DOI: 10.1515/apeiron-2023-0031 ISSN:

Aristotle on Compulsive Affections and the Natural Capacity to Withstand

Javier Echeñique
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy


Aristotle recognises preternatural affections in numerous passages from his ethical writings, where he claims that some desires and emotions are beyond human nature, too strong for our nature to withstand, and that an action motivated by them is συγγνωμονικν: something excusable. However, there has been some reluctance among scholars to explicitly acknowledge that Aristotle recognised preternatural affections as a category of excuse in its own right. The aim of this paper is to remove the obstacles that stand in the way of such a recognition, and to show that Aristotle developed a normative account of preternatural affections, based on the natural human capacity to withstand, allowing him to class them as genuine cases of βία, compulsion.

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