In our 4th Module we study the naturalistic philosophy of Aristotle, who was Plato’s student. Although they agree on much, these two thinkers—who are in many ways the representative figures of the Western intellectual tradition—differed on basic points. Plato was originally a mathematician; he studied perfect and eternal truths, such as the Pythagorean Theorem. In the famous painting by Raphael (which I posted under Content) we say Plato on the left pointing to the heavens, as if to say the timeless Forms and the immaterial world is true reality. Aristotle is originally a biologist; for him true reality is much more concrete (although it is not limited to the material world). He is much more interested in what we would call natural philosophy, a Greek precursor to modern science.
For this Reflection Essay you should read four selections from the textbook and provide a summary or a reaction to what you understand from Aristotle. Concentrate on one of the following:
1. Section #9: The Four Causes (pp. 53-57). For Aristotle a complete scientific account of a natural thing involved four causes or explanatory principles. What does it mean to say that something is “natural “or has a nature?
2. Section #10: The Nature of Wisdom (pp. 57-60). Aristotle presents some fascinating claims in this section about the meaning of wisdom, including its relationship to explanation. For instance, he thinks that a sign of knowledge is the ability to teach. He contrasts different kinds of intelligence, such as animal and human intelligence and he also discusses how art, science, and philosophy compare to each other. Give some reaction to this discussion.
3. Section #11: The Order of Being and the Order of Knowing (pp. 60-62). This is a very basic and abstract discussion, wherein Aristotle asserts that the pursuit of truth is something of a collaborative effort, which means that we all get some glimpse of the truth even if no one individual sees it perfectly. There is a social and political implication here: various perspectives and contributions are necessary. The doctrine of the Four Causes is reviewed in this section. React to anything that strikes you as interesting in this discussion
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