[MaFLa] Knowledge is of universals. The Context of Proof in Aristotle’s Account,2 March!!!

Krisztina Biber Biberk at ceu.hu
Tue Feb 23 11:01:37 CET 2010

The CEU Philosophy Department and The Center for Hellenic Traditions
cordially invite you to a talk 
(as part of  the Philosophy Department’s  Colloquium series)
Pieter Sjoerd Hasper (University of Groningen/Universität Bayreuth)
Knowledge is of universals. The Context of Proof in Aristotle’s

Tuesday, 2 March, 2010, 4.30 PM, Zrinyi 14, Room 412

Throughout his works Aristotle claims that scientific knowledge is of
universals. It is an important claim for him, because he holds that only
of universals, and not of particulars, there are definitions, and
definitions are at the basis of scientific knowledge. Moreover, he also
characterizes other epistemic states, such as knowledge consisting in
having experience, in contrast as being concerned with particulars.
	I shall discuss two problems with this claim. First, if
experience is of particulars, Aristotle’s idea that experience may
concern universal propositions seems inconsistent – as it has indeed
been held to be. Second, Aristotle’s claim that knowledge is of
universals might get him into trouble, for he rejects the Platonic
position that universals are ontologically primary and exist
independently from particulars. Aristotle thus faces the difficulty of
having to explain how scientific knowledge can be of universals without
committing himself to independently existing universals and without
reducing this knowledge of universals to knowledge of particulars.
	Both problems can be solved, I shall argue, by taking seriously
the context of proof in which Aristotle formulates his account of
scientific knowledge. The concept of proof Aristotle presupposes is that
of proof conducted in the case of an arbitrary individual. I shall
discuss first Aristotle’s argument against the existence of Platonic
Forms as an argument concerning the ontological status of this arbitrary
individual: is it a universal or a particular? Then I shall show that
with Aristotle’s account of such proofs it is possible to interpret
his claim that scientific knowledge is of universals in such a way that
it does not entail that forms of knowledge which are of particulars,
cannot be universal and that it allows Aristotle to maintain the
ontological primacy of particulars without reducing scientific knowledge
to some form of knowledge of particulars.

Kriszta Biber
Department Coordinator
Philosophy Department
Tel: 36-1-327-3806
Fax: 36-1-327-3072
E-mail: biberk at ceu.hu
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