Aristotle’s Definition

Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

– Oscar Wilde

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.

– Bertrand Russell

Aristotle defined human beings as rational animals. Seems reasonable enough. Any animals capable of rationality are therefore human beings, and any incapable of it are not.

It follows that there are creatures not members of the species Homo sapiens sapiens that are human… and some members of the species that are not.

“Ever sift sand through a screen?” she asked.

The tangential slash of her question shocked his mind into a higher awareness: Sand through a screen. He nodded.

“We Bene Gesserit sift people to find the humans.”

– Exchange between Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam and Paul Atreides, Frank Herbert, Dune

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Aristotle’s Definition”

  1. It follows that there are creatures not members of the species Homo sapiens sapiens that are human… and some members of the species that are not.
    I don’t think you can establish the existence of any single entity through logic absent empiricism.

  2. I agree. Good thing I wasn’t attempting that.

    If you can’t agree that there are people that are generally rational, and people that generally are not, then we would seem to have extremely divergent worldviews.

  3. I think, if we accept Aristotle’s definition, it follows that it is possible there are non-homo-sapiens that are human.

    Are you, with your comment, suggesting that “rational animal” implies that that the animal generally act rational rather than be capable of acting rational. Most homo-sapiens that often act irrational are capable of rationality. Though obviously there are those with severe mental defects incapable of reason that would be, under Aristotle’s definition, non-human.

    The Bene Gesserit concept of humanity is stricter than Aristotle’s. Although it does make for better reading in my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: