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
In a previous post, I outlined some significant differences between Mill and Plato on the question of Pleasure, that I think are grounded in a misreading of Plato. Here, I present a few differences between Mill and Aristotle on the summum bonum, right and wrong action, and pleasure. When considering the arguments in Utilitarianism, and the obvious allusions to Plato and Aristotle within it, many seem to me to be incomplete at best, and misguided at worst. The main disagreement, almost … Mill Versus Aristotle – The Summum Bonum That Wasn’tread more
The following pseudo-dialogue is based on my reading of part three of Philippa Foot’s famous essay, “Virtues and Vices”, which can be found here. All of her “dialogue” constitutes direct quotes from the essay. In this essay, she seems to me to be anxious about identifying vice for what it is and has crafted a sophisticated means of diluting the boundaries between virtue and vice, in order to relieve that anxiety. I could be wrong, of course. But Here is my … Philippa Foot and I Have An Irritable Exchange About Virtueread more
It has been put by some that Virtue ethics lacks a decision-procedure to help us make moral decisions, and is therefore, not a good moral theory. In this essay, I will argue that the decision-procedure is not a satisfactory standard for judging ethical systems because they do not take the full experience of human morality into account, and because the theories instrumenting them often achieve exactly the opposite of their stated goal. I then offer an approach to virtue ethics that … Judging Virtueread more
Aristotle’s argument in Physics II 8 can be summarized as follows: 1. Dogs typically develop teeth good for biting and chewing. 2. A typical result is not a coincidence. 3. So it’s not a coincidence that dogs develop teeth good for biting and chewing. 4. If the development is not coincidental, it must be “for something”. 5. So the dog’s development is “for something”. (that is, it is goal-directed) What do you think of this argument? Has Aristotle convinced you that … Naturalism vs Teleologyread more