Mon Feb 7, 2011
Howison Library, 4:10–6 PM
Klaus Corcilius (Hamburg University)
Doing the Right Thing: The role of the orthos logos in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
Aristotle defines the virtues of character as mean states between deficiency and excess. He also says that the mean state for each particular case is defined by the orthos logos. Given this, it seems natural to regard the orthos logos as the crucial concept of Aristotle’s moral philosophy. Accordingly, his announcement to define the orthos logos in Nicomachean Ethics VI should make us expect a statement of Aristotle’s positions with regard to key questions of moral philosophy, namely what we ought to do and why we ought to do what we ought to do. But Aristotle’s subsequent remarks do not meet that expectation. And this is what constitutes the problem of the orthos logos for us modern interpreters. In the paper I will give a description of the problem and briefly sketch the different solutions suggested by modern interpreters. Finally, and based on a reflection on our expectations, I will propose a new interpretation that focuses on the role the orthos logos plays in the argument of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.