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The Concept of Aristotle's Function Argument

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In Aristotle book, Nicomachean Ethics Book 1, he makes the argument that there is the good and the ‘well’. To explain his claim he gives us an example, “the function of lyre-player is to play the lyre, and that of a good lyre-player is to do well” (Aristotle 19). He believes that human function is our rational activity which is our good and it should be performed well. In this paper, I will explain Aristotle’s point of view on the function argument.

The role of the function argument in Aristotle’s investigation of the human good is that in order to figure out what the human good is first we have to find out what the function of the human being is as mentioned in lecture. Aristotle seems to have found the human good and claims it to be happiness and/or something that human beings might want to achieve in their life. Aristotle thought that it would be useful to understand the concept of function as it applies to human beings because he states that if a carpenter and a tanner can have a function then a man should have a function also. He wanted to find a function that was “peculiar to man” (Aristotle 19) because he states that plants are managed by nutrient and growth and perception and instinct by animals. He wanted to find a function that separated the humans from plants and animals. After going through many ideas, at the end, he concludes that human beings distinguish from others by reason. By this, he means that only humans are capable to perform with a motive and be responsible for their actions. His curiosity leads him wanting to understand the concept of what a function is to human beings. Aristotle believes that the humans must have a function because in the text he states that if an eye, a hand, and a foot has a function as a whole then the human will have a function.

The reasons that Aristotle offers for thinking that the human beings have a function is as said before that the carpenter and a tanner have a function then man ought to have a function. He goes on to say that the human activity is our function which is the reason and that is known to be the human good. His whole concept is that if a part has a function then its whole has a function, then parts of human beings have a function, and that theory concludes that human beings have a function.

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