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Action and Character According to Aristotle

Kevin L. SJ Flannery

Publication Year: 2013

This book will appeal to professional scholars and graduate students with an interest in Aristotle’s ethics and in ethics generally. It proposes comprehensive interpretations of some difficult passages in Aristotle’s two major ethical works ( the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics ). It brings to bear upon the analysis of human behavior passages in Aristotle’s logical works and in his Physics. It also draws connections among areas of particular interest to contemporary ethics: action theory, the analysis of practical reason, and virtue ethics.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xxxii

I have tried in this book to get to the bottom of some issues in Aristotle’s theory of human action and his philosophical psychology, but my original reason for looking at a good number of these issues in Aristotle was to resolve—or, at least, to shed some light upon—related issues in contemporary ethics and in the interpretation of Thomas Aquinas. ...

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1. Logic, Perception, and the Practical Syllogism

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pp. 1-38

Aristotle tells us any number of times that ethics does not admit of the methods of analysis proper to the sciences.1 This is largely due to the fact that the character of one’s moral acts depends directly upon how one understands what one is doing. ...

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2. The “Physical” Structure of the Human Act

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pp. 39-70

We established in chapter 1 that the proper subject matter of ethics is the singular human act and that, as such, it ought not to be conceived of as part of a syllogism such as those studied in Prior analytics (the syllogistic). We begin now the task proper of analyzing singular human acts, showing first of all, in section I, how Aristotle treats them in his Physics, ...

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3. Internal Articulation and Force

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pp. 71-109

In chapter 1, I argued that the standard passages on the practical syllogism have more to do with the material of the practical than is commonly thought. This turned our attention to the singular human act and so, in chapter 2, we considered the human act according to the model of a physical movement proceeding toward a single object ...

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4. The Constituents of Human Action and Ignorance Thereof

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pp. 110-138

We continue in this chapter to explore the perceptual realm of practical reason, in contrast with what I referred to in chapter 1 as the realm of the syllogistic, whose coin is the universal term. So, as in chapter 2, we are concerned here with the type of human act which is analyzable straightforwardly as an Aristotelian movement (or κίνησις). ...

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5. Intelligibility and the Per Se

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pp. 139-172

In the first half of this book (chapters 1 through 4), we treated human acts primarily as acts, considering their singular nature, their structure, and the factors that shape them. Not much of that treatment was explicitly moral in content. A voluntary act as such, with an object, an end, using a certain instrument, in a certain way, etc., ...

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6. Action, Φρόνησις, and Pleasure

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pp. 173-206

In chapter 5, especially in sections III and IV, we were concerned with an important aspect of Aristotle’s philosophical psychology of action: the way in which behaving virtuously is very often a matter of taking aim at the target (the mean) determined by right reason. ...

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7. Φρόνησις and the Φρόνιμος

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pp. 207-239

A major impediment to understanding the character type called by Aristotle the φρόνιμος is the sheer difficulty of the first chapter of the eighth book of the Eudemian Ethics.1 The difficulty stems from what has to be called the weirdness of Aristotle’s argument. ...

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8. Some Other Character Types

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pp. 240-270

Aristotle employs in his ethical writings a veritable menagerie of character types, most of whom we have already met. They include the φρόνιμος (the practically wise man), the σπουδαῖος (the good man), the ἀκρατής (the incontinent man), the ἀκόλαστος (the depraved man), and the ἐγκρατής (the self-constrained man). ...

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pp. 271-276

I stated in the Introduction that the overall movement of this book is from the consideration of individual acts to the consideration of ethics itself and ethical character types. The earlier chapters (chapters 1 through 4) had to do primarily with acts, the later (chapters 5 through 8) with matters of larger scope. ...

Appendix 1: On the Text of Metaph. ix, 6, 1048b18–35

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pp. 277-279

Appendix 2: Eudemian Ethics ii,6–9

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pp. 280-290


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pp. 291-298

Index of Names

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pp. 299-302

Index of Aristotelian Passages Cited

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pp. 303-312

Index of Subjects

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pp. 313-314

E-ISBN-13: 9780813221618
E-ISBN-10: 0813221617
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813221601
Print-ISBN-10: 0813221609

Page Count: 349
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1