This article discusses some of the most important recent controversies in the psychology of Plato’s Republic. These include its views on akratic action, the capacities of the parts of the soul, and the distinction between the rational part of the soul and the nonrational parts. It argues that the Republic accepts the possibility of synchronic akratic action, that is, action contrary to the agent’s belief about what is overall best at the time of action. It then considers some recent arguments that the lower parts of the soul, especially the Appetitive part, are cognitively primitive. Against these views, this article argues that the Appetitive part is capable of means-end reasoning and of forming a conception of its own good. Finally, this article argues that Plato’s distinction between the rational and the nonrational parts of the soul is to be understood in terms of the intelligible versus sensible distinction.
S. Marc Cohen
Aristotle's Physics is a study of nature (phusis) and of natural objects (ta phusei). According to him, these objects—either all of them or at least some of them—are in motion. That is, they are kinoumena, things that are subject to change. The first book of the Physics is largely devoted to this task. The account of substantial change in the Physics is devoid of any commitment to prime matter. Aristotle also takes up the topics of alteration and coming-to-be in De Generatione et Corruptione. He adopts a kind of conservation principle: “the corruption of one thing is the generation of another, and vice versa.” In addition, Aristotle points out that all changes involve both a subject (hupokeimenon) and an attribute (pathos) of a sort which can be predicated of the subject, and says that either one of these is capable of “change” (metabolê).
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae proposed a theory of everything. Like other Presocratics, Anaxagoras addressed topics that could now be placed outside the sphere of philosophical inquiry: not only did he explore metaphysics and the nature of human understanding but he also offered explanations in physics, meteorology, astronomy, physiology, and biology. His aim seems to have been to explain as completely as possible the world in which human beings live, and one's knowledge of that world; thus he seeks to investigate the universe from top to bottom. This article explores Anaxagoras's world from its basic foundations. It undertakes to show the connections among the metaphysical, epistemological, and cosmological parts of Anaxagoras's theory. The discovery and publication of new material has also enhanced the understanding of Presocratic thought. A spectacular example is the new material from Empedocles of Acragas that has become available.
There are various motives for refining the notion of cause. Aristotle's was an interest in providing the most informative and illuminating method of explaining the central natural phenomena of his universe. A different sort of motive is created by problems of free will and responsibility, of which readers may have been reminded by the reference to indeterminism. The thought that our free and responsible behaviour is caused by factors over which we have no control has often seemed impossible to accept and impossible to reject. The challenge then is to refine the notion of cause either so that the thought becomes more acceptable or so that it becomes more rejectable.
This chapter, which analyses the ethical theories of Greek sceptic Sextus Empiricus, begins by considering other sceptical figures who preceded Sextus, both for their intrinsic interest and to set the context for Sextus's work. These include Pyrrho, Arcesilaus of Pitane, Carneades of Cyrene, and Philo of Larissa. The chapter then examines surviving works of Sextus Empiricus, the best known being Outlines of Pyrrhonism.
Wayne J. Hankey
Plato, and a wide variety of ancient, Arabic, and medieval Platonisms had a significant influence on Aquinas. The Corpus, with its quasi-Apostolic origin for Aquinas, was his most authoritative and influential source of Neoplatonism. His most influential early sources of Platonism came from Aristotle and Augustine, that is besides the Dionysian Corpus and the Liber. Aquinas greatly acknowledged the Neoplatonic, and the Peripatetic, commentaries and paraphrases he gradually acquired, because they enabled getting to the Hellenic sources. A great part of Aquinas's last writing was devoted to explicating Aristotle's works including the Liber de causis, which was attributed to him. Aquinas wished to understand the philosophical schools such as their characters, the differences between and within them, their memberships, influences, histories, and the extent to which they are complementary. Aquinas gave an extended treatment of the history of philosophy, including lists of differences and agreements between Plato and Aristotle, beginning with ‘the opinions of the ancients and of Plato’ in his On Separate Substances. When Aquinas treated Aristotle in On Separate Substances, he did not leave his Neoplatonic framework behind. There is much more in On Separate Substances concerning the numbers, including an elaborate reasoning that saves the verbally opposed positions of both Proclus and Dionysius.
According to Aristotle, the “democratic” freedom treasured by the exponents of ancient Greek democracy has two marks, one personal and one political: (i) to live as one wishes and (ii) to rule and be ruled in turn. Though Aristotle is a critic of such freedom, it has been claimed that he has no notion of his own to set against it. This chapter counters this claim by showing the development within Aristotle’s Politics of a conception of “aristocratic” freedom that is richer than the democratic. By this aristocratic conception a person is free to the extent that he is able to live a life of politics and philosophy, and a polis is free to the extent that its institutions promote such a life for each and every citizen by removing the impediments to its realization such as unfavorable political institutions, lack of moral and intellectual education, and insufficient material resources.
