Ian Inkster (ed.): History of technology. Vol. 29. London: Continuum, 2009, 232pp, £90.00 HB Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9523-7 Authors AristotleTympas, Department of Philosophy and History of Science, University of Athens, University Campus, 157 71 Athens, Greece Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Arthur Madigan presents a clear, accurate new translation of the third book (Beta) of Aristotle's Metaphysics, together with two related chapters from the eleventh book (Kappa). Madigan's accompanying introduction and commentary give detailed guidance to these texts, in which Aristotle sets out what he takes to be the main problems of metaphysics or 'first philosophy' and assesses possible solutions to them; he takes his starting-point from the work of earlier philosophers, especially Plato and some of the Presocratics. These (...) texts serve as a useful introduction both to Aristotle's own work on metaphysics and to classical metaphysics in general; they are also a good example of Aristotle's dialectical method, which reasons not from known truths but from reputable opinions. (shrink)
On the Parts of Animals is at the heart and soul of Aristotle's scientific investigation of animals. It not only contains the results of his investigation of why different kinds of animals have the parts that they do; it also opens with a book devoted to laying the philosophical stones of the entire biological enterprise. Those philosophical foundations, in turn, reflect and build on Aristotle's theory of knowledge, as found in the Analytics, and his metaphysics and natural philosophy, (...) as found in the Metaphysics, Physics, and De Anima. Whether one is interested in Aristotle the philosopher, or Aristotle the biologist, the De Partibus Animalium has a great deal to offer. The translation of the entire four books, with commentary, gives the reader an opportunity to judge the integrity of Aristotle's zoological practice in books II-IV, in light of the philosophical recommendations for such a study presented in book I. The translation aims to reflect the fine details of Aristotle's reasoning. The commentary gives line-by-line clarification of individual passages while at the same time providing an overall interpretation of Aristotle's purposes and methods. (shrink)
Books V and VI of Aristotle's Politics constitute a manual on practical politics. In the fifth book Aristotle examines the causes of faction and constitutional change and suggests remedies for political instability. In the sixth book he offers practical advice to the statesman who wishes to establish, preserve, or reform a democracy or an oligarchy. He discusses many political issues, theoretical and practical, which are still widely debated today--revolution and reform, democracy and tyranny, freedom and equality. -/- David (...) Keyt presents a clear and accurate new translation of these books, together with a commentary which, though primarily philosophical, also supplies a key to Aristotle's many historical references. It is intended to guide readers towards a proper understanding of this classic text in the history of political thought, and does not assumes knowledge of Greek or of ancient history and politics. (shrink)
The eighth book of Aristotle's Physics R is the culmination of his theory of nature. He discusses not just physics, but the origins of the universe and the metaphysical foundations of cosmology and physical science. He moves from the discussion of motion in the cosmos to the identification of a single source and regulating principle of all motion, and so argues for the existence of a first `unmoved mover'. -/- Daniel Graham offers a clear, accurate new translation of this (...) key text in the history of Western thought, and accompanies the translation with a careful philosophical commentary to guide the reader towards an understanding of the wealth of important and influential arguments and ideas that Aristotle puts forward. (shrink)
How, and why, does Earth (the element) move to the centre of Aristotle's Universe? In this paper, I argue that we cannot understand why it does so by reference merely to the nature of Earth, or the attractive force of the Centre. Rather, we have to understand the role that Earth plays in the cosmic order. Thus, in Aristotle, the behaviour of the elements is explained as one explains the function of organisms in a living organism.
This paper is on Aristotle's conception of the continuum. It is argued that although Aristotle did not have the modern conception of real numbers, his account of the continuum does mirror the topology of the real number continuum in modern mathematics especially as seen in the work of Georg Cantor. Some differences are noted, particularly as regards Aristotle's conception of number and the modern conception of real numbers. The issue of whether Aristotle had the notion of (...) open versus closed intervals is discussed. Finally, it is suggested that one reason there is a common structure between Aristotle's account of the continuum and that found in Cantor's definition of the real number continuum is that our intuitions about the continuum have their source in the experience of the real spatiotemporal world. A plea is made to consider Aristotle's abstractionist philosophy of mathematics anew. (shrink)
A selection of Aristotle's most important philosophical works in English translation with an introduction and comments by Renford Bambrough with emphasis on metaphysical questions and a new afterword by Susanne Bobzien that focuses on how to study Aristotle and on Aristotle on determinism and freedom.
