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Headword: Ἀγαθόν
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.
That which is aimed at by all things is good.[5]
Thus that to which all things are referred but which is referred to nothing is good.[6]
Greek Original:
Ἀγαθόν: κοινῶς μὲν τό τι ὄφελος, ἰδίως δὲ ἤτοι ταὐτὸν ἢ οὐχ ἕτερον ὠφελείας: ὅθεν αὐτήν τε τὴν ἀρετὴν καὶ τὸ μετέχον αὐτῆς ἀγαθὸν τριχῶς λέγεσθαι. οἷον τὸ ἀγαθὸν, ἀφ' οὗ συμβαίνει, ὡς τὴν πρᾶξιν καὶ τὴν ἀρετήν. ὑφ' οὗ δὲ, ὡς τὸν σπουδαῖον τὸν μετέχοντα τῆς ἀρετῆς. ἢ οὕτως: τὸ ἀγαθὸν, τὸ τέλειον κατὰ φύσιν λογικοῦ, ἢ ὡς λογικοῦ. τοιοῦτο δ' εἶναι τὴν ἀρετὴν ὡς μετέχοντα τάς τε πράξεις τὰς κατ' ἀρετὴν, καὶ τὸ σπουδαίους εἶναι. ἐπιγεννήματα δὲ τήν τε χαρὰν καὶ τὴν εὐφροσύνην καὶ τὰ παραπλήσια. ἔτι τῶν ἀγαθῶν τὰ μὲν εἶναι περὶ ψυχήν, τὰ δὲ ἐκτός, τὰ δὲ οὔτε περὶ ψυχὴν οὔτε ἐκτός. τὰ μὲν περὶ ψυχὴν ἀρετὰς καὶ τὰς κατὰ ταύτας πράξεις: τὰ δὲ ἐκτὸς τό τε σπουδαίαν ἔχειν πατρίδα καὶ σπουδαῖον φίλον καὶ τὴν τούτων εὐδαιμονίαν. τὰ δὲ οὐκ ἐκτὸς οὔτε περὶ ψυχὴν τὸ αὐτὸν ἑαυτῷ εἶναι σπουδαῖον καὶ εὐδαίμονα. ἔτι τῶν ἀγαθῶν τὰ μὲν εἶναι τελικά, τὰ δὲ ποιητικά, τὰ δὲ τελικὰ καὶ ποιητικά. τὸν μὲν οὖν φίλον καὶ τὰς ὑπ' αὐτοῦ προσγινομένας ὠφελείας ποιητικὰ εἶναι ἀγαθά: θάρσος δὲ καὶ φρόνημα καὶ ἐλευθερίαν καὶ τέρψιν καὶ εὐφροσύνην καὶ ἀλυπίαν καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν κατ' ἀρετὴν πρᾶξιν τελικά. ποιητικὰ δὲ καὶ τελικὰ, καθὸ μὲν ποιοῦσι τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν, ποιητικά ἐστιν ἀγαθά: καθὸ δὲ συμπληροῦσιν αὐτὴν, ὥστε μέρη αὐτῆς γενέσθαι, τελικά: οἷον φίλος καὶ ἐλευθερία καὶ τέρψις. ἔτι τῶν περὶ ψυχὴν ἀγαθῶν τὰ μέν εἰσιν ἕξεις, τὰ δὲ διαθέσεις, τὰ δὲ οὔτε ἕξεις οὔτε διαθέσεις. διαθέσεις μὲν αἱ ἀρεταί, ἕξεις δὲ τὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα, οὔτε δὲ ἕξεις οὔτε διαθέσεις αἱ ἐνέργειαι. κοινῶς τῶν ἀγαθῶν μικρὰ μέν ἐστιν εὐτεκνία καὶ εὐγηρία. ἁπλοῦν δέ ἐστιν ἀγαθὸν ἐπιστήμη. καὶ ἀεὶ μὲν παρόντα αἱ ἀρεταί, οὐκ ἀεὶ δὲ οἷον χαρὰ, περιπάτησις. πᾶν δὲ ἀγαθὸν λυσιτελὲς εἶναι καὶ συμφέρον καὶ δέον καὶ χρήσιμον καὶ εὔχρηστον καὶ καλὸν καὶ ὠφέλιμον καὶ δίκαιον καὶ αἱρετόν. ἀγαθὸν δέ ἐστι τὸ πᾶσιν ἐφετόν. ἀγαθὸν οὖν ἐστιν, εἰς ὃ πάντα ἀνήρτηται, αὐτὸ δὲ εἰς μηδέν.
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 τὴν πρᾶξιν τὴν κατ' ἀρετήν , "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 ὁρίζονται , "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 ἀγαθῶν μικτά , "mixed goods", instead of ἀγαθῶν μικρά , "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 Etudes 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.


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