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  1. Robinson Jeffers, 'The Double Axe'.James Lesher - manuscript
    Robinson Jeffers’ dark view of humankind is thought to owe much to Friedrich Nietzsche while his admiration for the beauty of nature has been compared to sentiments expressed by Lucretius in de rerum natura. In many respects, however, the philosopher who stands closest to Jeffers in both thought and personality is the ancient Greek thinker Heraclitus of Ephesus. Jeffers’ extended poem ‘The Double Axe’ makes no fewer than five clear references to Heraclitean ideas: (1) ‘Heraclitus’ Sibyl whose voice reached over (...)
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  2. Heraclitus and Modern Poetry: Works Cited.James Lesher - manuscript
    Heraclitus and Modern Poetry: Works Cited.
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  3. Heraclitus' Poetic Ideas.James Lesher - manuscript
    This study forms a part of a larger investigation of the influence of the philosophy of Heraclitus of Ephesus on modern poetry. T. S. Eliot, to mention the best known of the many poets inspired by Heraclitus, selected two Heraclitus fragments (B 2 and B 60) as epigraphs for his “Burnt Norton”, the first of his Four Quartets. Eliot explained that he was drawn to the fragments because of their ‘ambiguity’ and ‘extraordinary poetic suggestiveness’. Similarly, in ‘This Solitude of Cataracts’, (...)
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  4.  97
    Three Variations on a Heraclitean Theme.James Lesher - manuscript
    In ‘Hoi Rheontes’ (‘The Flowing Ones’), Alfred Lord Tennyson adopted the Heraclitean simile of the flowing river in support of philosophical relativism: (1) all things are changing all the time; therefore (2) nothing is, but is only in the process of appearing to be in some way; therefore (3) all beliefs are true. But the relativist doctrine refutes itself: it can only be true relatively to those who assert it. In his ‘In May’ the American poet Michael Collier rejected what (...)
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  5.  31
    The Meaning of ΝΟΥΣ in the Posterior Analytics.James H. Lesher - 1973 - Phronesis 18 (1):44 - 68.
    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 (...)
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  6.  36
    The Meaning of NOYΣ in the Posterior Analytics.James H. Lesher - 1973 - Phronesis 18 (1):44-68.
  7.  59
    Saphêneia in Aristotle:'Clarity','Precision', and 'Knowledge'.J. H. Lesher - 2010 - Apeiron 43 (4):143-156.
  8.  38
    Plato's Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception.James H. Lesher, Debra Nails & Frisbee Candida Cheyenne Sheffield (eds.) - 2006 - Harvard University Press.
    In his Symposium, Plato crafted speeches in praise of love that has influenced writers and artists from antiquity to the present. But questions remain concerning the meaning of specific features, the significance of the dialogue as a whole, and the character of its influence. Here, an international team of scholars addresses such questions.
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  9. The Emergence of Philosophical Interest in Cognition.James H. Lesher - 1994 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 12:1-34.
    On some accounts, early reflection on the nature of human cognition focused on its physical or physiological causes (as, for example, when in fragment 105 Empedocles identifies thought with blood). On other accounts, there was an identifiable process of semantic development in which a number of perception-oriented terms for knowing (e.g. gignôskô, oida, noeô, and suniêmi) took on a more intellectual orientation. Although some find evidence of this transition in the poems of Solon and Archilochus, appreciation for a distinction between (...)
     
