definition of a natural thing. Since Aristotle seems to firmly deny that the matter of a substance is part of its essence, I will consider the following three options. First, there might be definitions of compounds, which specify more than the essence of a thing, namely also its matter. Second, one might
Aristotle identifies philosophical theōria as our complete happiness as human beings. But does this activity require an understanding that is simply too demanding for us to possess? Aristotle’s contemporary, Isocrates, answers yes. In Isocrates’ view, theoretical philosophers, who focus on
The article examines Aristotle’s seminal discussion of the fallacy of begging the question (petitio principii), reconstructing its complex articulation within a variety of different, but related, contexts (the “dialectic” of the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations, the “logic” of the Aristotelian theory of syllogism, and the “epistemology” of the inquiry into “scientific” syllogisms). I suggest that close analysis of Aristotle’s understanding of the fallacy should prompt critical reconsideration of the scope and articulation of the fallacy in modern discussions and usages, suggesting how begging the question should be distinguished from a number of only partially related argumentative faults.
In Sophistical Refutations 8 Aristotle claims that every sophistical refutation depends on a false belief which is implicitly held by the victim of the fallacy and can normally be elicited from him as an explicit additional premiss. In this case the fallacious argument will be turned into a valid one, albeit with a false premiss (a FVP “False Validating Premiss”, as I call it). The paper discusses the nature of the FVP and tries to discover how it works when it tacitly causes the false appearance of a fallacious argument.
Just as Aristotelian dialectic sharply distinguishes between real and fallacious arguments, Aristotelian rhetoric distinguishes between real and fallacious enthymemes. For this reason Aristotle’s Rhetoric includes a chapter – chapter II.24 – that is exclusively devoted to what Aristotle calls “topoi” of fallacious enthymemes. Thus, the purpose of this chapter seems to be equivalent to the purpose of the treatise Sophistici Elenchi, which attempts to give a complete list of all possible types of fallacious arguments. It turns out that, although the Rhetoric’s list of fallacious types of rhetorical arguments basically resembles the list from the Sophistici Elenchi, there also are some striking differences. The paper tries to account for the relation between these two, more or less independent, Aristotelian approaches to the phenomenon of fallacious arguments. Can one of these two lists be seen as the basic or original one? And what is the point in deviating from this basic list? Are all deviations occasioned by the specific contexts of the rhetorical use on the one hand, and the dialectical on the other? Or do the two lists display different (or even incoherent) logical assumptions? Even an only tentative answer to this set of questions will help to clarify another but closely related scholarly problem, namely the relation between the Rhetoric’s list of topoi for real enthymemes and the Topics’ list of topoi for real dialectical arguments. It will also help to account for the general place of fallacious arguments within Aristotle’s dialectic-based approach the rhetoric.
In Posterior Analytics 2.19, Aristotle argues that we cannot have innate knowledge of first principles because if we did we would have the most precise items of knowledge without noticing, which is impossible. To understand Aristotle’s argument we need to understand why he thinks we cannot possess these items of knowledge without noticing. In this paper, I present three different answers to this question and three different readings of his argument corresponding to them. The first two readings focus on the fact that we do not use the knowledge we allegedly possess innately. However, I argue that these readings fail to produce convincing arguments. I then offer a third reading, which focuses on the fact that we do not notice the knowledge we allegedly possess innately when we use it for the first time (i. e., on Plato’s account, when we recollect). I argue that this reading produces a more convincing argument than either of the first two.
The paper tries to demonstrate the validity of Aristotle’s sea-battle argument, which is still considered as invalid by many authors. The first part presents the usual reconstruction of Aristotle’s argument and the reason for its rejection. It presents the late antique adoption of the argument as valid and strong by Ammonios and Boethius as well as its modern defence. In the second part, the elements that together assure the validity of the argument are combined and cast in the form of two premisses, namely fact-correspondence and the unchangeability of facts. It is shown that these two presuppositions together assure the conclusion, i. e. the negation of bivalence for future contingents, and that they are explicitly stated in several of Aristotle’s texts and in Peri Hermeneias 9 in particular.
In Posterior Analytics 71b9–12, we find Aristotle’s definition of scientific knowledge. The definiens is taken to have only two informative parts: scientific knowledge must be knowledge of the cause and its object must be necessary. However, there is also a contrast between the definiendum and a sophistic way of knowing, which is marked by the expression “kata sumbebekos”. Not much attention has been paid to this contrast. In this paper, I discuss Aristotle’s definition paying due attention to this contrast and to the way it interacts with the two conditions presented in the definiens. I claim that the “necessity” condition ammounts to explanatory appropriateness of the cause.
In the eighth chapter of De Sophisticis Elenchis, Aristotle introduces a mode of sophistical refutation that constitutes an addition to the taxonomy of the earlier chapters of the treatise. The new mode is pseudo-scientific refutation, or “the [syllogism or refutation] which though real, [merely] appears appropriate to the subject matter” (τòν ὂντα μέν φαινóμενoν δέ ỏιϰειoν ιoῦ πράγμαιoς, 169b22–3). Against the grain of its most commonly accepted reading, I argue that Aristotle is not concerned in SE 8 to establish that both the apparent refutations of SE 4–7 and pseudo-scientific refutations issue in false conclusions. His concern rather is to provide a causal analysis of both classes of apparent refutation alike which will explain why both kinds of apparent refutation are sophistical – and whose solutions are therefore the task of no special science but of a dialectical σλλογιστιϰή τέχνη (172a35). I conclude my analysis with the observation that Aristotle exploits the results of SE 8 to fend off inSE 9, 10, and 11 respectively a triad of threats to the very existence of a τέχνη of the resolution of sophistical refutation. The three threats are: the impossibility of omniscience; the relativity of semantic beliefs; and the incapacity of a questioner ignorant of a science to expose the ignorance of a pretender to scientific expertise.
In Metaphysics IV.2 Aristotle assigns a very specific role to dialectic in philosophical and scientific inquiry. This role consists of the use of the special form of dialectic which he calls peirastic. This is not a new conception of, or a new role for, dialectic in philosophy and science, but one also assigned to it in the Topics and Sophistical Refutations. In the SE Aristotle lays down multiple overlapping requirements for the premises or bases for peirastic dialectical argument. These must be (1) things known by skilled practitioners of dialectic; (2) things in fact in accord with the science or subject of the peirastic dialectical encounter in question; (3) things known by non-experts as well as by experts in that subject, (4) things known even by ordinary people in general; (5) things believed by the answerer in the given peirastic encounter and (6) things which are as noted and accredited (endoxa) as possible. We can see from Aristotle’s discussion and from his, and earlier, examples that all of these various requirements can be and are met by a single identifiable set of propositions, one whose use gives a special power to peirastic, one adequate to show the falsity of particular pretensions to knowledge on specific points, in science and philosophy.