Date of Original Version
In this paper, I investigate Aristotle’s claim in Nicomachean Ethics III.1 about situations that “overstrain human nature.” By setting out and answering several interpretative questions about such situations, I offer a comprehensive interpretation of this passage. I argue that in (at least some of) these cases, the agent voluntarily does something wrong, even though there is a right action available. Furthermore, I argue that Aristotle would think it is possible for a rare agent to perform the right action in (at least some of) these cases, overcoming the limitations of human nature by identifying with the divine part of the soul.
Reed, D. (2021). Overstraining Human Nature in the Nicomachean Ethics. Journal of the History of Philosophy 59(1), 45-67. http://doi.org/10.1353/hph.2021.0002