Marginalia, no.293

Possession of virtue seems actually compatible with being asleep, or with lifelong inactivity, and, further, with the greatest sufferings and misfortunes; but a man who was living so no one would call happy, unless he were maintaining a thesis at all costs.

~ Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

The ambiguity (in English translation) of the pronoun in that final clause is delightful. Is “he” the person who insists that the narcoleptic is happy, or is “he” the virtuous narcoleptic himself? Maintaining a thesis at all costs will often give a satisfactory thrill. “You see what I must endure?” asks the whining longsufferer who never acts to improve his situation. Misery is sometimes converted to happiness by the alchemy of being proven right.


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