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Headword: Agathon
Adler number: alpha,118
Translated headword: good
Vetting Status: high
In general [it is] something beneficial, but in particular what is either identical with or not different from benefit; hence, both virtue itself and what participates in it are called "good" in three ways: as the good (i) from which [being benefited] results, [and (ii) according to which being benefited results,] as [virtuous] action and virtue,[1] and (iii) by whom [being benefited results], as the virtuous person who participates in virtue. Or [they define it [2]] in this fashion: the good is the perfection in accordance with nature of a rational being qua rational. And virtue is a thing of this sort, so that virtuous action as well as virtuous people participate [in the good]. Joy, cheerfulness and the like are byproducts [of virtue]. Furthermore, of goods, some are in the soul, others external, and others neither in the soul nor external. The ones in the soul are virtues and actions in accordance with them. The external ones are a virtuous fatherland, a virtuous friend, and their happiness. Those which are neither external nor in the soul are someone's being for himself virtuous and happy. Furthermore, of goods, some are final, others instrumental, and others both final and instrumental. Thus a friend and the benefits added by him are instrumental goods. But confidence, prudence, freedom, enjoyment, cheerfulness, freedom from distress, and every action in accordance with virtue are final. [Virtues] are instrumental and final: they are instrumental goods insofar as they produce happiness, and final [goods] insofar as they complete it in such a way as to become parts of it; for example a friend and freedom and enjoyment.[3] Furthermore, of the goods in the soul, some are conditions, others dispositions, and others neither conditions nor dispositions. Virtues are dispositions, pursuits conditions, and activities neither conditions nor dispositions. In general good children and a good old age are minor goods,[4] but knowledge is a simple good. And virtues are always present, but joy and taking a stroll for example not always. Every good is profitable, advantageous, binding, useful, serviceable, fine, beneficial, just, and choiceworthy.
The good is that which is aimed at by all things.[5]
Thus the good is that on which all things depend but which itself depends on nothing.[6]
Greek Original:
Agathon: koinôs men to ti ophelos, idiôs de êtoi tauton ê ouch heteron ôpheleias: hothen autên te tên aretên kai to metechon autês agathon trichôs legesthai. hoion to agathon, aph' hou sumbainei, hôs tên praxin kai tên aretên. huph' hou de, hôs ton spoudaion ton metechonta tês aretês. ê houtôs: to agathon, to teleion kata phusin logikou, ê hôs logikou. toiouto d' einai tên aretên hôs metechonta tas te praxeis tas kat' aretên, kai to spoudaious einai. epigennêmata de tên te charan kai tên euphrosunên kai ta paraplêsia. eti tôn agathôn ta men einai peri psuchên, ta de ektos, ta de oute peri psuchên oute ektos. ta men peri psuchên aretas kai tas kata tautas praxeis: ta de ektos to te spoudaian echein patrida kai spoudaion philon kai tên toutôn eudaimonian. ta de ouk ektos oute peri psuchên to auton heautôi einai spoudaion kai eudaimona. eti tôn agathôn ta men einai telika, ta de poiêtika, ta de telika kai poiêtika. ton men oun philon kai tas hup' autou prosginomenas ôpheleias poiêtika einai agatha: tharsos de kai phronêma kai eleutherian kai terpsin kai euphrosunên kai alupian kai pasan tên kat' aretên praxin telika. poiêtika de kai telika, katho men poiousi tên eudaimonian, poiêtika estin agatha: katho de sumplêrousin autên, hôste merê autês genesthai, telika: hoion philos kai eleutheria kai terpsis. eti tôn peri psuchên agathôn ta men eisin hexeis, ta de diatheseis, ta de oute hexeis oute diatheseis. diatheseis men hai aretai, hexeis de ta epitêdeumata, oute de hexeis oute diatheseis hai energeiai. koinôs tôn agathôn mikra men estin euteknia kai eugêria. haploun de estin agathon epistêmê. kai aei men paronta hai aretai, ouk aei de hoion chara, peripatêsis. pan de agathon lusiteles einai kai sumpheron kai deon kai chrêsimon kai euchrêston kai kalon kai ôphelimon kai dikaion kai haireton. agathon de esti to pasin epheton. agathon oun estin, eis ho panta anêrtêtai, auto de eis mêden.
See also alpha 119, likewise a neuter singular.
This entry mostly reproduces Diogenes Laertius 7.94-98 (who supposedly is quoting an extract of Stoic ethics). The Suda text contains important omissions as well as different readings (the D.L. readings are, for the most part, much better).
[1] D.L. gives th\n pra=cin th\n kat' a)reth/n, "the action according to virtue" or simply "the virtuous action", as a gloss on a second sense in which virtue and what participates in it are called "good": that according to which being benefited results.
[2] D.L. has o(ri/zontai, "they define", which makes clear that a new definition is being given here.
[3] This puzzling list of examples does not occur in D.L.
[4] The text given by Suda is misleading; D.L. gives a)gaqw=n mikta/, "mixed goods", instead of a)gaqw=n mikra/, "little goods".
[5] cf. Aristotle, Topica 1094a2-3, with Alexander of Aphrodisias's commentary 93.8.
[6] Plotinus, Enneads 1.7.1, 21-22 (identified by Henry [below] 157 n.2, as noted in Adler's addenda).
J. Annas, The Morality of Happiness (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 1993
Henry, P. "Suidas, Le Larousse et le Littré de l'antiquité grecque." Les Études classiques (1937): 155-62
Keywords: children; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; philosophy
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 26 May 2000@18:40:04.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (Cosmetics, modified translation, added keyword, sets status) on 6 June 2001@00:38:37.
William Hutton (Added betacoding) on 6 June 2001@00:44:50.
David Whitehead (added notes; cosmetics) on 16 January 2003@05:49:31.
David Hitchcock (Modified translation, added notes) on 24 December 2004@06:46:10.
David Hitchcock on 24 December 2004@06:51:54.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 12 October 2005@08:00:23.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 16 November 2005@07:50:17.
Jennifer Benedict (cosmetics) on 26 March 2008@00:37:50.
Catharine Roth (added note 6; cosmetics) on 22 May 2008@15:01:13.
David Whitehead (tweaks) on 22 December 2011@06:23:36.
David Whitehead (expanded n.6) on 17 January 2014@05:26:23.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 17 July 2023@01:20:41.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation) on 17 July 2023@23:11:03.


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