Sacred Texts  Classics  Aristotle 

The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle

translated by William David Ross


Title Page

Book I: The Good for Man

Chapter 1. All human activities aim at some good: some goods subordinate to others
Chapter 2. The science of the good for man is politics
Chapter 3. We must not expect more precision than the subject-matter admits. The student should have reached years of discretion
Chapter 4. The good 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
Chapter 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
Chapter 6. Discussion of the philosophical view that there is an Idea of good
Chapter 7. The good must be something final and self-sufficient. Definition of happiness reached by considering the characteristic function of man
Chapter 8. This definition is confirmed by current beliefs about happiness
Chapter 9. Is happiness acquired by learning or habituation, or sent by God or by chance?--
Chapter 10. Should no man be called happy while he lives?
Chapter 11. Do the fortunes of the living affect the dead?
Chapter 12. Virtue is praiseworthy, but happiness is above praise
Chapter 13. Division of the faculties, and resultant division of virtue into intellectual and moral

Book II: Moral Virtue

Chapter 1. Moral virtue, like the arts, is acquired by repetition of the corresponding acts
Chapter 2. These acts cannot be prescribed exactly, but must avoid excess and defect
Chapter 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
Chapter 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
Chapter 5. Moral virtue's genus: it is a state of character, not a passion nor a faculty
Chapter 6. Its differentia: it is a disposition to choose the mean
Chapter 7. This proposition illustrated by reference to the particular virtues
Chapter 8. The extremes are opposed to each other and the mean
Chapter 9. The mean is hard to attain, and is grasped by perception, not by reasoning

Book III: Moral Virtue

Chapter 1. Praise and blame attach to voluntary actions, i.e. actions done (1) not under compulsion, and (2) with knowledge of the circumstances
Chapter 2. Moral virtue implies that the action is done (3) by choice; the object of choice is the result of previous deliberation
Chapter 3. The nature of deliberation and its objects: choice is the deliberate desire of things in our own power
Chapter 4. The object of rational wish is the end, i.e. the good or the apparent good
Chapter 5. We are responsible for bad as well as for good actions
Chapter 6. Courage concerned with the feelings of fear and confidence--strictly speaking, with the fear of death in battle
Chapter 7. The motive of courage is the sense of honour: characteristics of the opposite vices, cowardice and rashness
Chapter 8. Five kinds of courage improperly so called
Chapter 9. Relation of courage to pain and pleasure
Chapter 10. Temperance is limited to certain pleasures of touch
Chapter 11. Characteristics of temperance and its opposites, self-indulgence and 'insensibility'
Chapter 12. Self-indulgence more voluntary than cowardice: comparison of the self-indulgent man to the spoilt child

Book IV. Moral Virtue

Chapter 1. Liberality, prodigality, meanness
Chapter 2. Magnificence, vulgarity, niggardliness
Chapter 3. Pride, vanity, humility
Chapter 4. Ambition, unambitiousness, and the mean between them
Chapter 5. Good temper, irascibility, inirascibility.
Chapter 6. Friendliness, obsequiousness, churlishness
Chapter 7. Truthfulness, boastfulness, mock-modesty
Chapter 8. Ready wit, buffoonery, boorishness
Chapter 9. Shame, bashfulness, shamelessness

Book V. Moral Virtue

Chapter 1. The just as the lawful (universal justice) and the just as the fair and equal (particular justice): the former considered
Chapter 2. The latter considered: divided into distributive and rectificatory justice
Chapter 3. Distributive justice, in accordance with geometrical proportion
Chapter 4. Rectificatory justice, in accordance with arithmetical progression
Chapter 5. Justice in exchange, reciprocity in accordance with proportion
Chapter 6. Political justice and analogous kinds of justice
Chapter 7. Natural and legal justice
Chapter 8. The scale of degrees of wrongdoing
Chapter 9. Can a man be voluntarily treated unjustly?...
Chapter 10. Equity, a corrective of legal justice
Chapter 11. Can a man treat himself unjustly

