The Concept of Ergon: Towards An Achievement Interpretation of Aristotle's 'Function Argument'

Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 48:227-266 (2015)
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In Nicomachean Ethics 1. 7, Aristotle gives a definition of the human good, and he does so by means of the “ ergon argument.” I clear the way for a new interpretation of this argument by arguing that Aristotle does not think that the ergon of something is always the proper activity of that thing. Though he has a single concept of an ergon, Aristotle identifies the ergon of an X as an activity in some cases but a product in others, depending on the sort of thing the X is—for while the ergon of the eye is seeing, the ergon of a sculptor is a sculpture. This alternative interpretation of Aristotle’s concept of an ergon allows the key explanatory middle term of the ergon argument to be what, I argue, it ought to be: “the best achievement of a human.”



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Samuel H. Baker
University of South Alabama

Citations of this work

Platonic know‐how and successful action.Tamer Nawar - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):944-962.
Eudaimonia in the Eudemian Ethics.Daniel Ferguson - 2021 - Dissertation, Yale University

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References found in this work

Aristotle on Eudaimonia.J. L. Ackrill - 1974 - In Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 15-34.
Aristotle on eudaimonia.J. L. Ackrill - 1975 - London: Oxford University Press.
Aristotle on Function and Virtue.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1986 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 3 (3):259 - 279.
The Ergon Inference.Alfonso Gomez-Lobo - 1989 - Phronesis 34 (1):170-184.

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