The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle

By F. H. Peters; Aristotle | Go to book overview

BOOK VI. .
THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES

1. WE said above that what we should choose neither too much nor too little, but "the mean," and that "the mean" is what "right reason" prescribes. This we now have to explain.

1

Must be studied because (a) reason prescribes the mean, (b) they are a part of human excellence. The intellect is (1) scientific, (2) calculative : we want the virtue of each

Each of the virtues we have discussed implies (as every mental habit implies) some aim which the rational man keeps in view when he is regulating his efforts; in other words, there must be some standard for determining the several modes of moderation, which we say lie between excess and deficiency, and axe in accordance with "right reason." But though this is quite true, it is not sufficiently precise. In any kind of occupation which can be reduced to rational principles, it is quite true to say that we must brace ourselves up and relax ourselves neither too much nor too little, but "in moderation," "as right reason orders;" but this alone would not tell one much; e.g. a man would hardly learn how to treat a case by being told to treat it as the art of medicine prescribes, and as one versed in that art would treat it.

2

So in the case of mental habits or types of character also it is not enough that the rule we have

3

-180-

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