(Who is who-or whom, and why?)
I. WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHICAL PURPOSE OF ALBERTO'S REACTION TO THE 'BREAK-IN'? ALBERTO SAYS HE IS NOT ANGRY. IS HE? SHOULD HE BE? WHAT IS THE PARADOX (...AND DON'T FORGET IRONY?
II. PHILOSOPHER AND SCIENTIST:
A. WHAT IS THE PROOF OF SOPHIE’S INTELLECTUAL GROWTH?:
1. CURIOSITY: SOPHIE GOES TO THE CABIN
2. HOW IS SHE IMAGINATIVE?
B. HAS SOPHIE ANTICIPATED ARISTOTLES OBJECTION TO PLATO--see the art above for a clue.
III. PLATO = POET / ARISTOTLE = OBSERVER...
A. DID ARISTOTLE REFUTE PLATOS THEORY OF INNATE IDEAS?
B. WE FORM THE IDEA OF A HORSE AFTER SEEING MANY HORSES [VS. PLATO = BEFORE] THE CONTROVERSY ANTICIPATES DESCARTES AND LOCKE.
C. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FORM AND MATTER: Aristotle notes that the FORM is 'in' MATTER, while Plato argues the opposite. As an analogy, if one carves a statue out of block of marble, may we not say that the form [idea] of the statue was always in the marble, and had to be 'sculpted out' by the maker, the efficient cause.
D. DOES THE THIRD MAN [HORSE] ARGUMENT REFUTE PLATO'S DOCTRINE OF THE FORMS? IF THE PHYSICAL HORSE IS CONTINGENT ON THE IDEA OF THE HORSE, THEN IS THAT IDEA CONTINGENT ON ANOTHER IDEA? WHERE DOES IT END?
NOTE THAT MUCH LATER, ARISTOTLE'S LOGIC WILL BE UTILIZED BY AQUINAS TO 'PROVE' THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. THE PARALLEL HERE IS THE UNCAUSED CAUSE ARGUMENT.
E. THE ROLE OF INNATE IDEAS...
IV. THE FORM OF A THING IS ITS SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS:
A. POTENTIALITY : MATTER :: ACT : FORM
From THE METAPHYSICS IX, 5-7
As all potencies are either innate, like the senses, or come by
practice, like the power of playing the flute, or by learning, like
artistic power, those which come by practice or by rational formula we
must acquire by previous exercise but this is not necessary with those
which are not of this nature and which imply passivity.
Since that which is 'capable' is capable of something and at
some time in some way (with all the other qualifications which must be
present in the definition), and since some things can produce change
according to a rational formula and their potencies involve such a
formula, while other things are nonrational and their potencies are
non-rational, and the former potencies must be in a living thing,
while the latter can be both in the living and in the lifeless; as
regards potencies of the latter kind, when the agent and the patient
meet in the way appropriate to the potency in question, the one must
act and the other be acted on, but with the former kind of potency
this is not necessary. For the nonrational potencies are all
productive of one effect each, but the rational produce contrary
effects, so that if they produced their effects necessarily they would
produce contrary effects at the same time; but this is impossible.
There must, then, be something else that decides; I mean by this,
desire or will. For whichever of two things the animal desires
decisively, it will do, when it is present, and meets the passive
object, in the way appropriate to the potency in question. Therefore
everything which has a rational potency, when it desires that for
which it has a potency and in the circumstances in which it has the
potency, must do this. And it has the potency in question when the
passive object is present and is in a certain state; if not it will
not be able to act. (To add the qualification 'if nothing external
prevents it' is not further necessary; for it has the potency on the
terms on which this is a potency of acting, and it is this not in
all circumstances but on certain conditions, among which will be the
exclusion of external hindrances; for these are barred by some of
the positive qualifications.) And so even if one has a rational
wish, or an appetite, to do two things or contrary things at the
same time, one will not do them; for it is not on these terms that one
has the potency for them, nor is it a potency of doing both at the
same time, since one will do the things which it is a potency of
doing, on the terms on which one has the potency.
