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Reading: On Aristotle’s Function Argument


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On Aristotle’s Function Argument


Angela Han

Pomona College, US
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In this paper, I will reflect upon Aristotle’s argument claiming that the function of a human being is to engage in activity of soul in accord with reason (AWR). I will explicate and further defend this argument, which is based on the fact that the function of X must characterize it as an X and set a standard for X’s impairment and excellence, and the only candidates for a human’s function are: to take in nutrients and grow, to perceive and move, and to engage in activities of soul in accord with reason. I will raise the objection that having a continuous sense of self (CSOS) in addition AWR is a relevant candidate for a human’s function that Aristotle did not consider. I will define CSOS as involving being aware of and being able to understand one’s own emotions, beliefs, identities, relationships, and experiences at a given time that are relevant to the answering of some question at hand. I will then show that by discounting CSOS as a candidate for characterizing a human being, past what is needed for AWR and considered as separate from AWR, we would be missing a crucial element of what defines a human.

How to Cite: Han, A., 2016. On Aristotle’s Function Argument. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 8(2), pp.16 (147–157). DOI:
Published on 24 Jun 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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