Partaking of Reason in a Way: Aristotle on the Rationality of Human Desire


Abstract
Three times in Book 1 chapter 13 of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle says desire partakes of reason in a way. There is a consensus view in the literature about what that claim means: desire has no intrinsic rationality, but can partake of reason by being blindly obedient to the commands of reason. I argue this consensus view is mistaken: for Aristotle, adult human desire has its own intrinsic rationality, and while it is to be obedient to reason, it is not blind obedience, for when reason tells desire to obey, it includes an explanation supporting its order which desire can at least potentially understand. Thus, the nature of human desire, and also of the characteristic interaction of desire and reason, is much different than it is standardly taken to be.
Keywords Desire  Partaking  Reason  Aristotle  Obedience Model  Transformative Model
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