This essay argues that aristotle's doctrine of nominal definition is his semantic theory for natural-Kind terms. It offers a new interpretation of that doctrine. On this interpretation nominal definitions are initial working theoretical accounts of natural kinds which serve as starting points for scientific inquiry. As such, Nominal definitions have existential import. They make an implicit reference to the most familiar actual instances of the kinds they define and they define the essences of those kinds by reference to those instances. (...) Nominal definitions are, Thus, Accounts of real essences as much as real definitions. They are initial incomplete accounts of such essences and it is as such that they explicate the meanings of (natural-Kind) terms. (shrink)
There are three main views of the development of Plato’s distinction between being and becoming which have been defended in recent times. Most scholars have thought that Plato always held the same version of the distinction despite appearances to the contrary. But some who have taken this position have thought that Plato took the realm of being to consist of things which never change in any way, and the realm of becoming to consist of things which are never stable in (...) any way. Others have thought that Plato’s account of things in the realm of becoming was not so extreme. They have maintained that the realm of being is made up of things which never change in any way, but that the realm of becoming consists of things which constantly change while they exist in many ways. The third view belongs to those who have held that Plato did in his middle dialogues take the extreme view of becoming and the extreme version of the distinction which that entails. But later, they claim, he discovered that the distinction was incoherent. He therefore abandoned it, and the metaphysical doctrine of degrees of reality which he had based on it, altogether. (shrink)
This volume of essays explores major connected themes in Aristotle's metaphysics, philosophy of nature, and ethics, especially themes related to essence, definition, teleology, activity, potentiality, and the highest good. The volume is united by the belief that all aspects of Aristotle's work need to be studied together if any one of the areas of thought is to be fully understood. Many of the papers were contributions to a conference at the University of Pittsburgh entitled 'Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle', (...) to honor Professor Allan Gotthelf's many contributions to the field of ancient philosophy; a few are contributions from those who were invited but could not attend. The contributors, all longstanding friends of Professor Gotthelf, are among the most accomplished scholars in the field of ancient philosophy today. (shrink)
In Metaphysics IV.2 Aristotle assigns a very specific role to dialectic in philosophical and scientific inquiry. This role consists of the use of the special form of dialectic which he calls peirastic. This is not a new conception of, or a new role for, dialectic in philosophy and science, but one also assigned to it in the Topics and Sophistical Refutations. In the SE Aristotle lays down multiple overlapping requirements for the premises or bases for peirastic dialectical argument. These must (...) be things known by skilled practitioners of dialectic; things in fact in accord with the science or subject of the peirastic dialectical encounter in question; things known by non-experts as well as by experts in that subject, things known even by ordinary people in general; things believed by the answerer in the given peirastic encounter and things which are as noted and accredited as possible. We can see from Aristotle’s discussion and from his, and earlier, examples that all of these various requirements can be and are met by a single identifiable set of propositions, one whose use gives a special power to peirastic, one adequate to show the falsity of particular pretensions to knowledge on specific points, in science and philosophy. (shrink)
Aristotle's word for science is epistêmê, which has at least a dual use in the Greek of his day and is standardly used, in one way, as a count noun, to mean “a science.” Thus, in this usage, one can say that geometry, or phusikê, or metaphysics is epistêmê, a science. Here the term epistêmê designates a special sort of systematic body of truth or fact that may or may not have yet been discovered, or fully discovered. In Plato's Protagoras, (...) Socrates uses the term epistêmê for knowledge of the particular right moral action to perform on some specific occasion and he is followed in this use of the term by Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics VII.2. Aristotle claims that scientific principles are reached by induction. (shrink)
The question of idolatry -- Non-dualism and its presuppositions -- Ignotum per ignotius -- Descartes and Shankara: a revealing parallel -- Knowledge, reality, and tradition -- Body, soul, and advaita -- Dream and reality -- A debate concerning non-dualism.
The nature of the real self -- Whole person and duality -- How nature is dual -- Real self and false self -- A primary certainty -- Certainty in the self -- The original cogito argument -- Overcoming representation -- The theory of right and wrong -- The defining principle -- Narrowing the definition -- The centrality of reason -- A question of proof -- Reason and intelligence -- A universal activity -- Human and animal consciousness -- Anti-spiritual assumptions -- (...) Intellect and religious ideals -- Creativity and spirituality -- The anomaly of creativity -- An archetypal view of creation -- Creativity resistant to systems -- Conforming to the divine pattern -- Happiness and the extension of time -- Happiness distinct from pleasure -- Implications for ascetic values -- Collective suffering -- Transcendence and normal experience -- The inner duality of consciousness -- The core of consciousness -- Theology and reductionism -- A radical conclusion -- The abstract and the concrete -- Common sense concreteness -- Mediation by living organisms -- Spirituality and power -- The freedom of the will -- Confusions about free will -- Free will and release from fate -- Arguments for free will -- Freedom and knowledge of truth -- The law of action and reaction -- Sources in scripture -- The causal principle and continuity -- What controls the world? -- Causality includes free will -- Choice of the lesser evil -- Apparent breaches of the law -- The insentience of the active faculties -- Cosmic reaction and judgement -- Consequences for modern religion -- Providence and fate -- Forms of cosmic order -- Providence and archetypal order -- Fate, providence, and salvation -- Fate and astrology. (shrink)
The passage in the Phaedo where Plato argues that all learning is, in some sense, recovery of knowledge which we already possess has been as much discussed as any in Plato's dialogues. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, there are many questions about the passage which have not yet been satisfactorily answered. Answers are offered here to some of the most pressing of these questions taking special account of some useful recent discussion of the passage.
Scholars of classical philosophy have long disputed whether Aristotle was a dialectical thinker. Most agree that Aristotle contrasts dialectical reasoning with demonstrative reasoning, where the former reasons from generally accepted opinions and the latter reasons from the true and primary. Starting with a grasp on truth, demonstration never relinquishes it. Starting with opinion, how could dialectical reasoning ever reach truth, much less the truth about first principles? Is dialectic then an exercise that reiterates the prejudices of one's times and at (...) best allows one to persuade others by appealing to these prejudices, or is it the royal road to first principles and philosophical wisdom? In From Puzzles to Principles? May Sim gathers experts to argue both these positions and offer a variety of interpretive possibilities. The contributors' thoughtful reflections on the nature and limits of dialectic should play a crucial role in Aristotelian scholarship. (shrink)
This latest volume of BACAP Proceedings contains some innovative research by international scholars on Plato, Aristotle, and Sophocles. It covers such themes as Plato on the philosopher ruler, and Aristotle on essence and necessity in science. This publication has also been published in paperback, please click here for details.