Aristotle on Reason and Motivation
Person photo Dr Gösta Grönroos
Theoretical Philosophy (Department of Philosophy)

Funding source: Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsr├ądet (VR)
Period: 1/1/11 - 12/31/13
Funding: 1995000 SEK
The purpose of the project is to determine Aristotle´s stance on reason´s role in motivating actions. According to an influential non-Humean interpretation, Aristotle holds the view that basic, action motivating, desires can be brought about by an exercise of reason. One aim is to show the untenability of this interpretation both on philosophical, and on exegetic grounds. In particular, it will be shown that the non-Humean interpretation is based on a misunderstanding of Aristotle´s claim that the reason possessing part of the soul harbours basic desires of its own. A further aim is to contribute to the contemporary debate between Humeans and non-Humeans regarding motivation. For the project seeks to provide an account of motivation, which makes justice to the idea that some action are motivated by values proper to reason, but without the implication that the ultimate source of motivation for these actions is an exercise of reason. The project aims at sorting out a longstanding difficulty in Aristotelian scholarship, and paves the way for a better understanding of related topics in Aristotle´s ethics, moral psychology, and theory of action. But in addition, the suggested solution to the problem offers a fresh position to be considered in the contemporary debate about the sources of motivation. Hence, there are benefits both for the scholarly treatment of Aristotle, and for the systematic approach to the subject matter.
Research fields (1)