A generally ignored feature of Aristotle’s famous function argument is its reliance on the claim that practitioners of the crafts (technai) have functions: but this claim does important work. Aristotle is pointing to the fact that we judge everyday rational agency and agents by norms which are independent of their contingent desires: a good doctor is not just one who happens to achieve his personal goals through his work. But, Aristotle argues, such norms can only be binding (...) on individuals if human rational agency as such is governed by objective teleological norms. . (shrink)
In this essay I offer a new particularist reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. I argue that the interpretation I present not only helps us to resolve some puzzles about Aristotle’s goals and methods, but it also gives rise to a novel account of morality—an account that is both interesting and plausible in its own right. The goal of this paper is, in part, exegetical—that is, to figure out how to best understand the text of the Nicomachean Ethics. But (...) this paper also aims to contribute to the current exciting and controversial debate over particularism. By taking the first steps towards a comprehensive particularist reading of Aristotle’s Ethics I hope to demonstrate that some of the mistrust of particularism is misplaces and that what is, perhaps, the most influential moral theory in the history of philosophy is, arguably, a particularist moral theory. (shrink)
Paper presented at the Heidegger Circle 2011. Although Aristotle’s influence on young Heidegger’s thought has been studied at length, such studies have almost exclusively focused on his interpretation of Aristotle’s ethics, physics and metaphysics. I will rather address Heidegger’s appropriation of Aristotle’s ontology of life. Focusing on recently published or recently translated courses of the mid 20’s (mainly SS 1924, WS 1925-26 and SS 1926), I hope to uncover an important aspect of young Heidegger’s thought left unconsidered: (...) namely, that Dasein’s existential structures – Befindlichkeit, Understanding and being-with-one-another through language – arose from his close reading of Aristotle’s ontology of life, of animal life. (shrink)
Aristotle’s definition in De Anima of perception as the assimilation of sensible form without the matter of the perceived object is notoriously difficult to interpret. The present essay provides a novel interpretation of Aristotle’s definition by reading it in light of a puzzle about sensory presentation to be found in the work of Empedocles. Empedocles held a general conception of sensory awareness for which ingestion provides the model. In order for something to be perceived it must be taken (...) within so that it may be in contact with the sense organ. This raises a puzzle about color vision since color vision presents itself as the perception of the colors of distant particulars. Empedocles resolves this puzzle with his theory of effluences. If the colors of distant particulars are the effluences that they emit, then the colors may be assimilated by the organ of sight and so be seen. While Aristotle rejects the theory of effluences and the claim that to be perceptible is to be palpable to sense, he retains a conception of sensory awareness as a mode of assimilation. Thus it is natural to think of perception as a mode of taking in. But how can we take in what remains external? And if we can, what does taking in here mean such that we could? A generalized form of Empedoclean puzzlement consists in the persistence of this latter question. This puzzlement persists to this day. Thus Broad remarks that “It is a natural, if paradoxical, way of speaking to say that seeing seems to ‘bring us into contact with remote objects’ and to reveal their shapes and colors.” What is novel in the present essay is the attempt to understand Aristotle’s definition of perception as a response to such puzzlement. The assimilation of sensible form is meant to be the sense in which we take in the scene before us. (shrink)
In this paper I explore Aristotle’s views on natural kinds and the compatibility of pluralism and realism, a topic that has generated considerable interest among contemporary philosophers. I argue that, when it came to zoology, Aristotle denied that there is only one way of organizing the diversity of the living world into natural kinds that will yield a single, unified system of classification. Instead, living things can be grouped and regrouped into various cross-cutting kinds on the basis of (...) objective similarities and differences in ways that subserve the explanatory context. Since the explanatory aims of zoology are diverse and variegated, the kinds it recognizes must be equally diverse and variegated. At the same time, there are certain constraints on which kinds can be selected. And those constraints derive more from the causal structure of the world than from the proclivities of the classifier (hence the realism). This distinguishes Aristotle’s version of pluralistic realism from those contemporary versions (like Dupré’s “promiscuous realism”) that treat all or most classifications of a given domain as equally legitimate and not just a sub-set of kinds recognized by the science that studies it. By contrast, Aristotle privileges scientifically important kinds on the basis of their role in causal investigations. On this picture natural kinds are those kinds with the sort of causal structure that allows them to enter into scientific explanations. In the final section I argue that Aristotle’s zoology should remain of interest to philosophers and biologists alike insofar as it combines a pluralistic form of realism with a rank-free approach to classification. (shrink)
