The Physics is a most remarkable work, and profoundly influenced Medieval Philosophers. Thomas Aquinas wrote a detailed, impressive commentary. This essay studies in particular the composition of the Physics as Thomas saw it, his thorough study of Aristotle’s way of arguing and the important distinction he made between disputative arguments, which are only partially true, and arguments which determine the truth. Aristotle frequently uses proofs which are wrong when one considers the proper nature of bodies, but possible considering their common (...) nature. Thomas accepts proofs in the field of physics but discards those related to a certain mathematization of nature. Aristotle holds the unlimited possibility of movements becoming faster or slower, but according to Aquinas he is considering things in general : when we consider specific bodies there is a fastest movement. Thomas speaks of a way of reading a text which is according the intention of Aristotle, and proposes an understanding of particular texts based on the general doctrine of the Stagirite. Sometimes he goes beyond the text, as when defending the unity of time as dependent on the unity of the First Mover. The essay shows that in the commentary a coherent philosophy of nature shaping up. In some places Aquinas brings in God’s causality: nature is nothing else but the plan of divine art, placed within things. The study of nature shows that there is a first principle of the whole nature which is above everything, sc. God who gives being to things. (shrink)
In the past fifty years a number of studies on Aristotle’s biology have appeared in English. The proceedings of a symposium held in Germany are a welcome contribution to our knowledge of Aristotle’s work in this field.
White presents an analysis of three ancient conceptions of spatial magnitude, time, and motion, namely, Aristotle's, the Stoics', and the quantum views. The greater part of the book deals with Aristotle, according to whom one cannot get magnitude from points. The alleged mistakes in his theory of motion melt away if one agrees with his ontology. In the second chapter White discusses Aristotle's conception of time and "a time". Despite the lack of adequate mathematical tools Aristotle had an amazing intuitive (...) grasp of the concept of continuous motion. White sees a contrast between Aristotle and modern mathematics insofar as in the latter the concept of infinity is extended and magnitudes are sets of points. This difference of view has metaphysical roots. (shrink)
The sixteen essays of this book attempt to make recent scholarly conclusions on Socrates readily available. In his introduction the editor gives a survey of the Socratic problem. The next essay examines the precise meaning of the charges leveled against Socrates; not accepting the traditional gods comes foremost. Charles H. Kahn argues in favor of moving the Laches, Charmides, Lysis and Euthrypho from their traditional place before the Gorgias to the group of later dialogues because of their Platonic content--J. Beversluis (...) proves the obvious, namely, that Socrates makes use of examples in his search of definitions. Socrates' critique of his interlocutors' answers to the "what-is-F-ness?" questions is examined by Hugh Benson. Laches and others failed to grasp that there is only one universal essence corresponding to each question. Gregory Vlastos argues that Plato was the first to assume that the movement of the planets could be explained by a number of homocentric circular revolutions into different directions. Plato would have advanced from a dialectical examination of problems to a more mathematical method. According to T. H. Irwin, Socrates upheld the view that to be happy requires that one adapt his desires and be flexible. K. McTighe thinks that Plato understood the Socratic paradox in this way: wrongdoers are always ignorant of the harm their actions cause or of the fact that their actions are unjust. (shrink)
With commendable zeal Horst Seidl has made a German translation of the integral text of the Posterior Analytics, a treatise which has exercised a considerable influence, not only in classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, but also in the modern period. As William Wallace has shown even Galileo, a scientist, owes a great deal to Aristotle's theory of science.
