Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Heike Sefrin-Weis


This dissertation seeks to demonstrate that the Aristotelian passions or pathç are the unity of two aspects or components, namely a physiological component called pleasure or pain and a cognitive component called krisis.

Aristotle gives the definition of the passions in the second book of the Rhetoric as experiences that involve a certain type of judgment (krisis) as well as pleasure and pain. An investigation of the nature of the constituent parts of the passions, viz. pleasure or pain and judgment (krisis), leads to a better understanding of the Aristotelian passions. It is argued that pleasure according to Aristotle arises only along with activity but it is not itself an activity, that pleasure is the energeia aspect of the activity and that pleasure completes the activity in the sense that it contains at all time and throughout the activity its end or telos. In the case of the passions, pleasure accompanies the judging aspect of the passions, namely the discerning of salient features of a situation.

The judging activity that pleasure accompanies is called krisis and its nature and function are often discussed in connection to perception. Much like perceptions, the kriseis associated with the passions are contextual, involve the awareness of patterns of relation or configurations that do not have propositional content and are well embedded into the general economy of the mind.

A discussion of the nature of the passions however is not exhausted by examining only the two constituent elements of pleasure or pain and krisis. The role of desire and the reasons why desire cannot be a third independent part of the passions are examined. It is also argued that the Aristotelian passions are relational in that they specify the krisis component as a pleasant or painful awareness regarding how the agent stands in relation to others.

The last chapter offers a reading of the Poetics from the angle of the tragic passions so as to show how the account of the passions that was explicated in the previous chapters applies in the specific context of tragic poetry.


© 2012, Argiri Dimitrios Aggelopoulou