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Title: Aristotle on thought and action
Author: Lawrence, Gavin
ISNI:       0000 0000 6088 7513
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1985
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The immediate object is a determinate resolution of Aristotle's position in Nicomachean Ethics 7.3. over the Socratic problem and in particular the possibility of last-ditch akrasia. My approach seeks interpretational constraints and illumination from considering the argument as a structured whole. Moreover, the passage is a point on which larger issues in Aristotle's philosophies of mind, action, and morals converge: the elucidation offered attempts both to frame and throw light on these. Chapter One makes preliminary moves on several fronts. Firstly it looks briefly at Aristotle's position over last-ditch akrasia in De Anima and Eudemian Ethics. Then it outlines the problems of Nicomachean Ethics 7.3. and classifies previous lines of solution. Thirdly an intuitive picture is given of Aristotle's method and basic stance. Finally some contrasts are drawn between Aristotle's and modern approaches to akrasia. Chapters Two to Five discuss the four Sections of Nicomachean Ethics 7.3's argument. Chapters Two and Three take Section 1 and 2 together and consider two major problems of interpretation. Chapter Two asks whether these Sections concern akrasia at all, and, if so, how. I argue that their concern is direct, general (i.e. not confined to some akratic species), and inclusive (i.e. embracing non-akratic phenomena). Chapter Three asks about the interpretation of "exercising knowledge". Firstly the results of Chapter Two are defended; an aporetic discussion of this difficult issue then follows. Chapter Four examines Section 3. After analysing its structure, it distinguishes three principal issues. I argue firstly that Section 3, like 1 and 2, concerns akrasia directly, generally and inclusively; secondly that the knowledge that the akratic is temporally unable to use (that is 'tied') is his (universal) knowledge of what is worthwhile; thirdly that this failure involves a cognitive failure (I suggest a distortion of the agent's situational appreciation) - and not, as some scholars have recently urged, merely a motivational failure. Chapter Five, perforce selective, tackles firstly various problems of Section 4's argumentative structure, and then the interpretation of 1147a26-31 (the 'normal case'). Finally 1147a31-5 (the 'akratic case') is examined and a case argued for its offering two syllogisms but only one practical syllogism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Act (Philosophy) ; Reasoning