Despite the renewed interest in Aristotle’s Generation of Animals in recent years, the subject matter of GA V, its preferred mode(s) of explanation, and its place in the treatise as a whole remain misunderstood. Scholars focus on GA I-IV, which explain animal generation in terms of efficient-final causation, but dismiss GA V as a mere appendix, thinking it to concern (a) individual, accidental differences among animals, which are (b) purely materially necessitated, and (c) are only tangentially related to the (...) topics discussed in the earlier books. In this paper, we defend an alternative and more integrated account of GA V by closely examining Aristotle’s methodological introduction in GA V.1 778a16-b19 and his teleological explanation of the differences of teeth in GA V.8. We argue for the unity of both GA V and of GA as a whole and present a more nuanced theory of teleological explanation in Aristotle’s biology. (shrink)
Aristotle's discussion of perceiving that we perceive (On the Soul 3.2) has points of contact with two contemporary debates about consciousness: the first over whether consciousness is an intrinsic feature of mental states or a higher-order thought or perception; the second concerning the qualitative nature of experience. In both cases, Aristotle's views cut down the middle of an apparent dichotomy, in a way that does justice to each set of intuitions, while avoiding their attendant difficulties. With regard to (...) the first issue?the primary focus of this paper?he argues that consciousness is both intrinsic and higher-order, due to its reflexive nature. This, in turn, has consequences for the second issue, where again Aristotle seeks out the middle ground. He is committed against qualia in any strong sense of the term. Yet he also holds that the phenomenal quality of experience is not exhausted by its representational content. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the role of optimality reasoning in Aristotle’s natural science. By “optimality reasoning” I mean reasoning that appeals to some conception of “what is best” in order to explain why things are the way they are. We are first introduced to this pattern of reasoning in the famous passage at Phaedo 97b8-98a2, where (Plato’s) Socrates invokes “what is best” as a cause (aitia) of things in nature. This passage can be seen as the intellectual ancestor (...) of Aristotle’s own principle, expressed by the famous dictum “nature does nothing in vain but always what is best for the substance from among the possibilities concerning each kind of animal” (Progression of Animals II, 704b12-18). The paper is focused around exploring three questions that arise in connection with Aristotle’s use of this optimality principle: (1) How do we understand the concept of “the best” at work in the principle? (2) How does Aristotle conceive of “the range of possibilities”? And, finally, (3) what role does optimality reasoning play in Aristotle’s natural science? Is it a special form of demonstration in which the optimality principle functions as one of its premises, or is it a heuristic device that helps uncover those causally relevant features of a natural substances that ultimately serve as middle terms in demonstrations? In the final section I return to the comparison between Plato and Aristotle and argue that, while both see the natural world as the product of an optimizing agent and while both see this assumption as licensing a pattern of reasoning that appeals to a certain conception of “the best”, they disagree fundamentally over what the optimization agent is and how it operates. Thus, despite their general agreement, it would be a mistake to think that Aristotle simply took over Plato’s use of optimality reasoning without significant modifications. (shrink)
Against the standard interpretation of Aristotle as a moderate realist about universals, I argue that he knew of and rejected this position and that he held that universals do not exist independently of the mind, but have a mind-independent basis in relations of commensurability and causality between particulars and their attributes.
Modern philosophy is, for what appear to be good reasons, uniformly hostile to sui generis final causes. And motivated to develop philosophically and scientifically plausible interpretations, scholars have increasingly offered reductivist and eliminitivist accounts of Aristotle's teleological commitment. This trend in contemporary scholarship is misguided. We have strong grounds to believe Aristotle accepted unreduced sui generis teleology, and reductivist and eliminitivist accounts face insurmountable textual and philosophical difficulties. We offer Aristotelians cold comfort by replacing his apparent view with (...) failed accounts. And so we ought to admit Aristotle’s prima facie commitments and deal with — if not accept — the consequences. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: This is a little piece directed at the newcomer to Aristotle, making some general remarks about reading Aristotle at the beginning and end, with sandwiched in between, a brief and much simplified discussion of some common misunderstandings of Aristotle's philosophy, concerning spontaneity, causal indeterminism, freedom-to-do-otherwise, free choice, agent causation, logical determinism, teleological determinism, artistic creativity and freedom (eleutheria).
