Nicomachean Ethics

by

Aristotle

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The good of something is similar to its end; it is the result that something rationally aims for. Aristotle says that the best good is the end that we desire for its own sake, the ultimate end toward which all lesser goods are aiming. Knowledge of this “best good” is key to determining how best to live our lives.

Good Quotes in Nicomachean Ethics

The Nicomachean Ethics quotes below are all either spoken by Good or refer to Good. 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

Suppose, then, that the things achievable by action have some end that we wish for because of itself, and because of which we wish for the other things, and that we do not choose everything because of something else—for if we do, it will go on without limit, so that desire will prove to be empty and futile. Clearly, this end will be the good, that is to say, the best good.

Then does knowledge of this good carry great weight for [our] way of life, and would it make us better able, like archers who have a target to aim at, to hit the right mark? If so, we should try to grasp, in outline at any rate, what the good is, and which is its proper science or capacity.

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

Presumably, though, we had better examine the universal good, and puzzle out what is meant in speaking of it. This sort of inquiry is, to be sure, unwelcome to us, because those who introduced the Forms were friends of ours; still, it presumably seems better, indeed only right, to destroy even what is close to us if that is the way to preserve truth. We must especially do this as philosophers, for though we love both the truth and our friends, reverence is due to the truth first.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
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Good Term Timeline in Nicomachean Ethics

The timeline below shows where the term Good 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
...According to Aristotle, every craft, line of inquiry, action, and decision seeks some end, or “good,” but these goods differ. For example, health is the end of medicine, a boat the... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
...some end that we wish for because of itself.” This end will be the best good. The knowledge of this “best good” is important for determining the best way of life,... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
...its end includes the ends of the other sciences, too. This end is the human good, but the good of the city is “a greater and more complete good” than the... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
Book 1, Chapter 4. So what is this highest good that political science seeks? Most people would agree that it is happiness, but they disagree... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
The Political Life vs. the Contemplative Life Theme Icon
Book 1, Chapter 5. People generally form their understanding of the good from the type of life they lead, and there are roughly three types of lives:... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
...though, Aristotle points out that it’s best to figure out what is meant by the good. Because it is spoken of in so many different ways, we can conclude that there... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
...unclear how, say, a weaver, a carpenter, or a doctor will benefit from knowing this “Good Itself” or “Idea.” A doctor, for instance, isn’t interested in some universal idea of health,... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
Book 1, Chapter 7. Aristotle explains that since the good appears to be something different in medicine, generalship, and so on, then the highest good... (full context)
The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness Theme Icon
In order to better grasp what the best good is, Aristotle says that it’s necessary to understand the function of a human being. While... (full context)
Book 2
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Book 2, Chapter 2. Since the object of Aristotle’s inquiry is to become good, it’s necessary to consider the correct ways of acting, since these result in the states... (full context)
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
...state it is. Every virtue causes the person who has it “to be in a good state and to perform their functions well.” (full context)
Book 6
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Book 6, Chapters 7-13. Good deliberation, Aristotle explains, isn’t just any sort of rational calculation; after all, a base person... (full context)
Book 8
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
...is “complete” friendship, which occurs between people who are similar in virtue. Such people are good in their own right and wish good things for one another for each other’s own... (full context)
Book 9
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
...however, whose actions are guided by reason, is 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)
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
...he is assumed to be self-sufficient. But if having friends is indeed the greatest external good, then it’s a necessity; moreover, a good person needs someone to benefit, hence he needs... (full context)
Book 10
Virtues and the Mean Theme Icon
Virtue and Community Life Theme Icon
...he made earlier about pleasure, concluding that pleasure in and of itself isn’t the ultimate good, that not every pleasure is “choiceworthy,” and that some pleasures are choiceworthy in themselves. Pleasure... (full context)