Theaetetus, asked what knowledge is, replies that geometry and the other mathematical disciplines are knowledge, and so are crafts like cobbling. Socrates points out that it does not help him to be told how many kinds of knowledge there are when his problem is to know what knowledge itself is, what it means to call geometry or a craft knowledge in the first place—he insists on the generality of his question in the way he often does when his interlocutor, asked (...) for a definition, cites instead cases of the concept to be defined. (shrink)
It is a standing temptation for philosophers to find anticipations of their own views in the great thinkers of the past, but few have been so bold in the search for precursors, and so utterly mistaken, as Berkeley when he claimed Plato and Aristotle as allies to his immaterialist idealism. In Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar-Water , which Berkeley published in his old age in 1744, he reviews the leading philosophies of antiquity (...) and finds them on the whole a good deal more sympathetic to his own ideas than the ‘modern atheism’, as he calls it, of Hobbes and Spinoza or the objectionable principles of ‘the mechanic and geometrical philosophers’ such as Newton . But his strongest and, I think, his most interesting claim is that neither Plato nor Aristotle admitted ‘an absolute actual existence of sensible or corporeal things’. (shrink)
This article is detective work, not philosophy. J. S. Mill's Autobiography records that at the age of seven he read, in Greek, ‘the first six dialogues of Plato, from the Euthyphron to the Theaetetus inclusive’. Which were the other dialogues? On the arrangement common today, it would be Crito, Apology, Phaedo, Cratylus. On the arrangement common then, Theages and Erastai replace Cratylus, which makes seven dialogues. I show that this must be the answer by the evidence of James Mill's commonplace (...) books and his writings on Plato. These reveal which collected edition of Plato he owned and which he would want to own. Conditions for studying Plato in the original were much harder than we are used to. The inquiry highlights both the ideological purity of the education James Mill designed for his son, and the difficulties he faced in realizing his plan. (shrink)
Context: The dominant approach to the study of perception is representational/computational, with an emphasis on the achievements of the brain and the nervous system, which are taken to construct internal models of the world. Alternatives include ecological, embedded, embodied, and enactivist approaches, all of which emphasize the centrality of action in understanding perception. Problem: Despite sharing many theoretical commitments that lead to a rejection of the classical approach, the alternatives are characterized by important contrasts and points of divergence. Here we (...) focus on the enactive and ecological approaches, in particular, on how they construe the status of the environment and the content of perception. Method: We begin with a review of James Gibson’s ecological psychology, highlighting it as a psychology for all organisms not just humans. Against this backdrop, we consider enactivist arguments against direct perception - a central assertion of the ecological approach - and in favor of interpreting the activity of perceptual agents as a kind of construction of a perceptually meaningful world. Results: We assess the merits of this interpretation and we conclude that it cannot be grounded on fundamental principles such as thermodynamics and organism-environment mutuality. Implications: As a consequence, enactivism remains close to representationalism and entails a form of dualism. Constructivist content: We advance a criticism of the constructivist foundations of the enactive approach to perception. Perception-action mutuality at the heart of enactivism does not require mental construction; indeed, perception-action mutuality obviates construction. (shrink)
Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, Volume 21, Issue 3, Page 240-262, July 2022. Although the art historical canon has been the subject of fierce debate, it remains an essential construct, shaping textbooks and survey courses. Visual representations of the canon often illustrate these narratives. Students encounter diagrams in their studies and it is important to make them aware of the illusion of scientific objectivity. This paper proposes the use of the computer ontology, as a modeling tool with which students (...) can make translations of existing diagrams. This forces them to reconsider the modeling decisions underlying traditional representations. The article takes as its case study the translation of Alfred Barr’s diagram of Modern Art, using the free tool Protégé. An analysis of this process allows us to consider the ambiguous meanings of nodes, relationships and dimensions of the model. Asking students to actively recreate this network of information is shown to be a valuable addition to traditional survey courses on Modern Art. (shrink)
