Nicomachean Ethics

by

Aristotle

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Aristotle often uses the term “fine” to describe something that is done rightly and correctly; the term even has connotations of beauty and admirability. Fineness is associated with the virtues; a virtuous person decides on a particular action because it is fine. It’s often contrasted with what is merely expedient or pleasurable.

Fine Quotes in Nicomachean Ethics

The Nicomachean Ethics quotes below are all either spoken by Fine or refer to Fine. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hackett edition of Nicomachean Ethics published in 1999.
Book 1 Quotes

The remaining possibility, then, is some sort of life of action of the [part of the soul] that has reason. One [part] of it has reason as obeying reason; the other has it as itself having reason and thinking. Moreover, life is also spoken of in two ways [as capacity and as activity], and we must take [a human being's special function to be] life as activity, since this seems to be called life more fully. We have found, then, that the human function is activity of the soul in accord with reason or requiring reason. Now we say that the function of a [kind of thing]—of a harpist, for instance—is the same in kind as the function of an excellent individual of the kind—of an excellent harpist for instance. […] Moreover, we take the human function to be a certain kind of life, and take this life to be activity and actions of the soul that involve reason; hence the function of the excellent man is to do this well and finely.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2 Quotes

That is why it is also hard work to be excellent. For in each case it is hard work to find the intermediate; for instance, not everyone, but only one who knows, finds the midpoint in a circle. So also getting angry, or giving and spending money, is easy and everyone can do it; but doing it to the right person, in the right amount, at the right time, for the right end, and in the right way is no longer easy, nor can everyone do it. Hence doing these things well is rare, praiseworthy, and fine.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3 Quotes

And so, if the same is true for bravery, the brave person will find death and wounds painful, and suffer them unwillingly, but he will endure them because that is fine or because failure is shameful. Indeed, the truer it is that he has every virtue and the happier he is, the more pain he will feel at the prospect of death. For this sort of person, more than anyone, finds it worthwhile to be alive, and knows he is being deprived of the greatest goods, and this is painful. But he is no less brave for all that; presumably, indeed, he is all the braver, because he chooses what is fine in war at the cost of all these goods. It is not true, then, in the case of every virtue that its active exercise is pleasant; it is pleasant only insofar as we attain the end.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 10 Quotes

Now some think it is nature that makes people good; some think it is habit; some that it is teaching. The [contribution] of nature clearly is not up to us, but results from some divine cause in those who have it, who are the truly fortunate ones. Arguments and teaching surely do not prevail on everyone, but the soul of the student needs to have been prepared by habits for enjoying and hating finely, like ground that is to nourish seed. For someone who lives in accord with his feelings would not even listen to an argument turning him away, or comprehend it [if he did listen]; and in that state how could he be persuaded to change? And in general feelings seem to yield to force, not to argument.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:
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Fine Term Timeline in Nicomachean Ethics

The timeline below shows where the term Fine appears in Nicomachean Ethics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
...even his line of inquiry is a kind of political science because it seeks this “finer and more divine” good. (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
...from what we know—and that is why it’s necessary “to have been brought up in fine habits if we are to be adequate students of fine and just things.” (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
...the function of the excellent person is to live this kind of life “well and finely.” (full context)
Book 2
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
...person to do vulgar or corrupt actions, and pain causes a person to abstain from fine actions. Aristotle cites Plato’s argument that the key to finding pleasure or pain in the... (full context)
Book 3
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
...possible means to an end, one must determine which way will be the easiest and finest. Deliberation comes to an end when we arrive at a definite decision on how to... (full context)
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
...circumstances, but will stand firm in the face of fear “for the sake of the fine, since this is the end aimed at by virtue.” While a cowardly person, a rash... (full context)
Book 4
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
...time. The friendly person always relates to those he or she meets according to what’s fine or beneficial under the circumstances. (full context)
Book 9
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
...above reproach. Thus, in this sense, a good person must be a self-lover, since his fine actions benefit both himself and others. (full context)
Book 10
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
...virtue, it must accord with the supreme virtue, which is understanding, particularly understanding of the fine and divine—hence the greatest happiness is found in study. Study is something which is enjoyed... (full context)
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
...their feelings, pursuing pleasures and avoiding pains, and they don’t have a taste for the fine and truly pleasant. Argument alone can’t reform people with such ingrained habits. (full context)
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
...soul of any student “needs to have been prepared by habit for enjoying or hating finely, like ground that is to nourish seed.” After all, someone who’s accustomed to living according... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
...job of legislators to “urge people toward virtue and exhort them to aim at the fine,” and to impose corrective treatments and penalties on anyone who disobeys or lacks the right... (full context)