Aristotelian Essay

Aristotelian Essay-16
But Aristotle also says that universal ethical laws cannot guide action without being applied, through a form of perception, to the specific features of a particular situation.So his view also incorporates some insights, since the perception of particulars is the starting-point for learning and applying universal ethical laws, and ultimately particulars are the truth-makers for these laws.Instead, understanding, both practical and theoretical, enters the human organism "from the outside," which Reeve interprets to mean that it comes from the circular motions of the ether that accompany -- but are not part of -- the sperm when it fertilizes the menses.

But Aristotle also says that universal ethical laws cannot guide action without being applied, through a form of perception, to the specific features of a particular situation.So his view also incorporates some insights, since the perception of particulars is the starting-point for learning and applying universal ethical laws, and ultimately particulars are the truth-makers for these laws.Instead, understanding, both practical and theoretical, enters the human organism "from the outside," which Reeve interprets to mean that it comes from the circular motions of the ether that accompany -- but are not part of -- the sperm when it fertilizes the menses.

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(However, since practical perceptions are not themselves motivational states [41-43], Reeve could have been clearer about whether and in what sense this induction results in genuinely practical -- i.e., motivating -- understanding.) The next three chapters argue for the importance of theoretical thought in the practical sphere.

Chapter 3, "Theoretical Wisdom," argues that when we understand what scientific knowledge amounts to for Aristotle, we can see that his epistemology includes as well as natural, cosmological, and theological ones.

In the case of action and practical thought, however, learning begins with what Reeve calls "practical perception," which is the experience of pleasure and pain in the perceptual part of the soul.

Practical perception then serves two purposes: to give us an object to pursue or avoid with our appetitive desires, which also occur in the perceptual part of the soul, and to provide an inductive foundation for practical thought.

All these sciences have the same demonstrative structure, and rely on universal, invariant principles.

But in some sciences, their conclusions follow only "for the most part." To explain how this is possible, Reeve argues that all scientific truths express a universal, invariant, necessary, and really obtaining connection between universals.This corresponds to the minor premise of a syllogism, and we grasp it through a different exercise of understanding which is a species of practical perception that Reeve calls "deliberative perception." (181-186) Together, these two premises generate an action, which corresponds to a description that is validly entailed by the two premises.From this analysis of the practical syllogism, we can see that practical wisdom directly involves various forms of theoretical knowledge, including knowledge of ethical science.Specialists will notice that some translations of key terms are rather traditional (e.g., " III.5 is literally rendered "productive understanding," which unfortunately suggests the productive reasoning that is contrasted with practical and theoretical reasoning).The first two chapters argue that we acquire our abilities to act and to contemplate in similar ways.He then devotes most of the chapter to defending and explaining Aristotle's claim that virtue of character is a mean in relation to us.Compared to most scholarly discussions of these topics, Reeve focuses comparatively heavily on the idea that virtues of character are relative to one's political constitution and to one's status as a human being (man, woman, child, slave), and comparatively little on Aristotle's own explanation of the mean as relative to a particular time, place, agent, object, quantity, and so on.[1] Chapter 5, "Practical Wisdom," explains practical wisdom in terms of the so-called "practical syllogism." On Reeve's view, practical reasons have two aspects or parts, which correspond to the two premises in a syllogism.Nor should they always expect Reeve's first word on a subject to be the same as his last.For instance, in Chapter 2, he introduces the idea of "practical perception" as the simple experience of perceptual pleasure and pain; then in Chapter 5, he extends this idea to include a highly complex noetic activity that results from rational deliberation.To do this, he covers a truly extraordinary range of topics from the corpus, and his highly integrative, multidisciplinary approach is to be applauded.Second, he plans to "think everything out afresh for myself, as if I were the first one to attempt the task." (ix) Because of this, he only rarely engages in detail with scholarly debates on major topics.

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