Without doubt, St Thomas Aquinas was the greatest of the medieval philosophers. Aquinas was a prolific writer and he made contributions to virtually every area of Philosophy and Theology. His account of the existence of God is perhaps the best known aspect of his work. This is especially true of the celebrated five arguments he adduced in demonstration of the existence of God. In exploring Aquinas’ Five ways, which some commentators regard as Aquinas’ substantive contribution to Philosophy of religion, our (...) contention is that they demonstrate the possibilities as well as the limits of natural theology, so far as while Aquinas does not deny that natural reason can establish the existence of God he nonetheless maintains that there are aspects of God’s nature that can be known only through the means of divine revelation. Consequently unless we take into account the double emphasis on the possibilities and limits of natural theology, we are sure underestimate the contemporary relevance of Aquinas’ Five ways. -/- . (shrink)
I discuss a short string of five sentences in Metaphysics V.5, 1015b6-9 relating demonstration to necessity. My proposal is that Aristotle focuses his attention on the demonstration as a demonstration. Other interpretations reduce the necessity in question to the modality of the component sentences of the demonstrations (the conclusion and the premises). My view does not deny that the modality of the component sentences is important, but takes seriously the idea that a demonstration itself should be understood as necessary—as not (...) capable of being otherwise. A demonstration cannot be different from what it is in the sense that [i] its components cannot be different from what they are, [ii] its components must be related to each other exactly in the way they are related. Demonstrations aim at the fully appropriate explanation of a given explanandum—and each demonstration is individuated by the explanandum it takes. Thus, the basic idea is that, for the target explanandum that individuates a given demonstration, the premises delivering the fully appropriate explanation cannot be replaces with different ones. I show how this proposal, which explains Aristotle’s language in 1015b6-9 accurately, does not make demonstrations ‘melt down into conditional necessity’, first, because the modality of the component sentences is still importantly involved, second, because the explanatory relation expressed in a demonstration is a necessary fact in the real world, so that the demonstration itself is also necessary (in the way I have explained) inasmuch as it captures that fact. (shrink)
This paper has two specific goals. The first is to demonstrate that the theorem in MetaphysicsΘ 9, 1051a24-27 is not equiva-lent to Euclid’s Proposition 32 of book I (which contradicts some Aristotelian commentators, such as W. D. Ross, J. L. Heiberg, and T. L. Heith). Agreeing with Henry Mendell’s analysis, I ar-gue that the two theorems are not equivalent, but I offer different reasons for such divergence: I propose a pedagogical-philosoph-ical reason for the Aristotelian theorem being shorter than the Euclidean (...) one (and the previous Aristotelian versions). Aristotle wants to emphasize the deductive procedure as a satisfactory method to discover scientific knowledge. The second objective, opposing some consensus about geometrical deductions/theo-rems in Aristotle, is to briefly propose that the theorem, exactly as we found it in Metaphysics and without any emendation to the text (therefore opposing Henry Mendell’s suggested amend-ments), allows the ancient philosopher to demonstrate that universal mathematical knowledge is in potence in geometrical figures. This tentatively proves that Aristotle emphasizes that geometrical deduction is sufficient to actualize mathematical knowledge. (shrink)
In Metaphysics A 6, Aristotle claims that Plato only recognises formal and material causes. Yet, in various dialogues, Plato seems to use and distinguish efficient and final causes too. Consequently, Harold Cherniss accuses Aristotle of being an unfair, forgetful, or careless reader of Plato. Since then, scholars have tried to defend Aristotle’s exegetical skills. I offer textual evidence and arguments to show that their efforts still fall short of the desired goal. I argue, instead, that we can reject Cherniss’ assertation (...) by re-examining Aristotle’s exegetical and methodological assumptions. (shrink)
I discuss the argument Aristotle ascribes to Parmenides at Physics 186a23-32. I discuss (i) the reasons why Aristotle considers it as eristic and inconclusive and (i) the solution (lusis) Aristotle proposes against it.
