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Nicomachean Ethics pleasure or pain, it follows that this ®rst principle will not be evident to him, nor the fact that this ought to be the goal and cause of everything he chooses and does; for vice tends to destroy the ®rst principle. Practical wisdom, then, must be a true state involving reason, concerned with action in relation to human goods. Moreover, while there is a virtue in skill, there is none in practical wisdom. In skill the person who misses the mark voluntarily is preferable, but with practical wisdom, as with the virtues, the reverse is true. Clearly, then, practical wisdom is a virtue and not a skill. And since there are two parts of the soul that possess reason, it will be the virtue of one of them, namely, that which forms beliefs, both belief and practical wisdom being concerned with what can be otherwise. Moreover it is not merely a state involving reason; an indication of this is the fact that such a state can be forgotten, but practical wisdom cannot. 1141a Chapter 6 Scienti®c knowledge is supposition about things that are universal and necessary. And there are ®rst principles of what is demonstrable, and of every science, since scienti®c knowledge involves a rational account. So the ®rst principle of what is known cannot be an object of scienti®c knowledge, or skill, or practical wisdom, because what can be known by scienti®c knowledge is demonstrable, and skill and practical wisdom are concerned with what can be otherwise. Nor are these ®rst principles the concern of wisdom, because it is characteristic of the wise person to employ demonstration in certain cases. So if the states through which we arrive at the truth and by which we are never deceived about what can or what cannot be otherwise are scienti®c knowledge, practical wisdom, wisdom, and intellect, and if it cannot be any of the ®rst three (that is, practical wisdom, scienti®c knowledge, or wisdom), it is intellect that remains as the state concerned with ®rst principles. Chapter 7 Wisdom in skills we attribute to their most exacting practitioners; for example, we call Pheidias a wise sculptor and Polycleitus a wise maker of statues, meaning nothing by wisdom other than virtue in a skill. But 108

Book VI some people we think are wise in general, not in some particular sphere or wise in any other respect, as Homer says in the Margites: Neither a digger nor a ploughman did the gods make him, Nor wise in anything else. 40 Clearly, then, wisdom will be the most precise of the sciences. So the wise person must not only know what follows from the ®rst principles of a science, but also have a true understanding of those ®rst principles. Wisdom, therefore, will be intellect in combination with scienti®c knowledge; it is scienti®c knowledge of the most honourable matters which, as it were, `retains its head'. It would be absurd for someone to think that political science or practical wisdom is the best science, unless human beings are the best thing in the cosmos. Now if what is healthy or good is different for people and for ®sh, but what is white or straight is always the same, everyone would say that what is wise is the same, while what is practically wise is different. For when something considers well its own peculiar interests they call that a practically wise person, and entrust such matters to him. This is why people say that certain animals are also practically wise, namely, those that appear capable of forethought about their own lives. It is obvious as well that wisdom and political science could not be the same. For if we are to say that the science that concerns our own particular advantage is wisdom, there will be many wisdoms; for there is not a single science concerned with the good of all creatures, but each kind of good has a different science ± just as there is not a single science of medicine for all beings. It makes no difference if it is claimed that a human being is superior to all the other animals. For there are other things far more divine in nature than human beings, such as ± to take the most obvious example ± the things constituting the cosmos. From what we have said, then, it is clear that wisdom is scienti®c knowledge, combined with intellect, of what is by nature most honourable. This is why people say that Anaxagoras, 41 Thales, 42 and people like them are wise, but not practically wise, when they are seen to be 1141b 40 Homer (?), Margites, fr. 2 Allen. 41 500±428 BCE. The ®rst philosopher known to have moved to Athens. 42 Early sixth-century Milesian. Aristotle believed him to be the ®rst natural philosopher. 109

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