The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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The so-called practical syllogism is best understood in dispositional terms. Animate movement originates with orexis (appetite), but appetite is the result of the coming together of dual dispositions, the orektikon and the orekton. For calculative appetite, multiple objectives can be imagined, and deliberation determines which objective is best for this person in this circumstance. Deliberation is an antecedent of the actualized appetite, not its consequence. This psychology makes clear that satisfaction of appetites is a two-stage process for calculative beings: first the determination of the appetite, then movement to fulfillment in its objective. In deliberation, the determination is which appetitive disposition to pursue, linking it to an appropriate general knowledge for determining the objective and the means to it. This understanding of deliberation gives a fresh understanding of the practical syllogism and of Aristotle’s solution to the akrasia problem.


Tom Olshewsky presented “Appetites and Actions in Aristotle’s Moral Psychology” to the Society at its meeting with the American Philological Association in 2008.t

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