A Peripatetic argument for the intrinsic value of human life: Alexander of Aphrodisias' Ethical Problems I

Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 54 (3):367-384 (2021)
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In this article I argue for the thesis that Alexander's main argument, in Ethical Problems I, is an attempt to block the implication drawn by the Stoics and other ancient philosophers from the double potential of use exhibited by human life, a life that can be either well or badly lived. Alexander wants to resist the thought that this double potential of use allows the Stoics to infer that human life, in itself, or by its own nature, is neither good nor bad. Furthermore, I shall argue that Alexander's main argument establishes that human life, despite exhibiting a double potential of use, is by its own nature or intrinsically good. Finally, given that this is not a conclusion that the Stoics are likely to accept, I shall also contend that the argument should be regarded as conducted for the most part in foro interno, as a way of persuading the Peripatetics themselves of the falsity of the Indifference Implication, precisely because of the risk that such an implication be derived from their own theoretical framework.

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Javier Echenique
Universidad San Sebastián


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