Since the young are apt to follow their impulses, they would hear such discourses without purpose or benefit, since their end is not knowing but action. And it makes no difference whether one is young in age or immature in character, for the deficiency doesn’t come from the time, but from living in accord with feeling and following every impulse. For knowledge comes to such people without profit, as it does to those who lack self-restraint; but to those who keep their desires in proportion and act in that way, knowing about these things would be of great benefit.
About the one who is to hear this discourse, and how it ought to be received, and what task we have set before ourselves, let these things serve as a prelude.
For our part, let us speak from the point where we digressed. Most people and the crudest people seem, not without reason, to assume from people’s lives that pleasure is the good and is happiness. For this reason they are content with a life devoted to enjoyment. For there are three ways of life especially that hold prominence: the one just now mentioned, and the political life, and third, the contemplative life. Now most people show themselves to be completely slavish by choosing a life that belongs to fatted cattle, but they happen to get listened to because most people who have power share the feeling of Sardanapalus. But refined and active people choose honor, for this is pretty much the goal of political life. Now this appears to be too superficial to be what is sought, for it seems to be in the ones who give honor rather than in the one who is honored, but we divine that the good is something of one’s own and hard to take away. Also, people seem to pursue honor in order to be convinced that they themselves are good. At any rate they seek to be honored by the wise and by those who know them, and for virtue; it is clear, then, that at least according to these people, virtue is something greater, and one might perhaps assume that this, rather than honor, is the end of the political life.
So happiness appears to be something complete and self-sufficient, and is, therefore, the end of actions.
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