chapter  7
23 Pages

Aristotle with and against Kant on the idea of human nature


Aristotle: ‘Reason and thought is the ultimate end of our nature’ (ho de logos hêmin kai ho nous tês phuseôs telos).2 Kant: ‘rational nature exists as an end in itself’.3 Nature, end, reason, nous, rational nature – it seems that Aristotle and Kant are making use of the same ingredients and, what is more, the same kind of argumentative move, whereby what is given is also what we must strive to attain. I would like, with the assistance of Kant and in the light of certain of the uses to which Aristotle is put today, to return to this idea of ‘human nature’ (uncertain, as I am, whether it is anachronistic or timeless), an idea which lies at the the very heart of Aristotelian thinking about politics and education (‘lead to the logos by way of the logos’), in the hope of gaining a clearer understanding of its meaning.