The article investigates the treatment of modality in chapters 12 and 13 of De Interpretatione and gives a new interpretation of the puzzling table of modals to be found at the beginning of chapter 13, as well as dealing with some of Aristotle’s puzzles. This is achieved by extending Aristotle’s distinction between two senses of possibility, which (following Ackrill) I call ‘one-sided’ and ‘two-sided’, to the two notions of necessity and impossibility. The conclusion is reached that, while the (...) two notions of necessity and impossibility are logically incompatible when both are taken as one-sided, in their two-sided senses they are in fact equivalent. (shrink)
A predicate logic typically has a heterogeneous semantic theory. Subjects and predicates have distinct semantic roles: subjects refer; predicates characterize. A sentence expresses a truth if the object to which the subject refers is correctly characterized by the predicate. Traditional term logic, by contrast, has a homogeneous theory: both subjects and predicates refer; and a sentence is true if the subject and predicate name one and the same thing. In this paper, I will examine evidence for ascribing to Aristotle (...) the view that subjects and predicates refer. If this is correct, then it seems that Aristotle, like the traditional term logician, problematically conflates predication and identity claims. I will argue that we can ascribe to Aristotle the view that both subjects and predicates refer, while holding that he would deny that a sentence is true just in case the subject and predicate name one and the same thing. In particular, I will argue that Aristotle's core semantic notion is not identity but the weaker relation of constitution. For example, the predication ‘All men are mortal’ expresses a true thought, in Aristotle's view, just in case the mereological sum of humans is a part of the mereological sum of mortals. (shrink)
In Book IV, Chapter 11 of the Physics, Aristotle claims that ‘the before and after’ exists in time because it also exists in change, and it exists in change because it also exists in magnitude, and, further, that ‘time follows change’ and ‘change follows magnitude’.1 This is usually taken to mean that moments of time correspond to momentary stages of changes, and that momentary stages of changes correspond to points in magnitudes, so that time derives its ‘before and after’ (...) from that of change, and change from that of magnitude.2 But this is widely thought to land Aristotle in the following difﬁ culty: If Socrates walks between points A and C, for instance, he can either proceed from point A to point.. (shrink)
Compare two conceptions of validity: under an example of a modal conception, an argument is valid just in case it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false; under an example of a topic-neutral conception, an argument is valid just in case there are no arguments of the same logical form with true premises and a false conclusion. This taxonomy of positions suggests a project in the philosophy of logic: the reductive analysis of the modal conception (...) of logical consequence to the topic-neutral conception. Such a project would dispel the alleged obscurity of the notion of necessity employed in the modal conception in favour of the clarity of an account of logical consequence given in terms of tractable notions of logical form, universal generalization and truth simpliciter. In a series of publications, John Etchemendy has characterized the model-theoretic definition of logical consequence as truth preservation in all models as intended to provide just such an analysis. In this paper, I will argue that Aristotle intends to provide an account of a modal conception of logical consequence in topic-neutral terms and so is engaged in a project comparable to the one described above. That Aristotle would be engaged in this sort of project is controversial. Under the standard reading of the Prior Analytics, Aristotle does not and cannot provide an account of logical consequence. Rather, he must take the validity of the first figure syllogisms (such as the syllogism known by its medieval mnemonic ‘Barbara’: A belongs to all B; B belongs to all C; so A belongs to all C) as obvious and not needing justification; he then establishes the validity of the other syllogisms by showing that they stand in a suitable relation to the first figure syllogisms. I will argue that Aristotle does attempt to provide an account of logical consequence—namely, by appeal to certain mereological theorems. For example, he defends the status of Barbara as a syllogism by appeal to the transitivity of mereological containment. There are, as I will discuss, reasons to doubt the success of this account. But the attempt is not implausible given certain theses Aristotle holds in semantics, mereology and the theory of relations. (shrink)
The focus of this paper is Aristotle's solution to the problem inherited from Socrates: How could a man fail to restrain himself when he believes that what he desires is wrong? In NE 7 Aristotle attempts to reconcile the Socratic denial of akrasia with the commonly held opinion that people act in ways they know to be bad, even when it is in their power to act otherwise. This project turns out to be largely successful, for what (...) class='Hi'>Aristotle shows us is that if we distinguish between two ways of having knowledge (potentially and actually), the Socratic thesis can effectively account for a wide range of cases (collectively referred to here as drunk-akrasia) in which an agent acts contrary to his general knowledge of the Good, yet can still be said to know in the qualified sense that his actions are wrong. However, Book 7 also shows that the Socratic account of akrasia cannot take us any farther than drunk-akrasia, for unlike drunk-akrasia, genuine akrasia cannot be reduced to a failure of knowledge. This agent knows in the unqualified sense that his actions are wrong. The starting-point of my argument is that Aristotle's explanation of genuine akrasia requires a different solution than the one found in NE 7 which relies on the distinction between qualified and unqualified knowing: genuinely akratic behaviour is due to the absence of an internal conflict that a desire for the proper pleasures of temperance would create if he could experience them. (shrink)
