Mariska Leunissen's new book argues that, for Aristotle, nature makes it difficult or impossible for many people to become virtuous and so to find happiness. A man from the “the cold regions and the ones around Europe” (Pol. VII.7, 1327b22) probably has thick, hot blood that makes him wild and ungovernable. An Asian man has the opposite problem; his cool, thin blood likely leaves him cowardly and slavish. Any woman has it even worse. Thanks to the cold, thick blood she received from her mother in utero, she ought to spend her life obeying men. And even free Athenian men are often morally hamstrung for biological reasons. Those conceived in the summer by an aging father, for example, should expect a lifelong struggle against vice, since southern winds tend to introduce too much feminizing moisture into the residues in a mother's womb and...

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