During the Middle Ages, heterodox applications of crucial tenets of Aristotle’s philosophy led philosophers to explore connections and suggestions that would have not been acceptable for the Stagirite. In this essay, I explore the conflagration of two such Aristotelian (or pseudo-Aristotelian) theses. First, I investigate the notion that prime matter cannot have any properties (as described, among others, by Simplicius and Aquinas); secondly, I take into account the thesis that no property can substantially be predicated of God (John Damascene, Pseudo-Dionysius, Aquinas). In the first half of the article, I reconstruct the tradition surrounding these two tenets and I argue that a non-trivial conflict between these two theses was explored by David of Dinant, in his lost Quaternuli. He claimed that, since both God and prime matter have no properties, then the impossibility of discerning between the two forces us to admit that God is the prime matter of the world, and to identify God as the material cause of the world. In the second part of the essay, I explore whether his association of the Aristotelian denial of prime matter’s properties and the Scholastic denial of the proper predicability of God’s properties is a sound argument, in light of potential objections regarding the homogeneity of the two denials (prima facie, one seems ontological, and the other epistemological), and the tenability of his negative theory of predication.
I defend the view that Cicero writes the Academica from the perspective of an aspirationalist radical skeptic. In section 2 I examine the textual evidence regarding the nature of Cicero’s skeptical stance in the Academica. In section 3 I consider the textual evidence from the Academica for attributing aspirationalism to Cicero. Finally, in section 4 I argue that while aspirationalist radical skepticism is open to a number of philosophical objections, none of those objections is decisive.
According to Plato’s Apology of Socrates, a humanly wise person is distinguished by her ability to correctly assess the epistemic status and value of her beliefs. She knows when she has knowledge or has mere belief or is ignorant. She makes no unjustified knowledge claims and considers her knowledge to be limited in scope and value. This means: A humanly wise person is intellectually modest. However, when interpreted classically, Socratic wisdom cannot be modest. For in classical epistemic logic, modelling second-order knowledge of knowing something or not, i.e. positive and negative introspection, requires a degree of self-transparency that would at most be attributed to an omniscient and infallible agent. If intellectual modesty is part of Socratic wisdom, we have to look for another epistemic model. I will offer three proposals and argue that an intuitionist reading of the classical concept of knowledge is best suited for this purpose.