• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline and Illustrate Aristotle(TM)s account of voluntary action and responsibility

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Assess Aristotle's claim that man has a function Aristotle believes that man has a function in life. In Book I, chapter 7, he states the following: "...if the function of man is an activity of the soul in accordance with, or implying, a rational principle; and if we hold that the function an individual and of a good individual of the same kind - e.g. of a harpist and of a good harpist and so on generally - is generically the same, the latter's distinctive excellence being attached to the name of the function (because the function of the harpist is to play the harp, but that of the good harpist is to play it well); and if we assume that the function of man is a kind of life, namely, an activity or series of actions of the soul, implying a rational principle; and if the function of a good man is to perform these well and rightly; and if every function is performed well when performed in accordance with its proper excellence: if this is all so, the conclusion is that the good for man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, or if there are more kinds of virtue than one, in accordance with the best and most perfect kind." ...read more.

Middle

but this does not add anything factual to it. In comparison, the function of our eyes give us the ability to perceive the world but this adds nothing factually to simply saying that our eyes causes us to perceive. When we speak about function we give it a normative status to causation but this is subjective to every individual. This works for all teleological ideas and it reflects our own interests. As for teleological arguments, they can only be defended, mainly, by religion and also by anthropomorphic ideas of nature. For example, Thomas Aquinas believed that natural law was not made up by humans but rather an unchanging rule or pattern which is there for human beings to discover. Aquinas says that natural law is so complex that it had to have been designed by a higher power and he stated that the only plausible answer is God. However, using God as the answer to the existence and aim of human beings is a weak argument. Jean-Paul Sartre believes in the concept that "existence precedes essence" and that the idea that existence precedes essence means that a human being, as well as human reality, exists prior to any concepts of values or morals. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, we can gamble, give to charity, make art and become intoxicated by drugs but that does not mean that any of these are our functions. On what grounds does Aristotle use that animals cannot use reason? Surely what we call "reason" is no more than instinctive response but on a conscious level than any action in the animal kingdom. Aristotle could simply argue that these are all examples of humans not using their reason well because a tyrant, terrorist or gambler is using their reason but not in conjunction with their virtues. A good example of this would be the terrorist Osama bin Laden who thought he was doing good for the world where in reality he was creating devastation. In conclusion, although Aristotle's belief of man's function in life gives us as human beings something to aim for (eudaimonia) it does not mean that man definitely has a function in life. Just because our organs work in a certain way does not mean our body must work towards something, and if our bodies are indeed working towards something then why must it be towards eudaimonia? As Sartre says, our function could be made up as we go through life. Why must we live life according to reason? Also, why must it just be reason we function upon? It is these questions that pose a problem to Aristotle's function argument and therefore make his claim flawed. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Plato versus Aristotle on well being

    ring, one just and one unjust, and the unjust man carries out his unjust activities but is clever enough to disguise it and up holds his reputation for being a moral citizen so therefore gets away un punished however conversely the just man whom has been virtuous in all his

  2. Sartre is a very strong proponent of strong determinism, that is, he does not ...

    Instead, the universe and everything in it, exists as a direct consequence of human existence, and is forever dependent upon it. This view serves two essential purposes. First, it devaluates the deterministic argument that the universe follows its own set of rules and laws.

  1. Is active citizenship necessary to the achievement of eudaimonia?

    itself is intrinsic to the achievement of eudaimonia, that is that without active citizenship one cannot acquire the good life no matter what other goods one possesses. Aristotle is not very clear in this, possibly because he does not feel the need to restate his moral position voiced in the Ethics.

  2. All of our Choices are Predetermined

    would seem to prevent Libertarian view also, as our choices are random and thus not controlled or free. From this argument, we can see that a Libertarian argument for free will is impossible. It seems undeniable therefore, that all our choices are pre-determined -or in the least part random, whether

  1. Evaluate plato and aristotle on well being

    Aristotle thinks that the problem solved by the forms can in fact be answered empirically; he presents us with the function argument: this explains that the function of a harpist is to play the harp well. A human also just like the eye has a set purpose or function and

  2. Discuss the concept of Natural Law with reference to the ideas of Aristotle and ...

    Natural law also looks into the functions of individual body parts in relation to our overall purpose. Aquinas believed it was wrong to use things for something other than its function/purpose; the purpose of sex organs is reproduction so therefore, contraception is wrong.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work