Rationes ex machina. La micrologie à l’âge de l’industrie de l’argument

Paris: Vrin (2008)
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Abstract

Do Ideas exist and can we prove it ? Do proofs of their existence have all the same value or not ? Aristotle addresses these issues in two famous documents of the controversy that pitted supporters of the theory of Forms against its opponents within Plato’s Academy : his lost work, quoted by Alexander of Aphrodisias by the title of Peri Ideon, and the lengthy thrust against Ideas that can be read, with some minor variations, in books A, chapter 9, and M, chapter 4, of his Metaphysics. As we only have fragments of the first, the second being laconic and little more than a summary, there has been much speculation about the exact number and nature of the arguments for and against the Forms. Since the pioneering works of Léon Robin, Paul Wilpert et Harold Cherniss, one problem in particular has attracted the attention of specialists : what arguments does Aristotle accuse of either producing Ideas on relatives for one or of dragging in the « Third Man » for another ? Why does he consider these arguments to be more rigorous than the others ? If we are not dealing with the same arguments, how can these be more or better argued than those mentioned by Aristotle in the same breath, namely the arguments Plato’s followers took from the sciences, the one over many and the thought about things that have perished ? Through detailed analysis of texts from the Corpus Aristotelicum and Alexander’s commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Rationes ex machina develops a new interpretation of the controversial file of the akribesteroi tôn logôn as well as a micrological solution to the puzzle that has come to be a sort of compulsory figure of the exegesis of the Aristotelian criticism of « Plato’s Ideas ».

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Leone Gazziero
Université Charles-de-Gaulle - Lille 3

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