Helen Steward (University of Leeds): Two kinds of two-way powers

Discussions of the concept of a two-way power often acknowledges the Aristotelian roots of the idea that there is an important distinction to be drawn between two significantly different classes of powers, which Aristotle terms ‘rational’ and ‘non-rational’. Subsequent discussion of the Aristotelian legacy (not surprisingly, given the Aristotelian nomenclature) has developed the distinction between one-way and two-way powers largely within the confines of the constraint that only rational agents are to be found to possess the relevant distinctively ‘two-way’ powers. In this paper, though, I shall argue that in fact there is more than one important distinction to be recovered from the relevant Aristotelian texts which might be called ‘the distinction between one-way and two-way powers’, and that freeing ourselves from the shackles of the constraint represented by the thought that only rational agents can possibly possess the two-way kind might enable us to develop a distinction with deeper metaphysical roots.


This lecture was given on Thu, 1 July 2021, 16:20 (UK time) as part of the workshop Change and Changemakers in Ancient Philosophy. The workshop is a collaborative initiative of the Change and Changemakers Network (Siegen) together with the Mereology of Potentiality Project (Oxford).