The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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The discussion of children in Pol VII and the linking of nature, habit and reason supports our thesis that Aristotle has a composite conception of the child and that it can be reconstituted by way of a linked examination of his analyses in the biology, ethics and politics.The child has his or her beginnings prior to birth and grows from unfinished to finished adulthood through linked phases. Each phase of development has its own telos - the complete human animal nature at birth, the complete ethical character later on, and the cultured, educationally complete person ready for adult life in the polis - and so is differentiated. The teloi need to be maintained as separate and cannot be collapsed because different kinds of change are at issue, namely substantial change in the biology and alteration in the ethics and politics. At the same time, however, continuity is evident in several ways. Each phase is linked with the next as a prerequisite. Each phase maintains a common general formula for the child as unfinished. In each phase the theme of minimizing randomness and maximizing order and intelligibility is evident. And each phase adopts a common explanatory scheme to provide for the order and intelligibility of the child's generation and development, a scheme whereby a prior actuality or actualities provide the potentiality necessary for the appropriate change.


Daryl Tress presented “Aristotle’s Child: formation through genesis, oikos, polis” to the Society at its meeting with the Central Division in Chicago in 1995. A revised version was published as “Aristotle’s Child: Development through Genesis, Oikos, Polis” in Ancient Philosophy 17 (1997) 63-84.

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