Aristotle on Pleasure and the Worst Form of Akrasia
- Devin Henry
- … show all 1 hide
Purchase on Springer.com
$39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95*
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
The focus of this paper is Aristotle's solution to the problem inherited from Socrates: How could a man fail to restrain himself when he believes that what he desires is wrong? In NE 7 Aristotle attempts to reconcile the Socratic denial of akrasia with the commonly held opinion that people act in ways they know to be bad, even when it is in their power to act otherwise. This project turns out to be largely successful, for what Aristotle shows us is that if we distinguish between two ways of having knowledge (‘potentially’ and ‘actually’), the Socratic thesis can effectively account for a wide range of cases (collectively referred to here as ‘drunk-akrasia’) in which an agent acts contrary to his general knowledge of the Good, yet can still be said to ‘know’ in the qualified sense that his actions are wrong. However, Book 7 also shows that the Socratic account of akrasia cannot take us any farther than drunk-akrasia, for unlike drunk-akrasia, genuine akrasia cannot be reduced to a failure of knowledge. This agent knows in the unqualified sense that his actions are wrong. The starting-point of my argument is that Aristotle's explanation of genuine akrasia requires a different solution than the one found in NE 7 which relies on the distinction between qualified and unqualified ‘knowing’: genuinely akratic behaviour is due to the absence of an internal conflict that a desire for the ‘proper’ pleasures of temperance would create if he could experience them.
- Annas, Julia, Aristotle on Pleasure and Goodness, in A.O. Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980, pp. 285–299.
- Barnes, J. (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Aristotle. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
- Burnyeat, Myles, Aristotle on Learning to be Good, in A.O. Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980, pp. 69–92.
- Cooper, J., Reason and Human Good in Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
- Dahl, Norman, Practical Reason, Aristotle, and Weakness of the Will. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
- Kenny, Anthony, The Aristotelian Ethics. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978.
- Lear, Jonathan, Aristotle: The Desire to Understand. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
- Rackham, H. Nicomachean Ethics. (Loeb Classics) Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.
- Robinson, Richard, Aristotle on Akrasia, in J. Barnes, M. Schofield and R. Sorabji (eds.), Articles on Aristotle. Oxford: Gerald Duckworth & Company, 1977, pp. 79–91.
- Rorty, A.O. (ed.), Akrasia and Pleasure, in Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. Berkeley: University of California Press 1980, pp. 267–284.
- Ross, W.D., in Richard McKeon (ed.), Ethica Nicomachea, (Modern Library College Editions). New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1947.
- Sorabji, Richard, Aristotle on the Role of Intellect in Virtue, in A.O. Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980, pp. 201–219.
- Sullivan, Roger, Morality and the Good Life: A Commentary on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Memphis: Memphis University Press, 1977.
- Urmson, J.O., Aristotle's Doctrine of the Mean, in A.O. Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980, pp. 157–170.
- Walsh, J.J., Aristotle's Conception of Moral Weakness. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1973.
- Wiggins, David, Weakness of Will, Commensurability, and the Objects of Deliberation and Desire, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s. 79, 1978–1979, pp. 251–277.
- Aristotle on Pleasure and the Worst Form of Akrasia
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Volume 5, Issue 3 , pp 255-270
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- moral weakness
- Nicomachean Ethics
- weakness of will
- Devin Henry (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. King's College, London, William Goodenough House, 5911, Mecklenburg Square, London, WC1N 2AF, UK