Page 73 of 87
We may well believe that as children and men have different ideas as to what is precious so too have the bad and the good: therefore, as we have many times said, those things are really precious and pleasant which seem so to the good man: and as to each individual that Working is most choiceworthy which is in accordance with his own state to the good man that is so which is in accordance with Virtue.
Happiness then stands not in amusement; in fact the very notion is absurd of the End being amusement, and of one’s toiling and enduring hardness all one’s life long with a view to amusement: for everything in the world, so to speak, we choose with some further End in view, except Happiness, for that is the End comprehending all others. Now to take pains and to labour with a view to amusement is plainly foolish and very childish: but to amuse one’s self with a view to steady employment afterwards, as Anacharsis says, is thought to be right: for amusement is like rest, and men want rest because unable to labour continuously.
Rest, therefore, is not an End, because it is adopted with a view to Working afterwards.
1177a] Again, it is held that the Happy Life must be one in the way of Excellence, and this is accompanied by earnestness and stands not in amusement. Moreover those things which are done in earnest, we say, are better than things merely ludicrous and joined with amusement: and we say that the Working of the better part, or the better man, is more earnest; and the Working of the better is at once better and more capable of Happiness.
Then, again, as for bodily Pleasures, any ordinary person, or even a slave, might enjoy them, just as well as the best man living but Happiness no one supposes a slave to share except so far as it is implied in life: because Happiness stands not in such pastimes but in the Workings in the way of Excellence, as has also been stated before.
Now if Happiness is a Working in the way of Excellence of course that Excellence must be the highest, that is to say, the Excellence of the best Principle. Whether then this best Principle is Intellect or some other which is thought naturally to rule and to lead and to conceive of noble and divine things, whether being in its own nature divine or the most divine of all our internal Principles, the Working of this in accordance with its own proper Excellence must be the perfect Happiness.
That it is Contemplative has been already stated: and this would seem to be consistent with what we said before and with truth: for, in the first place, this Working is of the highest kind, since the Intellect is the highest of our internal Principles and the subjects with which it is conversant the highest of all which fall within the range of our knowledge.
Next, it is also most Continuous: for we are better able to contemplate than to do anything else whatever, continuously.
Again, we think Pleasure must be in some way an ingredient in Happiness, and of all Workings in accordance with Excellence that in the way of Science is confessedly most pleasant: at least the pursuit of Science is thought to contain Pleasures admirable for purity and permanence; and it is reasonable to suppose that the employment is more pleasant to those who have mastered, than to those who are yet seeking for, it.
And the Self-Sufficiency which people speak of will attach chiefly to the Contemplative Working: of course the actual necessaries of life are needed alike by the man of science, and the just man, and all the other characters; but, supposing all sufficiently supplied with these, the just man needs people towards whom, and in concert with whom, to practise his justice; and in like manner the man of perfected self-mastery, and the brave man, and so on of the rest; whereas the man of science can contemplate and speculate even when quite alone, and the more entirely he deserves the appellation the more able is he to do so: it may be he can do better for having fellow-workers but still he is certainly most Self-Sufficient.
1177b] Again, this alone would seem to be rested in for its own sake, since nothing results from it beyond the fact of having contemplated; whereas from all things which are objects of moral action we do mean to get something beside the doing them, be the same more or less.
Also, Happiness is thought to stand in perfect rest; for we toil that we may rest, and war that we may be at peace. Now all the Practical Virtues require either society or war for their Working, and the actions regarding these are thought to exclude rest; those of war entirely, because no one chooses war, nor prepares for war, for war’s sake: he would indeed be thought a bloodthirsty villain who should make enemies of his friends to secure the existence of fighting and bloodshed. The Working also of the statesman excludes the idea of rest, and, beside the actual work of government, seeks for power and dignities or at least Happiness for the man himself and his fellow-citizens: a Happiness distinct the national Happiness which we evidently seek as being different and distinct.
If then of all the actions in accordance with the various virtues those of policy and war are pre-eminent in honour and greatness, and these are restless, and aim at some further End and are not choiceworthy for their own sakes, but the Working of the Intellect, being apt for contemplation, is thought to excel in earnestness, and to aim at no End beyond itself and to have Pleasure of its own which helps to increase the Working, and if the attributes of Self-Sufficiency, and capacity of rest, and unweariedness (as far as is compatible with the infirmity of human nature), and all other attributes of the highest Happiness, plainly belong to this Working, this must be perfect Happiness, if attaining a complete duration of life, which condition is added because none of the points of Happiness is incomplete.
But such a life will be higher than mere human nature, because a man will live thus, not in so far as he is man but in so far as there is in him a divine Principle: and in proportion as this Principle excels his composite nature so far does the Working thereof excel that in accordance with any other kind of Excellence: and therefore, if pure Intellect, as compared with human nature, is divine, so too will the life in accordance with it be divine compared with man’s ordinary life.
1178a] Yet must we not give ear to those who bid one as man to mind only man’s affairs, or as mortal only mortal things; but, so far as we can, make ourselves like immortals and do all with a view to living in accordance with the highest Principle in us, for small as it may be in bulk yet in power and preciousness it far more excels all the others.
In fact this Principle would seem to constitute each man’s “Self,” since it is supreme and above all others in goodness it would be absurd then for a man not to choose his own life but that of some other.
And here will apply an observation made before, that whatever is proper to each is naturally best and pleasantest to him: such then is to Man the life in accordance with pure Intellect (since this Principle is most truly Man), and if so, then it is also the happiest.