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In his book the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle raises questions about human happiness and what it takes to make a good human life In his quest for an answer Aristotle covers a great deal of ground and touches upon a variety of topics that while not obviously so tie significantly into to the happiness of our daily lives One of these topics is the distinction between our voluntary actions and our involuntary actions Book III chapters 1 and 5 deal specifically with this distinction in a way that is both expository and interesting using examples to draw the reader into a better understanding of the text In this paper I hope to suitably explain the distinction that Aristotle draws between the voluntary and the involuntary Moreover I will also explain the subsequent distinctions that arise under the category of involuntary actions In chapter 1 Aristotle focuses on breaking down the substructures of our involuntary actions while chapter 5 speaks more on the issue of our voluntary actions In both chapters Aristotle makes good use of simple but direct examples to illustrate his point of view The examples are important in the text as Aristotle is dealing with abstract concepts tying them into a real-world context of punishment and reward Also they provide a leg to stand on when the text becomes too wordy and confusing not all that rare in Aristotle In chapter 1 Aristotle focuses primarily on the involuntary actions of man giving lengthy consideration to the more specific distinctions that arise Those things then are thought involuntary which take place under compulsion or owing to ignorance BkI ch 1 1109b35 This is the first distinction that is made under the heading of involuntary actions If an action is to be considered involuntary you must either perform the action under compulsion or out of ignorance Aristotle states that in both cases the moving principle motivational force is outside of the agent with nothing
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