In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes posits the creation of a commonwealth by means of a social contract, and as part of that contract, Hobbes theorizes the creation of the office of a sovereign authority, the occupant of which is to act as the representative of the constituted wills of the individual parties of the contract. Hobbes insists that it is not possible for this sovereign authority to commit an injustice against those who have granted him his privileged position. This essay will briefly sketch the reasons Hobbes offers in defense of his position, and critically evaluate his arguments in light of some common objections.
Aristotle’s ‘political animal’ (zoon politikon) is not the creature we might expect today – a conventional construct enfranchised by legal edict and duty-bound only to his own individual happiness as a free agent in a democratic nation-state. Instead, what Aristotle had in mind was an animal that was best suited to realize his complete end or natural goal (his telos) in a community organized to that end as well. That community is known as a city-state (a polis). As an integrated part of a functional polis, man is a creature of the polis – a political animal.
Is the theory of hylomorphism a “middle way” between the view of living things as purely material (where life is a sort of emergent property, dependent on atoms of matter), and dualism (the view that the body is is the dependent “copy” of a Platonic Form)? If so, how successful is it at navigating that path?
In On Interpretation, Aristotle presents the thought experiment of the sea battle in order to grapple with a logical paradox stemming from his commitment to correspondence in truth and the Law of Excluded Middle on the one hand, and his commitment to potentiality in the future, on the other. Given these commitments, if we are to say that there will be a sea battle tomorrow, then two questions (at least) need to be considered. First, is it already true that there will be one? Second, is its occurrence already determined by that? The term “already” is an important key to understanding these questions. It suggests a role for necessity in answering this problem. This essay will briefly summarize the logical problem, outline some possible solutions to the problem, and conclude with shrugging resignation at the fact that there isn’t more extant writing from Aristotle on the question.
According to Aristotle, the eyes are an organ of the body meant to inculcate the soul with the capacity for perceiving the forms of shape and color. If one recalls that Aristotle’s theory of the soul is mean to account for the kinds of change that a living body undergoes, and that change is the transition from potentiality to actuality, then the question becomes, how do the eyes enable this kind of change? This essay will briefly summarize Aristotle’s general theory of sense perception, provide a specific account for sight, and then raise some concerns about the efficacy of this theory in the context of Aristotle’s theory of causes.
This essay will summarize Aristotle’s conception of substance as he presents it in The Categories, briefly explain what distinguishes substance from the other categories, and offer some additional thoughts about the metaphysics of being, in relation to Aristotle’s mentor, Plato.
In the Physics, Aristotle says that we aim at understanding, which he says is to be able to give a full account of “the how and the why of things coming into existence and going out of it”. In other words, to understand something is to be able to give an explanation of how and why a thing changes. That explanation is what Aristotle means by ‘cause’. Today, thinking of explanation in terms of causes is not an alien notion. But, … Aristotle 101: The Four Causesread more
This post is my first foray into the question of whether or not there is a God. Before I can begin to attempt an answer, I need to explore a deeper question. Namely, what is the nature of this question? What exactly are we asking, when we ask this question? I want to suggest that this question is best understood as a fundamental choice, and that the choice is not simply one of satisfying an ontological preference, but one of universal significance. The way one answers this question will define one’s entire life, indeed all life. It will condition the content of all of one’s relationships, and predispose the outcome of every subsequent choice. It will frame every subsequent question you will ask yourself, from the nature of morality and history, to the kinds of activities you engage in, day to day. This choice lies at the center of everything it means to exist, and to be human. Which fork of the dilemma you choose, is therefore, the most important choice you will ever make.
Last night, I re-viewed George Lucas’ “THX-1138” (for the 20th time), and paired it with Phillip Noyce’s 2014 film treatment of “The Giver”. Here is something that occurred to me while watching.
In his book, “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”, Robert Nozick offers the Wilt Chamberlain thought experiment in order to demonstrate how a conception of justice based on “end-state patterned distributions” (as he put it) would require constant coercive interventions on the part of the state, in order to maintain the desired pattern. This, in turn, would undermine theories of justice that incorporated liberty into their framework. John Rawls’ theory of justice is one such example. I will briefly outline the thought experiment and the problem it poses, consider some objections to Nozick, and conclude that despite these objections, Nozick succeeds.