Commentary on Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics”

Thomas Aquinus. Commentary on Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics.” Translated by C. I. Litzinger. Beloit, WI: Dumb Ox Press, 1993.


“As the Philosopher says in the beginning of the Metaphysics, it is the business of the wise men to order. The reason for this is that wisdom is the most powerful perfection of reason whose characteristic it is to know order. Even if the sensitive powers know some things absolutely, nevertheless to know the order of one thing to another is exclusively the work of intellect or reason. Now a twofold order is found in things. One kind is that of parts of a house are mutually ordered to each other. The 2nd order is that of things to an end. This order is of greater importance than the 1st. For, as the Philosopher says in the 11th book of the Metaphysics, the order of the parts of an Army among themselves exists because of the order of the whole army to the commander. Now order is related to reason and a fourfold way. There is one order that reason does not establish but only beholds, such is the order of things in nature. There is a second order that reason establishes in its own act of consideration, for example, when it arranges its concepts among themselves, and signs of concept as well, because words express the meanings of the concepts. There is a third order that reason in deliberating establishes in the operations of the will. There is a fourth order that reason in planning establishes in the external things which it causes such as a chest and a house.”