Much of the last fifty years of scholarship on Aristotle’s syllogistic suggests a conceptual framework under which the syllogistic is a logic, a system of inferential reasoning, only if it is not a theory or formal ontology, a system concerned with general features of the world. In this paper, I will argue that this a misleading interpretative framework. The syllogistic is something sui generis: by our lights, it is neither clearly a logic, nor clearly a theory, but rather exhibits (...) certain characteristic marks of logics and certain characteristic marks of theories. In what follows, I will present a debate between a theoretical and a logical interpretation of the syllogistic. The debate centers on the interpretation of syllogisms as either implications or inferences. But the significance of this question has been taken to concern the nature and subject-matter of the syllogistic, and how it ought to be represented by modern techniques. For one might think that, if syllogisms are implications, propositions with conditional form, then the syllogistic, in so far as it is a systematic taxonomy of syllogisms, is a theory or a body of knowledge concerned with general features of the world. Furthermore, if the syllogistic is a theory, then it ought to be represented by an axiomatic system, a system deriving propositional theorems from axioms. On the other hand, if syllogisms are inferences, then the syllogistic is a logic, a system of inferential reasoning. And furthermore, it ought to be represented as a natural deduction system, a system deriving valid arguments by means of intuitively valid inferences. I will argue that one can disentangle these questions—are syllogisms inferences or implications, is the syllogistic a logic or a theory, is the syllogistic a body of worldly knowledge or a system of inferential reasoning, and ought we to represent the syllogistic as a natural deduction system or an axiomatic system—and that we must if we are to have a historically accurate understanding of Aristotle. (shrink)
In Nicomachean Ethics 10.7, Aristotle says that the contemplative wise person living the happiest and most self-sufficient life will need other people less than a person living a life of practical virtue. This seems to be in tension with Aristotle's emphasis elsewhere on the political nature of human beings. I analyze in detail Aristotle's most elaborate defense of the need for friends in the happy life in Nicomachean Ethics 9.9 to see whether and how he resolves the (...) need for friends with the self-sufficiency of the happy life. The virtue-friendship described in the chapter does turn out to be more compatible with the self-contained unity of a happy life than other sorts of friendship, because collaboration in virtuous activities integrates the friend into one's activities. This is true even for contemplative friendship, where, as Aristotle suggests in the ornate final argument of 9.9, the friends collaboratively contemplate human nature and take pleasure in the goodness of human life. The unity achieved in this kind of friendship is an imitation of God's self-contemplative and self-contained unity. Nonetheless, I conclude, there is no evidence that Aristotle did not think that friendship was conditioned on human failings and so that friends would be less necessary for those leading the most excellent contemplative lives. (shrink)
The Nicomachean Ethics is generally thought to be a “dialectical” work, aimed at resolving aporia in a set of endoxa, which it takes as its starting-point. I argue that Aristotle’s aim in the treatise is, rather, to produce definitions of key ethical terms, and that his starting-points are limited to evaluative and discriminative judgments of a certain sort, which are demanded by the nature of the discipline and are not endoxa. I discuss also how the definitions are reached (focusing (...) on the cases of the virtues of character) and the roles that aporiai do play in the process. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to evaluate the level of gender bias in Aristotle’s Generation of Animals while exercising due care in the analysis of its arguments. I argue that while the GA theory is clearly sexist, the traditional interpretation fails to diagnose the problem correctly. The traditional interpretation focuses on three main sources of evidence: (1) Aristotle’s claim that the female is, as it were, a “disabled” (πεπηρωμένον) male; (2) the claim at GA IV.3, 767b6-8 that (...) females are a departure from the kind; and (3) Aristotle’s supposed claim at GA IV.3, 768a21-8 that the most ideal outcome of reproduction is a male offspring that perfectly resembles its father. I argue that each of these passages has either been misunderstood or misrepresented by commentators. In none of these places is Aristotle suggesting that females are imperfect members of the species or that they result from the failure to achieve some teleological goal. I defend the view that the GA does not