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Aristotle on the Starting-Point of Motion in the Soul

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Abstract In Eudemian Ethics 8.2, Aristotle posits god as the starting-point of non-rational desire (particularly for the naturally fortunate), thought, and deliberation. The questions that dominate the literature are: To what does ‘god’ refer? Is it some divine-like entity in the soul that produces thoughts and desires or is it Aristotle’s prime mover? And how does god operate as the starting-point of these activities? By providing a careful reconstruction of the context in which god is evoked, I argue against the popular deflationary reading of ‘god’, showing why Aristotle’s prime mover must be the end of these natural activities, and how it serves as a final cause for the rational and desirative parts of the soul. I contend that EE 8.2 provides evidence against the traditional notion that god operates as a final cause by drawing natural potentialities to their completion, and suggests instead that it serves as a final cause by entering into the explanation of natures and natural activities as their ultimate end.

Affiliations: 1: Philosophy Department, University of Dayton Dayton, OH 454619 USA mgabbe1@udayton.edu

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