M. F. Burnyeat taught for 14 years in the Philosophy Department of University College London, then for 18 years in the Classics Faculty at Cambridge, 12 of them as the Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy, before migrating to Oxford in 1996 to become a Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at All Souls College. The studies, articles and reviews collected in these two volumes of Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy were all written, and all but two published, before that decisive (...) change. Whether designed for a scholarly audience or for a wider public, they range from the Presocratics to Augustine, from Descartes and Bishop Berkeley to Wittgenstein and G. E. Moore. Their subject-matter falls under four main headings: 'Logic and Dialectic' and 'Scepticism Ancient and Modern', which are contained in this first volume; 'Knowledge' and 'Philosophy and the Good Life' make up the second volume. The title 'Explorations' well expresses Burnyeat's ability to discover new aspects of familiar texts, new ways of solving old problems. In his hands the history of philosophy becomes itself a philosophical activity. (shrink)
This is a close scrutiny of "De Anima II 5", led by two questions. First, what can be learned from so long and intricate a discussion about the neglected problem of how to read an Aristotelian chapter? Second, what can the chapter, properly read, teach us about some widely debated issues in Aristotle's theory of perception? I argue that it refutes two claims defended by Martha Nussbaum, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Sorabji: (i) that when Aristotle speaks of the perceiver becoming (...) like the object perceived, the assimilation he has in mind is ordinary alteration of the type exemplified when fire heats the surrounding air, (ii) that this alteration stands to perceptual awareness as matter to form. Claim (i) is wrong because the assimilation that perceiving is is not ordinary alteration. Claim (ii) is wrong because the special type of alteration that perceiving is is not its underlying material realisation. Indeed, there is no mention in the text of any underlying material realisation for perceiving. The positive aim of II 5 is to introduce the distinction between first and second potentiality, each with their own type of actuality. In both cases the actuality is an alteration different from ordinary alteration. Perception exemplifies one of these new types of alteration, another is found in the acquisition of knowledge and in an embryo's first acquisition of the power of perception. The introduction of suitably refined meanings of 'alteration' allows Aristotle to explain perception and learning within the framework of his physics, which by definition is the study of things that change. He adapts his standard notion of alteration, familiar from "Physics" III 1-3 and "De Generatione et Corruptione" I, to the task of accounting for the cognitive accuracy of (proper object) perception and second potentiality knowledge: both are achievements of a natural, inborn receptivity to objective truth. Throughout the paper I pay special attention to issues of text and translation, and to Aristotle's cross-referencing, and I emphasise what the chapter does not say as well as what it does. In particular, the last section argues that the textual absence of any underlying material realisation for perceiving supports a view I have defended elsewhere, that Aristotelian perception involves no material processes, only standing material conditions. This absence is as telling as others noted earlier. Our reading must respect the spirit of the text as Aristotle wrote it. (shrink)
The question contrasts two ways of expressing the role of the sense organ in perception. In one the expression referring to the sense organ is put into the dative case ; the other is a construction with the preposition δiá governing the genitive case of the word for the sense organ.
There is general acknowledgement that both the anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex are implicated in reinforcement-guided decision making, and emotion and social behaviour. Despite the interest that these areas generate in both the cognitive neuroscience laboratory and the psychiatric clinic, ideas about the distinctive contributions made by each have only recently begun to emerge. This reflects an increasing understanding of the component processes that underlie reinforcement- guided decision making, such as the representation of reinforcement expectations, the exploration, updating and representation (...) of action values, and the appreciation that choices are guided not just by the prospect of reward but also by the costs that action entails. Evidence is emerging to suggest that the anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex make distinct contributions to each of these aspects of decision making. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore a seldom-recognized connection between the ontology of abstract objects and a current issue in the philosophy of chemistry. Specifically, I argue that realism with regard to universals implies a view of chemical elements similar to F.A. Paneth’s thesis about the dual nature of the concept of element.