David Bostock revisits Aristotle’s theory of matter which was already discussed in some papers of volume 1. He warns the reader that Aristotle would have been surprised by the explanations some propose of his doctrine. Prime matter is, in the first place, the stuff the four elements are made of ; the elements function in their turn as matter for still higher things. Bostock believes that there are several ultimate kinds of matter which cannot change into one another. The atoms (...) would be the basic elements of the bodies, a function fulfilled by matter according to Aristotle. Obviously Bostock does not distinguish between substantial and accidental reality. In a fine paper Gottfried Heinemann explains the sense of such terms as “nature,” “matter,” and “craft” in Aristotle. He attempts to approach matter not from the ontological point of view as a potential component of being, but as that which is used in artifacts. From there it comes to mean what underlies the coming-to-being of natural things. (shrink)
In 1997 an international conference on Aristotle and modern science took place in Thessaloniki. Aristotle’s view of nature—his criticism of the atomists, on the one hand, and modern science, on the other—seem to be widely opposed, but in recent years science has changed so much that scientists resort to certain basic notions of Aristotle’s natural philosophy to underpin their theories and make material nature more intelligible. In a first paper Hilary Putnam argues against Victor Gaston that Aristotle’s theory of cognition (...) is a “ direct realism” and not as many say a theory based on representation. Perception and thinking are in direct contact with things and their properties. In a charming comparison Bas C. van Fraassen argues that both tragedy and science are subspecies of representation. As in poetry, in science the inexplicable is kept off stage. John P. Anton is confident that the revival of Aristotle’s model of science can provide a solution to the question of the unity of the various sciences. He levels a stinging attack at Putnam’s interpretation of Aristotle’s theory of cognition. Lambros Couloubaritsis voices amazement that in Physics IV Aristotle says nothing about the creative capacity of time, but believes that the notion of “appropriate time” will bring this out. James R. Brown argues that the main stream of science stemming from the seventeenth century is a fusion of the Platonic and mechanic traditions, but that in recent years Aristotle has made an impressive comeback. He examines to what extent the notion of potentiality may be in agreement with and help explain certain physical facts perceived by common sense observation, although it does no justice to quantum “ bizarreness”. He sees better help in the Platonic account of formal causality. Speaking about levels of reality Basarab Nicolescu believes that the universe is self-creating, showing an open structure. A flow of information traverses the various levels of reality. The notion of potency, we are told by Ephtichios Bitsakis, exercises quite some attraction on scientists. Indeed, Aristotle is a precursor of scientific realism, but his theories are marred by many inconsistencies: the Prime Mover, final causality, and entelechy contradict his dynamic view of nature and should be abandoned. In the transformation of massive particles into nonmassive ones the actual mass becomes potential. Thomas M. Olshewsky points out that Aristotle has a differentiated notion of prime matter and rejects absolute prime matter. Jagdish Hattiangadi suggests giving up the idea of substance. Demetra Sfendoni-Mentzou also tackles “the always actual question” of what matter is for Aristotle. Nowadays the idea of stable particles has disappeared and we have to deal with what is potentially real. (shrink)
In his detailed and well-argued study of the De interpretatione, Whitaker shows that the treatise is a coherent whole and is closely linked to the Topics and the Sophistici Elenchi, rather than to the Categories and the Prior Analytics as tradition has it. Convinced of the dialectical character of the book he rejects the title as spurious. It should be περὶ ἀντιφάσεως. In the first chapter Whitaker defends the reading πρώτων in 16a8 and explains that falsehood is stating as one (...) things which are in reality separated from each other, or as separate things which are one. Next he deals with the analysis of nouns and verbs. Departing from Alexander, he is right in holding that only man has speech. Animals can show something but do not signify it. The difficult sentence “being by itself is nothing” is understood as follows: being represents the combination of subject and predicate in an assertion. By itself it is nothing, but when used as a copula it gets an additional signification. However, I do not think that this understanding of προσημαίνειν is correct. In the interpretation of Whitaker, the text should simply say “it gets a meaning” without the “additional.” On this point one may usefully compare the commentary by St. Thomas Aquinas, In I Perihermeneias, lesson 5, which reviews the various options. The verb “to be” alone does not signify that something is, but it denotes pure actuality. (shrink)