It is not an overstatement to say that no other figure in the history of philosophy has exercised a stronger influence on phenomenology than Aristotle. It suffices to recall Franz Brentano’s decisive role in the genesis of phenomenology or to enumerate the Aristotelian concepts and patterns of thought that phenomenological research—from Husserl to its contemporary practitioners—has appropriated or assimilated. But the most critical element of that influence is the fact that Aristotle has served as the privileged pivot for phenomenology’s own development. The present chapter presents a brief overview of phenomenological approaches to Aristotle and focuses on two episodes in that long story, namely, on Heidegger’s and Gadamer’s interpretations of Aristotle’s practical philosophy and how they contributed to the elaboration of their conceptions of phenomenology.
In late antiquity, the commentary became the most prominent genre of philosophical writing. Aristotle was the author who received the lion's share of attention, even though the commentators, beginning with Porphyry, were Platonists. Since Aristotle was seen not only as harmonious with Plato, but as more suitable for initial study in philosophy, commentaries for the use of students were naturally more often devoted to his works than to Plato's. The practice of writing commentaries on Aristotle, and the curriculum the commentaries were meant to support, cut across confessional lines. The Arabic tradition of commentary on Aristotle focuses on the earlier parts of the Aristotelian curriculum, with most emphasis on the logical and physical works. Only the greatest commentator of the Arabic tradition, Averroes, commented extensively on the De Anima or the Metaphysics. As in the Greek tradition, confessional divides were no obstacle to continuous and even co-ordinated efforts to understand Aristotle. This is best shown by the group of commentators known as the “Baghdad school.”
This essay attempts to answer three questions about Aristotle’s account of agency: (1) What is an action? (2) Under what conditions is an action voluntary or intentional? (3) What is the relation between an agent and an action when he or she acts voluntarily? This article focuses on those actions that are processes, taking as its starting point Aristotle’s account of processes and capacities in the Physics to suggest that this account underlies his discussion of actions there and elsewhere. In the second part, it is argued that, in the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle, is concerned with analyzing intentional action in terms of an agent’s capacities (or skills) and their desired goals and knowledge. The final part of the essay contrasts Aristotle’s views of agency with some recent proposals in the philosophy of action.
The Greek noun for which “virtue” and “excellence” are often used as translations—aretê (plural: aretai)—is cognate to the name of the god of war, Ares (called “Mars” in Latin) and, centuries prior to Aristotle, designated the manliness or valor of a warrior. But by the fifth and fourth centuries
In the field of natural science, Aristotle recognizes as his forerunners a select group of theorists such as Heraclitus of Ephesus, Empedocles of Acragas, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, and Leucippus and Democritus of Abdera. In addition, he mentions in the same contexts some whose claims to be “natural philosophers” are doubtful, yet who deserve notice in the same context, including Parmenides of Elea, Melissus of Samos, the people called Pythagoreans (or “the Italians”), and Plato as the author of the Timaeus. Aristotle takes seriously almost all of these people, treating them as exemplary pioneers and valuable partners in the enterprise of “natural philosophy.” This article examines earlier opinions on certain fundamental questions about the natural world, as treated in the first three books of the Physics and in the first book of the Metaphysics. In Physics II and III, Aristotle represents most if not all of his predecessors as disastrously misunderstanding, in more than one way, the nature underlying the natural world.
In the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle develops a theory of demonstration as a way of gaining causal knowledge of things or events (pragmata) under the general plan of constructing both an ideal structure for demonstrative science and a unified, comprehensive theory of heuristic inquiry. The Aristotelian idea of “demonstrative science” is derived from his attempt to characterize the conditions for “knowledge simpliciter (epistêmê haplôs),” that is, causal and necessary knowledge. This article first shows that Aristotle's inquiry theory is a heuristic theory and as such yields scientific knowledge within the scope of his theory of demonstration, and then examines the difficulties which arise concerning the relation between demonstration and definition. In particular, if demonstrations and definitions turn out to be unrelated in terms of their objects, predications, or methods, Aristotle's general plan will be a failure. The article explores how Aristotle attempts to construct a demonstration of what it is. Finally, by analysing his new theory of definition, the article considers how far he has succeeded in developing his heuristic demonstrative inquiry theory.
Annamaria Schiaparelli and Paolo Crivelli
Aristotle's Poetics is one of the deepest and most influential philosophical works on art, or rather, on a specific art. The treatise pursues several aims, one of which, and the most general, is to classify the works that can be labeled “poetical composition” and their parts. Another, more specific, aim is to vindicate poetry in the face of the criticism leveled at it by Plato. Another specific aim is to explain some concepts that are fundamental for the understanding of poetry (for example, that of imitation). Furthermore, the discussion of some forms of poetry was probably a useful way to express ideas about education and political life in the city, and to convey thoughts about the relation between people's actions and their characters. The range of issues covered by the Poetics makes it reasonable to bring the topics under two headings: Aristotle's views on poetry in general; and his account of tragedy (the genre that has the lion's share of the treatise).
