The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 19 June 2019 - Page 28

world of physical forms and some forms of action are appropriate and some forms of behaviour not: or in other words, when we are dealing with free voluntary choices there are actions which ought to be chosen and actions which ought not to be chosen. The oughts here are rational and can be formulated in value-laden premises and conclusions with logical relations to each other, thus forming rational valid arguments for action. We are clearly exploring the foothills of ethics and morality or as Jonathan Lear so clearly put it in his work "Aristotle: the desire to understand", we are exploring the "Mind in action". Lear believes that understanding Aristotle's philosophical theories of Psychology are a necessary pre-requisite to understanding both his ethics and his politics. So the man on board the ship is acting and the ship's dog is just behaving. Why the difference? The difference lies, Aristotle argues in our ability to think and create higher level desires which as a consequence creates a region of the soul which is rational and a region which is irrational. But we need to consider how the human higher form of desire is integrated with our knowledge if we are to fully understand the complexity of the human form of life. The desiring part of the human soul is the acting part because man is capable of acting rationally and behaving irrationally, i.e. he is capable of both reasoning that he ought not to drink water which might be poisoned, but he is also capable of drinking the same water. It is perhaps the existence of these parts of the soul which generates all those desires which we express in value-laden ought statements. The dog's soul is perhaps a seamless unity. Indeed one can wonder whether dogs have minds in the sense of a mental space in which Aristotelian deliberations can take place. Deliberations are rationally structured but are also value or desire laden: "Aristotle's theory of deliberation is a theory of the transmission of desire. The agent begins with a desire or wish for an object. The object of the wish appears to be a good for the agent. But the appearance helps to constitute the wish itself. So a wish is both a motivating force and a part of consciousness. That is, an agents awareness that he wishes for a certain end is itself a manifestation of that wish. The wish motivates the agent to engage in a process of deliberation whereby he considers how to obtain his desired goal. Aristotle describes deliberation as a process of reasoning backward from the desired goal through a series of steps which could best lead to that goal until the agent reaches an action which he or she is in a position to perform"(Jonathan Lear "Aristotle: The desire to understand", p144) This reference to consciousness is very modern and this, of course, is a term Aristotle never used: he preferred to use the term awareness instead and many modern commentators build a notion of reflexivity into this awareness, that is, they claim there is a self-awareness implied in Aristotle's usage of this term. What this in turn implies is that there is a self that is aware of itself. Does this