Practical Induction

Jessica Moss

in Aristotle on the Apparent Good

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656349
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742156 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series

Practical Induction

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This chapter addresses a major worry raised by the argument of Chapter 7: if wish is based on phantasia, why does Aristotle treat it as rational desire? The solution lies in understanding how non-rational character can provide our goals. The key is to see that the parallels Aristotle draws between theoretical reasoning and practical reasoning extend further than he makes explicit: he thinks that our grasp of the starting-points of practical reasoning – that is, of our goals – relies on perception and phantasia in the same way as does our grasp of the starting-points of theoretical reasoning. We grasp theoretical starting-points on the basis of induction; we grasp practical starting-points on the basis of ethical habituatio, which should be understood as practical induction. Habituation shapes character because it involves repeated pleasurable perception of virtuous activity: the pleasures of virtue are pleasures of (literally) perceiving oneself as good. These perceptions gives rise via phantasia to a general appearance of virtuous activity as good. Intellect conceptualizes this general appearance, but the content comes from non-rational cognition. Chapters 6 through 8 thus show that even our most distinctively human and distinctively virtuous desires are grounded in phantasia and thereby, ultimately, in evaluative perception – in pleasure. Aristotle is an empiricist in the practical realm just as much as in the theoretical.

Keywords: habituation; wish; starting-points; induction; habituation; friendship; self-perception; virtue; pleasure; the fine; the noble

Chapter.  19408 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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