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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In search of zoon logon echon

Seb is studying for exams and asked me last night what the Greek term for "rational animal" is in Aristotle. Having never come across such a term in my admittedly quite sparse reading of Aristotle in Greek, I set out to find it. What I found was a load of crap academic studies referring to a "zoon logon echon" that is rumored to have appeared in Aristotle and even citing Bekker numbers (though wildly disparate ones) pointing to its alleged location, and NONE OF THEM WERE TRUE.

For example, this claims (along with pretty much every scholarly discussion that bothered to cite that I found on Google Books) that the phrase comes up in Ethics 1098a3-5. While there is certainly discussion of rationality there, there is no "zoon logon echon." Then there is this dude, who sends us to "the beginning of Book VI," which again tells us about the rational principle in the soul but never uses this mythical "zoon logon echon." There were also citations to the Metaphysics, where this phrase appears to be equally absent.

This is depressing. Can't these people just admit that Heidegger says this phrase exists but they don't know enough Greek to find it with the help of their Big Fucking Dictionaries? Why give fake citations?

Also, peeps, where is this phrase really?