Book VI. Intellectual Virtue

Chapter 1. Reasons for studying intellectual virtue: intellect divided into the contemplative and the calculative
Chapter 2. The object of the former is truth, that of the latter truth corresponding with right desire
Chapter 3. Science--demonstrative knowledge of the necessary and eternal
Chapter 4. Art--knowledge of how to make things
Chapter 5. Practical wisdom--knowledge of how to secure the ends of human life
Chapter 6. Intuitive reason--knowledge of the principles from which science proceeds
Chapter 7. Philosophic wisdom--the union of intuitive reason and science
Chapter 8. Relations between practical wisdom and political science
Chapter 9. Goodness in deliberation, how related to practical wisdom
Chapter 10. Understanding--the critical quality answering to the imperative quality practical wisdom
Chapter 11. Judgement--right discrimination of the equitable: the place of intuition in morals
Chapter 12. What is the use of philosophic and of practical wisdom?...
Chapter 13. Relation of practical wisdom to natural virtue, moral virtue, and the right rule

Book VII. Continence and Incontinence

Chapter 1. Six varieties of character: method of treatment: current opinions
Chapter 2. Contradictions involved in these opinions
Chapter 3. Solution of the problem, in what sense the incontinent man acts against knowledge
Chapter 4. Solution of the problem, what is the sphere of incontinence: its proper and its extended sense distinguished
Chapter 5. Incontinence in its extended sense includes a brutish and a morbid form
Chapter 6. Incontinence in respect of anger less disgraceful than incontinence proper
Chapter 7. Softness and endurance: two forms of incontinence--weakness and impetuosity
Chapter 8. Self-indulgence worse than incontinence
Chapter 9. Relation of continence to obstinancy, incontinence, 'insensibility', temperence
Chapter 10. Practical wisdom is not compatible with incontinence, but cleverness is
Chapter 11. Three views hostile to pleasure, and the arguments for them
Chapter 12. Discussion of the view that pleasure is not a good
Chapter 13. Discussion of the view that pleasure is not the chief good
Chapter 14. Discussion of the view that most pleasures are bad, and of the tendency to identify bodily pleasures with pleasure in general

Book VIII. Friendship

Chapter 1. Friendship both necessary and noble: main questions about it
Chapter 2. Three objects of love: implications of friendship
Chapter 3. Three corresponding kinds of friendship: superiority of friendship whose motive is the good
Chapter 4. Contrast between the best and the inferior kinds
Chapter 5. The state of friendship distinguished from the activity of friendship and from the feeling of friendliness
Chapter 6. Various relations between the three kinds
Chapter 7. In unequal friendships a proportion must be maintained
Chapter 8. Loving is more of the essence of friendship than being loved
Chapter 9. Parallelism of friendship and justice: the state comprehends all lesser communities
Chapter 10. Classification of constitutions: analogies with family relations
Chapter 11. Corresponding forms of friendship, and of justice
Chapter 12. Various forms of friendship between relations
Chapter 13. Principles of interchange of services (a) in friendship between equals
Chapter 14. (b) In friendship between unequals

Book IX. Friendship

Chapter 1. (c) In friendship in which the motives on the two sides are different
Chapter 2. Conflict of obligations
Chapter 3. Occasions of breaking off friendship
Chapter 4. Friendship is based on self-love
Chapter 5. Relation of friendship to goodwill
Chapter 6. Relation of friendship to unanimity
Chapter 7. The pleasure of beneficence
Chapter 8. The nature of true self-love
Chapter 9. Why does the happy man need friends?
Chapter 10. The limit to the number of friends
Chapter 11. Are friends more needed in good or in bad fortune?
Chapter 12. The essence of friendship is living together
Book X. Pleasure. Happiness.
Chapter 1. Two opposed views about pleasure
Chapter 2. Discussion of the view that pleasure is the good
Chapter 3. Discussion of the view that pleasure is wholly bad
Chapter 4. Definition of pleasure
Chapter 5. Pleasures differ with the activities which they accompany and complete: criterion of the value of pleasures
Chapter 6. Happiness is a good activity, not amusement
Chapter 7. Happiness in the highest sense is the contemplative life
Chapter 8. Superiority of the contemplative life further considered
Chapter 9. Legislation is needed if the end is to be attained: transition to Politics