Aristotle on Acrasia

A. W. Price

in Virtue and Reason in Plato and Aristotle

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199609611
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731846 | DOI:
Aristotle on Acrasia

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Since Aristotle follows Plato in recognizing the existence of irrational desires, we might expect him to recognize the reality of ‘hard acrasia’, wherein an agent does what he knows or judges to be bad. In fact he doesn’t, and rather supposes that acrasia is made possible by ignorance of a kind. Some take this to be a failure to grasp some practical consideration in a full way that makes it motivating. Yet the evidence rather suggests that desire, being located with perception in a lower stratum of the soul than reason, can sabotage perception so that a good choice is subverted, and nothing opposes acting on a passion or appetite. Why does Aristotle exclude hard acrasia? In part because of his conception of practical thinking as being inherently for the sake of action; but more, perhaps, because he does not believe that an agent can appreciate what is needed for his eudaimonia, and yet consciously turn his back on it.

Keywords: acrasia; reason; desire; appetite; perception; good; pleasant; ignorance; premise; Charles

Chapter.  18073 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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