In the introductory first chapter the author states his conviction that Aristotle’s theory of learning, at the center of which stands the apodeictic syllogism, is inadequate because partial. Chapter 2 is a balanced survey of Aristotle’s syllogistic, which does not serve the purpose of discovery, but is intended to turn into science knowledge already acquired. All learning proceeds from preexisting knowledge which is structured by demonstration. Next Bauman turns to Plato’s theory of learning as present in the Meno: learning is (...) remembering. His account of the Socratic method of making a disciple see the truth by pertinent questions is excellent. He warns us to avoid extreme interpretations of ἀνάμνησις. According to Aristotle, Plato confounded the process of remembering with induction. The process of learning consists in the passing from opinion to knowledge. Aristotle’s theory as explained in the Posterior Analytics widely differs from Plato’s. In chapter 5, Bauman examines whether the syllogism based on a universal major is a petitio principii, a charge laid against it ever since antiquity and repeated by John Stuart Mill. For Mill, induction is the only form of real inference, but Bauman shows that Mill’s position is not correct. Aristotle sets up a method which allows us to understand why things are the way they are and to pass on knowledge. In chapter 6, Bauman compares Aristotle’s method with what teachers usually do and with how textbook authors conceive the passing on of knowledge. Some previous knowledge is necessary for all teaching. Aristotle focused on how the sciences should be taught, showing how conclusions are implicitly contained in principles or can be deduced from them. Bauman thinks that this is restricting learning far too much and remains unsatisfactory. He disagrees with Aristotle’s statement that all scientific knowledge is expressible in propositions in the indicative mood. The syllogism cannot be the only mode for all teaching. This difficulty, however, can be solved when one keeps in mind what strictly scientific knowledge in the Aristotelian sense is, and that there are other forms of knowledge such as opinion, factual knowledge, and dialectic. Furthermore one should also consider that the syllogism is basic to all forms of reasoning, even if there are syllogisms of different types. A printing mistake on page 191, line 13 should be corrected.—Leo J. Elders, Institute for Philosophy, “Rolduc,” Kerkrade, The Netherlands. (shrink)
Quite a number of contemporary students of logic tend to consider Aristotle's logic mainly from a formal point of view. Richard Patterson, on the other hand, attempts to show that Aristotle's system of logic as well as his modal logic must be studied in the light of his fundamental theory of syntax and his metaphysics. Even if all of Aristotle's modal logic has not been accepted in the West, the ideas underpinning it are those of his syllogistic logic. Patterson observes (...) that, in his modal logic, Aristotle uses modal copulae rather than modal predicates. (shrink)
A study of Aristotle's use of the "prior" and the "posterior" is most welcome, since it is likely to shed some light on his position with regard to Platonism. Nicomachean Ethics 1096a17-19 intimates that in Plato's view the pair "prior and posterior" belongs to the world of becoming and mutually dependent things. Cleary believes that its use by Aristotle is closely related to the latter's philosophical development. He hopes to discover, in the course of his study, the original set of (...) circumstances which made Aristotle embark upon his theory of these terms. To this effect Cleary examines the main texts of the Aristotelian corpus in which they occur. (shrink)
In academic circles, Aristotle’s Politics languished in the shadow cast by Plato’s Republic, book 8 was even believed by some to be uncharacteristic of Aristotle’s thought. Professor Curren makes it the central theme of his study, as he hopes to find in it arguments in defense of public education. It is not difficult to argue that according to Aristotle good public life is not possible without the right kind of public education. However it is an entirely different story to transpose (...) educational principles, which Aristotle wanted to apply to the model, as he saw it, of an ideal Greek city-state of the fourth century B.C., to the situation in the present day United States of America or other Western countries. Undaunted by this formidable difficulty, Curren sets out on a journey through Greek educational policies dealing with Socrates’ and Plato’s views in this regard to discuss next what Aristotle says about forms of government. He understands book 5 as an attempt to provide statesmen with arguments for a reform of their respective constitutions laying special stress on education. In fact living under good laws contributes to human flourishing. The state is a multitude to be made into a unity by education. (shrink)
