[hist-analytic] Aristotle's Metaphysics: The Izz and the Hazz

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Mon May 25 09:57:53 EDT 2009

Before engaging in further exegesis with R. B. Jones I thought I'd drop 
this summary of the Metaphysics as per, yes, the wiki. I'll try to add a VERY
FEW items that may connect with the history of analytic philosophy. But I
thought that since R. B. Jones uploaded the whole thing, it's best to
approach  the topic systematically:

--- Book Alpha
>Outlines "first philosophy" [prote philosophia -- analytic equivalent: 
ontologia] which is a >knowledge of the first principles [arkhe] or  causes
[aitia] of things.
>The wise are able to teach because they know the "why" [aitia -- but  not
a category, it >seems] of things, unlike those who only know that things
_are_ a certain way based on >their memory and sensations.

This would involve a distinctin between 'explanatory' versus 'descriptive'
adequacy, of the type Chomksy explores (Chomsky adds 'observational'

>Because of their knowledge [episteme] of first causes and principles  they
are better fitted to >command, rather than to obey.

But when they do, people laugh at them (the philosopher king of  Plato).

>Book Alpha also surveys previous philosophies from Thales to Plato,
especially their >treatment of causes -- [which connects nicely with Hume  being
jerrymandered by Davidson]

>"Little alpha": addresss a possible objection to Aristotle’s  account of
how we understand >first principles and thus acquire wisdom.  Aristotle
replies that the idea of an infinite causal >series is absurd, and  thus there
must be a first cause which is not itself caused. This idea >is  developed
later in book Lambda, where he develops an argument for the existence  of >God.

Oddly, the paradox resumes in Davidson:

         the cause of 1 causes  1
         2 causes the cause of  1
         Ergo the cause of 2 causes  1
         and so on ad  infinitum

'eis apeiron' was unthinkable for Aristotle but notably not for the
presocratics -- since mathematicians are _always_ relying on the infinity, I
cannot see why metaphysicians can't.

>Beta: A listing of metaphysical puzzles. THIS should have been the  topic
of that memorable talk by Popper, "Are there philosophical problems",  fresh
from Vienna (almost), in Cambridge, 1946 -- narrated in Wittgenstein's

>Gamma: Chapters 2 and 3 argue for its status [of ontologia] as a  subject
in its own right. >The rest is a defense of (a) what we now call the
principle of contradiction, the principle that >it is not possible for the  same
proposition to be (the case) and not to be (the case)

               ~(p & ~p)

best named, "The principle of NON-contradiction".

>and (b) what we now call the principle of excluded middle: tertium non 
datur - there cannot >be an intermediary between contradictory  statements

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