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Unformatted text preview: Nicomachean Ethics Book I Chapter 6 What is the meaning of the universal good? Plato and the other supporters of the Forms are dear to us. But we must give up theories that were once our own in the interest of truth. We should honor truth more than friends. The "good" is used in substance, quality and relatedness. There cannot be a Form common to the good-as-such and the good as a relation. The term "good" has many meanings: describing substances, qualities, quantities, and relatedness. So it cannot be universal, common and single. Things connected with one Form all belong to a single science: but there cannot be a single science of the good. In war the good as "the right moment" is the proper concern of strategy. In food the good as "the proper amount" is the subject of medicine. Also the same definition that applies to man-as-such would apply to a particular man. Similarly, there is no difference between good-as-such and good: both are good. And the eternal one is no more good than the other. Someone might object that the Platonists do not refer to every kind of good, but only things loved for their own sake. The word "good" has two meanings: things that are intrinsically good things that are good as contributing to what is intrinsically good (useful things) Focus on the first: are intrinsically good things good by reference to a Form? What things are intrinsically good? Even if we pursue such things as thought, sight, pleasure, and honor for the sake of something else we would still call them intrinsically good. If nothing is good but the Form of Good then the Form would be pointless. If thought and sight, etc. are intrinsically good then the definition of good applies to all of them. But the definitions of "good" in honor, thought, and pleasure are different. Instead of saying that they are "good" because they derived from a single good we say so by analogy: as sight is good in the body intelligence is good in the soul. The Form of Good obviously cannot be realized by man. But we must be able to get the good we now seek. The Platonists may argue that the absolute good is a pattern that will help us have better knowledge of what is good for us. Yet while all the sciences seek out the good they do not consider the absolute good. What benefit might a carpenter, for example, gain from knowledge of absolute good? The physician, for example, practices medicine in particular cases. Chapter 7 The Good is Final So the good is different in medicine, strategy, etc. The good in each is that for the sake of which each thing is done: for example health in medicine. If there is some one end [goal] for everything we do this would be the good we can gain from action. Since there are many ends and since we choose some as a means, not all ends are final. The highest good must be something final. If there is one final end, that's the good, and if there are several, the good is the most perfect of these. What is pursued as an end-in-itself is more final. We always choose happiness as an end-in-itself. We choose honor, pleasure, etc. partly for themselves and partly for happiness. We do not choose happiness for the sake of honor, etc. The final good is self-sufficient. But a man does not live in isolation: he is by nature a social and political animal. What is self-sufficient is what makes life desirable and not deficient. The happy life is a self-sufficient life. Happiness is the most desirable of things. It cannot be improved on by addition of something else. A little trite? What is the proper function of man? ...
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