17 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2021
    1. hat comes about because of ignorance, for its part, is all non-voluntary,

      Here, Ar. makes a rather significant generalization, that all actions performed in ignorance are non-voluntary. This claim seems to grow problematic in the next few lines, as Ar. argues that ,in fact, one who acted in ignorance but then feels regret has acted counter-voluntarily. The key to understanding this seeming contradiction is that Ar.'s first claim about acting in ignorance is in regards to the voluntary or non-voluntary nature of that action while it is happening and his following claims involving regret are in regards to the agent's retrospective evaluation of her actions as either voluntary or non-voluntary.

    2. t is ludicrous too to put the responsibility on external objects, rather than on oneself for falling an easy victim to such things, and to put it on oneself for fine things, but on the objects that please for shameful ones.

      This is now known as the fundamental attribution error.

    3. could come about by one’s own agency.

      Richard Sarabji writes that book 3, and specifically book 3 chapter 2 of the ethics features one of the few places in which Ar. clearly identifies decision (prohairesis) as directed towards means and particulars as opposed to ends. He argues that an interpretation of prohairesis as directed towards ends detracts from or diminishes the relationship between choice and rationality.

    4. What comes about because of ignorance, then, seems to fall into two types: someone who feels regret seems to have acted counter-voluntarily, while the one who does not feel regret-

      An interesting logical consequence of Ar. argument here is that a person who acts in ignorance but is later pleased with their actions might be considered as acting voluntarily. However, this would contradict with Ar. claim that all actions done in ignorance are involuntary, so it's seems unlikely that Ar. too finds this logical consequence to be true

    5. Niether is decision wish, for decisions are about means, whereas wishes, at their outset, are free from any considerations of particulars.

    6. emper;

      Temper is too much of a non-rational candidate to be decision.

    7. .

      Decision cannot be appetite because decision is a distinctly human feature, which appetite is not.

    8. So is it, at any rate, what has been reached by prior deliberation?

      This is a statement cleverly disguised as a question. Here, Aristotle is suggesting the what the most likely candidate for decision will turn out to be, not genuinely asking whether or not decision is the end result of deliberation.

    9. origin of some- thing is in himself, it depends on himself whether he does that thing or not.

      The phrasing that "an action is voluntary if its origin is in the agent" is at the core of this chapter. It is also infuriatingly ambiguous what Ar. means when he says that an action has its origin (arché) in us. Broadie and Rowe's addition to the discussion that by 'in the agent' we mean it is "in him as a rational or potentially rational individual" (pp. 312) tells us that the 'origin' spoken of must be somewhat rational in nature. Another commentary, written by Irwin, is consistent with this notion. Irwin writes that the principle (his translation of arché) is the causal source of an action and that "the agent's sate of mind is the principle (or origin) of the action not only because it is it's temporal origin, but also because it explains it's character" (pp. 273). He also notices that while Ar. does not fully explain arché, he does indicates that it involves and agent's desires and choices. Now, we have identified the main elements that Ar. associates with actions having their origins in us: causal capacities, rationality, and character. If we take these together, we might think of actions originating in us in that they arise from our character as rational individuals in way that is so intertwined with our character, that each voluntary action we perform is an expression of our character.

    10. sympathy

      sungnōmē- readiness to see things from another's perspective

      (B&R, 311)

    11. unless he were mad,

      Broadie and Rowe note that Ar. mentions madness here but does not discuss its effects on the actions as voluntary or involuntary. Elsewhere in NE, Ar. claims that actions motivated by pathological feelings are counter-voluntary, and that insane individuals lack reason and decision (313).

    12. But perhaps in some cases there is no such thing as ‘being constrained’, but one should rather accept the most agonizing death: the things that ‘constrained’ Euripides’ Alemaeon to commit matricide are plainly ludicrous.

      Ar. use of the story of Alcmaeon is an interesting one. In the story, Alcmaeon's father Amphiaraus compells Alcmaeon to kill his mother, who had been manipulating his father, or else be cursed by his father's. Under such constraints, Alcmaeon chooses to kill his own mother. The point of this story, for Ar., is that we cannot always easily accept other's claims that they had no other choice. Ar. does not consider Alcmaeon's actions to be counter-voluntary, despite the enormous strains of the situation. Personally, I struggled with this point as well, given the extreme nature of the situation that Alcmaeon was faced with. Broadie and Rowe's commentary on the subject, made Ar. thinking more clear to me. They write that 1) his actions were clearly voluntary as their origin was in him and 2) that Alcmaeon's actions were so inexcusable because even when one is faced with two unbearable alternatives, it is ultimately less blameworthy to be forced to experience one of the alternatives than to voluntarily choose one(pp. 312). But while this explanation is informative, I think it could still be argued that when stuck between two unbearable alternatives, it can sometimes be wiser to choose the evil that you know, rather than be entirely at the mercy of the circumstances. For instance, the curse that Alcmaeon murdered his mother in fear of could be far more disastrous than we know. But I digress. I only wish to point out that this example is a rather complex and potentially confusing one.

    13. (

      In the previous chapter, Ar. identified one key element in having virtue of character: voluntary action. However, as Ar. explains in this chapter, decision (prohairesis) in actions is necessary in order to be virtuous. But what is decision? Here, Ar. conducts a brief initial investigation into the nature of decision. Ar. excludes the possibilities that decision is appetite, wish, or judgement. He concludes this paragraph by indicating that decision is the product of prior deliberation.

      1111b4- 1112a15 No that the voluntary...chosen before other things.

    14. So

      Having identified the cases in which action is not voluntary, Ar. finishes this chapter by telling us what voluntary action is: it is those actions which are initially caused by us (find their origin in us) and in which we are aware of the particulars of the situation. He also argues that even actions caused by non-rational desires are in a sense voluntary.

      1111a22-1111b3 So, given that counter voluntary...to count these things as counter-voluntary.

    15. Wh

      After examining one condition which renders an action involuntary (forced actions), Ar. moves on to examine the other condition: ignorance. His main claims in this section are thus: most actions performed in ignorance are involuntary, but can be counter-voluntary to the extent that the agent regrets being the cause of those wrongdoing; an action performed in ignorance is either involuntary or counter-voluntary, whereas an action performed because of general ignorance on the part of the agent is voluntary.

      1110b17-1111a21 What comes about by force...and involve regret.

    16. T

      Then, in order to get a better understanding of which actions can be considered voluntary, Ar. begins to delineate those actions which are forced or counter-voluntary. His view is that actions are involuntary if forced or performed in ignorance, and actions are forced if the cause or impetus of the action began external to the agent and if the agent contributes nothing to the action. Thus, in so-called mixed cases where agents willingly perform actions which seem counter to their desire, the action is ultimately voluntary, since the origin of the action is in the agent. Furthermore, we often praise and blame appropriately in these situations, recognizing the difficulty of the circumstances while still considering the actions of the agent to be voluntary. Lastly, the pursuit of pleasure and fine things does not force us, as we are free to judge for ourselves whether we do a thing, and because that judgment comes from us, we are not forced to purse pleasure.

      1110a1- 1110b15 The counter-voluntary... for shameful ones.

    17. (

      Ar. starts by pointing to the importance of voluntary action as a necessary component for either a person to praise or blame another's actions or character.

      1109b30 -1110a1 Since, then, excellence ...forcible correction.