In Book X, Chapter 5 of his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle discusses how pleasures can differ in species, meaning that their completion can come about from different things. Because of such a belief, this idea explains the various ways “each pleasure is proper to the activity which it completes”.

Within this passage, Aristotle explains how the proper pleasures of each activity actually increases it, since a person usually excels in a specific activity when they find some sort of enjoyment or pleasure associated with it. For example, if someone enjoys music, they are more inclined to build upon their knowledge and skills pertaining to the subject, which in turn, improves their proper function. Aristotle goes on to explain that when activity is increased by pleasure, then what is proper to it also increases. Therefore, since the species of activities differ, so do what is proper to them. Additionally, one can not enjoy an activity to full completion, if there is another activity present or taking place which distracts from the original activity.

This passage intrigued me because of the interesting and unique notion that pleasures can be of different “species”, however, this idea also confused me. At first, I only thought of pleasure as a constant state that always produces and is a product of the same emotions. However, after reading Aristotle’s argument, and realizing that not only can pleasure be brought about by different things in various situations, but pleasure can exist in different degrees. It would then make sense that albeit, two external forces can both provide pleasure at once, such as eating popcorn and watching a movie, one is a proper pleasure while the other is an alien pleasure. The alien pleasure, in this case the popcorn, takes away from the proper pleasure, the movie. It was through an example such as this that I came to understand Aristotle’s idea that although two pleasures can occur at the same time and differ greatly, they will only exist together at mild degrees, for one pleasure cannot reach completion if another different or contrary one “damages” it.

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