Aristotle's Doctrine of the Mean and the Circularity of Human Nature

Kritike 10 (2):122-131 (2016)

Aristotle's famous claim that human beings are animals with rationality has a subtle and complicated articulation in his doctrine of the mean. This paper offers textual analysis of Aristotle's discussion of the mean as a resource for coming to terms with the thesis that humans naturally deliberate over the essence of their nature. Unlike other animals who tend to act without deliberation and without mediation, human beings are the animals who are capable of giving an account of themselves. However, this also means that human beings are the animals whose nature it is to give an account. This paper proposes that Aristotle's doctrine of the mean, as it is found in the Nicomachean Ethics, helps to explain this circular, and in some ways puzzling, tension between having a nature and giving an account of one's nature.
Keywords Aristotle   the mean   human nature   logos
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DOI 10.25138/10.2.a.9
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