Being all deep and stuff: Aristotle’s Categories

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Thursday, June 3, 2010

            Aristotle presents his philosophy about the way things are and the way they change in straightforward manner and Sean Murphy’s analogy that it’s like going back and learning English grammar after speaking the language for years offers a clear illustration of what reading Aristotle’s work entails. The concepts and perspectives seem readily understandable, but as the discussion continues Aristotle manages to illustrate other nuances of terms or subtleties in his theory that are to be expected from Aristotle. In the Metaphysics I, Aristotle describes how things are known by rational beings. Reason is used to discern knowledge of the particulars and craft allows someone to know the universals. A person is considered wise when he/she has knowledge of the particulars coupled with why that particular thing is or how that particular thing is caused. The definition is then expanded and clarified by discussing sense perception. Sense perception is not related to wisdom because even though it describes all particulars it does not tell us why things occur. Wisdom, therefore, is knowledge of specific kinds of principles and/or causes. Aristotle continues by describing what kind of science is best suited for obtaining wisdom, and since wisdom is the most desirable end the science that is most well suited for obtaining wisdom is the most desirable science. The science must obtain knowledge of things (particulars) as deeply as possible. The science also must be exact and explore in depth the causes of things. Finally, the science must be pursued simply for the sake of pursuit. Seeing philosophers such as Aristotle justify their studies is amusing, but it ties well into his theoretical explorations. With wisdom being the ultimate end, philosophy is the most logical science to use to find it.



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