Aristotle's remarks about the differences between the sexes have become infamous for their implications for the social status of women. In his observations on female biology, Aristotle claims that "the female nature is, as it were, a deformity." In describing women's role in the public sphere, he claims that women are naturally subordinate because, while they possess a deliberative faculty, that capacity is "without authority." While both claims express the "inferiority" of female bodies/women relative to male bodies/men, it is not (...) self-evident that the defects Aristotle identifies in female biology have cognitive or moral manifestations that would justify the rule of men over women in political life. Marguerite Deslauriers here aims to construct a coherent picture of Aristotle's views on sexual and gender-based difference from these remarks and to show the extent to which his views on female biology and women's role in politics are causally connected. Without exculpating Aristotle from charges of misogyny, Deslauriers contextualizes his explanations of the role and origin of female animals in his biology and the role of women in his political philosophy; she shows how Aristotle developed these views and the importance they hold for his wider philosophical commitments. She then explores how Aristotle might have seen the link between the physiology of sex and the bearing it has on political life. She ultimately argues that in Aristotle's conception of sexual difference in biology and politics, there is a tension between his view of the inferiority of female bodies and women and his commitment to the idea that females and women are valuable both for generation and for the political life characteristic of human beings. In this tension she finds a difference between Aristotle and his predecessors: while previous accounts associate sexual difference with affliction, Aristotle sees sexual difference as a benefit, both to a species and a political community. This volume will be of interest to philosophers and students interested in ancient philosophy, feminist philosophy, as well as those studying moral and political philosophy. (shrink)
This paper evaluates six contenders which might be invoked by essentialists in order to meet Quine’s challenge, viz., to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for the crossworld identity of individuals: (i) an object’s qualitative character; (ii) matter; (iii) origins; (iv) haecceities or primitive non-qualitative thisness properties; (v) “world-indexed properties”; and (iv) individual forms. The first three candidates, I argue, fail to provide conditions that are both necessary and sufficient for the crossworld identity of individuals; the fourth and fifth criteria are (...) open to the charge that they do not succeed in meeting Quine’s demand in an explanatorily adequate fashion. On balance, then, individual forms, or so I propose, deserve to be taken very seriously as a possible response to Quine’s challenge, especially by neo-Aristotelians who are already committed to a hylomorphic conception of composite concrete particular objects for other reasons. Theorists who also accept a non-modal conception of essence, i.e., a conception according to which essence is not reducible to modality, in addition face the further difficult task, over and above what is required to meet Quine’s challenge, of having to explain how an object’s de re modal profile in some way follows from facts about its essence. Haecceities and world-indexed properties, as I indicate, are unlikely to be of much help with respect to this second challenge, while the forms of hylomorphic compounds are in fact well-suited for this purpose. (shrink)
These are the commentaries (or notes) for Aristotle's Metaphysics V (Delta) 18-30. This file must be read together with the translation into Portuguese, which has been published as a different item, with a different DOI. In the Introduction, I discuss many issues about Aristotle's jargon, Aristotle's style and Aristotle's awareness of many philosophical problems that nowadays we locate within the branch Philosophy of Language.
This is an Editorial Note for the special volume of the journal Manuscrito (42: 4) devoted to Aristotle's theory of demonstration and its logical and metaphysical entanglements, which has been organized by me and Breno Zuppolini (as Guest Editors), with papers authored by Benjamin Morison, Owen Goldin, David Bronstein, Michail Peramatzis, Andrea Falcon, Laura Castelli, Paolo Fait, Joseph Karbowski, Adam Crager, Klaus Corcilius, Robert J. Hankinson, Raphael Zillig and Pieter Sjoerd Hasper.
This article faces the classic problem of the interpretation of what Aristotle calls in de An. III, 5 “the intellect that produces all things”, which is commonly named agent intellect. Historically, there have been two approaches: one that goes back to Alexander of Aphrodisias, who associates the agent intellect with the unmoved mover and the divinity, and another one, associated with Theophrastus but whose major representatives are Philoponus and St. Thomas of Aquinas, who consider that agent intellect is an exclusively (...) human faculty. This last interpretation has been the most accepted historically. Nevertheless, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interpretations of the agent intellect as divine (Caston, Frede, Burnyeat, and others). What we want to demonstrate in this article is that this revival, more than responding to a reinterpretation of the agent intellect, is due to a different understanding of the divinity in Aristotle’s philosophy, which supposes immanent characteristics closer to the human intellect. (shrink)
This book examines Aristotle's four causes (material, formal, efficient, and final), offering a systematic discussion of the relation between form and matter, causation, taxonomy, and teleology. The overall aim is to show that the four causes form a system, so that the form of a natural thing relates to its matter as the final cause of a natural process relates to its efficient cause. Aristotle's Four Causes reaches two novel and distinctive conclusions. The first is that the formal cause or (...) essence of a natural thing is not a property of this thing but a generic natural thing. The second is that the final cause of a process is not its purpose but the course that processes of its kind typically take. (shrink)
Based on the notion of proem as exposed in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, we examine in detail Metaph. A1. Our goal is to understand the argument contained in this chapter, as we also endeavour to show how the Stagirite introduces with uttermost caution the theme of wisdom [σοφία], that which is the incarnation of the preeminent science in the first book of the Metaphysics. The attention we devote to the proem of this work is explained by the importance we attribute, unlike much (...) of contemporary scholars, to σοφία, that is, the science of first causes and principles, which we consider to be, ultimately, the pivotal formulation of the supreme science in the Metaphysics. (shrink)
