This paper discusses the metaphysical status of artefacts and their forms in the ancient commentators on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Specifically, it examines the Peripatetic tradition and Alexander of Aphrodisias to then turn to the commentaries of the late Neoplatonist Asclepius of Tralles, and the Byzantine commentator Michael of Ephesus. It argues that Alexander is the pioneer of the interpretation of artefactual forms as qualities and artefacts as accidental beings. The fortune of this solution goes through Asclepius and Michael to influence Thomas Aquinas.
Some philosophers of biology state that the metaphysical status of biological species is context determined by the use different branches of biology make of their corresponding proper names, so that one and the same biological species can be both an individual and a natural kind. In this paper, I aim to undermine the idea, often associated with the present thesis, according to which the debate about the metaphysical status of biological species should be deflated, since it would be possible to translate every sentence from natural-kind talk to individual-talk and vice versa. I offer a charitable interpretation of the principle grounding such an idea and show how it is in tension with independent theoretical biological notions.
In fragments of the lost Protrepticus, preserved in Iamblichus, Aristotle responds to Isocrates’ worries about the excessive demandingness of theoretical philosophy. Contrary to Isocrates, Aristotle holds that such philosophy is generally feasible for human beings. In defense of this claim, Aristotle offers the progress argument, which appeals to early Greek philosophers’ rapid success in attaining exact understanding. In this paper, I explore and evaluate this argument. After making clarificatory exegetical points, I examine the argument’s premises in light of pressing worries that the argument reasonably faces in its immediate intellectual context, the dispute between Isocrates and Aristotle. I also relate the argument to modern concerns about philosophical progress. I contend that the argument withstands these worries, and thereby constitutes a reasonable Aristotelian response to the Isocratean challenge.
In this article, I tackle an heretofore unnoticed difficulty with the application of Pyrrhonian scepticism to scientific definitions. Sceptics can suspend belief regarding a dogmatic proposition only by setting up opposing arguments or considerations for and against that proposition. Since Sextus provides arguments exclusively against particular geometrical definitions in Adversus MathematicosIII, commentators have argued that Sextus’ method is not scepticism, but negative dogmatism. However, commentators have overlooked the fact that arguments or considerations in favour of particular geometrical definitions were absent in ancient geometry, and hence unavailable to Sextus. While this might explain why they are also absent from Sextus’ text, I survey and evaluate various strategies to supply arguments in support of particular geometrical definitions.
I offer an examination of a core element in the reflectiveness of Heraclitus’ thought, namely, his rebuke of polymathy. In doing so, I provide a response to a recent claim that Heraclitus should not be considered to be a philosopher, by attending to his paradigmatically philosophical traits. Regarding Heraclitus’ attitude to that naïve form of ‘wisdom’, i.e., polymathy, I argue that he does not advise avoiding experience of many things, rather, he advises rejecting experience of things as merely many independent things in their manifoldness, and, instead, to understand their unity and thereby to unify our knowledge of them.