, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 251-263
Date: 21 May 2009

Aristotle’s view on “the right of practice”: An investigation into Aristotle’s theory of action

Abstract

The concept of right or fit is an important element entailed, but not fully articulated, in the concept of action or practice in Aristotle’s theory of virtue; which, however, turns to be of the utmost importance in later Western ethics. Right is concerned with both feelings and actions, and is not the same for all individuals. It lies in between the two extremes of the spectrum of practical affairs, yet by no means equidistant from them. This account of the concept of fitness or right is derived from the categories of quantity, relationship, and quality rather than from that of substance. Thus, it seems that virtue is relative to vice or error within a continuous existence. If, however, the right of passion and action is environmental and concrete, is it multiple and not singular? To this question, Aristotle gives his reply on two levels: On the level of concrete practitioners, what is right and fit to one man might not be so to another man, and hence the right of practice is not singular but multiple; whereas on the level concerned with the only right choice compared with the two extremes or errors, the right of practice will always be singular.

摘要

“正确” 是隐含于亚里士多德的德性学说中的一个重要而未充分展开的, 在后来的西方伦理学中却变成极为重要的关于行为或实践的概念。 “正确” 与感情和行为都相关。 “正确” 并不是对所有人同样的。 它是两端间的那个中间, 但并不始终与两端距离相等。 对适度或正确的这种说明基本上是从数量、 关系与性质范畴引出, 而不是从实体范畴引出的述说。 所以, 德性似乎始终是在一种有连续性的存在中相对于恶或错误而言的。 感情与行为的正确如果是环境的、 具体的, 它是否是多而不是一? 亚里士多德在两个层面上回答这个问题。 在相对于具体实践者的层面, 对我而言的适度或正确很可能不同于对你而言的, 实践的正确不是一而是多; 在相对于两端或错误唯有一个正确的选择而言, 实践的正确始终只是一。

Translated by Zhang Lin from Daode yu wenming 道德与文明 (Morality and Civilization), 2007, (5): 4–9