Aristotle on Knowledge of Nature

Review of Metaphysics 37 (4):811 - 835 (1984)

Edward Halper
University of Georgia
IT IS well-known that Plato and Aristotle disagree on the possibility of knowledge of nature. Plato maintains that knowledge, in contrast with belief, is never mistaken, that the objects of knowledge are always the same and never becoming, and that what we sense is always becoming. He concludes that knowledge is possible only of objects that are unchanging and separate from sensibles, i.e., the forms. Aristotle rejects this conclusion and recognizes knowledge of sensibles. Surprisingly, though, he accepts Plato's assumptions. He too maintains that knowledge is not sometimes true and sometimes false, but always true ; he distinguishes the sensibles from the unchanging eternal beings ; and he asserts that the objects of knowledge "always are or are for the most part", and occasionally he even claims that they cannot be otherwise. The problem is, how can Aristotle accept Plato's assumptions about the nature and objects of knowledge and still maintain that knowledge of nature is possible?
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632  
DOI revmetaph198437433
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