On page 129 of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, he states that, "The irrational animals do not exercise choice, but they do feel desire and also passion. Also, a man of defective self restraint acts from desire but not from choice; and on the contrary a self restrained man acts from choice and not from desire." This passage is very perplexing to me because I have issues with his idea of what choice is. In my understanding of what Aristotle is saying choice is, he is saying that it is a voluntary act. But at the same time, he says that a voluntary act is not a choice. (p. 129) He says that the most common misinterpretation of Choice is when people couple it with Desire, Passion, Wish, or Opinion. So then what is choice? Is it the nature of the act and the effect it will produce?
During this whole section on Choice, especially when Aristotle says that animals do not have the ability to make it, I keep thinking of the time when I raised pygmy goats. Every morning when I went to feed them, I stored their grain in a metal trash can that was right outside their pen. As soon as I came to the door and unlocked it, the goats would rush out, sprint to the trash can, and flip the lid off with their lips. Now-they KNEW that I would twist their ears when they did this because every time they made a run for the trash can, they ducked their heads out of my reach-even as they were stuffing their faces with grain. So, is this choice, or ignorant involuntary action? Or is it something else entirely?