Nature of deliberation in Aristotle
Kim, Do Hyoung
This dissertation argues that: (1) deliberation (bouleusis) is distinguished from theoretical thought, in so far as the former is strictly about the particulars of a given situation, while the latter is about universal concepts; and that (2) deliberation is practical only in so far as it prescribes the best option for action, that is, it prescribes practical truth, but there is no element within the deliberative soul that can initiate an action directly. With these two points in mind, I will show in Chapter One that what lets us consistently cognize the moral ‘end’, the moral first principle, is a character or emotional disposition we acquire as a result of habituation (ethismos). Having explained how the conception of ends can be determined, I provide an argument for the first thesis mentioned above, and claim in Chapter Two that deliberation is not of the ends (ta telê), but is only of the means (ta pros to telos). My argument for the second thesis will lead me to claim in Chapter Three that prohairesis, the conclusion of deliberation, is not an action. I end my argument with an investigation showing that the interpretation of Aristotelian deliberation supported in this thesis secures its justification not only in those discussions that are directly related to the nature of deliberation, but also in the context of other important discussions in Aristotle’s ethics, namely, about the possibility of acrasia (in Chapter Four) and the definition of eudaimonia (in Chapter Five). My argument will provide a better treatment and solution, than existing attempts, of the puzzles surrounding the concepts of acrasia and eudaimonia in Aristotle’s ethics.