The editor explains that special studies in philosophy honoring Étienne Gilson are long overdue. Gilson was not only one of the greatest historians of philosophy of the twentieth century but also a leading philosopher. Gilson exposed the myth that Descartes developed an altogether new way of thinking, refuted the belief that philosophy came to an end with the last of the ancient pagan thinkers, and made a strong stand against skepticism. Professor Redpath plans to publish a series in order to (...) recall the importance of Gilson and to keep alive a greater appreciation of Thomistic realism. This first volume is dedicated to Armand Maurer of the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto, who has captured in a remarkable way Gilson’s thought and his humanism. (shrink)
Horst Seidl of the University of Nijmegen has written an unusual book. It consists of a series of critical reviews of publications by other scholars concerning Aristotle's logic, epistemology and metaphysics. The author's approach is not merely historical and critical: a philosopher must reach definite, objective truth. He reminds the reader that this is a difficult enterprise: too often Aristotle's works have been interpreted from the viewpoint of particular theories. Seidl's study is a defense of Aristotle's doctrines and methods such (...) as the use of syllogisms, the theory of the possible, etc. Somewhat surprisingly Seidl asserts that deductive arguments cannot be used in metaphysics. (shrink)
In the introduction to this important study Bowlin draws attention to the fact that contemporary students of ethics often resort to Aristotle, but overlook Aquinas, one of the more able interpreters of the Aristotelian moral tradition. He intends to correct this situation by concentrating on a particular point of Thomas’s moral theory: the contingencies of various kinds which we must confront. Bowlin argues that Thomas’s treatment of the moral virtues is largely functional: they help to cope with contingencies, although he (...) leaves the connection between the virtues and these contingencies largely undeveloped. Chapter 1 deals with the difficulties caused by the different passions such as concupiscence, fear, and others. The next chapter takes us into the heart of the problem, the contingency of the human good. In Bowlin’s view this contingency results from the fact that circumstances can modify the morality of our actions. Given this variability, prudence and justice must help us to decide what is right to do. Bowlin’s treatment of justice is surprising: this virtue is viewed in the light of contingency, whereas for Aquinas it proceeds basically in an objective way. (shrink)
Dr. Barraza submits a detailed study of utilitarianism and its offspring, consequentialism, and purports to show why it is not an acceptable moral system. As G. Anscombe pointed out, it arose when ethics was no longer based on the virtues and people looked for a way to evaluate moral actions in conformity with the predominant technological outlook. Consequentialism holds that the criterion of morality is that of the best overall result possible, whereas for utilitarianists it is the greatest amount of (...) pleasure, satisfaction, or happiness. John Stewart Mill’s utilitarianism is examined in great detail. Mill felt that the criterion of morality cannot be something intuitively known, but has to be easily recognizable, as, for instance, the consequences of our acts, namely the greatest happiness proper to man as a human being. Mill experienced some difficulties when trying to integrate duties with regard to others. His answers to eight objections raised against his theory are seen as insufficient by Barraza, as is Mill’s justification of the principle of “the greatest happiness.” Mill’s ethics is profoundly marked by the spirit of the Enlightenment, that is, by a type of rationalism related to the empirical sciences; everything was to be explained by one simple principle, without any reference to religion. Important points in the system are the stress on freedom and equality, freedom being the primary value. Mill seeks to secure the greatest possible space for personal freedom, which, however, is limited by the interests of others. Equality results from impartiality which demands that the happiness of the agent is not placed above that of others. Furthermore, Mill’s ethics is characterized by its optimism and its social orientation, aiming as it does at the well-being of the greatest number. However, despite a semblance of coherence Mill’s work is full of ambiguities. A glaring difficulty is that the intention of the agent has nothing to do with the results and their evaluation. (shrink)
This edition of Michael Scot’s Latin translation of Aristotle’s De partibus animalium is part of a vast project, under the supervision of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, to publish the Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew translations of Aristotle’s works, of the Latin translations of these works, and of the medieval paraphrases and commentaries made in the context of this translation tradition. After a general introduction, the Latin text is presented, followed by a good number of excellent notes, an (...) Index latino-arabus, an Index of proper names of animals and an Index arabo-latinus. This is followed by an Index of the Greek names of plants and animals. (shrink)