Since we have treated of the kind of potency which is related to
movement, let us discuss actuality-what, and what kind of thing,
actuality is. For in the course of our analysis it will also become
clear, with regard to the potential, that we not only ascribe
potency to that whose nature it is to move something else, or to be
moved by something else, either without qualification or in some
particular way, but also use the word in another sense, which is the
reason of the inquiry in the course of which we have discussed these
previous senses also. Actuality, then, is the existence of a thing not
in the way which we express by 'potentially'; we say that potentially,
for instance, a statue of Hermes is in the block of wood and the
half-line is in the whole, because it might be separated out, and we
call even the man who is not studying a man of science, if he is
capable of studying; the thing that stands in contrast to each of
these exists actually. Our meaning can be seen in the particular cases
by induction, and we must not seek a definition of everything but be
content to grasp the analogy, that it is as that which is building
is to that which is capable of building, and the waking to the
sleeping, and that which is seeing to that which has its eyes shut but
has sight, and that which has been shaped out of the matter to the
matter, and that which has been wrought up to the unwrought. Let
actuality be defined by one member of this antithesis, and the
potential by the other. But all things are not said in the same
sense to exist actually, but only by analogy-as A is in B or to B, C
is in D or to D; for some are as movement to potency, and the others
as substance to some sort of matter.
But also the infinite and the void and all similar things are said
to exist potentially and actually in a different sense from that which
applies to many other things, e.g. to that which sees or walks or is
seen. For of the latter class these predicates can at some time be
also truly asserted without qualification; for the seen is so called
sometimes because it is being seen, sometimes because it is capable of
being seen. But the infinite does not exist potentially in the sense
that it will ever actually have separate existence; it exists
potentially only for knowledge. For the fact that the process of
dividing never comes to an end ensures that this activity exists
potentially, but not that the infinite exists separately.
Since of the actions which have a limit none is an end but all are
relative to the end, e.g. the removing of fat, or fat-removal, and the
bodily parts themselves when one is making them thin are in movement
in this way (i.e. without being already that at which the movement
aims), this is not an action or at least not a complete one (for it is
not an end); but that movement in which the end is present is an
action. E.g. at the same time we are seeing and have seen, are
understanding and have understood, are thinking and have thought
(while it is not true that at the same time we are learning and have
learnt, or are being cured and have been cured). At the same time we
are living well and have lived well, and are happy and have been
happy. If not, the process would have had sometime to cease, as the
process of making thin ceases: but, as things are, it does not
cease; we are living and have lived. Of these processes, then, we must
call the one set movements, and the other actualities. For every
movement is incomplete-making thin, learning, walking, building; these
are movements, and incomplete at that. For it is not true that at
the same time a thing is walking and has walked, or is building and
has built, or is coming to be and has come to be, or is being moved
and has been moved, but what is being moved is different from what has
been moved, and what is moving from what has moved. But it is the same
thing that at the same time has seen and is seeing, seeing, or is
thinking and has thought. The latter sort of process, then, I call
an actuality, and the former a movement.
What, and what kind of thing, the actual is, may be taken as
explained by these and similar considerations. But we must distinguish
when a thing exists potentially and when it does not; for it is not at
any and every time. E.g. is earth potentially a man? No-but rather
when it has already become seed, and perhaps not even then. It is just
as it is with being healed; not everything can be healed by the
medical art or by luck, but there is a certain kind of thing which
is capable of it, and only this is potentially healthy. And (1) the
delimiting mark of that which as a result of thought comes to exist in
complete reality from having existed potentially is that if the
agent has willed it it comes to pass if nothing external hinders,
while the condition on the other side-viz. in that which is
healed-is that nothing in it hinders the result. It is on similar
terms that we have what is potentially a house; if nothing in the
thing acted on-i.e. in the matter-prevents it from becoming a house,
and if there is nothing which must be added or taken away or
changed, this is potentially a house; and the same is true of all
other things the source of whose becoming is external. And (2) in
the cases in which the source of the becoming is in the very thing
which comes to be, a thing is potentially all those things which it
will be of itself if nothing external hinders it. E.g. the seed is not
yet potentially a man; for it must be deposited in something other
than itself and undergo a change. But when through its own motive
principle it has already got such and such attributes, in this state
it is already potentially a man; while in the former state it needs
another motive principle, just as earth is not yet potentially a
statue (for it must first change in order to become brass.)
