The puzzle of the object of wish


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Wish is for the end, as we said, but it seems to some people to be for the good, whereas to others it seems to be for the apparent good. For those who say that the object of wish is the good, it follows that when someone who does not choose correctly wishes for something, what he wishes for is not an object of wish at all (for if it is an object of wish, it will also be a good thing, but, if it turns out that way, it was a bad one.) For those, on the other hand, who say that the proper object of wish is the apparent good, it follows that noting is by nature a proper object of wish, but what seems good to each person is so, with different things—even contrary ones, if it turns out that way—appearing so to different ones. Supposing, then, that these results do not satisfy us; should we say that without qualification and in truth the object of wish is the good, but to each person it is the apparent good?(NE III.4 1113a15-23)

Ἡ δὲ βούλησις ὅτι μὲν τοῦ τέλους ἐστὶν εἴρηται, δοκεὶ δὲ τοῖς μὲν τἀγαθοῦ εἶναι, τοῖς δὲ τοῦ φαινομένου ἀγαθοῦ. συμβαίνει δὲ τοῖς μὲν [τὸ] βουλητὸν τἀγαθὸν λέγουσι μὴ εἶναι βουλητὸν βούλεται μὴ ὀρθῶς αἱρούμενος (εἰ γὰρ ἔσται βουλητόν, καὶ ἀγαθόν· ἦν δ᾽, εἰ οὕτως ἔτυχε, κακόν), τοῖς δ᾽ αὖ τὸ φαινόμενον ἀγαθὸν βουλητὸν λέγουσι μὴ εἶναι φύσει βουλητόν, ἀλλ᾽ ἑκάστῳ τὸ δοκοῦν· ἄλλο δ᾽ ἄλλῳ φαίνεται, καὶ εἰ οὕτως ἔτυχε, τἀναντία. εἰ δὲ δὴ ταῦτα μὴ ἀρέσκει, ἆρα φατέον ἁπλῶς μὲν καὶ κατ᾽ ἀλήθειαν βουλητὸν εἶναι τἀγαθόν, ἑκάστῳ δὲ τὸ φαινόμενον;