Superphysics Superphysics
Chapter 1

The Ends of Anything

by Aristotle Icon
5 minutes  • 936 words
Table of contents

Every art, and every science reduced to a teachable form, and similarly, every action and moral choice, aims at some good.

The Chief Good is said to be “that which all things aim at.”

There is a difference in the Ends proposed.

In some cases, they are acts of working. In other cases, certain works or tangible results beyond and beside the acts of working.

Where there are certain Ends beyond and beside the actions, the works are in their nature better than the acts of working.

Since actions and arts and sciences are many, the Ends likewise come to be many.

  • The end of the healing art is health.
  • The end of the ship-building art is a vessel.
  • The end of the military art is victory.
  • The end of domestic management is wealth,

Actions, arts, or sciences range under some one faculty. For example:

  • horsemanship has:
    • the art of making bridles
    • all that are connected with the manufacture of horse-furniture in general;
  • the military art has:
    • every action connected with war

In them, the Ends of the master-arts are more choice-worthy than those ranging under them. This is because it is with a view to the ends that those actions are pursued.

It makes no difference whether the acts of working are themselves the Ends of the actions, or something further beside them.

The Goal or End of Actions

All actions has some one End which we want for its own sake.

We do not choose in all instances with a further End in view.

For then, men would go on without limit and so the desire would be unsatisfied and fruitless.

This End plainly must be the Chief Good, i.e. the best thing of all.

The knowledge of that End must have great weight.

Like archers, with a mark in view, we shall be more likely to hit what is right.

We should try to describe, in outline at least, what it is the End of the sciences and faculties.

We naturally suppose that the End is that which is most commanding and inclusive.

πολιτικὴ[1] plainly answers to this description. This determines which of the sciences should be in the communities, and which kind individuals are to learn, and what degree of proficiency is to be required.

We see also ranging under this the most highly esteemed faculties, such as the art military, and that of domestic management, and Rhetoric.

This uses all the other practical sciences and lays down rules as to what men are to do and avoid.

The End of this must include the Ends of the rest, and so must be The Good of Man.

And grant that this is the same to the individual and to the community, yet surely that of the latter is plainly greater and more perfect to discover and preserve.

For to do this even for a single individual were a matter for contentment.

But to do it for a whole nation, and for communities generally, were more noble and godlike.

My treatise proposes such objects, which is of the nature of πολιτικὴ.

They should be made as distinctly clear as the nature of the subject-matter will admit.

Exactness must not be looked for in all discussions alike, any more than in all works of handicraft.

πολιτικὴ is concerned with the examination of the notions of nobleness and justice.

These admit of variation and error to such a degree, that they are supposed by some to exist conventionally only, and not in the nature of things.

But then, again, the things which are allowed to be goods admit of a similar error, because harm comes to many from them: for before now some have perished through wealth, and others through valour.

We must be content then, in speaking of such things and from such data, to set forth the truth roughly and in outline.

In other words, since we are speaking of general matter and from general data, to draw also conclusions merely general.

In the same spirit should each person receive what we say: for the man of education will seek exactness so far in each subject as the nature of the thing admits, it being plainly much the same absurdity to put up with a mathematician who tries to persuade instead of proving, and to demand strict demonstrative reasoning of a Rhetorician.

Each man judges well what he knows, and of these things he is a good judge. On each particular matter then he is a good judge who has been instructed in it, and in a general way the man of general mental cultivation.[2]

Hence the young man is not a fit student of Moral Philosophy, for he has no experience in the actions of life.

He is apt to follow the impulses of his passions, he will hear as though he heard not, and to no profit, the end in view being practice and not mere knowledge.

I draw no distinction between young in years, and youthful in temper and disposition: the defect to which I allude being no direct result of the time, but of living at the beck and call of passion, and following each object as it rises.[3]

For to them that are such the knowledge comes to be unprofitable, as to those of imperfect self-control: but, to those who form their desires and act in accordance with reason, to have knowledge on these points must be very profitable.

Let thus much suffice by way of preface on these three points, the student, the spirit in which our observations should be received, and the object which we propose.

Any Comments? Post them below!