Lecture on -Aristotle: On the Knowledgeable- part two


So we already see in the very opening of the metaphysics a common sense naturalistic perspective in this work which is probably the most saddle of aristotle philosophical writtings. This is going to be a work of great great deepth and will leave ample room for misunderstandings and misconstrues. But as an opening statement.

The opening statement of the metaphysic is a veritable vindication of knowledge gleaned by perception. This is not going to be enought. But thats the starting point for our “journey towards the truth is a sensory awareness of the world around us”. In fact in other works, aristotle will define animal as that “which has sensation”. The very princible that establishes an entity as an animal entity is a sensory principle. And this again for quiet common sense reason. What animal have to do is gain information through the sense organs in virtue of which they are able to adopt to the requirements as they face the world. Aristotle is going to invest perception with many many powers and possibilities.

In doing this he will grant to the animal kingdom rich perceptual ressources but will denie the animal kingdom the ultimat rational ressource that is the special attribute of the human psychy. That degree of rationality. This is not so much aristotle depreciating the animal kingdom. As aristotle elevating the role of perception in the affairs of life and adaptation to the demands of the environment. So human beeings have this desire to know and we take delight in our senses for practical utilitarian principles there is something joyful for us of the experience that we have of the world. The experience of gaining knowledge. Now we can do this in virtue of the fact that we are constituted biologicaly in such way as be able to pick up information from the external world. Thats what the sense organs are all about. And this leads us to aristotles understanding of the varies powers that the animal kingdom comes equipped with. And a scheme of classification that will distinguish between and among animal types in terms of the powers that the animal have. The powers or faculties that they have. Powers and Faculties in Greek would be DYNAMES. A dynames would be power. The english word dynamic is entomological related to that. But what we mean by facualty or power is what the word DYNAMES tries to convey.

Now aristotle again begins with the common sense biologist position. What is the fundamental power in virtue of which a living thing has live? That is, what is it that the soul as it where the psyche of an entity must posses by way of DYNAMES such that life itself becomes possible? At the most fundamental level there must be a nutrative power. There must be some means by which the creature can obsorb nutritional elements from the environment and through that grow and survive. There must be a nutrative faculty or power. Anything alife has at least that. And thats essential for the life of the individual creature. For the survival of that whole class of creatures there must also be a reproductive power. There must be some means by which a given organism is capable of dubilcating its kind or bringing its kind about. At the most fundamental level of psychic power or psyche faculties we find nutrative and reproductive capacities in the kingdoms of life.

Added to this where living systems are more complex, and this includes plants, there is also a locomotive power. The entity is capable of some degree of movement. There are also plants who do this. So as we get everymore complex in the kingdom of live we move from the nutrative and reproductive to the n. r. and locomotive. The animal kingdom begins when as aristotle, when you get sensation. The power of perception. The power of acting as it where knowingly, consciously I attempted to say, reacting to events in the external world. So now we have a nutritive, reproductive, locomotive, perceptive and a sensitive faculty. And these are all powers of the soul. And when aristotle in his treatises on the soul gives his definition of the soul, “What is the soul” he says “By soul I mean, By psyche I mean the archesoa – the first principle of living things the principles according to which a thing if it is alife comes to have life. So he is not treating the soul as something beyond the natural. He is treating the soul as a generic term for those processes that are life-giving, life-sustaining and mediating of a wise as such powers and faculties as movements and sensation.

Now when you get to ever more complex organisms. You would not use the term. To these powers of the soul is added some kind of intellectual or intelligent power. The power problemsoving. And he grands this much to the animal kingdom. They have this in common with us. But he reserves to human beenings a psychic power or faculty of a very special kind, sometimes rendered in english as reason. But the word he uses in his treatises on the soul in for this power is not the greek word for reason, the word he uses is not NEWS, the word he uses first time around is epistemonica. And I dont want to tedious trying to define some of this ancient words. But by epistemonica one is referring to the means or the power or the cognitive abbility by which we comprehend universal propositions. That is to say a young child can learn anything you want the young child to learn about this or that, but at “too young at age the child will never learn about ALL these, ALL that – universals do you say. The child can learn that uncle Jack and ant Marry had died. But it would be very very difficult for a three year old that “all men are mortal” Do you say.

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