Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 11, 2015

Is Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics Quasi-Mathematical?

Joseph Karbowski
From the journal Apeiron


This paper challenges D. J. Allan’s famous claim that Aristotle employs a ‘quasi-mathematical’ method in the Eudemian Ethics. Allan believes that Aristotle’s use of posits introduced by ‘hupokeisthō’, ‘estō’, etc. in the treatise is ultimately modeled upon, or at least inspired by, their use in mathematics. However, in this paper I show that there are substantive procedural and epistemological differences between mathematical posits and those in the Eudemian Ethics and that, in any case, there is no textual basis for Allan’s thesis. When we look outside of the Eudemian Ethics, we find, in fact, that the use of posits is a rather common argumentative strategy of Aristotle. What specifically motivates his use of posits in the Eudemian Ethics, I suggest, is his desire to meet the criteria for proper philosophical arguments set out at the end of EE I.6.

Published Online: 2015-7-11
Published in Print: 2015-7-1

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