see reproduction as occurring for the sake of producing males; rather, what sex an embryo happens to become is determined entirely by non-teleological forces operating through material necessity. This interpretation is consistent with Aristotle’s view in GA II.5 that females have the same soul as the male (741a7) as well as the argument in Metaphysics X.9 that sexual difference is not part of the species form but is an affection (πάθος) arising from the matter (1058b21-4). While the traditional interpretation has tended to exaggerate the level of sexism in Aristotle’s developmental biology, the GA is by no means free of gender bias as some recent scholarship has claimed. In the final section of the paper I point to one passage where Aristotle clearly falls back on sexist assumptions in order to answer the difficult question, “Why are animals divided into sexes?”. I argue that this passage in particular poses a serious challenge to anyone attempting to absolve Aristotle’s developmental biology of the charge of sexism. (shrink)
Both literalism, the view that mathematical objects simply exist in the empirical world, and fictionalism, the view that mathematical objects do not exist but are rather harmless fictions, have been both ascribed to Aristotle. The ascription of literalism to Aristotle, however, commits Aristotle to the unattractive view that mathematics studies but a small fragment of the physical world; and there is evidence that Aristotle would deny the literalist position that mathematical objects are perceivable. The ascription of (...) fictionalism also faces a difficult challenge: there is evidence that Aristotle would deny the fictionalist position that mathematics is false. I argue that, in Aristotle's view, the fiction of mathematics is not to treat what does not exist as if existing but to treat mathematical objects with an ontological status they lack. This form of fictionalism is consistent with holding that mathematics is true. (shrink)
The current debate over Aristotle's commitment to prime matter is centered on diachronic considerations found in his theory of substantial change. I argue that an appeal to this theory is not required in order to establish his commitment to the existence of prime matter. By drawing on Physics II.1's conception of what it is for an element to have a nature - that is, to have an inner source of movement and rest - I introduce a synchronic justification for (...) the existence of prime matter. By trading on the relationship between the thing that has a source of change and the source it has , I show that something that has a source in itself cannot be identical with its source, and that a type of matter that has no nature of its own (a kind of prime matter) is required to block this identification at the level of the elements. (shrink)
Before and during the times of Confucius and Aristotle, the concept of friendship had very different implications. This paper compares Confucius’ with Aristotle’s thoughts on friendship from two perspectives: xin 信 (fidelity, faithfulness) and le 乐 (joy). The Analects emphasizes the xin as the basis of friendship. Aristotle holds that there are three kinds of friends and corresponding to them are three types of friendship. In the friendship for the sake of pleasure, there is no xin; in (...) the legal form of friendship for the sake of utility, xin is guaranteed by law; and in the moral form of friendship for the sake of utility, xin is guaranteed by morality; in the friendship for the sake of virtue, xin is an indispensable part. Both thinkers believe friends can bring joy to human life. According to Confucius, it is the joy of rendao 仁道 (benevolence), whereas for Aristotle, it is the joy of Reason. There are many commonalities and differences between the two. The commonalities reveal some inner links between Confucian rendao and Aristotelian Reason. It seems that the differences between rendao and Reason are the differences between moral reason and logical reason. The comparative study is helpful for us to understand the two masters’ ethics, politics and philosophy. (shrink)
It is sometimes asked whether virtue ethics can be assimilated by Kantianism or utilitarianism, or if it is a distinct position. A look atAristotle’s ethics shows that it certanly can be distinct. In particular, Aristotle presents us with an ethics of aesthetics in contrast to themore standard ethics of cognition: A virtuous agent identifies the right actions by their aesthetic qualities. Moreover, the agent’s concernwith her own aesthetic character gives us a key to the important role the emotions play (...) for Aristotle, which further distinguishes him from the other two theories we have mentioned. (shrink)
Although the stated purpose of Physics viii 8 is to prove that only circular locomotion is infinitely continuous, it is generally recognized that a major sub-theme of the chapter has to do with the unity of change and centers on Zeno’s dichotomy paradox. According to one influential account of this sub-theme, Aristotle returns to the dichotomy paradox in Physics viii 8, primarily to engage in a defensive maneuver. In Physics vi, while focused on the infinite divisibility of change instead (...) of its identity conditions, Aristotle left open the possibility that occurrences that are ‘one change’ could have infinitely many parts that are also ‘one change’.1 By Physics viii 8, however, Zeno has brought Aristotle to realize that if this possibility is admitted, then what one chooses to call ‘one change’ is to a large extent arbitrary. But this Aristotle cannot countenance, because his entire theory of change is built upon the concept of a change as