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Abstract

Aristotle takes practical wisdom and arts or crafts to be forms of knowledge which, we argue, can usefully be thought of as ‘empiricist’. This empiricism has two key features: knowledge does not rest on grasping unobservable natures or essences; and knowledge does not rest on grasping logical relations that hold among propositions. Instead, knowledge rests on observation, memory, experience and everyday uses of reason. While Aristotle’s conception of theoretical knowledge does require grasping unobservable essences and logical relations that hold among suitable propositions, his conception of practical and productive knowledge avoids such requirements and is consistent with empiricism.

In: Phronesis

Abstract

There is little agreement about Aristotle’s philosophy of geometry, partly due to the textual evidence and partly part to disagreement over what constitutes a plausible view. I keep separate the questions ‘What is Aristotle’s philosophy of geometry?’ and ‘Is Aristotle right?’, and consider the textual evidence in the context of Greek geometrical practice, and show that, for Aristotle, plane geometry is about properties of certain sensible objects—specifically, dimensional continuity—and certain properties possessed by actual and potential compass-and-straightedge drawings qua quantitative and continuous. For their part, the objects of stereometry are potential sensible three-dimensional figures qua quantitative and continuous.

In: Phronesis
In: Phronesis

Abstract

Plato in the Meno is standardly interpreted as committed to condition innatism: human beings are born with latent innate states of knowledge. Against this view, Gail Fine has argued for prenatalism: human souls possess knowledge in a disembodied state but lose it upon being embodied. We argue against both views and in favor of content innatism: human beings are born with innate cognitive contents that can be, but do not exist innately in the soul as, the contents of states of knowledge. Content innatism has strong textual support and constitutes a philosophically interesting theory.

In: Phronesis

Abstract

The kind of self-knowledge at issue in the eye-soul analogy of the Alcibiades (132d5-133c7) is knowledge of one’s epistemic state, i.e. what one knows and does not know, rather than knowledge of what one is. My evidence for this is the connection between knowledge of one’s epistemic state and self-improvement, the equivalence of self-knowledge to moderation, and the fact that ‘looking’ into the soul of another is a metaphor for elenctic discussion. The final lines of the analogy (133c1-7) clarify that the part of the soul one ‘looks’ into and the part one learns about when learning about one’s epistemic state is divine.

In: Phronesis

Abstract

This article challenges the modern orthodoxy which states that phratry membership was a necessary precondition of Athenian citizenship in the fifth and fourth centuries BC and argues that the purpose of the phratry was to establish not claims to citizenship, even though membership in a phratry was proof of citizenship, but inheritance entitlements. It questions the widespread assumption that citizens needed to be born of unions legally cemented by engyê. In turn, it challenges a recent attempt to argue that legitimacy of birth and legitimacy in community were one and the same. Finally, in examines passages of orators which show that the concern of the phratry was to establish not the right to participate in Athenian polity, which was the business of the deme to determine, but the right to inherit property, and in the light of those conclusions argues that while membership in the phratry proved citizenship, it was not essential or necessary for each and every citizen of Athens to be a member of a phratry, the chief purpose of which was to establish inheritance claims.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought