The Initial Anthropology in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics


  • Georgia APOSTOLOPOULOU University of Ioannina



Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Ethics, Anthropology, ‘other animals’, anthropological difference, Anthropocentrism, the Divine.


In the ‘Foreword’, I address some aspects of Academician Georg Brutian’s philosophy. The Initial Anthropology paper follows.

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle considers the relation of ethical theory to anthropology in a specific way. He sets out an initial anthropology that describes the human through its common and non-common elements to plants as well as to ‘other animals’. The conclusion is that the human animal is the only living being that is endowed with reason and carries out ‘practical life’. We may call this difference ‘the anthropological difference’. In his ethical theory, Aristotle points to the limits of the anthropological difference. On the one hand, he holds that only practical theory can explain the ‘practical life’ as well as the ‘human Good’. On the other hand, he highlights that the human is higher than the ‘other animals’, since the human is endowed with the divine element of intellect; nevertheless, there are beings that are ‘more divine’ than the human. Thus Aristotle corroborates the human and its practical life, without abandoning the Socratic-Platonic view of the Divine. In this aspect, the alleged anthropocentrism of Aristotle’s ethics is to be reconsidered.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Georgia APOSTOLOPOULOU, University of Ioannina

(Dr.) is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece; Delegate of the Hellenic Society for Aesthetics at the International Association for Aesthetics; Member of the Team of Advisory Editors of WISDOM journal. Her areas of interest include aesthetics, philosophical anthropology, ethics, history of Hellenic Philosophy, problems of Continental Philosophy. Apostolopoulou is the author of 2 monographs and of 114 articles, and the editor of 3 philosophical volumes. Recent publications: “Neokantianism and Platonism in Neohellenic Philosophy”, “The Permanence of Philosophical Text”, “Philosophical Anthropology and the Sciences” and “The Beauty of Landscape in Hegel’s Aesthetics”.


