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[Aristotle,_Roger_Crisp]_Nicomachean_Ethics_(Cambr(BookFi)

Nicomachean Ethics contract, on the ground that one ought to dissolve a relationship with someone one has trusted in the same way that one entered into it; this is because the law considers that it is more just that the person to whom something is given should make the assessment than the person who gives it to him. For most things are not valued equally by those who have them and those who want them, since each group considers of great value what it possesses and what it offers; yet the return is made on the basis of the assessment by the recipient. But presumably the recipient should value a thing not at what it seems worth to him once he has got it, but at what he valued it at before he got it. 1165a Chapter 2 Other puzzling questions include the following. Should someone always defer to his father and obey him in everything, or should he trust a doctor when he is ill, and appoint as a general someone skilled in war? Similarly, should someone help a friend rather than a good person, and show gratitude to a benefactor rather than offer a service to a companion, if he cannot do both? It is, of course, no easy matter to make precise decisions in cases like this, because they allow all sorts of variations in respect of importance and unimportance, of what is noble, and of what is necessary. But it is quite clear that we should not give everything to the same person. In general, we should return a bene®t instead of doing a favour for our companions, just as we should repay a debt instead of giving the money to a companion. But perhaps even this is not always so. For example, if you have been ransomed from kidnappers, should you ransom in return the person who freed you, whoever he is? Or if he has not been kidnapped, but asks for his money back, should you repay him, or ransom your own father instead? It seems that you should ransom your father even in preference to yourself. As we have said, then, in general debts should be paid, but if a gift is overriding in its nobility or necessity, we should incline in favour of these considerations. Sometimes it is not even fair to return the equivalent of what one has received, when one person knows he is bene®ting somebody good, while the repayment would be to somebody the other believes to be wicked. For sometimes you should not even lend in return to someone who has lent to you: he expected repayment 166

Book IX when he lent to you as someone good, whereas you have no hope of it from someone bad. If this is really so, then, the demand is not fair; and even if it is not so, but you think it is, it would not seem at all odd for you to act like this. As we have often said, then, discussions of actions and feelings are as precise as their subject-matter. That we should not make the same return to everyone, nor give everything to our fathers, as we do not sacri®ce everything to Zeus, is pretty clear. And since we ought to give different things to parents, brothers, companions and benefactors, we should assign to each what is appropriate and ®tting. This is what people actually seem to do: they invite their relatives to weddings, since they share the same family and hence its affairs; and they think that relatives especially ought to meet at funerals for the same reason. It would seem that parents above all ought to be supported, since we think we owe it to them, and that it is nobler to support those who are responsible for our being than to support ourselves in this way. And we should render honour to our parents, as to the gods, but not every sort of honour. For we should not render the same honour to our father and our mother, nor should we render them the honour due to a wise person or a general, but that due to a father, and similarly that due to a mother. To any older person, as well, we should render the honour appropriate to his age, by standing up, giving up our seat and so on. With companions and brothers we should be plain-speaking and share everything. To relatives, fellow-tribesmen and fellow-citizens and the rest we should always try to render what is appropriate, and compare the claims of each in the light of closeness of relation, virtue and usefulness. The comparison is easier when they are of the same class, and more of a job when they are different; and yet we should not for this reason shrink from the task, but decide the issue as best we can. Chapter 3 Another puzzle that arises is whether or not to break off friendships with those who do not remain the same. Presumably there is nothing odd in breaking off friendships based on utility or pleasure when our friends no longer have these qualities. For it was the qualities we loved, and when they disappear, not loving is reasonable. 167 1165b

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