It seems that when we call a thing not something else but
'thaten'-e.g. a casket is not 'wood' but 'wooden', and wood is not
'earth' but 'earthen', and again earth will illustrate our point if it
is similarly not something else but 'thaten'-that other thing is
always potentially (in the full sense of that word) the thing which
comes after it in this series. E.g. a casket is not 'earthen' nor
'earth', but 'wooden'; for this is potentially a casket and this is
the matter of a casket, wood in general of a casket in general, and
this particular wood of this particular casket. And if there is a
first thing, which is no longer, in reference to something else,
called 'thaten', this is prime matter; e.g. if earth is 'airy' and air
is not 'fire' but 'fiery', fire is prime matter, which is not a
'this'. For the subject or substratum is differentiated by being a
'this' or not being one; i.e. the substratum of modifications is, e.g.
a man, i.e. a body and a soul, while the modification is 'musical'
or 'pale'. (The subject is called, when music comes to be present in
it, not 'music' but 'musical', and the man is not 'paleness' but
'pale', and not 'ambulation' or 'movement' but 'walking' or
'moving',-which is akin to the 'thaten'.) Wherever this is so, then,
the ultimate subject is a substance; but when this is not so but the
predicate is a form and a 'this', the ultimate subject is matter and
material substance. And it is only right that 'thaten' should be
used with reference both to the matter and to the accidents; for
both are indeterminates.
We have stated, then, when a thing is to be said to exist
potentially and when it is not.
B. THE ANALOGY OF THE SCULPTOR AND THE GRANITE
V. ARISTOTLES LAWS OF CAUSALITY: (Construct an example....)
A. MATERIAL--the block of wood.
B. FORMAL--the idea of the table.
C. EFFICIENT--the carpenter.
D. FINAL--the reason for the table being made.
E. What would the four causes be for man?
VI. WHAT IS GODS ROLE?--Seen as pure act, that which is the cause of all change, but does not change in and of itself: has no potency.
A. THE SYLLOGISM AND SCHOLASTICISM.
B. DEDUCTION VS. INDUCTION.
C. THE BENEFITS AND HANDICAPS OF EACH WILL BE CRITIQUED BY BACON IN THE RENAISSANCE?
VIII. NATURES SCALE:
A. THE CHAIN OF BEING: Click here for more information on the chain of being.
B. WHO IS THE MOVER?--'GOD' as pure Act, that will be defined by Aquinas as the first cause or the uncaused cause.
IX. ETHICS AND POETICS: Click here for more information on the Poetics
From THE NICOMACHEAN ETHICS: I: 7-9
Let us again return to the good we are seeking, and ask what it
can be. It seems different in different actions and arts; it is
different in medicine, in strategy, and in the other arts likewise.
What then is the good of each? Surely that for whose sake everything
else is done. In medicine this is health, in strategy victory, in
architecture a house, in any other sphere something else, and in every
action and pursuit the end; for it is for the sake of this that all
men do whatever else they do. Therefore, if there is an end for all
that we do, this will be the good achievable by action, and if there
are more than one, these will be the goods achievable by action.