Apostolopoulou, G. (1987): To probl?ma t?s prax?s ston Aristotel? kai ston Marx (The Problem of Praxis in Aristotle and Marx, in Greek). University of Ioannina Department of Philosophy (Ed.). First Panhellenic Symposium. Karl Marx and Philosophy. Ioannina, November 3-5, 1983. pp. 45-61. Athens: Gutenberg.
Apostolopoulou, G. (1999). Aristoteles und die Einheit der philosophischen Vernunft. In T. Pentzopoulou-Valalas, & St. Dimopoulos(Eds.), Aristotle on Metaphysics (pp. 27-32). Thessalonike: Aristotle University of Thessalonike.
Apostolopoulou, G. (2006). The Hermeneutics of the Subject in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. In. Papadis (Ed.), Aristotle’s Ethical Philosophy. The Nicomachean Ethics (pp. 89-113). Athens: Traulos.
Apostolopoulou, G. (2008). The Priority of Philosophical Anthropology towards Ethics. XXII World Congress of Philosophy. Rethinking Philosophy Today. July 30-August 5, 2008. 20, pp. 9-15. Charlottes Ville: Virginia, Philosophy Documentation Center.
Aristoteles, (1970a). Ethica Nicomachea. Recognovit brevique adnotatione critica instruxit I. By-water. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Aristoteles, (1970b). Topica et Sophistici Elenchi. Recensit brevique adnotatione critica instruxit W.D. Ross. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Aristotle, (2002). Nicomachean Ethics. Translation (with Historical Introduction) by Ch. Row. Philosophical Introduction and Commentary by S. Broadie. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brutian, G. (1998): Logic, Language and Argumentation in Projection of Philosophical Knowledge. Armenian Library of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Lisbon: Grafica De Coimbra.
Brutian, G. (2007, June). The Main Disputable Questions in the Modern Theories of Argumentation. News and Views, 15, 14-28.
Burger, R. (2008). Aristotle’s Dialogue with Socrates. On the Nicomachean Ethics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Chadwick, O. (1991). The Secularization of the European Mind in the 19th Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cooper, J. M. (1986). Reason and Human Good in Aristotle. Indianapolis/ Cambridge: Hackett Pub-lishing Company.
Djidjian, R. (2006, March). Transformational Logic and the Age of Thinking Machines. News and Views, 10, 16-27.
Djidjian, R. (2007, July). Metaphilosophy, Transformational Logic and Thinking Machines. News and Views, 16, 32-45.
Dragona-Monachou, M. (1981). To anthr?pino kai to politico agatho ston Aristotel? (The Human and the Political Good in Aristotle, in Greek). Scientific Yearbook of the Panteios Higher School of Political Sciences, 109-124. Athens.
Fleischer, M. (1976). Hermeneutische Anthropologie: Platon, Aristoteles. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Hovhannisyan, H. (2006, October). Yerevan School of Argumentation on the Threshold of the 21th Century. News and Views, 12, 31-50.
Hovhannisyan, H. (2008, April). Argumentation and Metargumentation. News and Views, 18, 22-25.
Kyrkos, B. (1981). Ho anthr?pologikos charakt?ras t?s politik?s philosophias tou Aristotel? (The Anthropological Character of Aristotle’s Political Philosophy, in Greek). Scientific Yearbook of the Panteios Higher School of Political Sciences, 213-229. Athens.
Moutsopoulos, E. (1994). H? hell?nik? polis h?s historiko protypo kai h?s politik? axia (The Greek Polis as a Historical Model and as a Political Value, in Greek). Nea Hestia 68/135, 1994, 285-286.
Nussbaum, M. C. (2001). The fragility of goodness. Luck and ethics in Greek tragedy and philosophy (1986, revised edition 2001). Cambridge: Cambridge, University Press.
Papadis, D. (Ed.) (2006). Aristotle’s Ethical Philosophy. The Nicomachean Ethics. Athens: Traulos.
Pentzopoulou-Valalas, T. & Dimopoulos St. (Eds.) (1999). Aristotle on Metaphysics. Thessalonike: Aristotle University of Thessalonike.
Pentzopoulou-Valalas, T. (1998). Proboles ston Aristotel? (Views on Aristotle, in Greek). Thessa-lonike: Zetros.
Plessner, H. (1981). Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch. Einleitung in die philosophische Anthropologie (Gesammelte Schriften IV). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.
Ryle, G. (1968). Dialectic in the Academy. Aristotle on Dialectic: The Topics. Proceedings of the Third Symposium Aristotelicum, G. E. L. Owen (Ed.), pp. 69-79. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Santas, G. (1989). Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato’s Form of the Good. Philosophical Papers 18, 137-160.
Scheler, M. (1976). Philosophische Weltanschauung. Max Scheler, Spaete Schriften. Mit einem Anhang herausgegeben von Manfred S. Frings. Bern/Muenchen: Francke Verlag.
Solomou-Papanikolaou, V. (1989). Polis and Aristotle: The World of the Greek Polis and its Impact upon Some Fundamental Aspects of Aristotle’s Practical Philosophy. Scientific Yearbook Dodone Suppl, 40. Ioannina: University of Ioannina.
Steiner, G. (2005). Anthropocentrism and its Discontents. The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press.
Theodorakopoulos, I. N. (1981). Scheseis Aristotelous pros Plat?na. (Relations of Aristotle to Plato, in Greek). World Congress on Aristotle. Thessalonike August 7-14, 1978, I, pp. 69-86. Athens: Ministry of Culture and Sciences.
van Eemeren, F. H., Garssen, B., Verheij, B., Krabbe, E. C. W., Snoeck Henkemans, A. F., & Wagemans, J. H. M. (2014). Handbook of Argumentation Theory. Dordrecht/Heidelberg: Springer.




How to Cite

APOSTOLOPOULOU, G. (2017). The Initial Anthropology in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. WISDOM, 8(1), 65–76.




Most read articles by the same author(s)