Aristotle on Necessary Principles and on Explaining X through X’s essence

Lucas Angioni

Abstract


I discuss what Aristotle means when he say that scientific demonstration must proceed from necessary principles. I argue that, for Aristotle, scientific demonstration should not be reduced to sound deduction with necessary premises. Scientific demonstration ultimately depends on the fully appropriate explanatory factor for a given explanandum. This explanatory factor is what makes the explanandum what it is. Consequently, this factor is also unique. When Aristotle says that demonstration must proceed from necessary principles, he means that each demonstration requires the principle that is the necessary one for the fully appropriate explanation of its explanandum. This picture also provides a key to understand Aristotle's thesis that scientific explanation depends on essences: it is the essence of the attribute to be explained (rather then the essence of the subject-term within the explanandum) that should be stated as the fully appropriate explanatory factor.


Keywords


essentialism, explanation, necessity

Full Text:

PDF

References


Ackrill, J. L. (ed.) (1963). Aristotle’s Categories and De interpretatione, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Barnes, J. (1981). Proof and syllogism, in E. Berti (ed.), Aristotle on Science: The Posterior Analytics, Editrice Antenore, Padova, pp. 17–59.

Barnes, J. (ed.) (1993). Posterior Analytics, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Burnyeat, M. F. (1981). Aristotle on understanding knowledge, in E. Berti (ed.), Aristotle on Science: The Posterior Analytics, Editrice Antenore, Padova, pp. 97–140.

Burnyeat, M. F. (2011). Episteme, in B. Morrison and K. Ieradiakonou (eds), Episteme, etc. Essays in Honour of Jonathan Barnes, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 3–29.

Charles, D. (2000). Aristotle on Meaning and Essence, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Charles, D. (2010). Definition and explanation in Posterior Analytics and Metaphysics, in D. Charles (ed.), Definition in Greek Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 286–328.

Charles, D. (2011). Some remarks on substance and essence in Aristotle’s Metaphysics Z.6, in B. Morrison and K. Ieradiakonou (eds), Episteme, etc. Essays in Honour of Jonathan Barnes, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 150–171.

Code, A. (1985). On the origin of some aristotelian theses about predication, in J. Bogen and J. McGuire (eds), How things Are, Reidel, Dordrecht, pp. 101–131.

Corkum, P. (forthcoming). Is the syllogistic a logic, History and Philosophy of Logic.

Ferejohn, M. (1994). The immediate premises of Aristotelian demonstration, Ancient Philosophy 14: 79–97.

Fine, G. (2010). Aristotle’s two worlds: Knowledge and belief in Posterior Analytics i.33, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society CX: 323–346.

Fine, K. (1994). Essence and modality, Philosophical Perspectives 8: 1–16.

Fine, K. (1995). Ontological dependence, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 95: 269–290.

Goldin, O. (2013). Circular justification and explanation in Aristotle, Phronesis 58: 195–214.

Hankinson, R. J. (1998). Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought, Oxford University Press.

Koslicki, K. (2012). Essence, necessity and explanation, in T. Tahko (ed.), Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 187–206.

Kosman, L. A. (1973). Explanation, understanding and insight in Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, in Lee, Mourelatos and Rorty (eds), Exegesis and Argument, Assen, Van Gorcum.

Lesher, J. H. (2001). Aristotle on episteme as understanding, Ancient Philosophy 21: 45–55.

Lewis, F. A. (2013). How Aristotle gets by in Metaphysics Zeta, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Lloyd, A. C. (1981). Necessity and essence in the Posterior Analytics, in E. Berti (ed.), Aristotle on Science: The Posterior Analytics, Editrice Antenore, Padova, pp. 157–171.

Lowe, E. J. (2008). Two notions of being: Entity and essence, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements 62: 23–48.

Lowe, E. J. (2013). Neo-aristotelian metaphysics: A brief exposition and defense, in E. Feser (ed.), Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 196–205.

Malink, M. (2013). Aristotle’s Modal Syllogistic, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Matthen, M. (1981). The structure of Aristotelian science, in M. Matthen (ed.), Aristotle Today: Essays on Aristotle’s ideal of science, Academic Printing & Publishing, Edmonton, pp. 1–23.

McKirahan, R. (1992). Principles and Proofs: Aristotle’s Theory of Demonstrative Science, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Mignucci, M. (2007). Aristotele: Analitici Secondi, Ed. Laterza, Roma-Bari.

Peramatzis, M. (2010). Essence and per se predication in Aristotle’s Metaphysics z4, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 39: 121–182.

Peramatzis, M. (2011). Priority in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Peramatzis, M. (n.d.). Aristotle on knowledge and belief: APo a-33. unpublished draft.

Ross, W. D. (ed.) (1949). Aristotle’s Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Smith, R. (1984). Immediate propositions and Aristotle’s proof theory, Ancient Philosophy 6: 47–68.

Tahko, T. (2013). Metaphysics as first philosophy, in E. Feser (ed.), Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 49–67.

Taylor, C. C. W. (1990). Aristotle’s epistemology, in S. Everson (ed.), Epistemology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 116–142.

Williams, S. and Charles, D. (2013). Essence, modality and the master craftsman, in E. Feser (ed.), Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 121–145.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12697/spe.2014.7.2.06

Copyright (c)

Online ISSN: 1736-5899 | Print ISSN: 2228-110X