The Human Essence

Thomas Hurka

in Perfectionism

Published in print June 1996 | ISBN: 9780195101164
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833276 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ethics Series

The Human Essence

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Argues for two claims about human essential properties that together constitute an “Aristotelian” theory of human nature. The first is that humans essentially have a physical nature involving circulatory, digestive, and other physiological systems; their functioning to a high degree constitutes good health and, beyond that, athletic excellence. The second is that humans are essentially rational, both theoretically (in how they form beliefs) and practically (in how they act). This last claim yields the two main “Aristotelian” values of theoretical and practical perfection, which develop theoretical and practical rationality. The claim is defended both intuitively, in thought‐experiments, and by the analysis of psychological explanation, in which rationality plays a central role.

Keywords: Aristotelian; essence; health; human nature; perfectionism; rationality

Chapter.  7492 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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