Since, however, it often happens that people agree that two things are both useful but do not agree about which is the more so, the next step will be to treat of relative goodness and relative utility.
A thing which surpasses another may be regarded as being that other thing plus something more, and that other thing which is surpassed as being what is contained in the first thing. Now to call a thing "greater" or "more" always implies a comparison of it with one that is "smaller" or "less," while "great" and "small," "much" and "little," are terms used in comparison with normal magnitude. The "great" is that which surpasses the normal, the "small" is that which is surpassed by the normal; and so with "many" and "few."
Now we are applying the term "good" to what is desirable for its own sake and not for the sake of something else; to that at which all things aim; to what they would choose if they could acquire understanding and practical wisdom; and to that which tends to produce or preserve such goods, or is always accompanied by them. Moreover, that for the sake of which things are done is the end (an end being that for the sake of which all else is done), and for each individual that thing is a good which fulfils these conditions in regard to himself. It follows, then, that a greater number of goods is a greater good than one or than a smaller number, if that one or that smaller number is included in the count; for then the larger number surpasses the smaller, and the smaller quantity is surpassed as being contained in the larger.
Again, if the largest member of one class surpasses the largest member of another, then the one class surpasses the other; and if one class surpasses another, then the largest member of the one surpasses the largest member of the other. Thus, if the tallest man is taller than the tallest woman, then men in general are taller than women. Conversely, if men in general are taller than women, then the tallest man is taller than the tallest woman. For the superiority of class over class is proportionate to the superiority possessed by their largest specimens. Again, where one good is always accompanied by another, but does not always accompany it, it is greater than the other, for the use of the second thing is implied in the use of the first. A thing may be accompanied by another in three ways, either simultaneously, subsequently, or potentially. Life accompanies health simultaneously (but not health life), knowledge accompanies the act of learning subsequently, cheating accompanies sacrilege potentially, since a man who has committed sacrilege is always capable of cheating. Again, when two things each surpass a third, that which does so by the greater amount is the greater of the two; for it must surpass the greater as well as the less of the other two. A thing productive of a greater good than another is productive of is itself a greater good than that other. For this conception of "productive of a greater" has been implied in our argument. Likewise, that which is produced by a greater good is itself a greater good; thus, if what is wholesome is more desirable and a greater good than what gives pleasure, health too must be a greater good than pleasure. [1364a] Again, a thing which is desirable in itself is a greater good than a thing which is not desirable in itself, as for example bodily strength than what is wholesome, since the latter is not pursued for its own sake, whereas the former is; and this was our definition of the good. Again, if one of two things is an end, and the other is not, the former is the greater good, as being chosen for its own sake and not for the sake of something else; as, for example, exercise is chosen for the sake of physical well-being. And of two things that which stands less in need of the other, or of other things, is the greater good, since it is more self-sufficing. (That which stands "less" in need of others is that which needs either fewer or easier things.) So when one thing does not exist or cannot come into existence without a second, while the second can exist without the first, the second is the better. That which does not need something else is more self-sufficing than that which does, and presents itself as a greater good for that reason. Again, that which is a beginning of other things is a greater good than that which is not, and that which is a cause is a greater good than that which is not; the reason being the same in each case, namely that without a cause and a beginning nothing can exist or come into existence. Again, where there are two sets of consequences arising from two different beginnings or causes, the consequences of the more important beginning or cause are themselves the more important; and conversely, that beginning or cause is itself the more important which has the more important consequences. Now it is plain, from all that has been said, that one thing may be shown to be more important than another from two opposite points of view: it may appear the more important (1) because it is a beginning and the other thing is not, and also (2) because it is not a beginning and the other thing is-on the ground that the end is more important and is not a beginning. So Leodamas, when accusing Callistratus, said that the man who prompted the deed was more guilty than the doer, since it would not have been done if he had not planned it. On the other hand, when accusing Chabrias he said that the doer was worse than the prompter, since there would have been no deed without some one to do it; men, said he, plot a thing only in order to carry it out.
