Aristotle's Theory of the Unity of Science

Aristotle's Theory of the Unity of Science

MALCOLM WILSON
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442670990
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Aristotle's Theory of the Unity of Science
    Book Description:

    This book presents the first comprehensive treatment of Aristotle's theory of autonomous scientificdisciplines and the systematic connections between them: analogy, focality, and cumulation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7099-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-13)

    Aristotle is renowned for having been the first to create autonomous sciences and independent disciplines. By distinguishing physics, political science, and many other areas of study, he circumscribed and identified some of the most important modern scientific fields. His reasons for separating such sciences and their subject matters were not the social and practical reasons familiar today. He did not worry about the limitations of the individual human mind faced with the explosive growth of knowledge and the consequent drive towards ever-increasing specialization. Quite the contrary, he thought humans were naturally capable of fulfilling their desire for understanding and he...

  6. 1 Genus, Abstraction, and Commensurability
    (pp. 14-52)

    In this chapter I shall first discuss two issues preliminary to ‘semi-abstraction.’ I shall begin by presenting in more detail theper seandquarelations, and show how they make a subject-genus a single subject-genus distinct from other subject-genera. Aristotle illustrates these relations by the familiar 2R example and the proof for alternating proportionality. In both cases theper seandquarelations provide an adequate set of criteria for identifying and demarcating subject-genera. Next, I shall introduce abstraction (ἀϕαίρϵις) through Aristotle’s theory of mathematics, and analyse this concept in terms ofper seandquarelations. Abstraction will...

  7. 2 Analogy in Aristotle’s Biology
    (pp. 53-88)

    In this chapter I turn to analogy and its role in Aristotle’s biological works. The biological works serve as a good introduction to analogy, since the concept and the term are most frequently and systematically used here.¹ I shall first review some of the prominent interpretations of biological analogy, and then provide some observations on its use derived from a thorough examination of the evidence. These observations will form the foundation for a new interpretation, one that fits analogy into the most basic organizational schemes of Aristotle’ s biology, the genus-species scheme and the whole-parts scheme. This interpretation exploits the...

  8. 3 Analogy and Demonstration
    (pp. 89-115)

    While the relationship between the SGA and the WP systems seems to account for the phenomenal demarcation of analogy from other forms of identity, the place of analogy in demonstration is more difficult to account for. There are clear indications in thePosterior Analyticsthat analogy plays a distinctive role in demonstration, but just what that role is, and whether and how it is worked out in the biological writings is far from clear. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that analogy was not a central interest to Aristotle when composing theAPo. In fact, of the three...

  9. 4 The Structure of Focality
    (pp. 116-133)

    ‘Focal meaning’ is a term that was coined by G.E.L. Owen to translate the phraseπρὸς ἓν λϵγόμϵνον.¹ It is used in several Aristotelian contexts, and provides an explanation for why a word is applied to a variety of objects that are neither specifically or generically identical nor completely unrelated:

    [E]ssence will belong, just as the ‘what’ does, primarily and in the simple sense to substance, and in a secondary way to the other categories also, - not essence simply, but the essence of a quality or of a quantity. For it must be either homonymously that we say these...

  10. 5 Metaphysical Focality
    (pp. 134-174)

    Our study of the definitional inclusion criterion and Aristotle’s examples of health and medicine have led us to interpret focal science as structurally identical with normal science. We must now apply this interpretation to the science of Being and consider whether metaphysics fits the model of normal science. The importance of medicine and health as examples of sciences has been largely ignored or denied. Most commentators have been content to focus on the issue of homonymy and its logical form without considering the scientific implications of the examples.¹ Owen, however, related focality to the issue of the autonomy of sciences...

  11. 6 Mixed Uses of Analogy and Focality
    (pp. 175-206)

    Because the categories constitute the irreducible genera of Being, and everything that exists is predicated in one of these categories, it is reasonable to suppose that relational similarities among them will best be expressed by analogy. However, as we saw in the biological context, analogies are resolved into identities by choosing a new common subject, which, though not their genus, is neverthelessper serelated to them. Among the categories, by contrast, there is no common Being that is not already a Being in one of the categories, and so analogies at this level cannot be resolved into more abstract...

  12. 7 Cumulation
    (pp. 207-242)

    Finally, we turn to a fusion of analogy and focality, an Aristotelian technique I shall distinguish by the term ‘cumulation.’ According to this technique objects from the same category form a series of priority and posteriority, each member of which potentially contains in its definition the antecedent term. We have already seen similar techniques in thescala naturaeand the ends-means relationship among the goods. It is due to this similarity that cumulation is sometimes supposed to be a focal relationship, but I hope to show that this is not accurate.¹ In spite of the fact that focality and cumulation...

  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 243-254)
  14. INDEX LOCORUM
    (pp. 255-264)
  15. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 265-272)
  16. PHOENIX SUPPLEMENTARY VOLUMES
    (pp. 273-275)