to that which Practical Wisdom bears to Cleverness, one not of identity but resemblance. I speak of Natural Virtue, because men hold that each of the moral dispositions attach to us all somehow by nature: we have dispositions towards justice, self-mastery and courage, for instance, immediately from our birth: but still we seek Goodness in its highest sense as something distinct from these, and that these dispositions should attach to us in a somewhat different fashion. Children and brutes have these natural states, but then they are plainly hurtful unless combined with an intellectual element: at least thus much is matter of actual experience and observation, that as a strong body destitute of sight must, if set in motion, fall violently because it has not sight, so it is also in the case we are considering: but if it can get the intellectual element it then excels in acting. Just so the Natural State of Virtue, being like this strong body, will then be Virtue in the highest sense when it too is combined with the intellectual element.

So that, as in the case of the Opinionative faculty, there are two forms, Cleverness and Practical Wisdom; so also in the case of the Moral there are two, Natural Virtue and Matured; and of these the latter cannot be formed without Practical Wisdom.

This leads some to say that all the Virtues are merely intellectual Practical Wisdom, and Socrates was partly right in his inquiry and partly wrong: wrong in that he thought all the Virtues were merely intellectual Practical Wisdom, right in saying they were not independent of that faculty.

A proof of which is that now all, in defining Virtue, add on the "state" [mentioning also to what standard it has reference, namely that] "which is accordant with Right Reason:" now "right" means in accordance with Practical Wisdom. So then all seem to have an instinctive notion that that state which is in accordance with Practical Wisdom is Virtue; however, we must make a slight change in their statement, because that state is Virtue, not merely which is in accordance with but which implies the possession of Right Reason; which, upon such matters, is Practical Wisdom. The difference between us and Socrates is this: he thought the Virtues were reasoning processes (_i.e._ that they were all instances of Knowledge in its strict sense), but we say they imply the possession of Reason.

From what has been said then it is clear that one cannot be, strictly speaking, good without Practical Wisdom nor Practically-Wise without moral goodness.

And by the distinction between Natural and Matured Virtue one can meet the reasoning by which it might be argued "that the Virtues are separable because the same man is not by nature most inclined to all at once so that he will have acquired this one before he has that other:" we would reply that this is possible with respect to the Natural Virtues but not with respect to those in right of which a man is denominated simply good: because they will all belong to him together with the one faculty of Practical Wisdom. [Sidenote:1145a]

It is plain too that even had it not been apt to act we should have needed it, because it is the Excellence of a part of the Soul; and that the moral choice cannot be right independently of Practical Wisdom and Moral Goodness; because this gives the right End, that causes the doing these things which conduce to the End.

Then again, it is not Master of Science (i.e. of the superior part of the Soul), just as neither is the healing art Master of health; for it does not make use of it, but looks how it may come to be: so it commands for the sake of it but does not command it.

The objection is, in fact, about as valid as if a man should say [Greek: politikae] governs the gods because it gives orders about all things in the communty.


On [Greek: epistaemae], from I. Post. Analyt. chap. i. and ii.

(Such parts only are translated as throw light on the Ethics.)

All teaching, and all intellectual learning, proceeds on the basis of previous knowledge, as will appear on an examination of all. The Mathematical Sciences, and every other system, draw their conclusions in this method. So too of reasonings, whether by syllogism, or induction: for both teach through what is previously known, the former assuming the premisses as from wise men, the latter proving universals from

Ethics - 30/58

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