Archive for the ‘Aristotle’ Category
Concerns about philosophical methodology have emerged as a central issue in contemporary philosophical discussions. In this volume, Tamar Gendler draws together fourteen essays that together illuminate this topic. Three intertwined themes connect the essays. First, each of the chapters focuses, in one way or another, on how we engage with subject matter that we take to be imaginary. This theme is explored in a wide range of cases, including scientific thought experiments, early childhood pretense, thought experiments concerning personal identity, fictional emotions, self-deception, Gettier and fake barn cases, the relation of belief to other attitudes, and the connection between conceivability and possibility. Second, each of the chapters explores, in one way or another, the implications of this for how thought experiments and appeals to intuition can serve as mechanisms for supporting or refuting scientific or philosophical claims. Third, each of the chapters self-consciously exhibits a particular philosophical methodology: that of drawing both on empirical findings from contemporary psychology, and on classic texts in the philosophical tradition (particularly the work of Aristotle and Hume.) By exploring and exhibiting the fruitfulness of these interactions, Gendler promotes the value of engaging in such cross-disciplinary conversations to illuminate philosophical questions.
Generally for the ancient Greeks, to be a philosopher was to seek and obtain an all-inclusive knowledge. Thus the philosopher, as the Greeks understood it, sought to understand the whole of reality. The goal was to know reality in its basic structure, not in all its multifarious detail, for it was assumed that the details of one’s existence become intelligible when one understood them in relation to the whole. To use a metaphor from the building trade, the Greek philosopher was one who sought to understand the framework in relation to which all the details of existence were set. A house is the totality of its parts, but only when organized in a certain way, since a pile of building materials is not a house. It is the framer who gives the house its basic shape or structure; all the details of a house are set in relation to the framework. By analogy, for the ancient Greeks, philosophy was the attempt at understanding the framework of Being, the basic “shape or structure” of reality, in relation to which all the details of existence were set.
Teacher to Alexander the Great and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, is in some ways a more important educational theorist and philosopher than Socrates or Plato. His work has resonated down the ages, and although we have only fragments from his book On Education, we have enough secondary evidence to piece together his theories on the subject. He was more empirically-minded than Plato or Socrates. Aristotle was the first to classify areas of human knowledge into distinct disciplines such as mathematics, biology, and ethics. Some of these classifications are still used today. Learning by doing was a fundamental issue in his theory of learning. ‘Anything we have to learn to do we learn by the actual doing of it…’ he says, echoing many a modern theorist.