Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2005
Special Issue: The Ancient Philosophy Society
Praxis and Logos in Aristotle
On the Meaning of Reason and Speech for Human Life and Action
This article is a summary of the main results of a more extended study published in German as a book entitled “Praxis und Logos bei Aristoteles” (Friederike
Rese, Praxis und Logos bei Aristoteles. Handlung, Vernunft und Rede in ‘Nikomachischer Ethik,’ ‘Rhetorik’ und ‘Politik,’ Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003). My thesis with regard to the relation of praxis and logos in Aristotle is that logos is not only responsible for determining human life and action, but also for their indeterminacy. Taking the forms of reason and speech, logos can determine the life of an individual agent as well as of a community of agents. With regard to individual life, I investigate which moments of the soul determine individual action and how they can be addressed by the speech of others. With regard to public life, I show how public speech and law are relevant to the organization of political life in a community. Finally, I consider the ontological and logical foundations of the determination of human action. Here it will become clear why logos grounds both the determination as well as the indeterminacy of human life and action.