The Utility of Contemplation in Aristotle’s Protrepticus

Ancient Philosophy 30 (1):135-153 (2010)
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Fragments of Aristotle’s lost Protrepticus seem to offer inconsistent arguments for the value of contemplation (one argument appealing to contemplation's uselessness, the other appealing to its utility). In this paper, I argue that these arguments are mutually consistent. Further, I argue that, contrary to first appearances, Aristotle has resources in the Protrepticus for explaining how contemplation, even if it has divine objects, can nevertheless be useful in the way in which he claims, viz., for providing cognitive access to boundary markers (horoi) of the human good.

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Matthew D. Walker
Yale-NUS College


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