Concrete particular objects (e.g., living organisms) figure saliently in our everyday experience as well as our in our scientific theorizing about the world. A hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects holds that these entities are, in some sense, compounds of matter (hūlē) and form (morphē or eidos). The Grounding Problem asks why an object and its matter (e.g., a statue and the clay that constitutes it) can apparently differ with respect to certain of their properties (e.g., the clay’s ability to (...) survive being squashed, as compared to the statue’s inability to do so), even though they are otherwise so much alike. In this paper, I argue that a hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects, in conjunction with a non-modal conception of essence of the type encountered for example in the works of Aristotle and Kit Fine, has the resources to yield a solution to the Grounding Problem. (shrink)
This article offers an interpretation of Aristotle’s tenet that chance and accidental causes are indeterminate. According to one existing reading, the predicate ‘indeterminate’ is said of the effect of chance, meaning ‘causally indeterminate.’ Another reading claims instead that the predicate ‘indeterminate’ is said of the cause of a chance event, meaning something close to ‘potentially infinite in number.’ For my part, I contend that the predicate ‘indeterminate,’ when applied to Aristotle’s concept of accidental cause and to chance, is best understood (...) as a second-order predicate. More precisely, Aristotle uses ‘indeterminate’ to qualify a certain type of causal relation, rather than to indicate a quality of the causal power or of the effect. As a preparatory step in my argument, I contend that ‘accidental’ and ‘per se’ are also best understood as second-order predicates of ‘cause,’ and as a corollary of my main thesis I offer an interpretation of how chance involves an infinite number of possible causes. (shrink)
Resumen: En Metafísica E 2 y 3 Aristóteles discute el problema de lo que es por accidente y sus causas, con el fin último de examinar si esto puede ser objeto de la filosofía primera. El resultado de esta discusión es, en este sentido, negativo. Sin embargo, la filosofía primera tiene algo que decir acerca del accidente, aunque solo sea mediante un discurso de segundo orden. La naturaleza de lo accidental es así explorada en estas páginas de la Metafísica para (...) confirmar la imposibilidad de un estudio científico acerca de esta forma de ser y sus causas. La parte central de este artículo discute el complejo pasaje E 2, 1026b27-1027a15, donde Aristóteles presenta las causas de lo que es por accidente. Procuraré mostrar que las tres causas allí presentadas son no solo compatibles, sino también relevantes para la completa caracterización de lo accidental, en la medida en que pueden entenderse como la causa formal, eficiente y material de lo que es por accidente.: Aristotle’s Metaphysics E 2 and 3 are devoted to the discussion about accidental being and its causes, with the aim of assessing its credentials as a possible object of first philosophy. The result of this discussion is, in this sense, negative. However, first philosophy has something to say about accidental being, if only through a second order speech. The nature of the accidental is thus explored in these pages of Metaphysics, with the ultimate aim of confirming the impossibility of a scientific study about this way of being and its causes. The central part of this paper deals with E 2, 1026b27-1027a15, where Aristotle introduces the causes of accidental being. I endeavor to show that each of the three causes presented in these lines are compatible and relevant, as they can be understood, respectively, as the formal, efficient and material cause of what happens by accident. (shrink)
The author tries to expose the reception of Aristotelian philosophy among the first Greek Churchfathers, from St. Justin to the 'Refutatio'. There are some interesting points concerning the doxographical tradition, specially relating to the Aristotelian idea of God.
Kraut and other neo-Aristotelians have argued that there is no such thing as absolute goodness. They admit only good in a kind, e.g. a good sculptor, and good for something, e.g. good for fish. What is the view of Aristotle? Mostly limiting myself to the Nicomachean Ethics, I argue that Aristotle is committed to things being absolutely good and also to a metaphysics of absolute goodness where there is a maximally best good that is the cause of the goodness of (...) all other things in virtue of being their end. I begin by suggesting that the notion of good as an end, which is present in the first lines of the NE, is not obviously accounted for by good in a kind or good for something. I then give evidence that good in a kind and good for something can explain neither certain distinctions drawn between virtues nor the determinacy ascribed to what is good “in itself.” I argue contra Gotthelf that because several important arguments in the Nicomachean Ethics rely on comparative judgments of absolute value—e.g. “Man is the best of all animals”—Aristotle is committed to the existence of both absolute goodness and an absolutely best being. I focus on one passage, Aristotle’s division of goods in NE I 12, which presupposes this metaphysical picture. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophical logic rests on a distinction between things and properties. Properties are thought to differ from things in that their proper expression is incomplete or unsaturated. In this paper, I will argue that Aristotle did not distinguish between things and properties in this way. I will show, first, that Aristotle’s essences are not properties, and that certain passages in Aristotle make sense only if we do not take accidents to be properties either. The notion of a property is thus (...) not fundamental in Aristotle’s theory of predication. Aristotle’s predicate terms do not stand for properties but for non-substantial things. Second, I will explain and explore the distinction between substances and non-substantial things. This will yield a viable alternative to our contemporary, Fregean account of predication. (shrink)
O presente trabalho constitui-se de uma breve análise dos trechos que vão de 1005b 35 à 1006a 27 do capítulo quatro do livro Gama da Metafísica de Aristóteles e pretende fornecer uma leitura alternativa àquela feita pela tradição acerca da defesa do princípio de não-contradição elaborada nesse texto por Aristóteles. Com a ideia de um roteiro refutativo, pretendemos mostrar que argumentação em defesa do princípio encontra seu sucesso no seguimento desse roteiro provando, via demonstração elêntica, a validade e universalidade deste.