So the argument has by a different course reached the same point;
but we must try to state this even more clearly. Since there are
evidently more than one end, and we choose some of these (e.g. wealth,
flutes, and in general instruments) for the sake of something else,
clearly not all ends are final ends; but the chief good is evidently
something final. Therefore, if there is only one final end, this
will be what we are seeking, and if there are more than one, the
most final of these will be what we are seeking. Now we call that
which is in itself worthy of pursuit more final than that which is
worthy of pursuit for the sake of something else, and that which is
never desirable for the sake of something else more final than the
things that are desirable both in themselves and for the sake of
that other thing, and therefore we call final without qualification
that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of
Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for
this we choose always for self and never for the sake of something
else, but honour, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose
indeed for themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should
still choose each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of
happiness, judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness,
on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in
general, for anything other than itself.
From the point of view of self-sufficiency the same result seems
to follow; for the final good is thought to be self-sufficient. Now by
self-sufficient we do not mean that which is sufficient for a man by
himself, for one who lives a solitary life, but also for parents,
children, wife, and in general for his friends and fellow citizens,
since man is born for citizenship. But some limit must be set to this;
for if we extend our requirement to ancestors and descendants and
friends' friends we are in for an infinite series. Let us examine this
question, however, on another occasion; the self-sufficient we now
define as that which when isolated makes life desirable and lacking in
nothing; and such we think happiness to be; and further we think it
most desirable of all things, without being counted as one good
thing among others- if it were so counted it would clearly be made
more desirable by the addition of even the least of goods; for that
which is added becomes an excess of goods, and of goods the greater
is always more desirable. Happiness, then, is something final and
self-sufficient, and is the end of action.
Presumably, however, to say that happiness is the chief good seems a
platitude, and a clearer account of what it is still desired. This
might perhaps be given, if we could first ascertain the function of
man. For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, and, in
general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and
the 'well' is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to
be for man, if he has a function. Have the carpenter, then, and the
tanner certain functions or activities, and has man none? Is he born
without a function? Or as eye, hand, foot, and in general each of
the parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man
similarly has a function apart from all these? What then can this
be? Life seems to be common even to plants, but we are seeking what is
peculiar to man. Let us exclude, therefore, the life of nutrition
and growth. Next there would be a life of perception, but it also
seems to be common even to the horse, the ox, and every animal.
There remains, then, an active life of the element that has a rational
principle; of this, one part has such a principle in the sense of
being obedient to one, the other in the sense of possessing one and
exercising thought. And, as 'life of the rational element' also has
two meanings, we must state that life in the sense of activity is what
we mean; for this seems to be the more proper sense of the term. Now
if the function of man is an activity of soul which follows or implies
a rational principle, and if we say 'so-and-so-and 'a good
so-and-so' have a function which is the same in kind, e.g. a lyre, and
a good lyre-player, and so without qualification in all cases,
eminence in respect of goodness being idded to the name of the
function (for the function of a lyre-player is to play the lyre, and
that of a good lyre-player is to do so well): if this is the case,
and we state the function of man to be a certain kind of life, and
this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a rational
principle, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble
performance of these, and if any action is well performed when it is
performed in accordance with the appropriate excellence: if this is
the case, human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance
with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with
the best and most complete.
But we must add 'in a complete life.' For one swallow does not
make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short
time, does not make a man blessed and happy.
Let this serve as an outline of the good; for we must presumably
first sketch it roughly, and then later fill in the details. But it
would seem that any one is capable of carrying on and articulating
what has once been well outlined, and that time is a good discoverer
or partner in such a work; to which facts the advances of the arts are
due; for any one can add what is lacking. And we must also remember
what has been said before, and not look for precision in all things
alike, but in each class of things such precision as accords with
the subject-matter, and so much as is appropriate to the inquiry.
