This paper is concerned with Aristotle’s theory of habituation, focusing on the following three issues: (1) the relation between habit and reason, (2) human nature and habituation, and (3) the roles of family and politics in habituation. Aristotle’s theory of habituation has been a topic of interest recently. Yet so far, most debates about this topic are about the first issue. This paper will bring in the second and the third issues, in order to provide a complete picture of the theory. To be more specific, the paper seeks to better understand the following three claims of Aristotle, corresponding to the three issues mentioned above: (1) “We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts” (NE 1103a34–b1) . (2) “We are adapted by nature to receive virtues, and are made perfect by habit” (teleuioumenois de dia tou ethous) (1103a25–26). (3) “One’s own good cannot exist without household management, nor without a form of government” (1142a9–11).
For Aristotle creating a virtuous character means habituating a stable emotional state or disposition (hexis), which enables the agent to feel and act rightly, and to have the intellectual virtue prudence (phronēsis) complete this habituation. But because feeling or emotion (pathos) is a passive state, it is not clear in what way we can make ourselves be affected correctly. This paper tries to solve this apparent difficulty by emphasizing the cognitive power of emotion. It also examines the role of prudence in the acquisition of ethical virtue, supporting an anti-intellectualist understanding of practical motivation.
It is controversial whether δ?ναμι? in Metaphysics Book Θ has two distinct senses, one of which is strict, called “power,” and the other is the “more useful sense,” called “potentiality.” This paper argues that there are indeed two senses of δ?ναμι? in Metaphysics Θ, refuting Michael Frede’s “unitarian interpretation.” Distinguished from power, potentiality is neither Aristotelian nature, nor possibility, nor capacity for being, but rather a way of being. This paper examines the ontological meanings and the features of potentiality as a way of being. Basically, potentiality has a dual status, that is, it is being, on the one hand, and not-being on the other. Furthermore, it has a teleological direction toward its correlative actuality, which explains how potentiality ontologically depends on actuality and why actuality is substantially prior to potentiality.
In this paper I set out a phenomenology of social transformation, based on an analysis of the distinctively religious form of communication which underlies the trans-generational and trans-cultural transmission of world traditions, taking Confucianism and Christianity as their representatives. A phenomenological analysis of their communicative structure allows the possibility of a better understanding of what can be learnt from them in the context of contemporary debates in both China and the West on the relations between religion, ethics and politics. This analysis suggests that the ethical consistency of belief and act, which is the necessary condition for the engendering of long-term solidarity in religious community, has significant implications for ethics in politics, and especially for the legitimacy of representational leadership as a focal point for change in society. The paper concludes that the historical experience of world religions can offer new insights into the nature of political leadership and representation in today’s globalised world and that the appropriate locus for this inquiry is the present negotiation and re-negotiation of relations between China and the West.
In his new book Being and Substance: A Study of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Z1–9, Nie Minli, taking a holistic perspective, argues that the primary substance—that is, the individual in Categories—is identical to form, which is the primary substance in Metaphysics Z, and that Z3 has finished arguing what the real candidate of substance is and the inserted Z7–9 texts are the “core and key” of the entire book. In spite of his excellent scholarship and masterful interpretation of Metaphysics Z4–6, Z7, Categories 1–5 and Physics Α, Nie offers insufficient textual support for his interpretation of the primary substance in Metaphysics Z and the content of Z3. Although substance is the subject (hypokeimenon) and a “this” (tode ti) in Categories, it is the ultimate subject (hypokeimenon eschaton) and a “this” (tode ti) and separable (choriston) in Metaphysics. As the ultimate subject, substance is form and matter but not the individual. As a “this” (tode ti) and separable (choriston), substance is form; moreover, the primary substance is form. In my view, that form is substance in Z3 serves more as a plan or outline needed to prove in the following than as a definite conclusion. This article also points out that tode ti in Z8, 1033b21 refers to the individual but not the form. Homōnuma in Z9 cannot be understood as “sharing the same name but with different meaning,” but, rather, simply as “having the same name.”