Aristotelian Desires and the Problems of Egoism

John Davenport

in Will as Commitment and Resolve

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780823225750
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235896 | DOI:
Aristotelian Desires and the Problems               of Egoism

Show Summary Details


This chapter argues that Aristotle's psychology largely follows the core claims of Plato's model, except that the quasi-volitional role played by Plato's thumos or middle soul is taken over by “intellectual appetite”. It defends and develops the distinction between the three main types of erosiac desire recognized in this account. But the intellectual appetite account does not recognize striving will as having any independent motivational power distinct from rational desires for the good that informs choice, and thus all human motivation is explained in broadly erosiac terms. This chapter also argues that there is a legitimate sense in which the erosiac model constructed from Plato and Aristotle is formally egoistic. It distinguishes formal egoism from other more familiar kinds of egoism (as a doctrine about human motivation) and considers one highly important kind of argument against motivational egoism, namely, the argument that it is self-defeating. This chapter also engages Joel Feinberg's critique of egoism and then asks whether a version of this paradox of self-defeat applies to formal egoism.

Keywords: Aristotle; Plato; erosiac desire; psychology; striving will; Joel Feinberg; egoism; motivation; self-defeat

Chapter.  21603 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Fordham University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.