A note on Aristotelian first principles.

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This article addresses a well known and persistent problem in Aristotle's theory of demonstrative science presented in the "Posterior Analytics" (APo): the puzzle of how the scientist is supposed to acquire knowledge of the first principles in his field of expertise. It resolves some of the major exegetical puzzles in APo II. 19. 97b20-100b5 and in so doing shows that, for Aristotle, the process via which we acquire knowledge of the first principles is inferential in nature. Aristotle takes it that we acquire knowledge of the principles by deriving them from appropriately structured inductive arguments. It is argued that we need not accept a rationalist construal of Aristotelian archai*, it being perfectly possible to give a construal of it in 100b5-17 which is very much in line with the empiricist theory expounded in 99b20-100b5. It appears that Aristotle himself is unclear at this stage about exactly what kind of intellectual state archai* is, a subject to which he returns in "De Anima". A further article will examine how his fully developed view of it may be brought to bare on the discussion of the first principles in APo II. 19. (*transliterated from original Greek) (Quotes from original text).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHermathena
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


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