Christopher C. W. Taylor
For Aristotle,phronēsis, the excellence of the practical intellect, is two-fold, consisting of a true conception of the end to be achieved by action and correct deliberation about the means to achieve that end. Three accounts have been given as to how that true conception of the end is acquired: i) by virtue of character, ii) by dialectic, i.e. critical reasoning concerning authoritative beliefs, and iii) by induction from data of experience. Virtue of character is the proper responsiveness of the appetitive element in the soul to reason; it is itself a rational state, presupposing a prior grasp of the end by the intellect. Dialectic and experience are each required for the attainment of that grasp, the role of the former being apparently to formulate more or less indeterminate principles that it is the task of moral experience to make determinate.
In Physics, Aristotle starts his positive account of the infinite by raising a problem: “[I]f one supposes it not to exist, many impossible things result, and equally if one supposes it to exist.” His views on time, extended magnitudes, and number imply that there must be some sense in which the infinite exists, for he holds that time has no beginning or end, magnitudes are infinitely divisible, and there is no highest number. In Aristotle's view, a plurality cannot escape having bounds if all of its members exist at once. Two interesting, and contrasting, interpretations of Aristotle's account can be found in the work of Jaako Hintikka and of Jonathan Lear. Hintikka tries to explain the sense in which the infinite is actually, and the sense in which its being is like the being of a day or a contest. Lear focuses on the sense in which the infinite is only potential, and emphasizes that an infinite, unlike a day or a contest, is always incomplete.
This article discusses some core theorems of Aristotle's account of persuasion as it is set out in the Rhetoric. It is the declared ambition of Rhetoric I and II to develop a technê, or art, of rhetoric, and the central tool of this technê is, as it were, the introduction of three technical means of persuasion: êthos, pathos, and logos. Probably the best point to start with is two claims that Aristotle eventually makes in the course of his work on rhetoric, the first of which consists in saying that proofs and arguments are central to persuasion. The second claim states that proofs and arguments, however central and important they may be, are not sufficient to persuade. The article examines the relation between these two claims in order to elucidate certain assumptions that Aristotle seems to make concerning the moral psychology of persuasion.
Fred D. Miller Jr.
In De Anima, Aristotle addresses the problem of whether the mind is separable from the body. In book I, he broaches the broader question of whether the affections of the soul, including emotion, desire, and perception, are separable from the body. In book II, Aristotle follows his explication of the general definition of the soul with the remark that “neither the soul nor certain parts of it, if it naturally has parts, are separable from the body. Yet nothing prevents some [parts from being separable], because they are not the actualizations of any body.” By “parts,” Aristotle means separable faculties or powers, including nutrition, perception, mind, and desire. The issue of separability is signalled at the beginning of the treatment of mind in book III. If mind alone turned out to be separable from the body, the study of the soul would not belong exclusively to physics but would spill over into first philosophy. This would imply either that psychology consists of two separate sciences, or else that first philosophy and physics are not mutually exclusive.
This article sheds light on Aristotle's own understanding of philosophy. It tries to give an account of how Aristotle seeks to determine and to explain the origin of philosophy and to account for its early development. It focuses on his account of the history of philosophy from its beginnings down to his own time in Metaphysics 1.3–10, in particular 1.3–6. It derives a good deal of knowledge about early Greek philosophy directly from Aristotle. A great deal of the information provided by later ancient sources itself is derived from Aristotle and his students, like Theophrastus or Eudemus. The evidential value of this information is rather high. It also is clear that Aristotle had his own particular perspective on the history of early Greek philosophy, and that his students largely shared his general view of the early history of Greek philosophy.
Aristotle's categorial scheme had an unparalleled effect not only on his own philosophical system, but also on the systems of many of the greatest philosophers in the Western tradition. The set of doctrines in the Categories, known as categorialism, play, for instance, a central role in Aristotle's discussion of change in the Physics, in the science of being qua being in the Metaphysics, and in the rejection of Platonic ethics in the Nicomachean Ethics. Plainly, the enterprise of categorialism inaugurated by Aristotle runs deep in the philosophical psyche. Even so, despite its wide-reaching influence—and, indeed owing to that influence—any attempt to describe categorialism faces a significant difficulty: experts disagree on many of its most important and fundamental aspects. This article argues that Aristotle's categorial scheme, as is the case with many works in the history of philosophy, is best illuminated by opposing beams of interpretive light. It examines how Aristotle arrived at his list of categories and considers the connection between Aristotle's categories and his hylomorphism.