The Role of the Demonstration That Explains an Essence in Aristotle's Theory of Explanation [Microform]. --

University Microfilms International (1988)

Owen Goldin
Marquette University
In this dissertation I present an interpretation of Aristotle's Posterior Analytics II.3-10 according to which Aristotle here outlines the structure of reductive explanations, in which attributes taken to be basic from the standpoint of common sense are analyzed as complexes of theoretical primitives. ;I first discuss the basic features of Aristotle's account of scientific understanding. I then show how an Aristotelian definition of a kind is thought to play two roles: that of grounding all explanations of the attributes of that kind and that of expressing the kind's essence. There follows an examination of the various technical senses of kath' auto. ;Next I discuss Aristotle's distinction between those kinds whose einai is assumed among the first principles of a science and those whose einai is demonstrated. I show that Aristotle's distinction is between the basic kinds studied by a science and the attributes demonstrated to belong to those basic kinds. ;I then turn to my interpretation of Post. An. II.3-10. I argue that Aristotle's distinction between what does not have a cause other than itself and what does is the same as the distinction between basic kinds considered by a science and the attributes of those kinds that are demonstrated to exist. I show that Aristotle is claiming that only those kinds that are not to be considered basic can have their essences explained through demonstration. This is done through a syllogism in which the existence of the conjunction of predicates that is identified with the kind through a nominal definition is shown to follow from certain indemonstrable definitions of other kinds. I argue that such a demonstration constitutes a reductive explanation of the existence and properties of the kind in question, as reductive explanation has been explicated by Sellars. I then show how those nonsubstantial kinds that are taken to be basic by the sciences that study them are in effect considered substantial from the perspective of those sciences
Keywords Aristotle   Essence
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