MA 701a7-15 The conclusion of a practical syllogism is action


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In the De Motu Animalium Aristotle seems to argue that the conclusion of a practical syllogism is an action, which has raised puzzles for commentators who have tried to explain how conclusion as a proposition can be an action, something involved with changing of the external world. Here is a passage that shows conclusion is an action. The English translation of the passage is mine.

Πῶς δὲ νοῶν ὁτὲ μὲν πράττει ὁτὲ δὲ οὐ πράττει, καὶ κινεῖται ὁτὲ δ᾽ οὐ κινεῖται; ἔοικε δὲ παραπλησίως συμβαίνειν καὶ περὶ τῶν ἀκινήτων διανοουμένοις καὶ συλλογιζομένοις. ἀλλὰ ἐκεῖ μὲν θεώρημα τὸ τέλος (ὅταν γὰρ τὰς δύο προτάσεις νοήσῃ, τὸ συμπέρασμα ἐνόησεν καὶ συνέθηκεν), ἐν ταῦθα δὲ ἐκ τῶν δύο προτάσεων τὸ συμπέρασμα γίνεται πρᾶξις, οἷον ὅταν νοήσῃ ὅτι παντὶ βαδιστέον ἀνθρώπῳ, αὐτὸς δὲ ἄνθρωπος, βαδίζει εὐθέως, ἄν δ᾽ ὅτι οὐθενὶ βαδιστέον νῦν ἀνθρώπῳ, αὐτὸς δὲ ἄνθρωπος, εὐθὺς ἠρεμεῖ·

Then how is it that when one is thinking sometimes one acts and sometimes one doesn’t, and sometimes one is moved and sometimes one isn’t? But it seems likely that something similar happes too in the case of those who are thinking discursively and reasoning about things that are unmovable. But there the end is theorem (since whenever one is thinking about the two propositions, one thinks and concludes the conclusion), and in these the conclusion from the two propositions becomes the action, as for example, whenever one thinks that every man should walk, and he is a man, immediately he walks, whereas if one thinks that no one should walk now, and he is a man, immdiately he rests.