Nature and Excellence of Character in Aristotle

In Nature and the Best Life. Exploring the Natural Bases of Practical Normativity in Ancient Philosophy. Hildesheim – Zürich – New York: pp. 155-181 (2013)
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The article analyzes the relation between practical normativity and nature focusing on the classical locus NE II 1, 1103a18-26, where Aristotle expressly considers the relation of nature to excellence of character. I argue that in Aristotle neither is practical normativity necessarily grounded on any kind of natural normativity, nor is nature is to be conceived of as being for the sake of human ends. The article deals, to a large extent, precisely with the limits and intersections between these two kinds of normativity in Aristotle. I claim that, in the Aristotelian texts, human nature does not provide any more positive ethical goals than that of developing and making use of our reason and of our capacity to tell right from wrong. But, at the same time, human nature seems to set the conditions of possibility for practical normativity, through the special causality exerted by human beings as agents, i.e. due to the fact that, as rational beings, we do some things not “by nature” but eph’ hemin.



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Gabriela Rossi
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

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