Colloquium: March 27th

Title: The teleology of the practical good in Aristotle

Speaker: Klaus Corcilius  (Berkeley)

Friday, March 27th at 2:30pm in CLE A203


In several places of his ethical writings, Aristotle introduces the practical good (prakton agathon) as a limiting condition for the goals of human action: we are motivated by goals only if they are practical, i.e. if we somehow deem them within our reach. However, the various discussions of the practical good in the ethical writings seem not to cohere very well. In this paper, I offer an interpretation of the teleology of the practical good in the De Motu Animalium that allows a coherent understanding of Aristotle's conception of the practical good. The resulting conception links objective natural teleology with the subjective teleology characteristic of animal and human agency: all agents, humans or brutes, in pursuing their subjective goals (phainomenon agathon), necessarily pursue what is objectively good for them. This holds also for cases of misrepresentation of goodness, i.e. when agents fail to identify a subjective goal that is objectively good for them: they do so only because they are fundamentally motivated by what is objectively good for them.