I can't find the source for this quote which apparently belongs to Aristotle. Any ideas? Thanks!

First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.


1 Answer 1


Though I'm pretty sure the quote is not from Aristotle, much of it is covered by what Aristotle says in Nicomachean Ethics.

A person with the excellence of practical rationality is characteristically able to plan well about what is good or useful for living well or being happy (VI, 5, 1140a25-28). It is his function to plan well concerning goods attainable by humans (7,1141b8-12) [Have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective.] The function of every part of the intellect is to reach the truth (1, 1139a27-31), and practical rationality is a truthful state or capacity, involving thought, for acting with regard to human good and evil (5, 1140b4-7). There is strong prima facie evidence that practical rationality is confined to identifying the means to ends.[Have the necessary means to achieve your ends,] For, in addition to the bald statement that we deliberate about means and not ends (III, 3,1112bll-12; cp. EEII, 10,1226bl0,1227a8), Aristotle states that practical rationality makes our means right, in contrast to excellence of character or moral virtue which makes the end right (VI, 12, 1144a7-9; cf. also VII, 8, 1151al8-19 and EE II, 11, 1227b22-25).* Practical reasoning proceeds from the principle that something (e.g., health or pleasure) is good, to the conclusion that a particular action is to be done as a means [adjust all your means to that end] to health (cp. De Motu 7,701a6-25). (Fred D. Miller, 'Aristotle on Rationality in Action', The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Mar., 1984), pp.501-2.)

There's a little stretching here but not too much to make your quotation fit Aristotle.

NOTE: I add the footnote which I find interesting: "excellence in planning will be correctness in regard to the means (to sympheron) to the end (to telos), of which (ov) practical reason is the true apprehension (hypolepsis)".

  • 1
    This is great skill! Thanks a lot Geoffrey!! Apr 24, 2018 at 15:46
  • I added a footnote from the paper which I find interesting. Apr 24, 2018 at 22:22

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