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  10.  23
    The Humanizing of Knowledge in Presocratic Thought.J. H. Lesher - 2008 - In Patricia Curd & Daniel W. Graham (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    This article explores Presocratic epistemology, arguing that divine revelation is replaced as a warrant for knowledge with naturalistic accounts of how and what we humans can know; thus replacing earlier Greek pessimism about knowledge with a more optimistic outlook that allows for human discovery of the truth. A review of the relevant fragments and testimonia shows that Xenophanes, Alcmaeon, Heraclitus, and Parmenides—even Pythagoras and Empedocles—all moved some distance away from the older “god-oriented” view of knowledge toward a more secular and (...)
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  11.  63
    Aristotle on Form, Substance, and Universals: A Dilemma.James H. Lesher - 1971 - Phronesis 16 (1):169-178.
    In book Zeta of the Metaphysics and elsewhere Aristotle appears to commit himself to the following propositions: (1) No universal can be substance; (2) Form is a universal; and (3) Form is that which is most truly substance. These propositions appear to constitute an inconsistent triad lying at the heart of Aristotle’s ontology. A number of attempts have been made to rescue Aristotle from the charge of inconsistency. Some have claimed that Aristotle did not subscribe to (1), but only to (...)
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  12.  57
    Socrates' Disavowal of Knowledge.J. H. Lesher - 1987 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 25 (2):275-288.
  13.  28
    Xenophanes.James Lesher - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Xenophanes of Colophon was a philosophically-minded poet who lived in various parts of the ancient Greek world during the late 6th and early 5th centuries BC. He is best remembered for a novel critique of anthropomorphism in religion, a partial advance toward monotheism, and some pioneering reflections on the conditions of knowledge. Many later writers, perhaps influenced by two brief characterizations of Xenophanes by Plato (Sophist 242c-d) and Aristotle (Metaphysics 986b18-27) identified him as the founder of Eleatic philosophy (the view (...)
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  14.  9
    Perceiving and Knowing in the Iliad and Odyssey.J. H. Lesher - 1981 - Phronesis 26 (1):2-24.
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  15.  22
    MacNeice the Heraclitean.James Lesher - 2021 - Philosophy and Literature 45 (2):315-328.
    Many of the poems of Louis MacNeice display a knowledge of the philosophical theories he studied during his undergraduate years in Oxford. In his ‘Variation on Heraclitus’ and in several other poems, MacNeice alludes to the ‘doctrine of flux’ Plato attributed to the Greek thinker Heraclitus of Ephesus. In ‘Plurality’, his most extended exploration of the conflict between the life-affirming doctrine of flux and a life-suppressing monism, MacNeice embraces the reality of change and rejects the monism he credits to the (...)
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  16. Some Notable Afterimages of Plato's Symposium.J. H. Lesher - 2006 - In J. H. Lesher, Debra Nails & Frisbee C. C. Sheffield (eds.), Plato's Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception. Harvard University Press.
  17.  51
    Xenophanes' Scepticism.James H. Lesher - 1978 - Phronesis 23 (1):1-21.
    Xenophanes of Colophon (fl. 530 BC) is widely regarded as the first skeptic in the history of Western philosophy, but the character of his skepticism as expressed in his fragment B 34 has long been a matter of debate. After reviewing the interpretations of B 34 defended by Hermann Fränkel, Bruno Snell, and Sir Karl Popper, I argue that B 34 is best understood in connection with a traditional view of the sources and limits of human understanding. If we hold (...)
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  18.  97
    ‘Hopkins’ Creative Use of Heraclitean Materials,.James Lesher - 2011 - International Journal for the Classical Tradition 18:262-269.
    Gerard Manley Hopkins is best remembered for his celebratory 'nature sonnets'— 'Pied Beauty', 'God's Grandeur', and 'The Windhover'. Less than a year before his death, however, Hopkins drew on ideas associated with the ancient Greek thinker Heraclitus of Ephesus to express a darker view of nature. In 'That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection’ Hopkins offers a vision of nature and human existence marked by dissolution and destruction. But the poet rejects that apocalyptic vision (...)
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  19.  56
    Just as in Battle.J. H. Lesher - 2010 - Ancient Philosophy 30 (1):95-105.
  20.  37
    On Aristotelian Ἐπιστήμη as ‘Understanding’.J. Lesher - 2001 - Ancient Philosophy 21 (1):45-55.
  21.  19
    Hume's Analysis of "Cause" and the 'Two-Definitions' Dispute.J. H. Lesher - 1973 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 11 (3):387-392.
  22. Aristotle’s Considered View of the Path to Knowledge.James H. Lesher - 2012 - In El espíritu y la letra: un homenaje a Alfonso Gomez-Lobo. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Colihue. pp. 127-145.
    I argue that these inconsistencies in wording and practice reflect the existence of two distinct Aristotelian views of inquiry, one peculiar to the Posterior Analytics and the other put forward in the Physics and practiced in the Physics and in other treatises. Although the two views overlap to some degree (e.g. both regard a rudimentary understanding of the subject as an essential first stage), the view of the syllogism as the workhorse of scientific investigation and the related view of inquiry (...)
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  23. ‘Early Interest in Knowledge’.James Lesher - 1999 - In The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy. Cambridge UK: pp. 225-249.
    Western philosophy begins with Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. Or so we are told by Aristotle and many members of the later doxographical tradition. But a good case can be made that several centuries before the Milesian thinkers began their investigations, the poets of archaic Greece reflected on the limits of human intelligence and concluded that no mortal being could know the full and certain truth. Homer belittled the mental capacities of ‘creatures of a day’ and a series of poets of (...)
     