a thing uniquely definable as the passage from a particular state to a particular state. In Physics viii 8, then, Aristotle seeks to avoid this result by ‘refining’ the definition of ‘one change’ so that ‘one change’ can no longer have parts that are also ‘one change’ and by invoking the metaphysical machinery of the act-potency distinction to give a positive characterization of the difference between change parts and change wholes.2 According to Michael White, Aristotle ‘refines’ his definition of ‘one change’ in Physics viii 8 by strengthening the criteria of Physics v 4; criteria, which, White is correct to point out, do nothing to prevent this result on their own.3 According to White, this ‘refinement’ consists in adding, to the criteria of Physics v 4 (i.e., the criteria that ‘one change’ must be in a continuous time, have a single subject throughout, and proceed throughout from a terminus of the same species to a contrary terminus of the same species), the additional condition that an occurrence that is ‘one change’ must be bracketed by periods of rest and contain no periods of rest.. (shrink)
People currently regard justice as the main principle of institutions and society, while in ancient Greek people took it as the virtue of citizens. This article analyzes Aristotle’s virtue of justice in his method of virtue ethics, discussing the nature of virtue, how justice is the virtue of citizens, what kind of virtue the justice of citizens is, and the prospect of the virtue of justice against a background of institutional justice. Since virtue can be said to be a (...) specific individual character, Aristotle also defines the virtue of justice as the character of justice, with which citizens act justly and desire to do what is just. The virtue of justice is also an individual ethical virtue, differing from others for it is at the same time a social ethic. We can call the virtue of justice a “non-individual individual ethical virtue.” It has been explained as between pure altruism and egoism, which is a wrong explanation. John Rawls regards justice as the first virtue of social institutions, challenging Aristotle’s virtue of justice, an assertion which also needs further deliberation. (shrink)
In De Anima II 5, 417a21-b16, Aristotle makes a number of distinctions between types of transitions, affections, and alterations. The objective of this paper is to sort out the relationships between these distinctions by means of determining which of the distinguished types of change can be coextensive and which cannot, and which can overlap and which cannot. From the results of this analysis, an interpretation of 417a21-b16 is then constructed that differs from previous interpretations in certain important respects, chief (...) among which is its characterization of transitions from first potentiality to first actuality, e.g., learning, not as `ordinary', but rather as acquisitions of natural dispositions or faculties. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In this paper I show that, contrary to the prevalent view, in his De Interpretatione chapter 8, Aristotle is concerned with a kind of ambiguity, i.e. with homonymy; more precisely, with homonymy of linguistic expressions as it may occur in dialectical argument. The paper has two parts. In the first part, I argue that in the Sophistici Elenchi 175b39-176a5 Aristotle indubitably deals with homonymy in dialectical argument; that De Interpretatione 8 is a parallel to Sophistici Elenchi 175b39-176a5; (...) that De Interpretatione 8 is concerned with dialectical argument; that, hence, De Interpretatione 8, too, deals with homonymy in dialectical argument. In the second part I discuss objections that have been put forward against the view that De Interpretatione 8 is about homonymy and demonstrate that they do not succeed. (shrink)
Individual substances are the ground of Aristotle’s ontology. Taking a liberal approach to existence, Aristotle accepts among existents entities in such categories other than substance as quality, quantity and relation; and, within each category, individuals and universals. As I will argue, individual substances are ontologically independent from all these other entities, while all other entities are ontologically dependent on individual substances. The association of substance with independence has a long history and several contemporary metaphysicians have pursued the connection. (...) In this chapter, I will discuss the intersection of these notions of substance and ontological dependence in Aristotle. I will canvass a few contemporary formulations of ontological dependence and discuss some of the interpretative difficulties in ascribing any of these formulations to Aristotle’s characterization of individual substances as ontologically independent. My aim is not to resolve fully these difficulties but to locate the topics of substance and independence relative to certain other controversies in Aristotle studies. However, I will sketch a position. In particular, elsewhere I have speculated that Aristotle is both a primitivist and a pluralist with respect to ontological dependence, and I will develop this line of interpretation a bit further later in the chapter. (shrink)
This essay attempts to show why deliberation is not of ends for Aristotle, not only because deliberation is concerned with means, but because ends are grasped by wish. Such wishing, I argue, is a form of rational intuition that is non-discursive and analogous to seeing and therefore not at all like the discursive thought involved in deliberation. Such a reading also helps shed light on the nature of contemplation and therefore on happiness in Aristotle.
