The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Oct 2, 2014
223 Moses Hall, 2–4 PM
Han Lin He (Peking University)
Man is a rule-following animal

One of the most famous and fundamental propositions asserted by Aristotle is the claim that by its nature the human being is an animal that possesses reason, i.e., a rational animal. How should we expand on this claim? Kant’s conception of reason suggests a way to do this. According to him, the understanding is the faculty of rules, and reason in the narrow sense gives it the faculty of principles. Following this understanding of reason (which in its usual sense includes both understanding and reason in Kant’s sense), we might just as well rephrase Aristotle’s definition of man this way: rule-following animal. The present paper is meant to expand on this point with the help of Wittgenstein’s insights about rule-following.