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Philosophy - Philosophical Traditions | Apprehension and Argument - Ancient Theories of Starting Points for Knowledge

Apprehension and Argument

Ancient Theories of Starting Points for Knowledge

Tuominen, Miira

2007, XIV, 328 p.

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If we know something, do we always know it through something else? Does this mean that the chain of knowledge should continue infinitely? Or, rather, should we abandon this approach and ask how we acquire knowledge? Irrespective of the fact that very basic questions concerning human knowledge have been formulated in various ways in different historical and philosophical contexts, philosophers have been surprisingly unanimous concerning the point that structures of knowledge should not be infinite. In order for there to be knowledge, there must be at least some primary elements which may be called ‘starting points’.

This book offers the first synoptic study of how the primary elements in knowledge structures were analysed in antiquity from Plato to late ancient commentaries, the main emphasis being on the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition. It argues that, in the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition, the question of starting points was treated from two distinct points of view: from the first perspective, as a question of how we acquire basic knowledge; and from the second perspective, as a question of the premises we may immediately accept in the line of argumentation. It was assumed that we acquire some general truths rather naturally and that these function as starting points for inquiry. In the Hellenistic period, an alternative approach was endorsed: the very possibility of knowledge became a central issue when sceptics began demanding that true claims should always be distinguishable from false ones.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Ancient philosophy - Argumentation - Aristotle - Hellenistic period - Hellenistic philosophy - Knowledge - Metaphysics - Philosophy of mind - Plato - Plotin - Transition - human knowledge - philosophy - scientific practice - truth

Related subjects » Epistemology & Philosophy of Science - Philosophical Traditions - Philosophy - Social Sciences

Table of contents 

Acknowledgements. Abbreviations and a Note on the Texts. Introduction.- The Topic, Scope, and Aim of this Book – The Structure of the Book – A Brief Survey of the Existing Literature.-

Part I: Platonic-Aristotelian Tradition.
1. Premises of Argumentation.- 1.1 Plato.- Arguments as Socratic Discussions – The Method of Hypothesis – Collection and Division – Philosophical Cosmology.- 1.2 Aristotle.- 1.2.1 Aristotle’s Inheritance from the Academy.- Dialectical Syllogisms – Induction – Conceptual Analysis.- 1.2.2 Science.- Being Better Known – Premises of Scientific Proofs – Proofs and Definitions – Do the Sciences Have Something in Common? – Remarks on Aristotle’s Scientific Practice – Knowledge of the Premises.- 1.3 Later Developments.- 1.3.1 Some Developments in Platonism.- Galen – Alcinous – Plotinus.- 1.3.2 Greek Commentaries on Aristotle.- Alexander of Aphrodisias – Themistius – Philoponus – Simplicius.-
2. Intellectual Apprehension.- 2.1 The Connection between the Two Contexts.- 2.2 Perception.- 2.2.1 Receptive Theories.- Causation through Medium.- 2.2.2 Projective Theories.- 2.2.3 Co-affection: Plotinus.- 2.2.4 Perceptual Realism and the Reliability of Perceptions.- Plato: Realism without Reliability? – Aristotle’s Realism: Perceptibility as a Modalised Notion.- 2.3 From Perception to Intellection.- 2.3.1 Intelligible Forms.- Plato – Aristotle.- 2.3.2 Later Developments.- Galen, Alcinous, Plotinus – Alexander, Themistius, Philoponus.-

Part II: Alternative Approaches.-
3. Hellenistic Philosophy.- 3.1 Is There a Starting Point for Knowledge?.- The Notion of a Criterion of Truth – Perceptions and Cognitive Impressions – Preconceptions – The Problem of Vagueness.- 3.2 Is There a Transition from the Evident to the Non-Evident?.- 3.2.1 Epicurus.- Witnessing and Counter-Witnessing – The Method of Elimination and the Method of Similarity.- 3.2.2 Stoics and Sextus.- Indemonstrable Argument Forms – Proofs – Arguments Involving a Non-Necessary Conditional – Rejection of Proof.- 3.3 What Is Left for the Sceptic?.- Pyrrhonean Scepticism and Non-Dogmatic Beliefs.- 3.4 What Does the Doctor Know? – Medical Empiricism as an Alternative Approach to Scientific Knowledge.- The Sorites Argument in Medicine – Empiricist Expertise.- Conclusion.-

Bibliography.- Index of Contents.- Index of Names.- Index of Cited Texts.

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