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1111b Nicomachean Ethics it off when they wanted to show how it worked', as the person said of the catapult. Again, someone might think his son an enemy, as did Merope, 17 or that a pointed spear had a button on it, or that a stone was a piece of pumice. Or one might kill someone with a drink intended to save him. Or when wanting only to seize a person's hand, as in sparring, one might hurt him. There may be ignorance, then, concerning all of these aspects of the action, and the person who is ignorant of any of them seems to have acted involuntarily, especially in the case of the most important ± these seem to be to what the action is being done and what it is for. It is, then, an action called involuntary on the basis of this particular kind of ignorance that must also give rise to pain and regret. So, since what is involuntary is what is done by force or because of ignorance, what is voluntary would seem to be what has its ®rst principle in the person himself when he knows the particular circumstances of the action. It is probably a mistake to describe actions done through spirit or appetite as involuntary. For, ®rst, none of the other animals, or children, will act voluntarily; and, secondly, is it meant that none of the actions we do through appetite and spirit is done involuntarily, or that we do the noble ones voluntarily, the disgraceful ones involuntarily? Would this not be absurd, since there is only one cause in play? And it would presumably also be odd to describe as involuntary things that we ought to desire; and there are indeed some things at which we ought to feel angry, and others, like health and learning, that we ought to want. Also, what is involuntary is thought to be painful, but what is in accordance with appetite pleasant. Again, what is the difference, as far as their being involuntary is concerned, between actions that miss the mark on the basis of calculation and those that miss it on the basis of spirit? For both are to be avoided, and the non-rational feelings are thought to be no less part of human nature, so that actions arising from spirit and appetite are also characteristic of a human being. It would be odd, then, to class them as involuntary. Chapter 2 Now that we have delineated what is voluntary and what involuntary, we should next discuss rational choice; for it is thought to be very 17 In Euripides' Cresphontes (lost). Merope was wife of Cresphontes, king of Messenia. 40

Book III closely tied to virtue, and a better guide to men's characters than their actions. Rational choice is obviously a voluntary thing, but it is not the same as what is voluntary, which is a broader notion: children and the other animals share in what is voluntary, but not in rational choice, and we describe actions done spontaneously as voluntary, but not as done in accordance with rational choice. People who claim it is appetite or spirit or wish or some kind of belief do not seem to be right, since rational choice is not shared by beings who lack reason, while appetite and spirit are shared. Again, the incontinent person acts from appetite, but not from rational choice; while the self-controlled person does the contrary, and acts from rational choice, but not from appetite. Also, appetite can be in opposition to rational choice, but not to appetite. Again, appetite is concerned with what is pleasant and what is painful, rational choice with neither. Still less is it spirit, since actions done from spirit are least of all thought to be in accordance with rational choice. But, though it does seem closely connected with wish, it is not this either. For there is no rational choice of what is impossible, and someone claiming that he was rationally choosing this would be thought a fool. But there may be wish even for things that are impossible, such as immortality. And wish can also be for things one could never bring about by one's own efforts, such as that some actor or athlete win in a competition. No one, however, rationally chooses things like this, but only things that he thinks might come about through his own efforts. Again, wish is more to do with the end, rational choice with what is conducive to the end; for example, we wish to be healthy, but we rationally choose things that will make us healthy; and we wish to be happy, and say that we do, but to claim that we rationally choose to be so does not sound right. For in general rational choice seems to be concerned with things that are in our power. Neither could it be belief, because belief seems to be concerned with everything ± no less with what is eternal and what is impossible than with what is in our power. Besides, distinctions are made here on grounds of truth and falsity, not badness and goodness, as happens with rational choice. Now perhaps no one does claim that it is the same as belief in general. But it is not even the same as any particular species of belief, since our 41 1112a

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