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action (Aristotle)

Subject Philosophy

People Aristotle

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


A ncient G reek philosophy, ethics [Greek, praxis , from the verb prattein , to do] Broadly, everything that an agent does intentionally, in contrast to speech and to being acted upon. Humans, including children, and some non-human animals are capable of this sort of action. More strictly, action is confined to carrying out rational choice, something that non-humans cannot do. It is doing what is or could be the outcome of deliberation on the part of the agent or for what the agent is held responsible. This sense, which is central to moral philosophy, is related to the problem of free will and responsibility . Only in this sense is action open to moral praise and blame. Aristotle also used praxis narrowly for rational action that is its own end, and that is not done merely for the sake of some further end. This sense contrasts with production (Greek, poiesis ), which is for the sake of some end product. According to this contrast, ethical actions, unlike technical performances, are done and valued for their own sake. Philosophers also discuss the conceptual relations between these sorts of action and action in nature that does not involve intention, reason, or purpose, such as the action of a river on its bank. “[An unconditional goal is] what we achieve in action, since doing well in action is the goal.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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