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  24. Parmenides' Critique of Thinking. The Poludêris Elenchos of Fragment 7.James H. Lesher - 1984 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 2:1-30.
    Parmenides may fairly be said to have undertaken two parallel efforts: first, to offer a persuasive account of the nature of ‘what-is’ (to eon); and second, to establish ‘it is’ as the only true and trustworthy way of speaking and thinking about what-is. Fragment 7.3-6 plays a crucial role in this latter effort when Parmenides’ goddess directs the youth to put aside all information obtained through sense perception and instead ‘judge by reason the poludêris elenchos spoken by me.’ Although the (...)
     
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  25.  25
    Aristotle.J. H. Lesher - 1989 - Teaching Philosophy 12 (1):79-82.
  26.  19
    ‘Heraclitean Ideas in Stevens’ “This Solitude of Cataracts”,.James Lesher - 2014 - Wallace Stevens Journal 38 (spring):21-34.
    ‘Cataracts’ in Stevens’ poems are falling waters—here a river flowing near a mountain. The ‘apostrophe that was not spoken’ may be an address that was not made, perhaps an unspoken affirmation of nature’s beauty. And the river that ‘is never the same twice’ can only be the flowing river Plato claimed Heraclitus used as a simile for all existing things: ‘Heraclitus says somewhere that everything gives way and nothing remains, and likening existing things to the flow of a river, he (...)
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  27.  19
    ‘Odysseás Elytis’ Conversation with Heraclitus: “Of Ephesus”,.James Lesher - 2020 - Philosophy and Literature 44:226-236.
    ‘Of Ephesus’ begins with a series of vivid impressions of a wild and free nature—vineyards rolling across the landscape, an untrammeled sky, a runaway donkey, flaming pinecones, roosters, and colorful kites and flags. Fire in some form (wildfires, the sun, flames, torches, lightning, sunlight) is the hallmark of a dynamic reality. The reference to ‘St. Heraclitus’ supports this interpretation: Elytis, like Heraclitus, seeks to alert his audience to the possible existence of a higher realm of being. So he fashions a (...)
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  28.  16
    'Borges' Love Affair with Heraclitus'.James Lesher - 2017 - Philosophy and Literature 41:303-314.
    References to Heraclitus and the simile of the ever-flowing river into which one cannot step twice occur frequently in the poetry of Jorge Luis Borges. Borges understood the constantly flowing river to represent both the inevitable passage of time and the constantly changing nature of human existence. On occasion, however, Borges indicates that a Heraclitean identification of our personal existence with an ever-flowing river cannot be the whole story. As he suggests in ‘Year’s End’, ‘There is something in us that (...)
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  29.  15
    ‘The Self in Conflict with Itself: A Heraclitean Theme in Eliot’s Cocktail Party’.James Lesher - 2013 - In Seduction and Power: Antiquity in the Visual and Performing arts. London and New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 121-132.
    In ‘Burnt Norton’, the first of his ‘four quartets’, Eliot selected two Heraclitus’ fragments as epigraphs. In quoting fragment B 60 (‘the way up and the way down are one and the same’) he was reminding his readers that entrance into a spiritual life calls for both engagement and withdrawal, for both descending and ascending. And in quoting B 2 he reaffirmed Heraclitus’ conviction that most people fail to recognize the truth even when it is directly presented to them. In (...)
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  30.  76
    Xenophanes on Inquiry and Discovery: An Altemative to the 'Hymn to Progress' Reading of Fr. 18.J. Lesher - 1991 - Ancient Philosophy 11 (2):229-248.
    In fragment B 18 (DK) Xenophanes asserts that ‘Not from the outset did the gods reveal all things to mortals’ but that ‘in time, as they seek, men discover better.’ The remark has been understood in different ways but is usually read as a rejection of the view of the gods as the givers of all good things and an expression of faith in the capacity of human beings to make progress through their own efforts. I argue that the ‘hymn (...)
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  31. 'A Systematic Xenophanes?'.James Lesher - 2013 - In Early Greek Philosophy: The Presocratics and the Emergence of Reason, Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy. Washington, DC USA: CUA Press. pp. 77-90.
    To what extent were the different aspects of Xenophanes’ philosophy interrelated? I argue: (1) that in fragments B 27-B 33 Xenophanes offered a coherent set of explanations of a wide range of terrestrial and heavenly phenomena in terms of a small number of basic forces and material substances; (2) that in fragments B23-26 he articulated a coherent view of a deity wholly isolated from the natural realm and human affairs; and (3): that in fragments B18 and B 34 he encouraged (...)
     
