Aristotle's Rational Powers and the Explanation of Action

Filip Grgic
University of Zagreb (PhD)
In this paper, I discuss Aristotle's notion of rational powers as presented in his Metaphysics Θ.2 and Θ.5. I argue, first, that his account cannot serve as the model for explaining human rational actions in general. The role of rational powers is restricted to the explanation of arts and their exercises, including the exercises of knowledge through teaching. The exercises of character virtues do not follow the same pattern that is discernible in the exercises of rational powers. Second, I try to show that the similarities between Aristotle's rational powers and powers as they are commonly understood in contemporary accounts of agency, especially regarding their two-sidedness and up-to-usness, are only superficial. Aristotle's rational powers are not genuinely two-sided, and their being up to the agent has nothing to do with the availability of alternative courses of action.
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DOI 10.3196/004433020828856935
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