Further, what is rare is a greater good than what is plentiful. Thus, gold is a better thing than iron, though less useful: it is harder to get, and therefore better worth getting. Reversely, it may be argued that the plentiful is a better thing than the rare, because we can make more use of it. For what is often useful surpasses what is seldom useful, whence the saying:
More generally: the hard thing is better than the easy, because it is rarer: and reversely, the easy thing is better than the hard, for it is as we wish it to be. That is the greater good whose contrary is the greater evil, and whose loss affects us more. Positive goodness and badness are more important than the mere absence of goodness and badness: for positive goodness and badness are ends, which the mere absence of them cannot be. Further, in proportion as the functions of things are noble or base, the things themselves are good or bad: conversely, in proportion as the things themselves are good or bad, their functions also are good or bad; for the nature of results corresponds with that of their causes and beginnings, and conversely the nature of causes and beginnings corresponds with that of their results. Moreover, those things are greater goods, superiority in which is more desirable or more honourable. Thus, keenness of sight is more desirable than keenness of smell, sight generally being more desirable than smell generally; [1364b] and similarly, unusually great love of friends being more honourable than unusually great love of money, ordinary love of friends is more honourable than ordinary love of money. Conversely, if one of two normal things is better or nobler than the other, an unusual degree of that thing is better or nobler than an unusual degree of the other. Again, one thing is more honourable or better than another if it is more honourable or better to desire it; the importance of the object of a given instinct corresponds to the importance of the instinct itself; and for the same reason, if one thing is more honourable or better than another, it is more honourable and better to desire it. Again, if one science is more honourable and valuable than another, the activity with which it deals is also more honourable and valuable; as is the science, so is the reality that is its object, each science being authoritative in its own sphere. So, also, the more valuable and honourable the object of a science, the more valuable and honourable the science itself is in consequence. Again, that which would be judged, or which has been judged, a good thing, or a better thing than something else, by all or most people of understanding, or by the majority of men, or by the ablest, must be so; either without qualification, or in so far as they use their understanding to form their judgement. This is indeed a general principle, applicable to all other judgements also; not only the goodness of things, but their essence, magnitude, and general nature are in fact just what knowledge and understanding will declare them to be. Here the principle is applied to judgements of goodness, since one definition of "good" was "what beings that acquire understanding will choose in any given case": from which it clearly follows that that thing is better which understanding declares to be so. That, again, is a better thing which attaches to better men, either absolutely, or in virtue of their being better; as courage is better than strength. And that is a greater good which would be chosen by a better man, either absolutely, or in virtue of his being better: for instance, to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong, for that would be the choice of the juster man. Again, the pleasanter of two things is the better, since all things pursue pleasure, and things instinctively desire pleasurable sensation for its own sake; and these are two of the characteristics by which the "good" and the "end" have been defined. One pleasure is greater than another if it is more unmixed with pain, or more lasting. Again, the nobler thing is better than the less noble, since the noble is either what is pleasant or what is desirable in itself. And those things also are greater goods which men desire more earnestly to bring about for themselves or for their friends, whereas those things which they least desire to bring about are greater evils. And those things which are more lasting are better than those which are more fleeting, and the more secure than the less; the enjoyment of the lasting has the advantage of being longer, and that of the secure has the advantage of suiting our wishes, being there for us whenever we like. Further, in accordance with the rule of co-ordinate terms and inflexions of the same stem, what is true of one such related word is true of all. Thus if the action qualified by the term "brave" is more noble and desirable than the action qualified by the term "temperate," then "bravery" is more desirable than "temperance" and "being brave" than "being temperate." That, again, which is chosen by all is a greater good than that which is not, and that chosen by the majority than that chosen by the minority. [1365a] For that which all desire is good, as we have said; and so, the more a thing is desired, the better it is. Further, that is the better thing which is considered so by competitors or enemies, or, again, by authorized judges or those whom they select to represent them. In the first two cases the decision is virtually that of every one, in the last two that of authorities and experts. And sometimes it may be argued that what all share is the better thing, since it is a dishonour not to share in it; at other times, that what none or few share is better, since it is rarer. The more praiseworthy things are, the nobler and therefore the better they are. So with the things that earn greater honours than others -- honour is, as it were, a measure of value; and the things whose absence involves comparatively heavy penalties; and the things that are better than others admitted or believed to be good. Moreover, things look better merely by being divided into their parts, since they then seem to surpass a greater number of things than before. Hence Homer says that Meleager was roused to battle by the thought of
The same effect is produced by piling up facts in a climax after the manner of Epicharmus. The reason is partly the same as in the case of division (for combination too makes the impression of great superiority), and partly that the original thing appears to be the cause and origin of important results. And since a thing is better when it is harder or rarer than other things, its superiority may be due to seasons, ages, places, times, or one's natural powers. When a man accomplishes something beyond his natural power, or beyond his years, or beyond the measure of people like him, or in a special way, or at a special place or time, his deed will have a high degree of nobleness, goodness, and justice, or of their opposites. Hence the epigram on the victor at the Olympic games:
So Iphicrates used to extol himself by describing the low estate from which he had risen. Again, what is natural is better than what is acquired, since it is harder to come by. Hence the words of Homer:
And the best part of a good thing is particularly good; as when Pericles in his funeral oration said that the country's loss of its young men in battle was "as if the spring were taken out of the year." So with those things which are of service when the need is pressing; for example, in old age and times of sickness. And of two things that which leads more directly to the end in view is the better. So too is that which is better for people generally as well as for a particular individual. Again, what can be got is better than what cannot, for it is good in a given case and the other thing is not. And what is at the end of life is better than what is not, since those things are ends in a greater degree which are nearer the end. [1365b] What aims at reality is better than what aims at appearance. We may define what aims at appearance as what a man will not choose if nobody is to know of his having it. This would seem to show that to receive benefits is more desirable than to confer them, since a man will choose the former even if nobody is to know of it, but it is not the general view that he will choose the latter if nobody knows of it. What a man wants to be is better than what a man wants to seem, for in aiming at that he is aiming more at reality. Hence men say that justice is of small value, since it is more desirable to seem just than to be just, whereas with health it is not so. That is better than other things which is more useful than they are for a number of different purposes; for example, that which promotes life, good life, pleasure, and noble conduct. For this reason wealth and health are commonly thought to be of the highest value, as possessing all these advantages. Again, that is better than other things which is accompanied both with less pain and with actual pleasure; for here there is more than one advantage; and so here we have the good of feeling pleasure and also the good of not feeling pain. And of two good things that is the better whose addition to a third thing makes a better whole than the addition of the other to the same thing will make. Again, those things which we are seen to possess are better than those which we are not seen to possess, since the former have the air of reality. Hence wealth may be regarded as a greater good if its existence is known to others. That which is dearly prized is better than what is not -- the sort of thing that some people have only one of, though others have more like it. Accordingly, blinding a one-eyed man inflicts worse injury than half-blinding a man with two eyes; for the one-eyed man has been robbed of what he dearly prized.
The grounds on which we must base our arguments, when we are speaking for or against a proposal, have now been set forth more or less completely.