The present essay is the first part of an analysis regarding aspects of Aristotle’s ontology. Aristotle’s ontology is, in my opinion, a formal ontology that examines the fundamental structures of reality and that investigates the features belonging to entities such as substance, quantity, quality, universals. Aristotle’s ontology investigates, moreover, the reciprocal relations existing between these entities. Aristotle’s interpretation of universals is not, in my opinion, a nominalist interpretation of universals: I do not think Aristotle regards universals as being only mental (...) entities. Aristotle, rather, aims at the differentiation between the realms of reality to which individuals and universals belong. In this part of my investigation, I first expose my interpretation of the fundaments of Aristotle’s ontology. Thereafter, I concentrate my attention on chapter Metaphysics Zeta 13: I comment on Aristotle’s investigation regarding the ontological features belonging to the universal qua universal and to the substance qua substance. I analyse the ontological laws that Aristotle finds about universal and substance: substance and universals are considered by Aristotle as mutually incompatible entities. The analysis shows that a false interpretation of the features of the universals endangers the whole ontology. Moreover, the Third-Man-Regress, which is one of the consequences of the misunderstanding of the position of universals in the reality, is regarded as the key to the interpretation of one of Aristotle’s aims: Aristotle aims at the foundation of a typological ontology putting individual entities and universal entities on different levels of reality. The danger of the Third-Man-Regress is avoided through the introduction of a new ontology, that is, through the introduction of the typological ontology of the entities. (shrink)
Of Aristotle’s core terms, potency (dunamis) and actuality (energeia) are among the most important. But when we attempt to understand what they mean, we face the following problem: their primary meaning is movement, as a source (dunamis) or as movement itself (energeia). We therefore have to understand movement in order to understand them. But the structure of movement is itself articulated using these terms: it is the activity of a potential being, as potent. This paper examines this hermeneutic circle, and (...) works out a strategy for reading Aristotle based on his conception of our epistemological predicament. This hermeneutic approach helps us gain access to the phenomena of movement and its sources (potency, and energeia). The paper closes with a review of the conceptual resources we deploy to think about movement: homogeneity, space and time, impulse, relativity, the blend of sameness and difference, and being and non-being. Showing that Aristotle uses none of these clears the landscape for a fresh inquiry into his account of movement. (shrink)
Ch.9 of Metaph. 12 gives no support to the common view (against which I have argued elsewhere) that in ch.7 Aristotle identifies his Prime Mover not only as a god but also as an intellect. Rather, ch.9 approaches the divinity of intellect as a common belief (ἔνδοξον) from the Greek philosophical and poetic tradition (as at ch.7, 1072b23) that now requires dialectical testing. Here Aristotle initially establishes that there is a most active intellect (proposed ch.7, 1072b18–19: demonstrated ch.9, 1074b17–21, b28–9), (...) and that it contemplates what is best (proposed loc. cit.: demonstrated ch.9, 1074b21–7). Thus ch.9 proceeds by deducing, as a new result, characteristics implying that this intellect is itself the Prime Mover, since its object, qua best, must be the god of ch.7, and divine intellect is essentially identical (1074b33–1074a5), and an indivisible unity (a5–10), with that object. (shrink)
This study examines a number of different answers to the question: wheredoes Avicenna demonstrate the existence of God within the Metaphysics of the Healing? Many interpreters have contended that there is an argument for God’s existence in Metaphysics of the Healing I.6–7. In this study I show that such views are incorrect and that the only argument for God’s existence in the Metaphysics of the Healing is found in VIII.1–3. My own interpretation relies upon a careful consideration of the scientific (...) order and first principles of the Metaphysics of the Healing, paying attention to Avicenna’s own explicit statements concerning the goals andintentions of different books and chapters, and a close analysis of the structure ofthe different arguments found in the relevant texts of the Metaphysics of the Healing. I conclude that Avicenna’s explicit goal in I.6–7 is to establish the properties that belong to necessary existence and possible existence, which consists, not in ademonstration of God’s existence, but in a dialectical treatment of the first principlesof metaphysics. (shrink)