Nicomachean Ethics / Aristotle

From Terence Irwin’s translation:

“The cultivated people, those active [in politics], conceive the good as honor, since this is more or less the end [normally pursued] in the political life. This, however, appears to be too superficial to be what we are seeking, since it seems to depend more on those who honor than on the one, honored, whereas we intuitively believe that good is something of our own and hard to take from us. Further, it would seem, they pursue honor to convince themselves that they are good; at any rate, they seek to be honored by intelligent people, among people who know them, and for virtue.

It is clear, then, that in the view of active people at least, virtue is superior [to honor]. Perhaps, indeed, one might conceive virtue more than honor to be the end of the political life. However, this also is apparently too incomplete [to be the good]. For, it seems,  someone might possess virtue but be asleep or inactive throughout his life; or, further, he might suffer the worst evils and misfortunes; and if this is the sort of life he leads, no one would count him happy, except to defend a philosopher’s paradox.”

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