In the June issue of the Classical Review Professor Cook Wilson announces his conversion to the view that in ‘a well-defined group’ of passages in the Nicomachean Ethics λόγος means Reason. While I cannot hope to re-convert Professor Cook Wilson, I feel that it is worth while to try to express the reasons for which it seems difficult to follow him.
One of the strangest of the many strange habits of philosophers, which mark them out as the Ishmaels of the scientific world, is their refusal to agree as to the precise meaning of the words they use. No philosopher, it seems, is bound by the definitions given by predecessors or contemporaries of even the most central terms: each has to define his terms for himself. The resulting situation certainly lends itself to ridicule and caricature, as in the legend of the (...) theological disputants who arrived after long argument at the conclusion that when the one said ‘God’ he meant what the other meant when he said ‘Devil.’ Still it is probable that this idiosyncrasy of philosophers has some real ground in the special nature of the task on which they are engaged, and is not a mere exhibition of aimless malice or sheer incompetence. Whether that is so or not, one of the consequences of this situation is that the titles of philosophic discourses are apt to be singularly unilluminating: as an indication of the problem to be raised they are, to say the least, highly ambiguous. How the reader may understand the title of this paper I do not know; but the question which I had in mind in choosing it was this. (shrink)
It is difficult for a philosopher to contemplate with equanimity the fate which is overtaking, if it has not already overtaken, the word logical. “Logical” is one of a trio of words selected by the Greeks to represent the three main departments of philosophy; and of this trio the other two members, the words “ethical” and “physical,” have at least remained respectable; and to be called “philosophical” is almost a compliment. But to be logical is apparently, at least in England, (...) to enter on very questionable courses: it is to class yourself with every reckless extremist, with the latest and wildest ism in art, politics, and literature, with Russians and Frenchmen and the “Latin mind.” No less a person than H.M. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on no less an occasion than an Assembly of the League of Nations, has lately proclaimed proudly to the gathered nations that lack of logic is the special virtue and privilege of the British Empire. The “lesser breeds with in the law” heard no doubt and trembled, wondering how they could ever compete with a Power to which the laws of thought themselves were mere expediencies. Thus it appears, if Sir Austen Chamberlain is right, that to be logical is to fall into a human weakness or vice, and that this weakness or vice is fortunately commoner outside than inside the British Empire. (shrink)
There are only two passages in the whole of the works of Plato and Aristotle in which the word σχoλ is given central position and philosophical significance. These are the celebrated interlude in the Theaetetus of Plato and the predominantly educational discussion of the foundations of the ideal city in Aristotle's Politics, Bks. VII and VIII. It will be as well to begin by summarizing briefly the doctrine of these two passages.
At the end of the Sixth Book of the Republic Plato explains the Idea of Good by means of the Figure of the Sun. As the sun is the cause both of the becoming of that which is subject to becoming and of our apprehension of it and of its changes through the eye, so the idea of good is the cause of the being of that which is and also of our knowledge of it. As the sun is beyond (...) γxs22EFνεσις, so the Idea of Good is beyond Being. Glaucon says he does not understand. The simile is further elucidated by means of a line, divided into two parts, of which one stands for the νιητxs22EFν γxs22EFνος τε καxs22EF τxs22EFπος, where the Idea of Good bears rule, the other for the xs22EFρατxs22EFν γxs22EFνος τε καxs22EF τxs22EFπος, over which the sun is lord. The line is to be divided unequally , and subdivided in the same proportions. Thus we get a line consisting of four parts in the ratio 4 : 6 : : 6 : 9. Let us call the four parts A B C D respectively, A being the smallest, D the greatest, B and C necessarily equal. A stands for εxs1F31κxs22EFνες, shadows, images in water and on polished surfaces, and the like: B stands for animals, plants, and the creations of human industry: C for the objects of that enquiry in which the objects denoted by B are treated as images, i.e. mathematical enquiries: D for the objects apprehended by dialectic, the Ideas themselves. The first equation asserted is—The objects of opinion : objects of knowledge : : representation : original . There follows an explanation of the inferiority of mathematical to philosophical reasoning, and an explanation of the statement that the objects denoted by B are used as images or symbols by the enquiry concerned with C; as a result of which Glaucon perceives that the general distinction between C and D is that between the τxs22EFχναι , i.e. those sciences in which the Guardians were to be educated, and Philosophy or Dialectic. Finally a special πxs22EFθημα or affection of the soul is allotted to each of the four divisions of the line, to A εxs1F31κασxs22EFα, to B πxs22EFστις, to C διxs22EFνοια, to D νxs22EFησις, each πxs22EFθημα being clear in the same degree in which the objects it is concerned with are true. (shrink)
At the beginning of ch. xxv Socrates starts once more to prove his contention that courage is a form of wisdom. He begins by asking Protagoras whether pleasure is not always in itself good, pain in itself evil. Protagoras is not prepared to admit this, but he is willing to accept the position as a basis for discussion. Socrates then asks a second question : does Protagoras, like most people, think that knowledge has no power or authority in the soul? (...) does he think that knowledge may be present and yet not operative, being knocked about like a slave by the superior force of anger, pleasure, or passion? Must we not rather believe that knowledge can be conquered by nothing and is alone sufficient to salvation? (shrink)
In considering the question as to the order of composition of different portions of Aristotle's works it is necessary to start with some idea as to his method of composition. On looking at the surviving works one sees at a glance that at some date and by some hand they have been carefully arranged as a continuous series. Internal references forward and backward are frequent. The author refrains as carefully as Euclid does from anticipating ‘earlier’ discussion the answer to a (...) question which will arise ‘later.’ The forward references are merely promises that a question will be discussed. These multitudinous cross-references are so interwoven with the thought and the argument that there is little doubt that in the main they are due to Aristotle himself. On the other hand, the short transitional statements with which the ‘books’ as we have them close must always be accepted with some reservations. The book is a device of the ancient bookseller, not the unit of composition. Of course, where they could, the editors have made the ends of books correspond with important breaks in the argument; but wholly artificial book-endings do occur. There is, e.g., the end of N.E. θ, which corresponds to no important stage in the thought; and here the editor or bookseller has merely emphasized the artificiality of the division by inserting the wholly inappropriate clause, περ μν ον τοτων π τοσοῨτον ερσθω. (shrink)