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  32. Xenophanes of Colophon: Fragments.James Lesher (ed.) - 1992 - University of Toronto Press.
  33. Danto on Knowledge as a Relation.James H. Lesher - 1970 - Analysis 30 (4):132 - 134.
  34. The Meaning of Saphêneia in Plato’s Divided Line’.James Lesher - 2010 - In Plato’s Republic: A Critical Guide. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 171-187.
    In Republic VI, Plato’s Socrates attempts to explain the nature of human understanding by means of a simile of a line divided into four unequal segments. Socrates directs Glaucon to accept as names for the four states ‘rational knowledge’ for the highest, ‘understanding’ for the second, ‘belief’ for the third, and for the last, ‘perception of images.’ He then directs Glaucon to arrange the four states in a proportion, ‘considering that they participate in saphēneia in the same degree to which (...)
     
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  35.  32
    ‘Just as in Battle’: The Simile of the Rout in Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics Ii 19.J. Lesher - 2010 - Ancient Philosophy 30 (1):95-105.
    In Posterior Analytics II 19 Aristotle compares the way in which sense perception gives rise to knowledge with the way in which one soldier’s ceasing his flight from the enemy leads other soldiers to do the same. Although the simile seems intended to characterize knowledge as the end result of an accumulative process, its concluding phrase ‘until it comes to the archê’ has no clear meaning. I argue that the phrase can be taken to refer not to the action of (...)
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  36.  48
    "Philolaus of Croton: Pythagorean and Presocratic: A Commentary on the Fragments and Testimonia with Interpretive Essays", by Carl Huffman. [REVIEW]J. Lesher - 1995 - Ancient Philosophy 15 (2):581.
  37. Archaic Knowledge.James Lesher - 2009 - In William Robert Wians (ed.), Logos and Muthos: Philosophical Essays in Greek Literature. State University of New York Press.
    Although the Greek language of the archaic period lacked nominative expressions equivalent to the English “knowledge”, Greek speakers and writers employed a number of verbs in speaking of those who fail or succeed in knowing some fact, truth, state of affairs, or area of expertise—most commonly eidenai, gignôskein, epistamai, sunienai, and noein (in its aorist forms). In the Homeric poems, knowledge can be attained either through direct observation, through a revelatory trial or testing procedure, or from the reliable testimony of (...)
     
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  38. Xenophanes of Colophon.James Lesher - 2009 - In The History of Western Philosophy of Religion. Acumen.
    Xenophanes was a poet and rhapsode who lived in Greece during the late sixth and early fifth centuries BCE. Surviving fragments of his poetry touch on proper conduct at symposia, the measures of personal excellence, and aspects of his interactions with various notable individuals. Xenophanes also characterized various natural phenomena as products of a set of basic physical substances and processes. In a series of remarks concerning the stories about the gods told by Homer and Hesiod, the true nature of (...)
     
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  39.  45
    The Significance of "Kata Pant Ate" [Greek] in Parmenides Fr. 1.3.J. Lesher - 1994 - Ancient Philosophy 14 (1):1.
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  40.  84
    A Note on the Simile of the Rout in the Posterior Analytics Ii 19.J. Lesher - 2011 - Ancient Philosophy 31 (1):121-125.
    In Posterior Analytics II 19 Aristotle likens the way in which sense perception gives rise to knowledge of the universal to the way in which one soldier’s ceasing his flight from the enemy leads other soldiers to do the same ‘heôs epi archên êlthen.’ Although the remark seems intended to characterize knowledge as the end result of an accumulative process, the concluding reference to ‘a starting point’ or archê has no clear meaning. I argue that the phrase can be plausibly (...)
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  41. Analytic Approaches to Plato.James Lesher - 2012 - In The Continuum Companion to Plato. London and New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 292-294.
    In recent years some scholars have sought to apply the techniques of modern analytic philosophy to Plato’s writings. This has involved recasting portions of the dialogues as concisely stated deductive arguments, exploring questions relating to validity as well as to truth, exposing contradictions and equivocations, and making explicit all essential assumptions. The rationale behind this approach, as Gregory Vlastos has explained, is that ‘By means of these techniques we may now better understand some of the problems Plato attempted to solve (...)
     