The article evaluates the Domain Postulate of the Classical Model of Science and the related Aristotelian prohibition rule on kind-crossing as interpretative tools in the history of the development of mathematics into a general science of quantities. Special reference is made to Proclus’ commentary to Euclid’s first book of Elements , to the sixteenth century translations of Euclid’s work into Latin and to the works of Stevin, Wallis, Viète and Descartes. The prohibition rule on kind-crossing formulated by Aristotle in (...) Posterior analytics is used to distinguish between conceptions that share the same name but are substantively different: for example the search for a broader genus including all mathematical objects; the search for a common character of different species of mathematical objects; and the effort to treat magnitudes as numbers. (shrink)
It is traditionally maintained that according to Aristotle, matter provides a principle of individuation. Objections of several sorts have been raised against this interpretation. One objection holds that for Aristotle it is form, rather than matter, that individuates. A more radical objection is that Aristotle does not propose any principle of individuation at all. Any adequate discussion of this issue must make clear precisely what problems such a principle is meant to address. This in turn requires that (...) several important distinctions be observed: (1) principles of individuation vs. principles of unity; (2) metaphysical vs. epistemological principles; (3) synchronic vs. diachronic unity and individuation; numerical vs. qualitative identity. After examining the objections in the light of these distinctions, I conclude that the objections cannot be sustained, and that, with appropriate qualifications, the traditional interpretation gives us the right idea about Aristotle. (shrink)
An important shift occurs in Martin Heidegger’s thinking one year after the publication of Being and Time , in the Appendix to the Metaphysical Foundations of Logic . The shift is from his project of fundamental ontology—which provides an existential analysis of human existence on an ontological level—to metontology . Metontology is a neologism that refers to the ontic sphere of human experience and to the regional ontologies that were excluded from Being and Time. It is within metontology, Heidegger states, (...) that “the question of ethics may be raised for the first time.” This paper makes explicit both Heidegger’s argument for metontology , and the relation between metontology and ethics. In examining what he means by “the art of existing,” the paper argues that there is an ethical dimension to Heidegger’s thinking that corresponds to a moderate form of moral particularism. In order to justify this position, a comparative analysis is made between Heidegger, Aristotle, and Bernard Williams. (shrink)
Review of Johanson's book Aristotle on the sense organs. Aristotle seeks to explain the characteristics of the different sense organs by reference to the goal that they serve, that of enabling animals to perceive. A material basis is necessary for sense perception but it is an open question whether the material in question undergoes a physiological change.
The central subject of Aristotle's ethics is happiness or living well. Most people in his day (as in ours), eager to enjoy life, impressed by worldly success, and fearful of serious loss, believed that happiness depends mainly on fortune in achieving prosperity and avoiding adversity. Aristotle, however, argues that virtuous conduct is the governing factor in living well and attaining happiness. While admitting that neither the blessings not the afflictions of fortune are unimportant, he maintains that the virtuous (...) find life more satisfying than other people do and, with only modest good fortune, they lead happy, enjoyable lives. Combining philological precision with philosophical analysis, the author reconstructs Aristotle's defense of these bold claims. By examining how Aristotle develops his position in response to the prevailing hopes and anxieties of his age, the author shows why Aristotle considers happiness important for ethics and why he thinks it necessary to revise popular and traditional views. Paying close attention throughout to the internalist dimension of Aristotle's approach - his emphasis on how the virtuous view their own lives and actions - the author advances new interpretations of Aristotle's accounts of several major virtues, including temperance, courage, liberality, and 'greatness of soul'. This work sets Aristotle in the broader cultural context of his time, tracing his attemps to accommodate and amend rival views. The author examines literary and historical sources as well as philosophical texts, showing the inherited values and traditional ideals that inform Aristotle's discussions and provide some of the basis for his conclusions. Presupposing no knowledge of Greek or specialized philosophical terminology, the book is designed to be accessible to all students of philosophy or classical antiquity. All quotations from ancient texts are translated. (shrink)
This essay aims to analyze the structure of Aristotle's Metaphysics Θ by explicating various senses of the term δύναµις at issue in the treatise. It is argued that Aristotle's central innovation, the sense of δύναµις most useful to his project in the treatise, is the kind of capacity characteristic of the pre-existent matter for substance. It is neither potentiality as a mode of being, as recent studies maintain, nor capacity for `complete' activity. It is argued further that, in (...) starting with the κύριος sense of δύναµις as capacity for change, Aristotle begins with the most familiar and acknowledged kind of capacity, in order to move to the less familiar but ultimately more useful notion of capacity for substance, and to bring these two kinds together through an analogical relation. (shrink)
Isocrates' Antidosis ("Defense against the Exchange") and Aristotle's Protrepticus ("Exhortation to Philosophy") were recovered from oblivion in the late nineteenth century. In this article we demonstrate that the two texts happen to be directly related. Aristotle's Protrepticus was a response, on behalf of the Academy, to Isocrates' criticism of the Academy and its theoretical preoccupations. -/- Contents: I. Introduction: Protrepticus, text and context II. Authentication of the Protrepticus of Aristotle III. Isocrates and philosophy in Athens in the (...) 4th century IV. The Protrepticus of Aristotle as a response to the Antidosis of Isocrates V. Conclusion: dueling conceptions of philosophy, still dueling. (shrink)
In Physics 4.11, Aristotle discusses a sophistical puzzle in which "being Coriscus-in-the-Lyceum is different from being Coriscus-in-the-market-place." I take this puzzle to threaten the persistence of changing entities. Aristotle's answer to the puzzle is that the changing thing "is the same in respect of that, by (means of) being which at any time it is (what it is), S but in definition it is different." That is, Coriscus may be described as either a persisting substrate or as one (...) or more accidental unities. Described as the former, Coriscus persists, but described as the latter, he does not. (shrink)