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Aristotle’s Function Argument: The Human Function and its Peculiarity

Evans, Lawrence Edward John; (2019) Aristotle’s Function Argument: The Human Function and its Peculiarity. Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis is on Aristotle’s ‘function argument’. In my first chapter I explore the opening lines of the function argument, and I investigate whether Aristotle has an argument to support his claim that human beings have a function. I argue that Aristotle has such an argument, and that the questions he asks are therefore rhetorical questions. In my second chapter I consider the problem that the human function cannot be peculiar to humans in the sense of something unique, since reason and contemplation are shared above all with the gods. I also consider the problem that there are many activities peculiar to humans besides reasoning, and why it is reasoning well that marks someone out as a good human being. I argue that Aristotle understands the peculiar function of humans to be the characteristic life that only humans live, namely an ‘active life’. In claiming that humans have a ‘function’, then, the claim is that human beings have a particular kind of life appropriate to them, which, I argue, Aristotle understands to include both practical and theoretical activity. In my third chapter I consider the connection between being a good human and the human good. If the human function is a certain kind of life that humans live, the challenge is why living well is the good for human beings. I argue that, for Aristotle, to be a ‘good’ human just is what it means to live well as a human, in accordance with the specifically human life, so that the good for humans is good for them in so far as they are good specimens of their kind. Hence, in drawing a connection between the ‘life’ appropriate to a human and ‘the good’, Aristotle means to directly show us how human beings can live the good life.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Aristotle’s Function Argument: The Human Function and its Peculiarity
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10087477
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