Man Becomes Who He Is

Topics: Human, Virtue, Metaphysics Pages: 3 (1191 words) Published: November 21, 2005
Man Becomes Who He Is

Aristotle discusses two different claims in Nichomachean Ethics that seems to have no connection. Aristotle's "proper function of man," which is an activity of the soul in relation with the rational principle, does not seem to connect with his later claim that, "men become just by performing just actions and self-controlled by practicing self-control," but the connection is made by Aristotle suggesting that the actions of man's soul, the nonphysical part of man or what man already possesses, is brought out by high standards, habit, and repetition, which will then lead to moral virtue.
First lets look at Aristotle's definition of the "proper function of man." In the middle of section seven of Book I, just after Aristotle defines "self- sufficient" and before concluding that section he discusses the "proper function of man," "The proper function of man then, consists in an activity of the soul in conformity with a rational principle or at least, not without it" (I, 7, 1098a 5-10). An activity of the soul is that which is nonphysical in human beings. We know this because in the beginning of section eight in Book I Aristotle divides the Good into three classes, "(1) external goods, (2) goods of the soul, and (3) goods of the body (I, 8, 1098b 10-15)." So if there are external goods and goods of the body then the goods of the soul are internal, the nonphysical part of man. This nonphysical part of man works with the rational element, man not just possessing reason but obeying it. Aristotle states this in Book I section seven in the Grogan 2

middle just after the first mention of "the proper function of man" when he starts to explain rational element, "Since the expression ‘life of the rational element' also can be used in two senses, we must make it clear that we mean a life determined by the activity, as opposed to the mere possession, of the rational element. For the activity, it seems, has a greater claim to be the function...
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