This beautifully presented volume is a reprint of two series of, respectively, four and five dialogues by the French sceptical philosopher La Mothe Le Vayer, originally published about 1631. The dialogues are a sparkling display of humanist learning and make pleasant reading, although philosophically their quality is rather poor. If we say that La Mothe was a sceptic, this assertion must immediately be qualified. From the dialogue "In Defence of Scepticism," we learn that in La Mothe's eyes a sceptic is (...) a person who doubts about everything, but not unreasonably--rather he goes along with what now appears. We would perhaps call this position critical rather than sceptical. La Mothe dwells on the variety of opinions and beliefs held by different people to point out that one can hardly be totally certain in one's evaluation of what is true and what is false and of what is right or wrong. The French humanist is at his best when he describes the enormous variety of customs. He introduces numerous quotations from Greek and Latin authors as well as from the letters of missionaries in the Far East or Latin America. One admires his versatility, his command of history, and his acquaintance with philosophers and theologians. Less admirable is his satisfaction with his own sceptical epochë not to accept anything as entirely certain, except, as it seems, the dogmas of the Christian faith. (shrink)
This attractive but difficult study begins with an avowal: Korff purposively writes against Kierkegaard. His main thesis is that the Danish philosopher beguiled himself in stating his relationship with Regina, the girl he had promised to marry, in terms of his relation to God. Kierkegaard played with her, using her for his poetical endeavors and philosophical reflections. Korff is not slow to point out a certain inversion of the normal in Kierkegaard's conception of love and his incapacity really to love (...) someone. Breaking up his relation with Regina as well as this attempt to transpose it to a spiritual level of a mystical betrothal with God, gave Kierkegaard the feeling of being free again. Korff sharply criticizes Kierkegaard's comparison of his "sacrifice" with the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham : "Kierkegaard is less moved by religious seriousness than by the fascination of his own dialectic". He creates a representation of God according to his subjective feelings and dialectical needs of the moment. (shrink)
The thesis of Méndez is preceded by a preface by Cornelio Fabro, who explains the design of this important dissertation: the author gives a presentation of the metaphysics of Aquinas such as he sees it laid down in the Summa contra gentiles. He does so from the viewpoint of the doctrine of participation.
This carefully edited book, complete with notes, a bibliography, and indexes, contains fourteen papers selected from those read at the yearly meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy. The essays are divided into three groups dealing with logic, metaphysics, and the soul. John P. Anton argues that the categories do not mean predicates but fundamental types of attribution formulated in accordance with the ontology of first substance. D. Morrison points out that they stand for classes of being in the (...) universe. The question of why Plotinus dispensed with some of the categories is the subject of C. Evangeliou's paper: Plotinus tended to reduce even quantity and quality to relations and made action and passion species of motion, whereas Aristotle never referred to motion as a category. A. Urbanas presents a valuable study of the meaning of ὅπερ. (shrink)
This is an important book. It consists of twenty-one essays, sixteen of which have not been published before, and sheds light on two of the most difficult points in the Poetics, imitation and catharsis. The order in which the papers are presented has been carefully chosen, so that the overall impression is that of a certain unity of interpretation. In this review we can only bring out a few of the more salient statements of the book.
In this pleasantly written book Carter describes what he considers to be the core of Japanese ethics by recalling the influence of Shintoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism. Drawing heavily on certain Japanese authors, he points to such fundamental categories as man, nothingness, sincerity, family. Finally he develops the theme of enlightenment. From the very start Carter stresses the pre-ego state of compassionate awareness and the resolve to interfere minimally with the natural world characteristic of the Japanese. The oneness of (...) things is the theme which runs like a red thread through the entire book, a monism which abandons the opposition between the ego and the world and between good and evil. Evil is the substantializing of the ego. Carter himself turned to the East to find a way out of the problems besetting Western societies. (shrink)
This thorough study in the field of the philosophy of history was accepted as a Habilitationsschrift. There is, however, a problem with this type of book: the author is supposed to give a display of his learning and mastery of the entire literature on the subject. As a result, the style and wording may become pedantic.