For a carpenter and a geometer investigate the right angle in
different ways; the former does so in so far as the right angle is
useful for his work, while the latter inquires what it is or what sort
of thing it is; for he is a spectator of the truth. We must act in the
same way, then, in all other matters as well, that our main task may
not be subordinated to minor questions. Nor must we demand the cause
in all matters alike; it is enough in some cases that the fact be well
established, as in the case of the first principles; the fact is the
primary thing or first principle. Now of first principles we see
some by induction, some by perception, some by a certain
habituation, and others too in other ways. But each set of
principles we must try to investigate in the natural way, and we
must take pains to state them definitely, since they have a great
influence on what follows. For the beginning is thought to be more
than half of the whole, and many of the questions we ask are cleared
up by it.
We must consider it, however, in the light not only of our
conclusion and our premisses, but also of what is commonly said
about it; for with a true view all the data harmonize, but with a
false one the facts soon clash. Now goods have been divided into three
classes, and some are described as external, others as relating to
soul or to body; we call those that relate to soul most properly and
truly goods, and psychical actions and activities we class as relating
to soul. Therefore our account must be sound, at least according to
this view, which is an old one and agreed on by philosophers. It is
correct also in that we identify the end with certain actions and
activities; for thus it falls among goods of the soul and not among
external goods. Another belief which harmonizes with our account is
that the happy man lives well and does well; for we have practically
defined happiness as a sort of good life and good action. The
characteristics that are looked for in happiness seem also, all of
them, to belong to what we have defined happiness as being. For some
identify happiness with virtue, some with practical wisdom, others
with a kind of philosophic wisdom, others with these, or one of these,
accompanied by pleasure or not without pleasure; while others
include also external prosperity. Now some of these views have been
held by many men and men of old, others by a few eminent persons;
and it is not probable that either of these should be entirely
mistaken, but rather that they should be right in at least some one
respect or even in most respects.
With those who identify happiness with virtue or some one virtue our
account is in harmony; for to virtue belongs virtuous activity. But it
makes, perhaps, no small difference whether we place the chief good in
possession or in use, in state of mind or in activity. For the state
of mind may exist without producing any good result, as in a man who
is asleep or in some other way quite inactive, but the activity
cannot; for one who has the activity will of necessity be acting,
and acting well. And as in the Olympic Games it is not the most
beautiful and the strongest that are crowned but those who compete
(for it is some of these that are victorious), so those who act win,
and rightly win, the noble and good things in life.
Their life is also in itself pleasant. For pleasure is a state of
soul, and to each man that which he is said to be a lover of is
pleasant; e.g. not only is a horse pleasant to the lover of horses,
and a spectacle to the lover of sights, but also in the same way
just acts are pleasant to the lover of justice and in general virtuous
acts to the lover of virtue. Now for most men their pleasures are in
conflict with one another because these are not by nature pleasant,
but the lovers of what is noble find pleasant the things that are by
nature pleasant; and virtuous actions are such, so that these are
pleasant for such men as well as in their own nature. Their life,
therefore, has no further need of pleasure as a sort of adventitious
charm, but has its pleasure in itself. For, besides what we have said,
the man who does not rejoice in noble actions is not even good;
since no one would call a man just who did not enjoy acting justly,
nor any man liberal who did not enjoy liberal actions; and similarly
in all other cases. If this is so, virtuous actions must be in
themselves pleasant. But they are also good and noble, and have each
of these attributes in the highest degree, since the good man judges
well about these attributes; his judgement is such as we have
described. Happiness then is the best, noblest, and most pleasant
thing in the world, and these attributes are not severed as in the
inscription at Delos-
Most noble is that which is justest, and best is health;
But pleasantest is it to win what we love.
For all these properties belong to the best activities; and these,
or one- the best- of these, we identify with happiness.
Yet evidently, as we said, it needs the external goods as well;
for it is impossible, or not easy, to do noble acts without the proper
equipment. In many actions we use friends and riches and political
power as instruments; and there are some things the lack of which
takes the lustre from happiness, as good birth, goodly children,
beauty; for the man who is very ugly in appearance or ill-born or
solitary and childless is not very likely to be happy, and perhaps a
man would be still less likely if he had thoroughly bad children or
friends or had lost good children or friends by death. As we said,
then, happiness seems to need this sort of prosperity in addition; for
which reason some identify happiness with good fortune, though
others identify it with virtue.
