Author: Julie K. Ward

In EN II.1, Aristotle claims that our nature (physis) is inadequate for moral virtue. We are not, he says, in the same relation to virtue as a stone falling to earth; moral excellence is neither by nature nor contrary to our nature but reached by habituation (cf. 1103a15–20). Other texts such as Pol. I.13 and Pol. VII.12 about natural capacities, as well as those like Phys. II.1 and Meta. V.4 about physis in general, complicate the picture concerning the bases for moral excellence in EN. This essay considers the range of applications of physis, focusing on the practical works, so as to examine the extent to which Aristotle thinks moral and political nature is amenable to external determinants such as cultural education.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought