Phronesis 18 (1):44 - 68 (1973)

In his Posterior Analytics Aristotle confronted a problem that threatened his vision of scientific knowledge as an axiomatic system: if scientific knowledge is demonstrative in character, and if the axioms of a science cannot themselves be demonstrated, then the most basic of all scientific principles will remain unknown. In the famous concluding chapter of this work (II 19), he claimed to solve this problem by distinguishing two kinds of knowledge: we cannot have epistêmê of the first principles, but we can have nous of them. This ‘solution’ has struck many students of his thought as hopelessly ad hoc and unpersuasive. And nowhere is Aristotle less persuasive than when he appeals to a faculty of intuition or a priori insight which arrives on the scene precisely when it is most needed. I defend Aristotle’s account by showing how nous is not properly characterized as a faculty of intuition which operates independently of sense experience. Rather, nous is a kind of knowledge that is available to us whenever our mind advances from the perception of particular individuals to grasp the relevant universal concept or general principle
Keywords knowing first principles  nous  epistêmê
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DOI 10.1163/156852873X00041
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Comprehension, Demonstration, and Accuracy in Aristotle.Breno Zuppolini - 2020 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (1):29-48.

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