Some twenty-five years ago the ancient controversy about the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom came to life again. The relevant papers of those who participated in the debate are scattered over several philosophical reviews. John Fisher has brought them together and added a fifty-page introduction in which he summarizes and evaluates the respective positions.
This is an interesting and useful book with essays by Lewis White Beck, Ernst Cassierer, Hermann Cohen, Richard Hönigswald, Hansgeorg Hoppe, Edmund Husserl, Ram Adhar Mall, Jeffrie G. Murphy, Alois Riehl, Wolfgang Stegmüller, Martha E. Williams. All thirteen essays or notes reprinted concern the relationship between Hume and Kant. Its publication follows the 200th anniversary of the appearance of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Common to both philosophers is the view that scientific knowledge depends on the knowledge of man. In (...) a long introduction the editor briefly recalls Hume's place in the history of philosophy. Turning to Kant he points out that Kant realized that if we take Hume's view of causality seriously, it cannot but lead to scepticism. Thus he felt obliged to look for a foundation of the sciences in the trans-subjective structure of the human mind. However, Kant never became an empiricist, but still subscribed to what Russell called a "pre-Humean rationalism." Nevertheless there is a convergence between both philosophers: Hume feels that one cannot go beyond the presence of percepts in one's own consciousness. Now Kant is equally convinced that our theoretical knowledge is limited to appearances. What lies beyond the appearances--das Ding an sich--cannot be reached. (shrink)
This book purposes to study Ibn Rushd in his historic context. The introduction depicts the doctrinal and cultural background of the Muslim world of southern Spain in the time of Averroes to consider next the philosopher's life. It was Averroes' intention to construct a coherent system and to determine how far reason can take us in the analysis of reality. His disgrace resulted from the desire of the Almohad rulers to win over the masses by a political gesture.
In this monograph Pavlos Kontos of the University of Patras in Greece develops a phenomenology of human actions against the background of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The first part of his study is centered around the question of the autonomy of the moral act, which results from the role Aristotle assigns to the virtue of prudence. Prudence shows us what is morally possible or feasible; an ethics based on prudence does not crush man under the burden of what is far above (...) him as the moral systems of Kant and Christianity tend to do. In Aristotle’s ethics, human actions are not subordinated to a rule which is entirely fixed and determined. Principles in ethics are not the universal propositions of the major premise of a moral syllogism but the conditions under which a prakton exists. They are the manner in which prudence perceives its object as belonging to the moral order. At this point the author refers to the various Abschattungen, appraisals of what has to be done in view of one’s personal momentary situation and of the circumstances. In the deliberations of prudence the quest for happiness enters, which Kontos understands as a successful action. Happiness is not a supplement to actions but is present in good actions all through one’s life. The prakton is the way in which one must organize the world. (shrink)
Urbanas's intention is to clarify the status and function of the accident in Aristotle's logic and metaphysics. Given the importance of the accidental and the accident and the variety of ways in which the term is used in Aristotle's works, this is a most welcome study.
In his artful and well-documented study professor De Koninck of the University of Laval, Quebec, takes the reader on a trip through the often appalling deficits of modern Western culture to point out the road to the light. The title exposes one aspect of the situation: an ignorance, branded by Socrates, which made its comeback under different forms. The sciences, considered by many the panacea for all diseases, cannot answer questions outside their respective fields. They create abstractions which are a (...) threat to real culture. A running indictment of the evils of our time follows: self-destruction by drugs, criminality, and self-inflicted diseases, erroneous theories which kill, annoyance which provokes violence, the crisis of education, the impoverishment of knowledge, the ignorance of our economists and our political leaders. Finally, the worst of all, there is nihilism, the ignorance of the end. (shrink)