Dialogue

Articles

Aristotle and the Spheres of Motivation: De Anima III.11

D. S. Hutchinsona1

a1 Trinity College, University of Toronto

Motivations can often conflict. Suppose it is six o'clock and I want a drink; suppose also that I know that it would be unwise or inappropriate in my present circumstances to drink. In cases like this I feel a struggle inside me. For Plato and for Aristotle, such struggles were an important part of moral experience, and on their description and analysis depends much of Plato's and Aristotle's moral psychology. It is not well enough appreciated that, in this respect, Aristotle was an uncritical follower of Plato. If we understand Plato's theory and how little Aristotle departed from it, we will be able to make better sense of some difficult passages, especially De Anima III.11, and we will even be able to solve the conundrum of the ‘sphere’ which has teased scholars for two thousand years.