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  42. A Course on the Afterlife of Plato’s Symposium.James Lesher - 2004 - Classical Journal 100:75-85.
    A course on the afterlife of Plato’s Symposium can accomplish two worthwhile objectives. It can afford students an opportunity to study a philosophical and literary masterpiece, and it can introduce them to some of the main currents in modern European culture. One recent iteration of such a course addressed six questions: (1) Why might Plato have chosen to write a dialogue about a ‘drinking party’? (2) Why did Plato present multiple speeches on the nature of Eros? (3) Why have some (...)
     
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  43. Anselm Feuerbach’s Das Gastmahl des Platon and Plato’s Symposium.James Lesher - 2008 - In Imagines: The reception of antiquity in the performing and visual arts. Logroño: Universidad de La Rioja. pp. 479-490.
    In his monumental work Das Gastmahl des Platon (1869) the artist Anselm Feuerbach depicted the scene in Plato’s Symposium in which a drunken Alcibiades, accompanied by a band of revelers, enters the dining chamber of the house of the poet Agathon. We have reason to attribute three aims to the artist: (1) to recreate a famous scene from ancient Greek literature, making extensive use of recent archaeological discoveries in southern Italy; (2) through the depiction of a senate and dignified Agathon, (...)
     
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  44. An Interdisciplinary Course on Classical Athens.James Lesher - 1982 - Teaching Philosophy 5 (3):203-210.
    Interdisciplinary or team-taught courses pose special challenges and make special demands on the instructors. Yet they also offer special opportunities for learning—for instructor and student alike. This paper describes one such course taught at the University of Maryland by a historian (Kenneth Holum), an art historian (Elisabeth Pemberton), and a philosopher (James Lesher), focused on the art, politics, and philosophical environment of 5th-century Athens. Three themes emerged over the course of the semester: the centrality of the family in Athenian society, (...)
     
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  45. ‘Classics and Philosophy: A View of Life in the Interval Between Two Professions’.James Lesher - 1998 - In Classics: A Discipline in Crisis,. UPA. pp. 231-241.
    A satisfactory accounting of the current state of classical studies, at least in an American setting, requires consideration of the vitality of the connections between classics—understood as the study of the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome as revealed in their languages, literature, art, architecture, and political institutions— and the disciplines of history, philosophy, literary criticism, political science, religious studies, archaeology, and art history. I argue that the relationship between classics and philosophy, at least in the context of American higher (...)
     
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  46. Danto on Knowledge as a Relation.James H. Lesher - 1970 - Analysis 30 (4):132.
    Arthur Danto claims that knowing that S is not a property of some individual knower M but a relation between M and some object O in the world, where O is what makes S true. For if knowledge were a property of M it would be possible to determine whether M knew simply by examining M, which is typically not the case (i.e. unless S happens to be about M). I argue that Danto errs in: (1) claiming that we can (...)
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  47. From Inquiry to Demonstrative Knowledge: Essays on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, Apeiron, Vol. 43, No. 2-3.J. Lesher (ed.) - 2010 - Kelowna BC, Canada: Academic Printing and Publishing.
    This collection of essays is the product of a conference on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics (Apo) held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. The essays address three main questions: (1) “How does the APo model of scientific knowledge, focused as it is on the construction of syllogisms, relate to the scientific accounts Aristotle presents elsewhere, especially in the biological treatises?’ (2) ‘How do the arguments and views presented in the APo relate to other aspects of Aristotle’s (...)
     
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  48. Hume's Analysis of "Cause" and the "Two-Definitions" Dispute,'.James Lesher - 1973 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 11 (3):387-392.
    In his Treatise of Human Nature, Hume offers two definitions of ‘cause’. The first is framed in terms of the precedence and contiguity of objects. The second also mentions precedence and contiguity of objects but speaks also of the mind’s tendency on the appearance of the first object to form the idea of the second. Scholars disagree as to which constitutes Hume’s definition of cause properly speaking. Some hold that the ‘constant conjunction of objects’ version is Hume’s real definition, while (...)
     
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  49. Heraclitus' Epistemological Vocabulary.James Lesher - 1983 - Hermes 111 (2):155-170.
    In fragment B 1 Heraclitus claims to have achieved a profound insight into the nature of things: ‘distinguishing each thing in accordance with its nature and explaining how it is.’ In a number of similarly cryptic remarks, he offers a series of clues to the nature of that insight. It is properly spoken of as noos or wisdom rather than as learning from experience (B 17, 28a, 40, 45, 54, 104, 107, 123). It consists of xunesis or understanding what is (...)
     
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  50. Introduction.J. Lesher - 2010 - Apeiron 43 (2-3):vii-xii.
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