For this reason also the question is asked, whether happiness is
to be acquired by learning or by habituation or some other sort of
training, or comes in virtue of some divine providence or again by
chance. Now if there is any gift of the gods to men, it is
reasonable that happiness should be god-given, and most surely
god-given of all human things inasmuch as it is the best. But this
question would perhaps be more appropriate to another inquiry;
happiness seems, however, even if it is not god-sent but comes as a
result of virtue and some process of learning or training, to be among
the most godlike things; for that which is the prize and end of virtue
seems to be the best thing in the world, and something godlike and
It will also on this view be very generally shared; for all who
are not maimed as regards their potentiality for virtue may win it
by a certain kind of study and care. But if it is better to be happy
thus than by chance, it is reasonable that the facts should be so,
since everything that depends on the action of nature is by nature
as good as it can be, and similarly everything that depends on art
or any rational cause, and especially if it depends on the best of all
causes. To entrust to chance what is greatest and most noble would
be a very defective arrangement.
The answer to the question we are asking is plain also from the
definition of happiness; for it has been said to be a virtuous
activity of soul, of a certain kind. Of the remaining goods, some must
necessarily pre-exist as conditions of happiness, and others are
naturally co-operative and useful as instruments. And this will be
found to agree with what we said at the outset; for we stated the
end of political science to be the best end, and political science
spends most of its pains on making the citizens to be of a certain
character, viz. good and capable of noble acts.
It is natural, then, that we call neither ox nor horse nor any other
of the animals happy; for none of them is capable of sharing in such
activity. For this reason also a boy is not happy; for he is not yet
capable of such acts, owing to his age; and boys who are called
happy are being congratulated by reason of the hopes we have for them.
For there is required, as we said, not only complete virtue but also a
complete life, since many changes occur in life, and all manner of
chances, and the most prosperous may fall into great misfortunes in
old age, as is told of Priam in the Trojan Cycle; and one who has
experienced such chances and has ended wretchedly no one calls happy.
A. INTELLECTUALLY AND MORALLY EXCELLENT ACTIVITY
B. VIRTUE AND HABIT.
C. THE KINDS OF JUSTICE.
D. DOCTRINE OF THE GOLDEN MEAN.
E. LITERARY CRITICISM--CATHARSIS, PITY, FEAR TRAGIC HERO.
X. WHAT DOES SOPHIE LEARN FROM ARISTOTLE?
A. HER RELATIONSHIP TO NATURE HAS CHANGED.
B. HUMANITY IS DEFINED IN TERMS OF THINKING RATIONALLY. THIS CAPACITY DISTINGUISHES HIM FROM PLANTS AND ANIMALS WHICH TO THE GREEKS ALSO HAD 'SOULS' (THE ANIMA) AS WELL.
THE CHURCH IN THE MIDDLE AGES WILL DISTINGUISH MAN'S SOUL FROM THE REST AS THE DIVINE SPARK WHICH SUBSTANTIATES HIS ESSENCE AS ETHEREAL, THAT IS MADE IN GOD'S IMAGE AND LIKENESS.
C. AFTER LEARNING OF ARISTOTLE, WHAT DOES SOPHIE DO? (P. 116). ALTHOUGH HER ACTIONS MIGHT SEEM TRITE AND CONTRIVED, WHAT VERY IMPORTANT CORRELATION IS ESTABLISHED?
D. WHY DOES SOPHIE SPEND SO MUCH TIME WITH HER PETS?
E. WHY DOES SOPHIE’S MOM THINK SHE IS‘PECULIAR’ (P. 119)?
Read the selections from Aristotle in the Classical Section of "Supplementary Readings:" Click here.