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§17. Ἕξις [188–189]


λόγῳ.226 In this sense, ἀρετή as μεσότης is such that it is “delimited,” that it delimits itself “through speaking” with the world in the mode of a deliberating in advance of the moment, through the how of talking through the circumstances, so that in this delimitation the right apportionment of the moment results. For example, in this moment, this comes into question in relation to this definite human being. On the basis of μεσότης and ἀρετή, thus understood, it can be made clear that it is a mistake to conceive of ἀρετή as completedness, as this contradicts the sense of ἀρετή.

What does it genuinely mean to come into a determinate ἕξις? Ἕξεις are certainly not properties that we bring along with us due to our nature; rather, they have a definite γένεσις: δι’ ἔθους. “Habituation” is the path on which we come to ἕξις, to ἀρετή. Right at the beginning of Book 2, Aristotle draws the essential distinction within the manifoldness of the ἀρεταί: ἡ μὲν διανοητικὴ [ἀρετὴ] τὸ πλεῖον ἐκ διδασκαλίας ἔχει [ . . . ], διόπερ ἐμπειρίας δεῖται καὶ χρόνου.227 “Those possibilities of comportment that also cultivate διανοεῖν have that which is more on the basis of communication; therefore, they require experience and time.” ἡ δὲ ἠθικὴ ἐξ ἔθους περιγίγνεται.228 “On the other hand, being-composed in a determinate passion is made our own through habituation.” It is important to clarify the character of the γένεσις of ἀρετή on the basis of habituation. Ἐθίζειν: bringing-oneself-into-a-determinate-possibility by way of frequently-undergoing-it. The possibility is thus, in each case, a determinate possibility, for example, for a ποίησις: the appropriation of the possibility of a completion, technique. The possibility for πρᾶξις, πρᾶξις not taken in the wide sense of “action” as such, but as determination of the being of human beings. Ποίησις and πρᾶξις are two possibilities that, perhaps, only designate two distinct modes of appropriation.

Aristotle speaks of the γραμματικός.229 He says: one can write correctly, at first by chance or with outside help. But whoever writes by chance cannot simply write. He must write in the way demanded by τέχνη. He must write, not by chance, but according to a prescription; and without outside help, but he must be able to write from out of himself. Through practice, by frequently-undergoing, it comes about that being-oriented puts the prescription further and further out of play. Training has the precise sense of reducing deliberation insofar as it is through training that the completedness of attaining a result comes about. With τέχνη, the ἔργον is decisive. Concern for this ἔργον brings it correctly to an end, allows its production to proceed smoothly.

In the case of an action—in the narrow sense in which it is opposed to ποίησις—it does not, according to its sense, depend on the action simply ending, on a result coming about; instead, προαίρεσις is decisive, the manner and



226. Eth. Nic. Β 6, 1106 b 36 sq.

227. Eth. Nic. Β 1, 1103 a 15 sqq.

228. Eth. Nic. Β 1, 1103 a 17.

229. Cf. Eth. Nic. Β 3, 1105 a 22 sqq.


Martin Heidegger (GA 18) Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy

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